Learning languages

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craig1985 said:
The other thing I'm interested in, and this aimed at those who don't speak English as a first language (like Barrus, Redheaded Dane), how do you react if somebody where to visit your country and made an effort to learn your language and speak to you, even though you knew (or assumed) they're native English speakers, would you talk back to them in the language they're trying to learn, or would you just respond in English? I had that in Italy, where I would try and practise my Italian, only to have people talk back to me in English. Serves me right for visiting places like Rome.
Well... if the person is trying to learn Danish I'd start-out in Danish, depending on how much they knew I'd translate some of the more difficult words into English as we were speaking... or use gestures...
Simply: If they ask in Danish I'd answer in Danish... then, if they go "Wut?" I'd switch to English...

Personally if I came to Germany and started speaking my (yes, admitted, limited) German I'd be kinda annoyed if everyone insisted on speaking English... so... I'd just assume people trying to learn Danish in Denmark would feel the same way.
 
craig1985 said:
It's no different to Australia, where you don't need to know any other languages apart from English. At least in Japan, if you go on the subway, they also have an English translation of the place you are visiting on the sign. Nothing like that in Australia, nor was that the case in England in my experience. I honestly think that you would be up the creek without a paddle in Australia if you didn't have some grasp of English.
In Frankfurt, if you go on the U-Bahn, there are 7 lines, or there were when I was living there. Lines U4 and U5 go through the Hbf, and as a result, before each station they give information about the next station and its U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Straßenbahn and Omnibus connections in both German and English. On lines U1, U2, U3, U6 and U7, everything is in German. I found the English-language announcements very irritating.
 

Barrus

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craig1985 said:
The other thing I'm interested in, and this aimed at those who don't speak English as a first language (like Barrus, Redheaded Dane), how do you react if somebody where to visit your country and made an effort to learn your language and speak to you, even though you knew (or assumed) they're native English speakers, would you talk back to them in the language they're trying to learn, or would you just respond in English? I had that in Italy, where I would try and practise my Italian, only to have people talk back to me in English. Serves me right for visiting places like Rome.
Well, there is the fact that I live near and spent most of my time in Amsterdam, often with international students, so the lingua franca is English. But in general if someone starts in Dutch, no matter how mangled:p I most often respond in Dutch, unless they don't understand me. But if I need to start talking, I start out in English, mostly because the majority of English-speaking folks around here don't bother learning the language, because it frankly is quite useless ;)
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I would first ask what you really want to "do" with the language, and how proficient you want to be.

If you perceive a language merely as a communicative tool or a vehicle to absorb information produced in a different language (reading, watching tv, listening to radio) I would suggest not to bother too much with 'advanced grammar'. You obviously still need to grasp some of the basics otherwise you'll never be able to convey meaning. (syntax, semantics, etc.)

If you want to immerse yourself in another culture and use a language almost anthropologically, ie to uncover the meaning of other peoples lives, cultures, societies, systems of meaning, a much deeper level of language comprehension is required.

I have always found that studying grammar gave me the best results, not always the fastest, but the most durable. This might have something to do with me studying Latin in high school for ~5 yrs, which is very grammar heavy. Perhaps it was formative for my ability to learn languages, although speaking a dialect helped too.

3 reasons
- You'll master the backbone of the language. Once you know grammar, you can basically apply the general rules in every situation, while using different words. Grammar is like a Christmas tree. Once the tree is up, you can start decorating the branches.

Immersion then, I have found, adds a lot of vocabulary and increases your processing speed, so you'll be able to express yourself better (more detailed, specific, more nuanced) and faster. Full immersion also gives the quickest results, but it's not an option for a lot of people.

- If you know the general rules, it's much more difficult to lose the ability to use the language if you have not been able to keep it up. Once you open your grammar book again, you'll quickly pick up the basic rules, and you'll easily retrieve the words that vanished from memory.

- It'll greatly increase your ability to actually write the language. Learning by ear only is great for casual situations, buying a loaf of bread etc, but once you start writing, you have no clue how it's actually spelled. A language is active (writing, speaking) and passive (reading, listening). Without a good study of grammar, it's difficult to be proficient at the active level.

In any case, learning a new language and become fully proficient, is always difficult and often painstakingly slow. So be prepared to put in the time; the more the better. If you only have 2-3 hrs per week, I am afraid you won't get very far. I'd recommend at least 6 hrs of actual study, excluding passive consumption (TV, radio).
 
Mar 11, 2009
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Libertine Seguros, I love your language talk.

I very quickly learnt to just use d' before nouns in German if I wasn't sure of the gender
The one thing I really stumble on in French grammar is some uses of "du" - I've found a middle ground between "de" and "du" to cover myself either way.

I am still not sure when to use a or o at the end of a word. I know if I use el it is o if I use la it is a. I went to the store today and asked for uno soda but the clerk replied with una soda. I will figure it out.
This reminds me of David Sedaris' story in Me Talk Pretty One Day, living in France, trying to learn the language. To avoid the gender issue, he just got two of everything.

