How to learn a second language

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CountryBoy
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How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

My wife and I are retired and enjoy learning French. We have had 3 years of high school French but that was long ago. The internet offers great resources like Skype, Lang-8, iTalki and much more. But as I see it I need to focus on the following tasks and am curious where people put their most emphasis in studying.

I am amazed what the internet has to help learning a language.

1. Vocabulary
2. Grammar
3. Conversation
4. Reading
5. Writing

- Is there something I should add to the list?
- What is most important?
-Are there any other websites like Lang-8 out there?

Thanks.
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dodecahedron
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by dodecahedron »

I am not familiar with the sites you mention, but my daughter and a friend both raved about Duo-Lingo.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by YttriumNitrate »

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daveatca
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the best way, in the usa

Post by daveatca »

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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jhfenton »

Duolingoc.com is fabulous for building vocabulary, especially if you've already had an introduction to the language.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Morbs »

I was in a similar boat with Spanish a number of years ago. I also recommend Pimsleur. If you start supplementing Pimsleur after the first dozen lessons or so with other learning materials such as watching television, attempting to read online news articles, etc. you'll start to see things really come together. I hadn't gone beyond high school Spanish and didn't touch it for a number of years. I followed Pimsleur for 30 to 60 minutes a day 5 days a week on my daily commute for about 8 months and was near fluent by the time I went to Peru on vacation. It was incredibly rewarding.

For what it's worth, I have attempted Rosetta Stone for multiple languages and I suggest avoiding it. Rosetta Stone does a good job at teaching you to memorizing individual words, but I don't think it does a good job at teaching a beginning or returning student the language.

Granted, Pimsleur is audio only. However, once going through it, learning to read something that you already know to speak and comprehend is incredibly easy. Since you've already taken some beginning classes, you'd have no problem.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by JupiterJones »

Pimsleur is great, although somewhat spendy. It really excels at teaching correct pronunciation.

I like Duolingo too. You can do it on the web or with a smartphone app. It's free. (Memrise is somewhat similar, but I like Duolingo better for some reason.)

You might want to read "Fluent Forever" by Gabriel Wyner. He puts forth a very specific process that he has used to learn several languages (start with a "most common words" list to prioritize your learning, make flash cards with pictures instead of English translations, etc.)
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Postby daveatca » Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:12 pm
http://www.afusa.org/index.php
Yes, we will be starting at Alliance Française in March but have been taking night school French for warm up.
Check this out for Alliance Française. The following is what they want from you to be able to do for a written and oral test before you sign up with them. This is for their beginner classes-1A or 1B:

Please check all relevant statements regarding your writing skills in French, then follow the instructions.

Please note that the skills are listed in order of increasing difficulty.

I can introduce myself (name, age, occupation, where I live, ... etc.)
I can give and follow directions to a location
I can say what I like today and what I liked yesterday
I can say what I am going to do tomorrow
I can do more than this
////////////
Self-Assessment
Please check all relevant statements regarding your writing skills in French, then follow the instructions. Please note that the skills are listed in order of increasing difficulty.

I can propose, accept or decline an invitation
I can describe in simple terms my background and my environment (my work, my house, my family)
I can state my opinion and elaborate an explanation
I can describe my schedule of activities (yesterday, today and tomorrow)
I can do more than this
|||||||||||||||||||||||

Those folks do not kid around......
nolapepper
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by nolapepper »

You can also utilize all kinds of free apps on your phone.

The best way, though, is to make native speaker friends and talk to them daily or at least weekly.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

nolapepper

Yes, I agree that is why I work with Lang-8 to find people with whom to work. However it is not an easy process to set up a relationship where I show them english and they show me french. The Lang-8 is good for helping me with this; I just did not know if there were other websites to help find a partner for this.

Thanks.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by englishgirl »

I've been enjoying Duolingo and have been learning more than with a couple of other apps that I have tried. I've only been using it for a short while, though, so I can't make any claims about it giving me any fluency. I do like that I can use it from my phone or my laptop, and it'll immediately pick up where I left off. I also like that it has a nice structure to go back and practice things that you previously learned, without having to retake the whole lesson again.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by rpike »

My experience with DuoLingo smartphone app is that it is good for refreshing vocabulary, but I do not think it is a good way to learn a new language.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Finding a partner is essential but I think something like this is also:

https://www.talkinfrench.com/20-day-gui ... nch-habit/
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by sawhorse »

Do you have a nearby adult school or community college that offers a course? In my personal experience, for a beginner, nothing substitutes for a real teacher in a classroom. You learn more in a few weeks than you do with months of trying it yourself.

