Learning a foreign language

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Learning a foreign language

Postby TeresaFoodie » July 14th, 2017, 9:19 pm

I tried to learn French at school. Failed. German - better. Italian - preoccupied with boys and football. Now going for gold on the Italian front. A Berlitz guide. CD and phrase book. My Dad is doing same and we are planning on helping each other learn this . We don't have to, we just feel we want to! So why not! I sent him an 'il padro' message this evening on day one. He said eh? More revising please Il padro.
Any foreign language learning stories to tell?
I would love, by the way, to learn Chinese. It will probably rip my brain in two! It is such a beautiful language. It would be worth the brain splittage.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 14th, 2017, 9:48 pm

I learned French at school quite easily as it was very well taught, and I was lucky enough to go to France quite often (living near a channel port helped).
I also learned German, which I understand quite well but speak miserably, so I thought I'd borrow some BBC teaching tapes from the library and practice in the car. Well, the voices were a lot more BBC than Berlin, the darn things sounded like Hugh Dennis and Miles Jupp doing a skit. I gave up quite soon :lol:

Which Chinese language would you learn? I think most schools here teach Mandarin (e.g. Beijing), but most native speakers I know speak Cantonese (e.g. Hong Kong)
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Hope » July 15th, 2017, 8:42 am

I did German up to A-level. Couldn't get along with French. I know a smattering of Italian. A tiny bit of Maltese (which I'm trying to increase!) My dad never taught me how to speak Maltese as a child, but I occassionally ask him for simple phrases (although he's quite rusty now!) I also watch youtube videos about how to speak Maltese. (not very useful at all, but obviously culturally important to me!)

I have a chinese friend who speaks Cantonese, so I often ask her for words too! I just love language!

(even though I frequently forget English words!)
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby TeresaFoodie » July 15th, 2017, 9:06 am

I need to look into learning Chinese. I understand it is complex. I should learn Maltese. My parents lived there when I was conceived and I am the only member of my family who has never visited the island, something I need to fix! It would be nice to be prepared so I can understand a bit of what the locals are saying.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Ratatouille » July 15th, 2017, 9:38 am

Hi Tezza. Its Mr rats you need to talk to really not me. I failed French miserablyat school because it was so dreadfully taught. I was equally hopeless at latin. Mr R on the other hand has always had a talent for languages. He did French and latin A level then went on to do a French degree with Italian. When we went to the Bahamas he took a mandarin course with him and used to practice writing the characters in the sand!He found it difficult but can manage to greet people and be polite.

Along the way he has picked up German, Spanish and Russian. He was of course a language teacher in his former life. DD is exactly the same. has always been musical and a fantastic mimic. GD follws the family tradition and has just done French and German for GCS, but she went to school in germany and has heard French all her life.

Son and GS seem to take more after me. The only way I managed to learn enough French to survive here was by being here and listening . I have had some wonderful friends and neighbours who have steered me in the right direction and patiently corrected my mistakes.I still can;t right French without a great deal of thought and help. Mind you I have always found writing English a bit of a trial :lol:

Mr R has always said the order to learn a language is to listen first , then speak by copying, then read and finally write. I managed to get by by ignoring genders and tenses and bashing on regardless and I still make howlers regularly but it amuses our friends so i don't care.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Gruney » July 15th, 2017, 9:53 am

Several years ago now I was in a very friendly cafe in France. There was a lot of greeting and goodbyes.

I was on holiday, in a good mood, and wanting to fit in.

As I left, I turned to face the other customers, and wanted to say "au revoir". In my excitement, what happened was that I waved my hand in a very grand way, and said "asseyez vous.' :oops:
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 10:07 am

My neighbours had some Maltese family over for a wedding and the six year old followed me round all weekend
She spoke no English but decided I would understand if she spoke to me LOUDLY and s-l-o-w-l-y :lol:
We exchanged one word "sweeties", but I have forgotten the Maltese :(
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby suffolk » July 15th, 2017, 11:03 am

Have you ever thought of learning one of the signing languages? There's BSL which is usually used by the deaf, and then there's Makaton and the similar Signalong which are mainly used by people with learning disabilities instead of speech or to support their vocalisations ... I learned Signalong as part of my job working with youngsters with learning disabilities ... it's fascinating, fun and not difficult ... and a huge asset in lots of caring jobs and volunteer roles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZUlf-g2dks
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby TeresaFoodie » July 15th, 2017, 11:18 am

