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Are you learning a language?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by coffeekid, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    God, it's hard as an adult. Been learning Spanish for about two years, until I realised we've only been to the Catalan part of Spain and tbh I should've been learning that language instead, or as well. We're going back again next week and I'm frantically cramming some Catalan...
    I envy bi-lingual children. Seriously. They've got it so easy.
     
    caress, LondonCanary and colpee like this.
  2. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    “I find it ridiculous to assign a gender to an inanimate object incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself.”
    ― David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day
     
  3. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Yes, Welsh.
    I gave up on Russian because I needed teaching in order to progress.

    Welsh is fun, and so completely unnecessary!
     
  4. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    I love the sound of Welsh.
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I am learning Italian and its a plod. I go to a weekly class - the teacher doesn't make us do enough though. I also have a go on Duolingo which can be very boring but has helped. I am improving very slowly.
     
    emerald52 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I was hoping to re-visit Spanish this year but the 1 year course had already begun by the time we returned from holiday. The first course I did was only 12 lessons long and I forgot the lot.

    I've done 1 year French and Italian evening classes in the past, and German. The German tutor was so boring I started to skive the classes - how desperate do you have to be to skive classes you've paid for?

    I was going to try Latin classes until I discovered they were taught by the German tutor.

    I'm only half an hour from Wales and its bi-lingual road signs, and I love the place, so Welsh has a certain appeal. Not sure any English colleges round our way offer Welsh though.
     
    caress and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I have a friend who zoomed through French and German A levels at school but Welsh was a bont too far.
     
    Lara mfl 05 and LondonCanary like this.
  8. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I love Duolingo - my streak is over 800 days.

    I can now say really useful things such as 'I don't like wearing school uniform'.
     
  9. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I had to learn Bahasa Indonesia (very easy, since it is essential pidgin in structure) and Arabic (very difficult, since it requires the learning of a complete new alphabet and script) while working overseas. Genders in languages annoy me intensely! At one point I started learning Afrikaans and thankfully the masculine and the feminine have merged into a common gender in standard (modern) Dutch as thay have in new Afrikaans.

    One interesting feature of Afrikaans is that the double negative does not indicate a positive!
     
  10. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I went to Dutch classes for several years and got to a pretty good standard.
    I've been doing Spanish on Duolingo for a couple of months and have just started a class.
     
    BertieBassett2 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  11. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    It is so hard as an adult!

    I did Spanish to A level 40+ years ago, and don't recall problems remembering vocab & verbs then - but so much of what we did was written exercises and translations.

    Before going to South America about 10 years ago, I had Spanish conversation classes with someone who had lived in Spain for a number of years, and also used a web-based learning site (forget what, but it was very good) to improve vocabulary.

    Then I got to South America, and found that I did not understand a word anyone said to me!! I know SA Spanish is different from European Spanish, but even so.....I spoke to them, but have no idea if they understood me or not, because I didn't understand their replies. I'm convinced there is a link with musical ability - I'm tone deaf, find it hard to distinguish the pitch of different sounds, etc, and find it hard to 'hear' words in a foreign language; I have to be able to 'see' them too.

    I returned to the UK after a year, knowing less Spanish than when I left. As for now.....long-term memory hasn't survived!!
     
  12. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I haven't learnt a new language recently I must confess. I'm going to Italy soon and I shall see if I can understand anything whilst I'm out there and if it may be worth while looking at learning. I've been put off before, because our friends who live out there whom we're visiting, kept picking me up on pronunciation when I did try, but couldn't tell me which part of the pronunciation was wrong- he is a Science teacher with little idea of languages and learnt Italian as a schoolchild when his father worked there, so learnt very easily.
     