Once you get to an intermediate or advanced level, self study can be useful. Still not as much as a real teacher, but you can definitely get something out of it.

I personally have a pretty low opinion of the Rosetta Stone products I've seen.

That's just me. Everyone learns differently, and learning style differences, for whatever reason, seem to be magnified with adult language learners.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Swampy »

CountryBoy wrote:
My wife and I are retired and enjoy learning French.
Go to Quebec or France for a month. :happy

Immersion is the fastest way to learn a language.

As already noted by YttriumNitrate, if you were single - a long haired dictionary usually work wonders. :D
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CountryBoy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

sawhorse

Well my wife and I are doing a French class at night with a beautifully speaking Parisian who can not teach but means well and........none of the 5 colleges in the area offer French as a class for people doing continuing ed. Such is life... :happy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Tycoon »

I tried using Duolingo to learn some Dutch before a trip to the Netherlands. However, the blank expressions on the faces of the people I tried to speak to told me my time was wasted.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by sawhorse »

CountryBoy wrote:sawhorse

Well my wife and I are doing a French class at night with a beautifully speaking Parisian who can not teach but means well and........none of the 5 colleges in the area offer French as a class for people doing continuing ed. Such is life... :happy
That's unfortunate :(

Youtube has several series of language videos. The problems are that there is no accompanying text and no individual feedback.

Is it possible to watch Canadian or French programs (probably would have to be online) with closed captioning? That's often helpful for people in America who are learning English. Never do it with live programs because of all the mistakes inevitable with live transcriptions.

If not, you can probably find full scripts of French movies online and then watch the movie slowly with the script in your hand.

My feeling is that self-study, for those who already have some foundation, can be really good for improving reading and listening, but not writing and speaking.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by peterinjapan »

When I was learning Japanese, I was not pleased with the dry nature of the textbooks we were using. Then one day the teacher brings in typed sheets and teaches us to sing a Japanese song, Kampai by Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi, which is a famous song that's often sung at weddings. Looking back, by forming an emotional bond between Japan and all of us, the teacher did more with that act than a whole semester of verb conjugations.

So when learning a foreign language, take an interest in the music, films, current events, comic books (if applicable) and soon, to help yourself form an attachment to the country.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by wander »

CountryBoy wrote:
- Is there something I should add to the list?
- What is most important?
-Are there any other websites like Lang-8 out there?
English is my second language, so I guess you will have similar issues learning another language.
I would add pronunciation, idioms, preposition, and words that sound similar but have different meaning. I find pronunciation is most difficult for adults.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Thanks to peterinjapan and all.

I guess I need to find a penpal/skype person to work with and to share English with.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by gkaplan »

I decided I wanted to learn, or rather relearn, Hebrew for several reasons. I started auditing a class at Portland State this fall. Portland State is on the quarter system; however, Portland State only has one Hebrew teacher, so Hebrew is not offered in the summer session. My instructor has been teaching pretty much by the immersion system since the third week. It's stressful and challenging, but I seem to be doing well, so I'm hopeful.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by MoonOrb »

I read Fluent Forever about this time last year and I'd recommend it. I did not have any previous French language schooling and after about 7 months of studying a little bit every day brought myself up to probably the level of fluency I might have had if I had taken a year or so of it in the classroom.

My approach was to build my vocabulary and pronunciation skills first, which I did so by using the Anki app and making my own flashcards for about 625 of the most commonly used French words. I supplemented this with Memrise and Duolingo. I completed the entire Duolingo French tree.

Additionally, I checked out from the library (via Overdrive) French audio learning courses, which weren't exactly excellent, but they were free, and I listened to them for about 15 minutes at a time during my commute either once or twice a day, sometimes.

I also started purchasing used books in French--graphic novels, children's books, young adult fiction, and "dumber" adult fiction, like romances and thrillers. I have not yet reached the point where I can easily read these, although I can make sense out of many of the graphic novels (the pictures obviously aid a great deal with this).

Next steps are that I plan to use either Pimsleur or Assimil, and after that, my goal is to work on reading via translating the books I've purchased. I also plan on working on understanding the language better by watching French movies and TV shows with subtitles in French (not English), and, if I'm able, by listening to French audio books where I can read along with the actual book.