Sign language is something I have always admired and wanted to learn as my beloved Nan was almost completely deaf prior to her death. I am following in her foot steps sadly. I will have a look into it.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Catherine » July 15th, 2017, 11:55 am

I know Makaton as used to work with adults with learning disabilities.
At school I did French and Latin. I found French pretty easy to grasp, and Latin which actually proved beneficial to my degree. I did English literature with English language and linguistics and the Latin really helped with the linguistics. English is actually one of the most difficult languages to learn.
I'm also very interest in accents and dialects. There are actually different accents within sign language
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 12:07 pm

It's interesting how languages cross fertilise
I have never studied Greek, but when I first went there I found I knew the numbers from one to twelve from ten years or organic chemistry
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby cyprusmoira » July 15th, 2017, 12:57 pm

StokeySue wrote:I have never studied Greek

I did and was thoroughly confused because I had picked up a lot of medical Greek, also it is an inflected language so words have to agree by number, gender and case. Then there is the alphabet (another Greek word) as with the Roman alphabet upper and lower differ eg Aa, Bb but worse. Some letters look the same but are not P is R and X is actually ch as Christmas.
That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby karadekoolaid » July 15th, 2017, 1:56 pm

I`m bilingual English/Spanish- well I`d have to be, living over here!
I studied French, Latin and German at school and, at one stage, was fluent in French - but then 30 odd years without speaking it tends to make you forget.
Language fascinates me, and I still teach EFL; mostly to graduate students so they can get their university certifications. Love every minute of it.
A word of advice, however, for those who wish to learn a language. Use the baby method: listen, speak, read, write. That`s the best way to learn. Listen first so you can pick up the "music" of the language, the pronunciation, the melody, the speed. Only then should you speak it - imitating as exactly as possible. When you read the spoken language, you may get a shock, because the written word may not appear as you expect it to appear. Take the word " thought", for example. You hear "thort" and then contemplate a wierd collection of letters. What about the French " C´est ça". You hear " say sah" ... or the word for "sit down" in Spanish, which ad my mum in fits. " Sent ah say" - sentarse! Traditional language teaching materials often concentrate on reading first, which is a huge mistake. Listen, listen and listen - then you`ll get it right.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Herbidacious » July 15th, 2017, 1:57 pm

I have o'levels in French, German, Spanish, Latin and Russian and German a'level. Took two of them a year early and got good grades, A's and B's but wouldn't say I had a flare... I am not very confident. But that was a while ago anyway ;) I studied French at the French Institute in South Ken for two years (lessons taught only in French), but it's now 7 or 8 years since I finished. I need to take lessons up again. My accent has slipped something chronic, plus I have forgotten things, of course. Even though I got to France several times a year, the opportunities to speak it are surprisingly limited for various reasons. I had mixed experiences in Paris this weekend. I still think some of them pretend not to understand ;)! I used to get that (usually younger people) even at the height of my first year degree-level proficiency.

My husband starts a two week intensive German course on Monday. He has an o'level in it, and lived there for nearly three years (albeit working in an English speaking office), but he thinks he is rubbish at it. Scientist's brain and all that. I think he is better at learning languages than he thinks he is.

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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Herbidacious » July 15th, 2017, 1:59 pm

Are you a Michel Thomas fan, karadekoolaid?!
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby earthmaiden » July 15th, 2017, 2:08 pm

I have always found learning languages in a classroom very difficult - I don't have that mathematical/musical mind that seems best for such things. At school my French came on in leaps and bounds when we started listening and interacting with audible material (if only we had had it in Latin as well!) but I have only been to France twice and so never really used the language and struggle now. In later years I bought a 'Teach yourself German' tape for the car. I was word perfect as I listened to the repetition but couldn't remember anything if I tried to apply it outside the car :lol: . I studied a smattering of Ancient Greek which was really interesting to apply to ancient history - but I had the same feeling of helplessness I get in a maths or physics class.

The best way to learn a language is to live somewhere where that language is spoken or to acquire a lover who speaks the language you want to learn. I could speak quite a bit of Serbo-Croat at one time ;) .

