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 Post subject: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learning
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:47 am 
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What languages are you learning?

Why?

How's it going?

What techniques are you using? Self study? Software? Classes? Tutors?

Know any good books? Sites? Apps?

And so forth?

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:53 am 
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I've been learning Portuguese since September 2012, which started as part of a funded programme to learn the language and go to Brazil in summer 2013. I've stalled a bit due to quitting classes over an horrible tutor taking the class I started attending after I returned, but I still have a pile of Portuguese books I'm hoping to pick up again soon to practice my reading comprehension and vocabulary expansion. I'd like to visit Portugal soon and so I'm keen to start learning and practicing properly again, even though the Portuguese in Brazil and Portugal is quite different.

When I was first learning I used memrise to quickly pick up a lot of new vocabulary, which was really helpful (and free!)

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:00 am 
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Dutch! By immersion. I am too shy to speak (unless it's to veggie sellers or grandparents or tiny kids), but I absorb all kinds of information passively: I listen to Dutch NPR, read the newspaper and kids books in Dutch, and sometimes tease my boyfriend in Dutch. (He is a native speaker, but the hiccups that occur with babbling in a language you're not quite proficient at confuse his poor brain.) I also go to lectures and meetings at the university in Dutch whenever possible. For passive skills, it is great! For active skills, arg, I wish I were better.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:26 am 
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Self taught Japanese. I've always wanted to visit Japan and always learn some of the language before visiting a country where English isn't the first language. It's going slow. I'm learning mostly through songs, movies and TV shows but Mr8 is using a more textbook approach and we share what we've learned with each other.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:03 am 
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Ciao!
Studio l'italiano perche e un lingua bella e sto adando a Italia a Maggio.
(I am studying Italian because it is a beautiful language and I am going to Italy in May)

That is about all that I can muster at the moment. So I studied Italian in college, lost it completely, been wanting to go to Italy since. Never gone. And a few weeks ago, I said screw it and booked a quasi out of the blue trip to Italy. So I decided to at least relearn some but then realized that I love it so I am going to continue with it.

The best thing I found so far is something with an EU focus, Assimil. I really like it but it is limited in its languages and the spanish is Spain spanish. It is fine for me learning Italian but I am not sure I'd use it for Spanish.

I also like podcasts, when we went to China, I listened to a Chinese (Mandarin) podcast that was awesome.

For Italian, there are a variety but my favorite is Italian Pod 101. You can do a 7 day trial and they have a bunch of ones free on Itunes but I am not sure it is worth the price for subscribing. Maybe... maybe not.

I've found a few services actually have integrated lessons with a Native speaker. Both Rosetta Stone TotalE and Living Language (online and Platinum boxed edition) have this. I've read reviews of both and there are some good and bad. I don't particularly think Rosetta stone is that great but if you do the TotalE (online only or 3 month trial with boxed set), it might be a good thing. I've also read that there are some other services out there where you can hire by the hour a foreign language tutor.

I did find a foreign language class with a local Italian cultural society which is cheaper than the community college and goes beyond the community college. I also joined a couple meetup groups for those learning and speaking Italian in my area. I'm not sure I'll actually go to the meetups but they have classes as well as information on local events.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:31 am 
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I'm learning Italian, I think? I mean, I moved to Italy and the other day I tried to understand the fine print in my new cell phone policy. I've been using Duolingo and hope to sign up for a class soon (tried to do this back in San Diego but they filled up too quickly), and uh we watch a lot of "Io sono Peppa Pig" and "Dora L'esploratrice" around here.

We just got news that we don't have to live on the military base here (hooray! Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it is so not my scene and I don't want to spend the next two years surrounded by Americans speaking English all day and shopping for triscuits at the commissary). This should help tremendously, because nothing forces you to learn a language like being dumped into a new country and having to do everyday tasks. So far, my long ago 4 years of Spanish is making Italian quick to learn vocabulary for, but kind of tricky with slight differences in grammar, word order, etc.

Lutin, do you know about the kids' news show, Jeugdjournaal? Watching that every day helped me a lot the first few months I studied Dutch and lived in Amsterdam, before I could follow the regular news or read the paper easily. I also really liked the NRC Next, because it was such a great format for the train and I found it more readable for beginners than, say, the Handelsblad or even Volkskrant.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:48 am 
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I also speak Italian, so if anyone wants to chat (or hangout, or whatever) we could try that. For me, it's less intimidating to speak with another non-native than a native speaker. Obviously, I can't promise perfect grammar, but confidence? Perhaps confidence. :)

I have seen Jeugdjournaal. It is super cute! I have also read all kinds of silly dailies which were discarded on the train. What helped me the most, though, was going to Amma/Embracing the World events. Those happen in Dutch, but with a lot of background and context that I already had from India. It made it super easy to fill in the pieces, and everyone is already so sweet. I manage to speak to a lot of those people in Dutch, too. Really, I don't understand why I'm so hung up on speaking English, I understand enough now that I could even read a dissertation in Dutch .... so surely I could write a letter or talk to someone?