My final phase will be to use things like italki and lang-8, and then, eventually, travel. I've let things lapse for a few months but in the new year my goal is to spend 30-60 minutes a day instead of 5-30.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by FedGuy »

Tycoon wrote:I tried using Duolingo to learn some Dutch before a trip to the Netherlands. However, the blank expressions on the faces of the people I tried to speak to told me my time was wasted.
I once read that, because so many Dutch people speak a number of foreign languages, and because so few foreigners learn Dutch, people in the Netherlands very rarely hear a foreigner attempt their language. As a result, the Dutch are terrible at understanding foreign accents. They simply haven't had the practice or experience that, say, English speakers have had. That really is something that comes with time and experience. For example, I once had a colleague from China who spoke with a very thick accent, and I often had to ask her to repeat herself. I eventually learned to decipher her accent and, since then, I've met several people from her region of China and haven't had any trouble understanding them.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by gd »

No need for a French girlfriend, although that is the most effective. Use nothing but French with your wife (both ways). This will force you to a key beginning skill-- framing your thoughts in terms of the available language, and figuring out what you absolutely need to acquire. If you must, reserve some time for english tasks-- bills, difficult important stuff. You will often need to research your conversations beforehand to plan key words or phrases. Talking to yourself in French will help also, try to describe everything you do.

Edit- This is obviously only one part of it, as you and your spouse will make mistakes together. But along the lines of the comments above, one drawback of the foreign girlfriend is that if they are too mellow, they will learn your standard mistakes and be able to understand you when no one else will. You need a critical, demanding foreign girlfriend.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

MoonOrb

Congratulations on your excellent self-discipline and perseverance.

I am building a learning strategy/study program now and your suggestions are very helpful.

Thanks.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by nolapepper »

One thing I would suggest is that to learn a new language, start it from where your interest is. For example, if you like gardening, learn vocabulary from there, maybe find a french gardening forum, watch french gardening shows, read french gardening books, and etc. It is much better than using the dry boring textbooks.

You and your wife learning together is a great benefit because you already have a partner! You two can practice with each other. The secret of mastering a language is practice, practice, practice!
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Heads up for those learning French: this guy is Good-

Frederick-

https://www.talkinfrench.com/

He doesn't just deal with punctuation, grammar, vocab, pronunciation,.etc.; rather he helps you with bldg. a study plan and how to specifically go about learning the language. And has lots of stuff to download. He is not flashy but very detailed and genuinely helpful.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by GerryL »

I spent much of the past year brushing up on French before my October trip to France. I used to live in Paris and was relatively fluent, but my language skills were pretty rusty after several decades with little practice. Here are some tips from a life-long language learner (me):

I'm a big believer in immersing myself in a local language even if I don't understand the words -- and even if I'm not actively listening. It's a steady background noise. I call it "softening my ears." Getting used to the rhythm and flow makes it easier to pick up a language. Right now, as most days at home, my iPhone is in a speaker/docking station and streaming FranceInfo, a news station. Check out this list for streaming radio stations: http://www.listenlive.eu/france.html

If you have Netflix, you will find a lot of French-language films to watch. Your local library probably also has a bunch.

A new technique I hit upon shortly before my trip was to watch familiar movies in French. Instead of relying on subtitles, just try to let the language flow over you. I sorted through a stack of DVDs and pulled out the ones that included a French audio track. Princess Bride in French was especially easy and fun.

Your Alliance Francaise teacher, no doubt, will have a bunch of websites to recommend. I know mine did. This is one http://apprendre.tv5monde.com/fr. It offers listening and reading exercises at different levels based on news items.
On the AF website you may also find info about local conversation groups that you can join.

Bon chance!
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Many thanks for your in-depth review. Yes, I am already using those websites and make it a constant practice to keep a radio or tv stn in the bkgd going at certain times 'to soften up my ears.'

I live one hour north of NYC. There are no real groups for speaking French other than the wkshops that Alliance Francais gives to members.

Congratulations on your wonderful perseverance.

I would truly like this to be a low stress, enjoyable, life long effort to learn the language and all things French. ...after all they did help us gain our liberty..

