learning foreign languages

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nanski
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learning foreign languages

Post by nanski » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:10 am

i know a tiny bit of quite alot of foreign languages (i always try to learn at least hello and thankyou in every country i travel to), but have only really tried to properly learn two: spanish and japanese.

I keep getting to this frustrating point where i feel like i've learned what i've been taught, at least for reading and writing, but i still really can't communicate. i hit some barrier that i can't seem to get past. i suspect it has something to do with needing more practice in out of class situations.

with japanese, i'm getting really frustrated, because i really need to get better. one problem is probably that the lessons i'm doing now move too slowly and are still covering things i already learned in sheffield. i keep saying i'm going to try to pair with a japanese person who wants to improve their english so we can get together once a week or so and speak to each other for an hour and help each other. i'll have to actually get around to doing it.... hopefully it will help

any tips are welcome, of course!
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Post by let it ride » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:12 pm

It can be great just to practise saying things out loud, even if no one is there.

Just try narrating things a little. I find the more I use a language out loud, the easier it comes to me whenever I am trying to talk to someone using it.
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Post by crystalball » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:29 pm

I suspect that Japanese is a lot more difficult to pick up on than European languages which have a lot in common. But I've always found that listening to the radio, watching the telly or just listening to native speakers talk as they go about their daily lives is the best way to learn. That was my experience with both English and Spanish. It's a bit scary because you start off by not understanding a thing, but as time goes by it feels as if things find a place in your brain without you even realising it. I bet you're doing that already though, aren't you?

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Post by plath » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:22 pm

If you have any tip for learning how to pronounce 16 vowel sounds when you come from a language with only 5, let me know. :(
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Post by nanski » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:24 pm

perhaps a bit. but i don't hear enough japanese, strangely enough. because people at work speak english, the only japanese i hear is at shops and stuff. i should watch japanese tv.
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Post by nanski » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:26 pm

plath wrote:If you have any tip for learning how to pronounce 16 vowel sounds when you come from a language with only 5, let me know. :(
you'd be great at japanese--it has the same 5 vowel sounds as spanish!
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Post by crystalball » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:48 pm

OK, this is not so much about learning foreign languages but as English is a foreign language for me, I always get quite excited when I randomly use slangy phrases or words. Today the phrase "I have to nip out to the shops" came out of my mouth so naturally in conversation that I almost cried with pride. I didn't in the end though. Cry, I mean - not nip out to the shops.

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Post by Mr Bear » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:24 am

I suppose the best tip I can offer someone learning a foreign language is that when you either learn something brand new or are reminded of something that you may have forgotten, repeat it in conversation as soon as possible, like within a day. I've always found that to be very best way of making something stick in my mind.

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Post by lynsosaurus » Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:49 am

crystalball wrote:OK, this is not so much about learning foreign languages but as English is a foreign language for me, I always get quite excited when I randomly use slangy phrases or words. Today the phrase "I have to nip out to the shops" came out of my mouth so naturally in conversation that I almost cried with pride. I didn't in the end though. Cry, I mean - not nip out to the shops.
I love that! I don't get the chance to do it very often, but I've managed to slip a few colloquial phrases into my Spanish recently without noticing until afterwards.

The other thing that made me grin was that in the summer, I went to Spain, and I used a slang word which I'd obviously picked up in Chile (I can't remember which one now, but it wasn't one that is used widely in Spain) and people found it amusing and cute. And when people say things like "Oh! You said that in a x accent", and I wonder when I got good enough to have any accent other than Scottish trying desperately to speak Spanish.

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Post by round bits of plastic » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:30 am

I'd never really tried to learn a 2nd language til i found myself living in a tiny town at the edge of the rainforest in cambodia.

I found that doing basic mental arithmetic helped ENORMOUSLY with learning numbers. I also forced myself to learn relevant words to buy stuff - so i wouldn't allow myself to buy sandals til I could ask for them etc.

Re: Crystal ball

I had a similar sort of experience when A (Khmer) friend who spoke very good english adressed me in khmer and we had a conversation whilst lounging in hammocks. It was til thing had gone quiet again that I realised I'd been speaking khmer. I liked the fact that he didn;t think like he had to talk english to me.
I spose it's that that similar cos it just involves basic khmer language rather than slang. but it made me all smiley nonetheless.

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by crystalball » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:36 am

I had a really weird foreign moment this morning: I was in a meeting at work and suddenly I became very aware of the fact that everyone around me was speaking in a language that wasn't my native one and that I had to make an effort to learn. The realisation was so strong that I had to concentrate to understand what was being said and I panicked that if I opened my mouth, I wouldn't have been able to speak in English. Woh. Any other foreigns ever experienced that?

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by SophieC » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:05 pm

you're foreign? i thought you were from lancaster.
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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by jayen_aitch » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:37 pm

That is foriegn.

I hear they think roses are red.

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by Jeezy Creezy » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:06 pm

I asked my pal to teach me some Swedish swear words after I'd made her a pamphlet of offensive phrases in English. Apparently they only have "fuck" "cunt" and "dick" or something which led to minutes of fun seeing how we could combine the words.
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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by jayen_aitch » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:05 pm

no, there are more than that. I know a few more. I shan't write them in mixed company.

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by lynsosaurus » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:33 pm

i managed to ask directions last night in german, despite not learning or using any since high school. and i just watched an episode of grey's anatomy on tv, dubbed into german, and learned some more new words. hurrah! i think i might start learning german next.

also, since we're staying in a spanish-owned hotel, some of the staff speak spanish, which was a relief after having a few too many beers on my stopover in amsterdam. woops.

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by jayen_aitch » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:22 pm

Wow, that's lots of languages all at once... well done you.

I would love to hear drunken Lynsey Spanish. I bet it's ace.

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by lynsosaurus » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:00 am

it totally gets better when i'm drunk! i've had conversations about all sorts when i've been drunk, and i've never been able to recapture the magic when i've been sober. curses!

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by RITH » Mon May 12, 2008 10:49 am

lynsosaurus wrote:having a few too many beers on my stopover in amsterdam. woops.
I assume you ordered those in Dutch, right?

"Zeven bier alstublieft!"


I sometimes get completely confused when I visit Sissi and family, who are Germans living in America and sometimes speak their own Gerlish language:

Die deutsche Sprache is not very dificult und neither is the english language aber when you mix it up it gets ein bisschen harder to follow.

Even harder though is visiting the family in Germany and speaking English to Sissi, then turn around and (try to) speak German to the grandparents, and back to English again et cetera. My poor Dutch brains get so confused!

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Re: learning foreign languages

Post by Life on Deck » Mon May 12, 2008 12:25 pm

Yesterday I struck upon a novel way of finally getting to understand Swedish. What I did was type as many verbs as I could type and put them in their present and past form. This document now acts as a reference point when I read the paper and find a new verb.
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