Tezza, DD learned sign language and got the certificates - she has found it very useful in her everyday and work life which has, at times, meant communicating with the public. My best friend decided she would like to learn Spanish a few years ago. She did a year at a beginners class but found the classroom too distracting and changed to private lessons. It is her little treat and she can now converse and read in Spanish and chats to people and has had some enjoyable holidays off the beaten track because she is able to communicate.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 2:43 pm

cyprusmoira wrote:I did and was thoroughly confused because I had picked up a lot of medical Greek

I have quite a lot of medical Greek and Latin, I can read simple prescriptions in Latin; WHO bio
reference standards used to come with a leaflet in dozens of language, but the vial was labelled in English and Latin, as medical people were likely to get the gist. Don't know if they still do this, think it may now be Spanish

Feeling very ill in Thessaloniki airport I hopefully said "emesis" (medical Greek for vomit), and was duly handed the magic bucket with a bit of lysol in the bottom! :D
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Ratatouille » July 15th, 2017, 2:56 pm

Herbidacious wrote:I I had mixed experiences in Paris this weekend. I still think some of them pretend not to understand ;)! I used to get that (usually younger people) even at the height of my first year degree-level proficiency.


herbie even the French get "misunderstood" in Paris - by Parisiens :lol: :lol:
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Herbidacious » July 15th, 2017, 3:03 pm

:) rats!

Earthmaiden I shall tell my husband that his talents for music and maths should make his language learning easier! He thinks the opposite. I would have thought that a language-orientated brain would make foreign languages easier, though.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby karadekoolaid » July 15th, 2017, 3:39 pm

Herbidacious wrote:Are you a Michel Thomas fan, karadekoolaid?!

Michel who??
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby karadekoolaid » July 15th, 2017, 3:42 pm

I`m not sure about the maths, but the music skills are definitely an advantage when learning a language. Perhaps it`s because musicians are taught to listen very hard and very intensively.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby TeresaFoodie » July 15th, 2017, 5:43 pm

This continues to be an interesting read. I have post it notes with my first phrase and others up on my wall. Mi chiamo Teresa. Some words translated are so obvious. For example il cavolfiore - cauliflower. Loving it!
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby TeresaFoodie » July 15th, 2017, 5:49 pm

Hoping that my interest in music - listening, reading, playing, appreciating - contribute to my language learning abilities. It makes sense doesn't it? Time to add clarinet to my list of things to do. I am more a wind person than string. Tried violin but couldn't hack it. Shame. Such a beautiful sound. And oh my goodness the harp. A rare sight and sound these days. Is it dying out as something people want to or can afford to learn?
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 5:59 pm

Surely maths is right brain dominant and language is left brain? So the two don't tend to coincide :?
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Pepper Pig » July 15th, 2017, 6:08 pm

You need very good lungs for the clarinet if you are an older learner Teresa. And yes, the harp is dying out other than in Celtic communities. They are extremely expensive.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby patpoyntz » July 15th, 2017, 7:50 pm

I found myself at a loss understanding and speaking when we had an extended holiday in Spain a few years ago. A friend recommended Duolingo...it's a free app...I loved it, and quickly became hooked. It's quite competitive, and though I 'signed up' for 10 minutes a day, just to get a flavour of the language and be able to understand menus etc, I found myself doing much more than that. And by the next visit to Spain a year later, I was quite confident and could converse and understand quite well. I have since used it to brush up my school french. They do a lot of languages....sorry, not Chinese Tessa, but they do Japanese!
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby karadekoolaid » July 15th, 2017, 8:01 pm

StokeySue wrote:Surely maths is right brain dominant and language is left brain? So the two don't tend to coincide :?

That would figure, Sue...
This morning I did an internet "quiz" on "Basic School Maths"
Score: 2/20 :scared: :scared: :scared: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 8:36 pm

That's interesting Pat, might need to look into Duolingo, probably for Spanidh
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Herbidacious » July 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm

StokeySue wrote:Surely maths is right brain dominant and language is left brain? So the two don't tend to coincide :?


That's what I was thinking.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Herbidacious » July 15th, 2017, 9:27 pm

MIchel Thomas

http://www.michelthomas.com/

You don't get to write anything down or learn grammar. Not the way I operate well.

He's an interesting chap. Was a member of the Maquis in WWII.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 15th, 2017, 10:38 pm

Best way I found of learning a language was babysitting a three year old on Slovenia
Limited vocab, all useful stuff (where's Susi? There's Susi!) repeated ad nauseam. Ooh look!
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Rainbow » July 15th, 2017, 11:33 pm

StokeySue wrote:That's interesting Pat, might need to look into Duolingo, probably for Spanidh

I started doing the Spanish on Duolingo and quite liked the way it is taught. Well worth a try, Sue - and it's free :tu:
Haven't done any for a while but I did learn Spanish at evening classes many years ago in preparation for a year travelling in S. America :D so thought it would be good to try and remember some.
I was never very good, but knew enough for everyday travelling needs, so it was very useful. Except in Brazil :lol:
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby TeresaFoodie » July 16th, 2017, 7:50 am

I have just started Italian on Duolingo. Fabulous! I did part one hastily and need to re-do as there is no way I am settling for 10/20! I blame John Craven on Countryfile for distracting me. So I will set aside ten minutes of classroom silence to get stuck in properly each day. :tu:
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Ratatouille » July 16th, 2017, 9:19 am

I'm sure there is something about brain structureand learning patterns.