Many thanks.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by JupiterJones »

GerryL wrote:A new technique I hit upon shortly before my trip was to watch familiar movies in French. Instead of relying on subtitles, just try to let the language flow over you. I sorted through a stack of DVDs and pulled out the ones that included a French audio track. Princess Bride in French was especially easy and fun.
That's a great idea! I might have to poke around my DVDs and see which ones have good foreign language audio tracks.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Setting goals in language learning is not an easy thing.

One can set up a daily sched of say:

Vocabulary
45 min
Listening
10 min
Reading
10 min
Grammar
45 min

But in setting up any long term goal of learning a language it is hard to do. How does one quantify your ultimate goal? To be fluent? Most people will never become Totally fluent in all aspects of a second language. So how does one set a meaningful quantifiable goal in the learning of a language? I have heard that the setting of time frames and quantifiable goals are necessary for the achievement of long term goals.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by letsgobobby »

Based on the fluent forever recommendation, I'm trying out some anki flashcards... seems like it would be helpful. But as for practice once you have a foundation, immersion and face time with a native speaker are indispensable and I think italki is great.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by flyingaway »

The most important thing in studying a foreign language is the purpose. Why do you want to study a foreign language? I have been using duolingo to study Spanish for almost a year. It says that I am 54% fluent. My purpose is to help travel to Spanish speaking countries.

If I had a more urgent purpose, e.g., a beautiful girlfriend, a million dollar job, etc., I would have been 99% fluent.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by JupiterJones »

flyingaway wrote:The most important thing in studying a foreign language is the purpose. Why do you want to study a foreign language? I have been using duolingo to study Spanish for almost a year. It says that I am 54% fluent. My purpose is to help travel to Spanish speaking countries.
It's surprising how little fluency you actually need to "get by" as a traveler. I'd say you're more than ready to roll at 54%, although I guess it depends on what that 54% is. Duolingo doesn't seem to be geared toward the "vacationing" language learner, but you do get some of the good old "where is the train station" stuff. (Pimsleur is better about prepping the potential traveler, IMHO).

Anyway, you can screw up your articles, conjugations, tenses, etc., pretty badly and usually still manage to more-or-less get your point across in a foreign language. You're not going to be able to get into deep conversations about the state of the world, but a handful of words, a few polite phrases, and a lot of gesturing can go a long way.

Not to mention the fact that almost a billion people on this planet speak some level of English anyway. That actually can make it hard to practice that language you've work so hard studying!

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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by KyleAAA »

Pimsleur is excellent to a point but it won't get you past intermediate level on its own. Duolingo is really good for vocabulary. Rosetta Stone is mediocre. A combination of Pimsleur, Duolingo for vocab, and foreign language movies will get you pretty far in a year.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by flyingaway »

JupiterJones wrote:
flyingaway wrote:The most important thing in studying a foreign language is the purpose. Why do you want to study a foreign language? I have been using duolingo to study Spanish for almost a year. It says that I am 54% fluent. My purpose is to help travel to Spanish speaking countries.
It's surprising how little fluency you actually need to "get by" as a traveler. I'd say you're more than ready to roll at 54%, although I guess it depends on what that 54% is. Duolingo doesn't seem to be geared toward the "vacationing" language learner, but you do get some of the good old "where is the train station" stuff. (Pimsleur is better about prepping the potential traveler, IMHO).

Anyway, you can screw up your articles, conjugations, tenses, etc., pretty badly and usually still manage to more-or-less get your point across in a foreign language. You're not going to be able to get into deep conversations about the state of the world, but a handful of words, a few polite phrases, and a lot of gesturing can go a long way.

Not to mention the fact that almost a billion people on this planet speak some level of English anyway. That actually can make it hard to practice that language you've work so hard studying!

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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by WallyBird »

CountryBoy wrote:sawhorse

Well my wife and I are doing a French class at night with a beautifully speaking Parisian who can not teach but means well and........none of the 5 colleges in the area offer French as a class for people doing continuing ed. Such is life... :happy
Check and see if you can find a university in France or Belgium that offers a summer French course. I did this for German and loved it.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Just curious if anyone has ever attended

http://www.alliancefr.org/en

anywhere in the world.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by YttriumNitrate »

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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by JupiterJones »

YttriumNitrate wrote:I would also add that the mere attempt at speaking the native language will often go a long way in making your interactions with the local people more pleasant. One time I went to a conference in Montreal with two other lab mates who never studied French. Afterwards, they were complaining about how rude everyone was, but I had the exact opposite experience since I would always start off speaking to people with my really bad French.
Absolutely! I've had similar experiences. On my first trip to Paris years ago, I had braced myself for the legendary French rudeness only to find that everyone was actually perfectly nice to me (who at least attempted to flail about with my one semester's worth of French). A coworker who would just go up to the ticket counter and start speaking English got a noticeably colder reception.