Craig, I've *just* (as in first page of hiragana) started studying Japanese. Immersion, or even classes, aren't an option right now, but my interest is mainly for reading comprehension and I do well enough with languages to at least get started on my own for this purpose.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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L'arriviste said:
Sometimes I'm embarassed by how poor my native country the UK is at learning languages (and myself included) but you've hit the reason right there: the UK thinks it doesn't have to learn them, whereas LT has what a Flemish friend of mine calls the "little country thinking" - a greater awareness of relative proportionality. All countries who know their neighbours and have not at some point in history tried to take over the world are better at languages. :)
Same with Aus, learning a 2nd language is not pushed in schools and is not as vital as it is in a european country. That's why the victorian government now boost students final year scores an extra bit who do a language.
 
Nov 2, 2009
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A few thoughts:

Seems to me that one of the factors to take into account is how each individual processes new information. For instance I'm a visual learner and I need to pair sounds to symbols in order to make sense of what I am hearing and retain the information.

Re: learning Japanese - very basic Japanese is actually easy to learn. Phonetically it is consistent, and grammatically it is easy. If you really want to learn Japanese I would recommend doing formal learning of the basics before any immersion. (An earlier poster clearly has more experience with Japanese than me, though.)

I usually try to learn a few words and phrases in the native language of any country I visit, but failed miserably with it in Thailand. So many unfamiliar sounds, a script that resembles Sanskrit, and it's a tonal language with 5 different tones, IIRC. The tonal elements did nothing for my confidence, as I had no idea what I was actually saying and whether it bore any relation to what I intended to say. All I managed in the end was "thank you". :eek:
 
May 6, 2009
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auscyclefan94 said:
Same with Aus, learning a 2nd language is not pushed in schools and is not as vital as it is in a european country. That's why the victorian government now boost students final year scores an extra bit who do a language.
You speak German ACF, did you learn it in school or do you have a German parent? Are you fluent? IIRC, you said that you are.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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craig1985 said:
You speak German ACF, did you learn it in school or do you have a German parent? Are you fluent? IIRC, you said that you are.
Did it at school but know quite a few german speakers so speak it with them to keep it up to scratch.
 
May 6, 2009
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My brother did Italian in high school, but the problem for him was that there never enough interest from his fellow students, so they canceled for one year, then brought it back, so he did it again for another year, but again there wasn't enough interest when he came into his final two years, and even though he wanted to keep on doing it, he was convinced to do another subject. The school we went too also taught Japanese. Too bad I was too arrogant not to take any interest in learning either language at the time.

I have an Italian phrasebook at home, I'm not sure how much use they are, except to get an understanding of the basics. Obviously I can't just jet off to Italy whenever I feel like, but is it possible to teach yourself another language, by studying books, watching TV programs (or in my case football matches and cycling races) in the language you want to learn? Or do you need to do all that, classes, and make friends who speak the language you want to learn?

Has anybody on here ever used the Rosetta Stone program, or known anybody who has, and did it work?
 
Jun 16, 2009
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A lot of people are naive and think knowing a language is "useless". Only completing the school system a few years ago, languages are not encouraged enough. Is Language compulsory in schools in europe as there seems to be a much higher percentage of bilingual people?
 
auscyclefan94 said:
Is Language compulsory in schools in europe as there seems to be a much higher percentage of bilingual people?
Here in Germany the kids start with english in the first grade. At some later point they must add a second language, either French or Latin.

I have heard that in the Netherlands the kids must also learn English, German and French. Barrus, is that so?

Susan
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Susan Westemeyer said:
Here in Germany the kids start with english in the first grade. At some later point they must add a second language, either French or Latin.

I have heard that in the Netherlands the kids must also learn English, German and French. Barrus, is that so?

Susan
Does it become an elective at any point down the track?
 
auscyclefan94 said:
Does it become an elective at any point down the track?
Not that I know. My son had both english and french up through the 10th year, and I don't know about what would come after that.

As a matter of fact he is leaving his school and starting at one in which he will receive special training to become a translater (german, english, french and spanish).

Susan
 
In Denmark you start English in 4th grade (or 3rd, not quite sure... it changed... maybe) and in 7th grade you can choose between German and French. (My old school has German as mandatory from 6th grade and from 8th grade you can choose French as well...)

And STX exam requires English on B-level and at least one other languages at B-level as well.
HF, which is the exam I have, only requires English on B-level. (But you still need another language on B-level if you want to study and humaniore subject.)

What langauges a school offers differs quite a lot, the school I just left had:
English (obviously)
German
French
Italian
Spanish
Chinese
Arabic
Russian
 
Apr 12, 2009
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Like the majority of dutch-speaking Belgians,I speak Dutch, English, French and some German.

I also want to learn Spanish, because it's a very international language.
Chinese or arabic would also be great to understand and speak.
 
May 6, 2009
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RedheadDane said:
In Denmark you start English in 4th grade (or 3rd, not quite sure... it changed... maybe) and in 7th grade you can choose between German and French. (My old school has German as mandatory from 6th grade and from 8th grade you can choose French as well...)