    ViolaClef likes this.
  13. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    Good luck with that. I have been trying to learn for years but have little natural facility with languages. I can eat, travel and not get too lost, in Spanish, but I can’t converse anywhere near a half decent standard. Elder Pee on the other hand seems naturally at home with Spanish and puts me to shame when he eventually bucks up the courage to talk. :rolleyes:

    I find the Catalans proud but not too precious about the use of their language. Our pidgin Castilian with some Catalan thrown in (to show how local we think we are) gets us by, but the indulgent smiles tell all!
     
    coffeekid likes this.
  14. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    As someone who has spent a lifetime teaching languages in the UK, I am fascinated by the apparent ease with which the Scandinavians are able to speak such fluent English: just listen to Greta Thunberg, for example. Her fluency in English is simply astonishing. I would love to be able to witness the process in place that allows this fluency to develop.
     
  15. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    I’m learning Italian at a once weekly class. We also meet up another morning to do our homework! I find Coffee Break Italian online excellent too (they do lots of coffee break languages). It is hard but I enjoy the social part as well as the language learning.
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  16. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    My biggest talent, if I have one at all, is for languages, which I absorb with joy. I do hold the title of polyglot in the strictest sense of the word, and I find that much like musical instruments, the more you learn, the easier it becomes to learn yet others. If you can learn ten languages already, then fourteen is no biggie.
    I risk appearing gloaty in stating all of this, but I honestly do not find it is hard to learn a language. I think rather that there are blocks, which if brought to awareness, are key.
    My tip to anybody struggling would be to always remember that a language has four elements, four sets of skills-listening, speaking, reading and writing. The receptive and the productive. And the most solid success comes from acute observation, focusing on the receptive. Again and again. Before the productive. If you're going to spend two months on a language,and you spend the first month only listening, then KABLAM you'll be speaking like a native in month 2. Unleashed.
    Most language courses or indeed instructors do not adhere to this pattern at all,as testified by most of the posts here, which allude to difficulty in speaking a language, not difficulty in listening to it.. It feels far too constraining a concept to be required to listen and...nothing else. But it really works.
    fwiw, English is my third language btw, the first two being imbued by the happenstance of parentage. When I went to school I said almost nothing for my first two years, just listened, took notes, read books, and then it happened. I was reborn Wordy McWordsmith.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
    BetterNow, silkywave, caress and 3 others like this.
  17. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    We often had this discussion and one factor is that they have far more 'exposure' to English than our students to the MFL outside school. Often they listen to pop songs, often sung in English. English is seen as essential to getting on. possibly even getting a job in Scandinavia, as few people in the world speak any Scandinavian languages.
    When we visited Switzerland this year we noticed that all the chamber-maids spoke excellent English and even though I can speak German and French, even the young check-out lad at a supermarket on hearing me explain to my husband started talking English straight away.

    Presumably these youngsters realise that the ability to speak English, even or what one might consider 'lower pay jobs, may give them the edge over others, so they are more motivated.
     
    smoothnewt likes this.
  18. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    Knowing the years of effort and practice it took for me to become fluent in French and Italian puts me off making a serious effort to learn Portuguese, as I know I’ll never make it. I’ve made half-hearted abortive efforts on and off, but feel the ultimate intent is futile, short of going to live there.

    Regarding bilingual children, often their written ability in one of their languages is poor. It is not unusual for bilingual French A level students to really struggle with French grammar in writing, if they have grown up over here, having grown up to be fluent mostly only orally in French.
     
    coffeekid likes this.
  19. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Yes I think sbkrobson is correct here. As someone who spent most summers in Germany with relatives who spoke no English I listened an awful lot more than I spoke, but that gave me the building blocks of the vocabulary and without a broad vocabulary one can rarely say anything meaningful. After you've built that up only then is it appropriate to start trying to make conversation with one's own ideas.
     
  20. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    I tried to learn Spanish for a bit but gave it up as it took up a quarter of each weekend and I don't go there enough to use it so nothing stuck. I'm rubbish at learning languages though. Mr PC, who travels a lot, can understand more than he can say and can mangle but make himself understood much better than I can in a few European languages.
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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