How to learn a second language

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CountryBoy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

My French language level is A1 with hopes of B1 by end of 2016 and C2 by my time of death. That is for just one language and that is being optimistic.

Are you folks aware of the language learning arena? People in it look to collect languages the way some hunters collect trophies and the more and sooner a language is learned the better. These folks have their own world out there and they are sucking up language learning with a real zeal.

http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/default.asp

I had no idea this low profile sports arena existed.

Talk about feeling one is not the sharpest tack in the hardware store......... :D

Have a wonder full 2016.
novillero
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by novillero »

I liked Michel Thomas for European Portuguese (most resources are for Brazilian). I liked it better than pimsleur as I learned more words and I learned how to conjugate on my own. It taught the "how to" of the language.

At the end of the day, you still need the practice of hearing and speaking the language independent of any course. The OP has a partner at home that should be a help. And obviously loads of good suggestions in this thread too.

Good luck and enjoy the journey.
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CountryBoy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

If there are people who are learning French and would like to share experiences in the journey, please do PM me.

I think there is a lot to be gained from sharing of info re the best resources, best methods(for each person) for learning, and much more. One person from this thread has already agreed to work together with me on this. It could turn out to be a lot of fun, as well as work. The more the merrier.

My thanks to all.

Enjoy.
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M_to_the_G
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by M_to_the_G »

FedGuy wrote:
M_to_the_G wrote:How quickly you can become fluent in a language depends on your own aptitude (which is actually measurable, for example via the MLAT test)
Is there a way for me to take the MLAT test if I don't work for an employer that uses it? I always did reasonably well in my language classes in school, but attribute that more to perseverance than natural aptitude, and have never been able to develop even basic proficiency at a level that would be even superficially useful in the real world. I'd always assumed that I was just bad with languages, but would be interested in an objective assessment of my aptitude.
Your question piqued my curiosity. A quick Google search does not reveal any resources or sites to take the test. I was forced to take it by the government. As for aptitude, it really is an individual thing, and you may have a great deal of it, so I wouldn't put much stock into having "never been able to develop even basic proficiency" for the simple reason that you may not have been afforded the type of quality instruction where your talent could flourish.
"It’s basically the plot of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.' If you stick around, doing nothing, while everyone around you ****s up, you’re going to win big." - John Oliver
jrmillions
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jrmillions »

A new year (2019) will be here very soon! Has anyone set a resolution to learn a foreign language in 2019? If so, what methods do you plan on using?Formal classroom, CD's, Duolingo, move to a country that speaks the target language(immersion)?

And to those that have been studying a foreign language for a length of time, what methods have you used? And have you reached your goal?
gtd98765
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by gtd98765 »

As someone who has spent 35+ years learning foreign languages for work, I can say that the most important thing about learning a language is to go into it with your eyes open; it's like learning a musical instrument: it takes serious effort on a regular basis, preferably every day, if you want to be able to have real conversations with native speakers. It's very rewarding being able to communicate with non-English speakers, which is motivational. However, it is also easy to get discouraged if you buy into the advertising of companies that claim to sell you a method that will have you speaking fluently in just a few weeks; that does not happen.
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Ruprecht
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Ruprecht »

This website has a lot of useful information: https://forum.language-learners.org

Also, I just have to say, and will preface with IMO, IMHO, YMMV, etc.: I think Rosetta Stone is a spectacular waste of money. If it cost, say, 30 dollars, maybe I would buy it just for the ability to listen to some additional audio in the target language. But in my opinion, it is a completely worthless teaching method. But, to add another disclaimer, IANAL (I am not a linguist),
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CountryBoy
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

"Ruprecht
This website has a lot of useful information: https://forum.language-learners.org

Also, I just have to say, and will preface with IMO, IMHO, YMMV, etc.: I think Rosetta Stone is a spectacular waste of money. If it cost, say, 30 dollars, maybe I would buy it just for the ability to listen to some additional audio in the target language. But in my opinion, it is a completely worthless teaching method. But, to add another disclaimer, IANAL (I am not a linguist),"

Ruprecht is absolutely correct on all counts.

I have been at it for three years learning French and I find https://forum.language-learners.org indispensable.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jhfenton »

jrmillions wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:14 am A new year (2019) will be here very soon! Has anyone set a resolution to learn a foreign language in 2019? If so, what methods do you plan on using?Formal classroom, CD's, Duolingo, move to a country that speaks the target language(immersion)?