And in Austria, one my favorite memories was standing at a small bar drinking schnapps* and chatting with an older fellow next to me in a sort of hybrid German/English melange. (Apparently it was his custom to hang out there while his wife was out shopping. Smart man, he.) I apologized for my limited German, but he was amazed and grateful that an American spoke any German at all!


*And boy, is Austrian schnapps a revelation. It's like drinking real beer after having only previously known Zima. :beer
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by GerryL »

CountryBoy wrote:Just curious if anyone has ever attended

http://www.alliancefr.org/en

anywhere in the world.
I attended AF in Paris when I lived there 46 years ago. Taking French classes at either the Sorbonne or at AF was a requirement for getting my position as an au pair. From what I saw visiting the website some months ago, the courses have changed a lot. I visited the campus when I was in Paris in October. One warning: Attending AF you will meet a lot of people of various ages. They will be from many different countries -- but not France. Not a way to meet locals.

I took a course at the AF in Portland, OR this summer. It helped get me ready for my trip but I'm not sure I will take another.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by gd »

CountryBoy wrote:Just curious if anyone has ever attended
http://www.alliancefr.org/en
anywhere in the world.
I took some 2-month courses at the Goethe Institute in Germany, which sounds like the German equivalent. It was a great experience, people from all over the world, and instructors who were skilled at teaching from nothing in only German. I'd definitely try to do it in-country, though. This kind of thing makes an excellent extended vacation. The biggest problem was most students (from everywhere) spoke english, so tended to revert to that outside of class. The girlfriend is still the key, though. Which I met through the Goethe Institute. And, fair warning, married.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by cinghiale »

I have had good luck requesting the Pimsleur courses via Interlibrary Loan. Yes, they are pricey, even when purchased used on Amazon or eBay. But it's hard to beat free. If you can plan ahead and be patient, and if your library can get them, Pimsleur provides an excellent core for both speaking and comprehension.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by ladders11 »

YttriumNitrate wrote:
JupiterJones wrote:Anyway, you can screw up your articles, conjugations, tenses, etc., pretty badly and usually still manage to more-or-less get your point across in a foreign language. You're not going to be able to get into deep conversations about the state of the world, but a handful of words, a few polite phrases, and a lot of gesturing can go a long way.
I would also add that the mere attempt at speaking the native language will often go a long way in making your interactions with the local people more pleasant. One time I went to a conference in Montreal with two other lab mates who never studied French. Afterwards, they were complaining about how rude everyone was, but I had the exact opposite experience since I would always start off speaking to people with my really bad French.
Funny, when I was in Montreal some teenagers on skateboards almost ran into me. Apparently one felt it was my fault getting in their way, so he came at me demonstrably angry and speaking french. Feeling threatened and confused, the first thing that came to my mind was "perdon" (an apology in spanish). This worked!

I have also used Duolingo with the most success. And studying the lists of most common words. Also, buying comic books on ebay, if you can find them in your target language.
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CountryBoy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Wow, comic books, I never heard of that! :oops:
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GerryL
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by GerryL »

CountryBoy wrote:Wow, comic books, I never heard of that! :oops:
On my recent trip to France I was able to purchase the 3 volumes of Asterix that complete my collection (limited to titles prior to the death of co-creator Goscinny). I was also able to buy the latest title on the day it went on sale. I also have a selection of Lucky Luke titles. Many people are fans of Tin Tin. French comics are a great way to enjoy reading in the language as they tend to have different levels of humor/meaning to make them interesting to both children and adults. Unfortunately they are rather expensive in the US market.
MoonOrb
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by MoonOrb »

I haunt used bookstores (especially Half Price Books, if you have one of those in your area) for French comics and graphic novels.
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CountryBoy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

graphic novels in French?
MoonOrb
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by MoonOrb »

Yes, although I might be using the term "graphic novel" a little loosely? But I've picked up a number of things that are bound in hardcover, some in soft cover, and they're much thicker and longer than what I normally think of as a comic book. Some of them simply might be compendiums of many issues of comics, some I'm pretty sure are actually graphic novels (novellas?).
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