Learning foreign languages.

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by yossarian, May 22, 2005.

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  1. I can speak French to a standard slighty above that of a tourist, and despite a grounding in Latin I am sad to say I have little other multi-lingual ability. I have started to teach myself spanish as I recently commenced 'romantic relations' with a spanish girl and this seemed as good an excuse as any to start learning another language.

    Can anyone tell me about their experiences of learning another language? It seems to me English people start learning with good intentions but never seem to get past a certain stage... while foreigners pick up English no worries.

    What is the fastest anyone has picked up a foreign language, and what methods did you use? I realise going abroad and learning it there is the best bet but thats not really an option for me.

    Yours in Linguistic anticipation, Captain Yossarian :D
  2. The best way to learn a foreign language is undoubtedly to travel to the country and immerse yourself fully in it. If this is not practical as you suggest, you should try and practice as much as possible with a native speaker. Learning from text books and audio cassetes can help, but the fastest way to gain any level of fluency is to speak the language as much as possible. Talking to your new romantic interest would be a good start.

  3. One should never learn a foreign language, it encourages the natives to impertinence.
  4. I know a couple of ex pats that picked up fairly decent working knowledge of Norwegian after 3 months, because their colleauges refused to speak english to them .

  5. What happened to just being ignorant? Force your English language upon the others do not bow to thier ways. Why give others the pleasure of you struggling to learn thier dialect? Let them struggle.. :lol But seriously,
    the best way is just to immerse yourself. Try finding movies, music etc the language you are looking for that helps a bit.

    Cheers 2CB
  6. A sleeping dictionary! ;-)

  7. Here you go
  8. I've been trying to learn Romanian for the last year and it's a bloody nightmare!
  9. Always been the best way, although you can find yourself 'du'-ing when you should be 'sie'-ing. If she whips you with her leather bootlace when you conjugate badly that's even better.
  10. It takes years to learn a language to fluency. And even after years, all that you realise is that you're still not fluent. Hard work and as much immersion as you can possibly get are the only ways to do it.
    Or sack the linguistically challenged love interest.
  11. I spent most of the working day playing german language tapes in the car (I was working as field engineer at the time) After about a 2-3 months I hitched to the Oktoberfest got totally drunk and spoke to all and sundry.
    Tapes if you apply yourself are very helpfull but not the be all and end all.

    As an earlier poster said hard work and immersion is best and the more you learn the more you realise you don't know. I lived in Thailand for nearly 10 years I speak reasonable Thai and some Khmer, it was a case of learning one word or phrase at the time. Sit down and share some beers or whatever with native speakers. A little alcohol gets rid of any shyness about messing upyour sentence and by the time your all Sh*tfaced everyones messing up what they're saying
  12. What's the Spanish vs. English fluency level of your señorita? I'm assuming she's from Spain as I haven't encountered too many Latin-American girls accompanying British soldiers, and "Spanish" tends to be the UK catchall by proximity.

    As pointed out above, total immersion in the native country is the way to go. That obviously has its problems. F'rinstance, I grew up speaking Spanglish, and the Tankie is eager to add Spanish to his repertoire along with English and excellent German. He has floated the notion of us living in Mexico City, where I have extended family, when he gets out. Cheap retirement not withstanding, I find the whole idea a LOT less romantic than he does — as you can imagine. :)

    If you're not in a position to consider moving but you have some leave stored up, there are usually intensive language-school packages available that you can take. They last anywhere from two weeks to a month, and some are all-inclusive (airfare, lodging, meals, etc.). It's a great chance to learn while enjoying the environment. Look up "language school" in her city and I guarantee you'll find some school info and program reviews.

    After that, try some sort of program where you two agree to only speak Spanish for a set period of time, say between 9 AM and 6 PM. It can be hard, especially if you aren't married or living together, but it's one way to keep your skills up.

    Also, buy Spanish-language novels and read them. Mark words are phrases you don't understand, and at the end of a chapter or novel look them up. This will have the dual purpose of expanding your vocabularly by context while it helps you get a sense of written grammar. I can't stress how important that last part is...

    Hope the above is helpful. It will be a challenge because you simply don't have the number of native speakers available to you in the UK that you would if you lived, oh, say, here. But it will be fun. ¡Buena' suerte!

    (Edited to agree heartily with the "get sh!tfaced with native speakers" school of language, if available.)
  13. my other half is from brazil hence the reason i learnt portugese, it took me one and a half years to get to nearly fluent stage my writing is still crap but hey at least i can speak the lingo, it helped going to brazil for a couple of months too. i found the best way to learn was to get my other half to say the word/phrase and i would write it how i thought it sounded e.g. eu i wrote as ill ( eu means i) as this is how it sounds when spoken, made life easier and took less time to pick it all up. eveyone has their own ways which will suit them better its just a case of discovering it. good luck with the spanish.
  14. Wow, good work! Portuguese is a b!tch for me. I know there's supposed to be a lot of similarity between Portuguese and Spanish, but between the different alphabet and the regional accents I am totally flummoxed. You'd think the fact that I live in a Brazilian neighborhood right now would help, but no. I feel like Helen Keller at my corner market.
  15. Definitely easier if living in the target language country but if you want to make things easier for yourself in the long run, put loads of emphasis on learning the grammar at the beginning. Nothing more frustrating than knowing the word for something and not being able to build the accompanying sentence without sounding like you're autistic. Happened to me lots whilst learning german :)