And to those that have been studying a foreign language for a length of time, what methods have you used? And have you reached your goal?
I've always loved languages. In high school I took 4 years of French and 2 years of Spanish. In college, I took a few more semesters of French, a conversational Spanish class, 2 years of Russian, and 1.5 years of literary Arabic. My undergraduate degree was also in linguistics. A few years ago, I got my company to pay for two semesters of community college Mandarin. (But then our main Chinese vendor ran into legal problems with the U.S. government, and we changed platforms.) But overall, between law school and work, I neglected my language studies for 20 years after college.

After the Mandarin class rekindled my interest, I started working on my French using a mix of Duolingo, reading books, listening to French news podcasts, and watching French shows on Netflix (with French audio and French subtitles). (I just finished the 4th Harry Potter book in French. The vocabulary is surprisingly varied and helpful.) I then started doing the same thing with Spanish (right now, I'm watching "el Ministerio del Tiempo" on Netflix). (My son and I also went to Spain and Morocco this past June with a school group.) I've gone to a local French Meetup group a few times, and I'm planning to go to a Spanish group now that I'm feeling a bit more confident in my vocabulary. I'm probably high B2 in French and high B1 in Spanish. The main difference at this point is that my French vocabulary is broader. In my experience, it's hard to get past a B2 level without frequent practice speaking with native speakers.

I am also now teaching myself Italian using Duolingo, and I'm going to take an evening extension school course in Italian if they don't cancel it on me again for insufficient enrollment. Italian is fairly easy if you've studied both French and Spanish. There is also an extension school class in German, and I eventually plan to take that too.

We are certainly blessed today with an incredible variety of language learning aids. With Netflix and Kindle books, I can find an unlimited supply of things to read and watch once I get a grounding in a language. In college, I worked in the language lab, and folks had to come in and check out VHS tapes in order to watch foreign-language movies.

Languages are going to be my main project in retirement. I have a list of 13 languages that I want to get to a conversational level in. I want to be able to have a basic conversation about the weather, groceries, travel, economics, etc.Retirement is maybe 14 years away, give or take, so I am going to keep working on the list in the meantime.

English, German
French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian
Russian
Mandarin
Arabic
Japanese
Hindi
Korean

For the languages that I haven't formally studied, I will need a class or some sort of contact with a native speaker. With the exception, maybe, of Italian, the subtleties of pronunciation are hard to learn from Duolingo or other audio recordings. (Duolingo already has ever language on the list available for English speakers except Arabic, and Arabic should be available in 6 months. I don't know which variety of Arabic.)
Ruprecht wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:48 am This website has a lot of useful information: https://forum.language-learners.org

Also, I just have to say, and will preface with IMO, IMHO, YMMV, etc.: I think Rosetta Stone is a spectacular waste of money. If it cost, say, 30 dollars, maybe I would buy it just for the ability to listen to some additional audio in the target language. But in my opinion, it is a completely worthless teaching method. But, to add another disclaimer, IANAL (I am not a linguist),
Thanks for the link. It looks like a great resource.

I am also spectacularly unimpressed with Rosetta Stone. I bought the Mandarin version on sale a couple of years ago, and if I hadn't had a class in Mandarin, I think I would have been very confused. I need at least a little bit of instruction on language structure, especially when the language is as different from English as Mandarin. I think that I will eventually find it useful as a vocabulary review, but it's too expensive to be a flashcard tool.
jlw35
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jlw35 »

As odd as this may sound, I'd like to learn Hindi (Marathi in particular, but that my be asking too much).
Anyone with experience in this?

Thanks
Jeff
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Tribonian »

Listening to RTVE (Radio television Española) news podcast right now. When that’s done, I’ll listen to RAI Mondo for the Italian reporting of world news. The radio news broadcasters have especially clear enunciation and the stories (Brexit etc.) are roughly the same content, so it’s not usually hard to follow.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by praxis »

I learned Spanish in-country in the Peace Corps. Our whole team of 13 volunteers passed the oral diplomatic corps proficiency test scoring a 3.5 out of 5 after 14 weeks of 8-hour/day one-on-one instruction by a local native speaking teacher while living alone with a local family. The test we took rates a college-educated native speaker of a language a 5. After the Peace Corps I spent 30 years traveling in Latin America. Part of my job was to teach local classes in groundwater geology in Spanish. I got pretty good at my second language. But the more I spoke and listened, the more my definition of "fluency" expanded. I admire anyone who can really excel at another language.

I believe anyone who wants to learn a second language would benefit by setting a goal for how fluent you want to be. Others in this thread have said that learning enough French to facilitate a 2 week trip to France is doable in a few weeks of effort. In this case I think the most important element to focus on is vocabulary. If you can learn a handful of basic sentences and have a 150 word vocabulary, you can get by in most travel situations just fine.