The natural linguists in the family are all musical, have very good verbal memroies and are , at best adequate in maths and general co-ordination.
My memory is most deffinitely visual. I'm better than average on maths and spacial awareness and I am good with my hands as was my dad and is my son.

I have mentioned our Danish friend and their mangling of absolutely every language she tries. She can remeber the words as written but can't hear them as said. My cousin is the same. It's sort of verbal dyslexia
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby earthmaiden » July 16th, 2017, 2:15 pm

I had not heard of Duolingo before. Where would we be without the Wildies?!

I agree with the comments Rats made in her previous post. It may be that maths, music and languages are learned from different parts of the brain but there does seem to be a connection with learning patterns. It is interesting that most children can cope with several languages at once if introduced to them from birth or as toddlers, possibly not so well if they have a learning difficulty but it seems the best way to teach. A friend's GD who lives in Finland has grown up with her father speaking English and her mother Estonian, she was introduced to Finnish when she went to nursery and picked it up quickly. On a visit to Russia aged about 3 she was taken to a play area and quite naturally selected Finnish as the language to use as she associated it with communicating with her peers. She was most put out when the Russian children didn't understand her!
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby Herbidacious » July 17th, 2017, 10:26 am

The people we bought the house in France off had two children under ten (well there, but the third was too young to talk.) - I'd say about 7 and 9. They seemed pretty fluent even though they'd only been there about a year. They were going back to England. I imagine they lost it all. A friend of mine was fluent in Brazilian Portuguese at the age of seven but could remember nothing when I met her at twelve.

I suspect that the right v left brain dominance is somewhat over-egged. Few of us are at absolute ends of the spectrum, and often we are told that we are good at things or not good at things when young, primarily because we don't show innate talent early on, and so we believe it. I have a very good aural memory, and was quite good at music, but believe myself to be not so good at maths. I think I am probably not so bad at maths, in fact, but didn't pick it up naturally which is what one needs more often than not, as, more often that not, it's not taught terribly well in the UK. One is taught what to do, but not why one should do it.

A more telling distinction to my mind is the thinking in images vs thinking in language. The former is fairly alien to me, although not entirely, and it's possibly exaggerated by the fact that I am not able to express myself visually. My brain knows what I want to depict, but it can't make my fingers do it. i.e. I can't draw well at all! (Nor can I make my fingers knit or crochet etc. even though I understand what it is I have to do.) But that all said, I am far comfortable dealing with words.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby icelesley » July 17th, 2017, 12:32 pm

I would love to be able to speak a foreign language but alas it is not my forte. French at school went in one ear and out of the other. German I can understand a little, my friends mum was German, but I can't speak it. I tried Italian but can only remember bits, nothing that I could help me hold a conversation though, I can understand some of it as long as they don't speak to quickly, handy as I work for an Italian company.
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Re: Learning a foreign language

Postby StokeySue » July 17th, 2017, 12:57 pm

Herbidacious wrote: suspect that the right v left brain dominance is somewhat over-egged. Few of us are at absolute ends of the spectrum, and often we are told that we are good at things or not good at things when young, primarily because we don't show innate talent early on, and so we believe it. I have a very good aural memory, and was quite good at music, but believe myself to be not so good at maths. I think I am probably not so bad at maths, in fact, but didn't pick it up naturally which


I agree that it can be exaggerated, I mentioned left brain / right brain because there was a suggestion earlier in the thread that facility with maths might indicate facility with language, which I understand to be the reverse

I think I'm probably a good example of intermediate , 40 years a professional scientist with a lot of statistics and risk analysis, about as bad as maths as anyone could be and still pull that off, very verbal (in computer programming I was what's known as a linguistic programmer, which means essentially I programmed by describing in a computer language what I wanted the program to achieve, but always descriptive; if I could describe it fully in English, I could often write the program). Quite good at foreign languages, but my accent is ropy, me speaking French is the mirror image of Arsene Wenger speaking English - fluent, understandable, sounds mangled :o ). Good at pattern recognition, which is something the maths geeks don't even believe exits outside of formal maths.
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