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:47 am 
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I've been reading some stuff on http://www.fluentin3months.com. The thing that seems most important is speaking the language in order to become fluent. If you aren't speaking it then trying to learn more in terms of hearing/reading won't help you speak. I plan to butcher Italian in all sorts of ways when I visit Italy. If you aren't comfortable with your boyfriend, you could see about getting someone else to help? for a few hours each week at least?

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:13 pm 
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Yeah, I was just going to suggest Benny's book, Fluent in 3 Months. It's a great resource and it gets you to think about learning a language in a new way. It made me finally believe I could learn Spanish.

Yo estudio Español. My boss and I started learning together, so we do one tile in Duolingo a day, and we meet twice a week after work for "Spanish Club" where we mostly talk about our cats in awful Spanish.

I signed up for Italki and have been doing Skype chats with native speakers. It's been super helpful.

I'm from Texas, lived in California, and even though I live in Portland now, not speaking Spanish still feels like a handicap. I visit enough places every year with large Spanish speaking populations that it's worth my while. Plus, my husband and I are going to Spain next year.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:17 pm 
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Oh Italki was the one I read about.

My spanish is so horrible even though I was surrounded by spanish speakers all my life. I felt embarrassed to talk but of course now I regret it.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:20 pm 
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I have been in the process of learning Swedish for 20 years or so, because it's where my dad's family is from and I hope to someday get dual citizenship (it would, unfortunately, require a job offer [not gonna happen] or a change in citizenship laws [probably also not gonna happen]).

My methods over the years have included immersive visits of 1-2 weeks, reading newspapers and books in Swedish (I read the entire Harry Potter and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series this way), Swedish classes through various historical/heritage societies, and listening to SverigesRadio on the net and podcasts.

I am more or less fluent in reading comprehension, but my main hindrance is that I have no one to practice with conversationally, and thus my listening and speaking skills are severely trailing my reading skills.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:23 pm 
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I used to have a good level of French and I'm trying to get back into it. I watch Star Trek in French (because my DVDs conveniently have several languages) and try to watch French films, but also I've been trying to think to myself in French as I go about my day. I think it's helping, although it's sometimes hard not to choke on my words in an effort not to do stuff like ask for my bus ticket in French.

I also, from time to time, watch Star Trek in Spanish (those useful DVDs again ha) and repeat words and phrases to myself as I hear them. I've had a look at some grammar and bits and bobs of vocab too but I just don't have a lot of time at the moment to learn another language.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:59 pm 
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I have a hard time trying to not forget the languages I studied/get better at them because of time restraints basically. I need motivation and time :(


English is my first foreign language, it helps that I use it daily. I almost use it as much as German. I don't "study" it anymore.

I did an exchange year in Holland when I was 16/17, went to school there, etc. I still speak Dutch fluently but I feel like such klutz trying to write anything in Dutch. I sometimes feel like my Dutch is like a child's, I can say everything I need to say, but my vocabulary is so limited. And stuck in teenage-Utrecht-slang circa 2005. I wish I had people I could talk to, I really would hate to forget the language. I read Dutch books and sometimes write in Dutch in my diary but it's not enough, I think.

I took French in school for 7 years and I liked it but I never got really fluent. When I was in Paris for a week and when I was in Belgium it got easier super quickly, I started thinking in French the second day, but here it's really hard. I'm not sure why but I do suspect school ruined it a bit for me, because I took it for years and never got really good. The best language boost I got was watching the O.C. in French...

I also would like to get my Spanish better again. I took some beginners classes when I was 14, but these classes never really motivate me. I got fluent-but-shitty (you know what I mean, you can pretty much say anything and people will understand you but you're butchering the language) when I was 18 because I got obsessed with this mexian pop band called Zoé (and mexico in general, to some degree). I'd translate lyrics, watch interviews, read on their fan board, chat with other fans.
Now I have trouble understanding people from Spain (you meet a lot of Spanish people here in Berlin), like I almost understand nothing when they talk. It frustrates me so much and makes me feel like I don't know the language at all. It's got to be buried somewhere in my head though and I'd love to get to thinking/speaking fluently again. Maybe this time with some actual grammar?

My Icelandic frustrates me the most. I took it at university. I took the class for B1-B2 three times, I passed but I wasn't good at all. The grammar is very intimidating. When I was in Iceland I did ok talking to people in shops, etc, but I never had proper conversations outside of class. I tried studying at home, but I get frustrated with it very easily. I guess if I really want to get into Icelandic again, I need to sidestep the grammar to some degree and focus on reading/understanding.

Last semester I passed my last Norwegian exam and I'm supposed to be speaking it at C1-level. Yeah, no. I passed with the best grade possibly but felt like an imposter! I also need to practice it, better it. I read a Norwegian skepticism blog regularly, this helps a tiny bit but I never practice speaking it anymore.

I just finished writing my BA about Greenlandic and Danish nationality and Greenlandic independency and having to read so many essays and texts in Danish definitely helped! I lived in Copenhagen for a semester but I can't speak it, i can only read and understand it. I still would love to learn to speak it/pronounce it but a) I always mix it up with Norwegian & b) I find it fairly difficult to study the language at this point where I understand it but can't speak it. Anyone any ideas on this?