If you need greater fluency, then your commitment is even more important. People have learned second languages in so many ways. Attending an in-country language school for a month would be my first choice for fast progress. I sent my son to Guatemala for 1 month to the same school that taught the Peace Corps there. He got off the plane when he returned and we spoke good Spanish all the way home from the airport. He tested out of his college language requirement later that year. Many beautiful cities in Latin America have good language schools. There are 33 in Antigua and 18 in Guadalajara and many in San Jose and Quito.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by xb7 »

Sometimes it's fun when zombie threads like this are resurrected!
From one of the earlier posts:
On my recent trip to France I was able to purchase the 3 volumes of Asterix that complete my collection
They're a bit of a challenge to obtain in the U.S. but I now have all four of the Asterix & Obelix movies on DVD (and a multi-region DVD player to play them). Watching them in french, subtitled in french, is a fun learning approach for me, albeit at this point my french is so weak that I'm going to have to repeat the exercise.

I'm using "Rocket French" as well as "Slow French" for my learning, alternating every other day. Once I got through the really basic stuff, I'm liking Slow French better. Rocket French is good overall, but I find too often that it fails to do a good job of evaluating and 'grading' my accent when I speak into the microphone, and sometimes takes too long to do it, and sometimes just fails to do it. So of late I've been skipping a lot of the exercises that involve me talking and it evaluating, which is certainly part of the benefit of their approach. Still, I like having an organized approach like both of these use, rather than the more chaotic "toss semi-random stuff at you" feel of duolingo.

I really like the approach to vacations in non-english speaking countries of starting out for the first couple or so weeks in a language school there. Have done that in Germany and Spain and look forward to doing so in France.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

Praxis
There are 33 in Antigua and 18 in Guadalajara and many in San Jose and Quito.
I studied Spanish one summer in Guadalajara and lived with a family there for immersion. Yes, a very worthwhile experience.

For the past 3 years I have been studying French on my own using different resources. I have achieved a B1 from Dialang and focus very much on reading French literature that I love.
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GerryL
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by GerryL »

jrmillions wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:14 am A new year (2019) will be here very soon! Has anyone set a resolution to learn a foreign language in 2019? If so, what methods do you plan on using?Formal classroom, CD's, Duolingo, move to a country that speaks the target language(immersion)?

And to those that have been studying a foreign language for a length of time, what methods have you used? And have you reached your goal?
I've been relearning French since 2015 (it's a whole lot easier to relearn than it is to learn the first time). I use "all of the above" as far as methods go. But one thing I highly recommend is to listen to the language as much as possible. I keep a French news station playing in my house much of the day. It's easy to find radio stations that can be streamed over the internet. Radio France Info is the first thing I turn on in the morning. At first you may not understand a lot -- if anything -- but over time your ears get used to the rhythyms of the language and that makes it easier to pick it up using other methods. And don't forget to talk to yourself in your new langauage. Good luck.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by GerryL »

xb7 wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:47 pm Sometimes it's fun when zombie threads like this are resurrected!
From one of the earlier posts:
On my recent trip to France I was able to purchase the 3 volumes of Asterix that complete my collection
They're a bit of a challenge to obtain in the U.S. but I now have all four of the Asterix & Obelix movies on DVD (and a multi-region DVD player to play them). Watching them in french, subtitled in french, is a fun learning approach for me, albeit at this point my french is so weak that I'm going to have to repeat the exercise.

I'm using "Rocket French" as well as "Slow French" for my learning, alternating every other day. Once I got through the really basic stuff, I'm liking Slow French better. Rocket French is good overall, but I find too often that it fails to do a good job of evaluating and 'grading' my accent when I speak into the microphone, and sometimes takes too long to do it, and sometimes just fails to do it. So of late I've been skipping a lot of the exercises that involve me talking and it evaluating, which is certainly part of the benefit of their approach. Still, I like having an organized approach like both of these use, rather than the more chaotic "toss semi-random stuff at you" feel of duolingo.

I really like the approach to vacations in non-english speaking countries of starting out for the first couple or so weeks in a language school there. Have done that in Germany and Spain and look forward to doing so in France.
I believe that was me who supplied the quote about Asterix you inserted above.
Where are you going to take classes in France? In September I took 2 weeks of classes at a school in Lyon and stayed with a local family. I'm thinking about doing the same at a school in Rouen.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by xb7 »

GerryL wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:18 pm I believe that was me who supplied the quote about Asterix you inserted above.
Where are you going to take classes in France? In September I took 2 weeks of classes at a school in Lyon and stayed with a local family. I'm thinking about doing the same at a school in Rouen.
Montpellier for us. There can be a kind of a barbell shaped demographic at language schools, though typically a lopsided one: a lot of fairly young students, some older --- retirement age --- ones, and a scant few in between. Sometimes the young'uns are inclusive of the odd oldster or two, and sometimes one can find themselves a bit isolated.