And STX exam requires English on B-level and at least one other languages at B-level as well.
HF, which is the exam I have, only requires English on B-level. (But you still need another language on B-level if you want to study and humaniore subject.)

What langauges a school offers differs quite a lot, the school I just left had:
English (obviously)
German
French
Italian
Spanish
Chinese
Arabic
Russian
What are the most popular languages chosen to study at your former school? I guess learning Chinese and/or Arabic could be useful in some careers.
 
Susan Westemeyer said:
Here in Germany the kids start with english in the first grade. At some later point they must add a second language, either French or Latin.

I have heard that in the Netherlands the kids must also learn English, German and French. Barrus, is that so?

Susan
My German teacher told me that learning English in Germany was easy for everybody, because they already knew all the words from Beatles songs:p

Oh, and also its easier going from a hard language like German, to an easier one like English.
 
auscyclefan94 said:
A lot of people are naive and think knowing a language is "useless". Only completing the school system a few years ago, languages are not encouraged enough. Is Language compulsory in schools in europe as there seems to be a much higher percentage of bilingual people?
My worry that in the near future, scientists will introduce programmes/ computer chips/ drugs/ methods, which make language learning either extremely easy so that everyone can do it - destroying the benefit for those who actually want to learn languages, or even worse, have super translator services on phones meaning that knowing languages will be rendered "uselsess".
 
auscyclefan94 said:
. Is Language compulsory in schools in europe as there seems to be a much higher percentage of bilingual people?
In england, as with everything involving education, schools choose for themselves. Kids have to do a language from 11 until 16 but 90% never go past beginer. In fact the final exam at 16 - gcse is so easy that it can in french, german, and spanish, be passed just by knowing the words for yes and no. My sister just got top grade in her spanish gcse simply by learning off by heart a 200 word text she did on freetranslation.com. That the grammar was incorrect, was besides the point, as the examiners are told to be lenient with grammar. In the following months, she has admitted that she would not be able to hold her own in the most simple of conversations in Spain. But it didnt stop her and many others getting the A* grade so that the governement can claim education is improving.

Unfortunately my school only did German and French (and Latin but that was only for 3 years) and i was forced to do German (and Latin) despite the fact that i already knew some French. I expected better from the school to which the Prime Minister was sending his children but, what you gonna do.
 
May 6, 2009
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The Hitch said:
In england, as with everything involving education, schools choose for themselves. Kids have to do a language from 11 until 16 but 90% never go past beginer. In fact the final exam at 16 - gcse is so easy that it can in french, german, and spanish, be passed just by knowing the words for yes and no. My sister just got top grade in her spanish gcse simply by learning off by heart a 200 word text she did on freetranslation.com. That the grammar was incorrect, was besides the point, as the examiners are told to be lenient with grammar. In the following months, she has admitted that she would not be able to hold her own in the most simple of conversations in Spain. But it didnt stop her and many others getting the A* grade so that the governement can claim education is improving.

Unfortunately my school only did German and French (and Latin but that was only for 3 years) and i was forced to do German (and Latin) despite the fact that i already knew some French. I expected better from the school to which the Prime Minister was sending his children but, what you gonna do.
That is wrong on so many levels.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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craig1985 said:
I have an Italian phrasebook at home, I'm not sure how much use they are, except to get an understanding of the basics. Obviously I can't just jet off to Italy whenever I feel like, but is it possible to teach yourself another language, by studying books, watching TV programs (or in my case football matches and cycling races) in the language you want to learn? Or do you need to do all that, classes, and make friends who speak the language you want to learn?

Has anybody on here ever used the Rosetta Stone program, or known anybody who has, and did it work?
I know a few people who have used it for Spanish and French and been pleased with the results.

Depending on your ability with languages, I do think a certain level of proficiency can be reached with self-study, especially for reading and speaking at a level that might be understood but not necessarily perfect pronunciation. For speech and getting pronunciation absolutely right, I think most people would need a native or fluent speaker at some point.

I'll post some links for interactive online study later.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Susan Westemeyer said:
Not that I know. My son had both english and french up through the 10th year, and I don't know about what would come after that.

As a matter of fact he is leaving his school and starting at one in which he will receive special training to become a translater (german, english, french and spanish).

Susan
That's pretty good. Your son must be very bright student. Just knowing a second language is quite impressive in down under and imo.

At my primary school you could only do italian, which I didn't find too hard but didn't like it and then you could do german, italian or indonesian. Primary school language learning is stupid as they start teaching the language from the start at secondary school. I wish I grew up in germany for that reason because the earlier school hours and emphasis on language seems to be a lot better.

At all secondary schools around melbourne, it is compulsory to do it up to year 8 (14 years old) and then it comes an elective up through the vce years. You can only learn 1 language at your school and you can learn a 2nd language outside of school at weekend school. Though when doing VCE (final year of school) your score for doing a language is "scaled up" very highly. Of the common languages German is the 2nd most scaled up due to difficulty and high competition of students.
 

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