I had private Chinese lessons as a teenager but stopped when I did my finals. I wish I hadn't stopped. Private lessons were so taxing but definitely the way to go with such a difficult language.

I also studied at university or for myself Greenlandic, Swedish, Finnish, Turkish, Welsh, Japanese, Catalan, all to varying degrees of non-success. It doesn't mean I've given up on them, they're just, erm, on hold.

Sorry for the novel here, I'm just very obsessed with languages :)

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:15 pm 
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Wow! You really do like languages.

I'm an underachiever with languages for sure. But today was fun! I installed the Cherokee syllabary language onto my computer at work to put together some stuff for a field trip @ work (there is an exhibit on Cherokee @ the visitor center I work at). I can't really speak it at all except for a handful of animal names, but it was really fun to install and type in Cherokee! I type a syllable! It makes the symbol! Fun! I'd do that here, but now I'm not at work.

I'm going to Croatia again this Sept (I hope!) and I want to learn more before I go. I will have time if I graduate this May, to do so! I always think I could learn it quicker since I heard it as a kid, I don't know. Someday I want to get my 4 years of Spanish into something workable as well.

But for right now, I just need to finish my school stuff and THEN I can think about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:31 am 
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I study Spanish and German at uni. I've been learning Spanish at school since I was about 11 but I'm only started German September last year. I purposefully picked German because it's not at all like Spanish.

For Spanish, I like to read books. Usually I pick books I already know quite well in English so I only have to focus on vocabulary, not understanding the storyline.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:43 am 
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Here is some Cherokee, for the heck of it! Because I can!!

yona, Bear, ᏲᎾ
awie- elk, ᎠᏫᎡ
wes- cat, ᏪᏍ

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:08 pm 
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That's kind of great!

(But why is "wes" so long if it's only one syllable?)

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:21 pm 
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lycophyte wrote:
Here is some Cherokee, for the heck of it! Because I can!!

yona, Bear, ᏲᎾ
awie- elk, ᎠᏫᎡ
wes- cat, ᏪᏍ

Are you...are you a wizard?

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:45 pm 
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mumbles wrote:
lycophyte wrote:
Here is some Cherokee, for the heck of it! Because I can!!

yona, Bear, ᏲᎾ
awie- elk, ᎠᏫᎡ
wes- cat, ᏪᏍ

Are you...are you a wizard?

Ha!

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:17 pm 
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I received the book for my Italian class that starts next week... I'm guessing this is on purpose but the website for the company that publishes the book (and other language learning books) is i-d-e-e.it... ideeit... I'm amused :)

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:03 pm 
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FootFace wrote:

(But why is "wes" so long if it's only one syllable?)


I'm not sure, but its listed as its very own syllable! I guess its a really hard s sound.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:32 pm 
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I have a Master's in linguistics, and I've studied lots of languages, mostly in high school and college: Latin, Russian, Ancient Greek, German, Old English, Finnish, and Sanskrit. (The only one of those I could have really done anything with at all was Russian, but that was close to 30 years ago.)

For the last 6 months, I've been taking Korean lessons. Even though I meet with my tutor only once a week—and use a textbook and quizlet.com for flashcards on my phone—I feel like I'm learning a ton more than I would all on my own. My vocabulary's still pretty small, and the grammar can be slow going, but my real problem is comprehension. You can say something to me with only words I know perfectly well, in constructions I understand, and it's still just an audible blur. My ears can't listen fast enough! It's really discouraging and frustrating, and it's starting to really get me down. My teacher says I'm doing well, but what I want her to say is, "Don't worry. This is how it works. You'll get there. Just keep at it."

This gives me even more respect for the ESL students I tutor at the community college.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:51 pm 
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I think it is just getting used to it. I listened to a Mandarin podcast for 6 months and did some other minor self study prior to us going to China. The only thing it really gave me was the ability to distinguish word breaks which turned Mandarin into a non-jibberish to me even though I couldn't understand a word. I only retained about 3 words though so there was no speaking attempts when I was in China other than Nee-how (hello) and Shhi-Shhi (thank you). At the time, I also knew the word for tree for some reason, but I forget what that is. I also recognized the characters for "China".

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:06 pm 
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conversational skills are so hard to develop if you aren't immersed in the language. i studied spanish for 13 years, but for the first eight or so it was all written work and recitation, with almost no conversation. i tested into an advanced class as a freshman in college, but i struggled the first year because the class was taught in spanish and my listening comprehension was (surprise!) ridiculously poor relative to my reading comprehension. it was extremely humbling. i never really reached a level where i felt confident about my chatting skills, but sometimes i talk to my cat in spanish just to convince myself it wasn't all a waste of time.

i've been listening to gaelic tapes a lot lately. i'm not absorbing much, but it sure is pretty.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:40 pm 
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I tried to learn Irish in high school. It was hard, so I stopped.

My name is mumbles, and this is my story.

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