So this time my wife and I looked for "55+" programs, and one of those is in Montpellier (southern France). Catch there is that you're supposed to be at A2 level to participate, and at this point we're not there yet.

So ... we're working it!

Complete fluency (ever harder to define as you get better at a language) --- this is not our goal, we just want some basic ability to communicate as we'll be hiking there for a while after the school.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Hyperborea »

jrmillions wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:14 am A new year (2019) will be here very soon! Has anyone set a resolution to learn a foreign language in 2019? If so, what methods do you plan on using?Formal classroom, CD's, Duolingo, move to a country that speaks the target language(immersion)?

And to those that have been studying a foreign language for a length of time, what methods have you used? And have you reached your goal?
I retired early at 51 and after 2 years in place in the Bay Area I enrolled in a full-time language school in Japan. I started in September this year and have just finished the first quarter. I'm planning to go for a full two years (4 quarters per year). My level was already at N3 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) and I'm working up from there. I got to the N3 level before I retired. I used a combination of a variety of things listed below. The N3 is the middle level of the proficiency grade on pure numeric terms (lowest is N5 and highest is N1) but on an hours studied basis it is more like 25-30% of the way to N1 level and that is really only the start of "fluency".

Anki: vocabulary decks; kanji (Japanese characters derived from the Chinese characters); grammar; special purpose decks for the proficiency tests
Reading: graded readers some with audio; children's books*; ebooks (Kindle or others with easy dictionary lookup); some manga (Japanese comics)
- two kinds of reading:
- intensive where you look up everything you don't understand - difficult to do and tiring so only do it with small blocks of text
- extensive where you read while looking up very little - pick something easy enough to do this with, don't try and stretch your level with this, keep it at a level where you can read with flow
Classes: assortment of Japanese classes through the Japan society in Silicon Valley; 2 week immersion class in Japan; private tutoring
TV: various videos rented from Japanese language video store; subscription to Japanese language streaming service; Netflix shows in Japanese

* Children's books can be helpful but can also be very difficult for a language learner. There are often special children's words that might not be in your dictionaries and can be very confusing. Think of things like "piggly-wiggly" or "doggy" in English and then try and decipher those when your language skills are low. I found the cutoff for that kind of language in Japanese books at about the 2nd or 3rd grade level. I used graded readers to get to that level first.

Full time language school is roughly 5 hours per day, 5 days per week. It's an intensity level that I would have a hard time keeping going on my own without the routine of the class schedule. I also picked a language school that has a student body made up of mostly people from non-English speaking countries. Some of them do speak English as well and there are other English speakers but that fact that we're a small minority means that I must use Japanese to speak with my fellow students. I continue to work my Anki decks and read outside of class. Also, now that we are on winter holiday between the fall and winter terms I'm doing some extra work on areas that are weaker for me.
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SteveinVanvcouverWA
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by SteveinVanvcouverWA »

I'm on a 4 y streak with Duolingo Spanish. Highly recommend.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by finite_difference »

I hope to learn the following languages, in this order:

1. Mandarin
2. Spanish
3. Japanese
4. French

After that I’ll speak 6 languages and that should be enough ;) 2 and 4 should be pretty easy compared to 1 and 3. There’s a lot more I’d like to learn: Arabic, Navajo, Cantonese.

Something for Bogleheads to do in retirement to keep them busy.. learn an endangered language and teach it to others? Lol.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by MossySF »

I'm using 全民K歌 to sing Karaoke songs in foreign languages. :D :D :D

* kg.qq.com
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Toons
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Toons »

Treinta meses aprendiendo español con Duolingo Youtube, Podcasts, Netflix.
Practicar Practicar Practicar, funciona
Buena suerte

:mrgreen:
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by kramer »

I would stress what some others have already said, learning a language to a lower level of fluency is an incredibly difficult and long process. Way longer than the non-language-learner would predict. And I am only learning a Romance language. (I loved Hyperborea's post above).

I restarted my Spanish this year after a long hiatus and I am now a solid B2 speaker after a lot of daily work for about 10 months now. My goal is to reach C1 in 2019. Self-directed learning is so much easier once you have reached upper intermediate level.

I have found iTalki to be a great resource. I have even been able to use teachers in my target country before going there to get more attuned to their version of Spanish (in my case, Spain and Mexico). Currently I use two teachers from Mexico with contrasting styles. One teacher who talks quickly and corrects me on every single error that I make. The other is more professorial and we discuss culture, current events and podcasts/videos that he assigns me for homework. Next year we are going to work on Mexican literature.

I use Anki extensively and daily. I listen to podcasts and youtube videos in Spanish. I have watched Mexican television series with Spanish subtitles. I am headed to Mexico for three weeks of language school in January. I feel like I am on the verge of emerging from "intermediate purgatory" into a more advanced mode of communication and it's exciting.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by Rupert »

I am one year into a Duolingo French course and am loving it. I had two years of French in college and was pleasantly surprised by how much of that came back to me. My only goal is to exercise my aging brain -- to challenge myself in a way that I am not otherwise challenged at work, etc. I don't expect to fully master the language. It has, after all, taken me almost half a century to become somewhat proficient in English, which is my native tongue. Speaking of that, studying French has improved my English grammar, which is an additional reason to study a foreign language.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by CountryBoy »

kramer » Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:29 am
I would stress what some others have already said, learning a language to a lower level of fluency is an incredibly difficult and long process. Way longer than the non-language-learner would predict. And I am only learning a Romance language. (I loved Hyperborea's post above).
I agree with Kramer, it is longer and harder than people say, but it is very rewarding.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jrmillions »

I am studying Polish now. I use Duolingo and Memrise for vocabulary, Pimsleur CDs in the car, a Colloquial Polish textbook and watch Youtube videos with subtitles. For me it is much more challenging than learning Spanish ( and that's already a big challenge!) I am of Polish descent and my father can speak it. I am hoping to obtain a very basic conversation in 2019 so we can converse on the phone. Not sure if I will make it to Poland in the near future to practice speaking. I guess Chicago may be a good option!
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jrmillions »

Ruprecht wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:48 am This website has a lot of useful information: https://forum.language-learners.org

Also, I just have to say, and will preface with IMO, IMHO, YMMV, etc.: I think Rosetta Stone is a spectacular waste of money. If it cost, say, 30 dollars, maybe I would buy it just for the ability to listen to some additional audio in the target language. But in my opinion, it is a completely worthless teaching method. But, to add another disclaimer, IANAL (I am not a linguist),
Thanks for the link! Lots of information for me to find on Polish.

I agree about Rosetta Stone, Used it for free. Didn't like the method.
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by jhfenton »

jlw35 wrote: Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:17 pm As odd as this may sound, I'd like to learn Hindi (Marathi in particular, but that my be asking too much).
Anyone with experience in this?

Thanks
Jeff
Not at all. It has been moving rapidly up my list. As a practical matter, I have contact with more native speakers than any other language on my list, including Spanish.
grog
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Re: How to learn a second language

Post by grog »

As an academic subject, I would rate foreign language learning (even the easiest languages) as quite difficult, probably behind only advanced mathematics and physical sciences. (Note that many foreign language courses are easy, but that is because the standards are low, i.e., they don't require you to actually learn the language). At the same time, most of us don't really "need' the second language. The harsh truth is that this is a formula for failure. It's basic cost-benefit analysis.

My Experience

Spanish: Learned it in Latin America. There is just no substitute for that sort of continuous speaking and listening practice. Was conversational within a few months. Once I reached a basic fluency, I found I needed dedicated study to improve (this is why you see people that have lived in a country for years and never speak really well). I think my preferred pattern is 1) books + audio, 2) immersion, 3) books again.

French: Started studying on my own with books, tapes, etc. Probably 10 hours a week for a couple of months (this was several years ago). Learned a lot of the basics, can sort of read it. Can't really speak. Can't understand that much native speech. Even though it was coming quite easily I felt like I'd reached a point where I needed some immersive speaking and listening practice. I basically just stopped at stage 1 above.

Ancient Greek: Studied this on my own. More of a challenge. Learned the alphabet and some vocabulary but was too lazy to learn all the declensions, etc.

German: Have been meaning to learn the basics for a while now. Would at least like to read it. Haven't gotten too far. I've found it harder than French. English is in the Germanic family, but I didn't feel like I was getting much of a discount. In contrast, I felt like I was getting a huge discount with French.

In summary, the only time I was really successful was when I had the benefit of extended immersion. But I still feel like dabbling in other languages has been worthwhile even if it hasn't led to practical fluency. There's some benefit to just knowing some of the basic vocabulary. And having some familiarity with the language can come in handy whenever that opportunity to really learn it comes along.
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