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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:34 pm 
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Interesting, Icelandic is in the 44 weeks (1100 hours) category but Chinese is in the 88 weeks (2200 hours). I guess it depends on the person studying it. I thought studying Icelandic was more difficult because I preferred battling the Chinese pronunciation and writing to struggling with Icelandic grammar.

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ashley wrote:
I have never thought "This coffee is okay, but it would be better if it were oily."


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:35 pm 
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Reading what I just wrote this is obviously a different matter, as the list is about how long it takes someone to learn the language, not how much fun it is for them...

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I have never thought "This coffee is okay, but it would be better if it were oily."


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:21 pm 
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Sure, but how fun it is for you will affect your motivation, which will affect your progress.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:04 am 
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It is pretty simple but I was pretty proud of myself for translating a long paragraph in Italian the other day. Then yesterday morning I was listening to some new phrases and I felt like there is just too much, I'll never get this. But then! I had my 3rd online tutor session and the teacher said I did really well. And then last night, I had a dream in Italian (with some spanish mixed in). Which also is my problem, if I can't remember the word in Italian, my brain goes to Spanish. Which is pretty funny since I'm not fluent in spanish but that happened yesterday with my tutor where I wasn't sure about a few words and my brain gave me the spanish versions of the word. In my dream though, I knew what was Italian and what was Spanish.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:53 am 
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I got a phone call from the bank, regarding missing documents for a particular file I'm opening with them. And I met a pretty common problem: I can understand everything they tell me, even in cases like this where the vocabulary is rather complex or specific, but all I can answer is: yes, understood, I will do it (and I only know of one specific way to formulate this). Which does not fill my interlocutor with trust that I actually understood what they have been saying. So they keep repeating the same things, slower, and I say, yes, understood, I will do it. They end up hesitantly hanging up, convinced that I didn't get a thing. It's frustrating for me and them.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:19 pm 
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It always makes me feel relieved when I rediscover that my Korean teacher (or my previous one) is not an expert in English, or when her accent is really noticeable. (I had a very hard time today understanding her when she translated something from Korean as "would have liked it," because would was impossible for her to pronounce.) It really takes some of the pressure off to realize that one doesn't have to speak like a native. It's okay just to do the best you can. My teacher has an accent, and doesn't have a native English-speaker's command of English, and that's fine. Her English is very good and she's awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:32 pm 
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Totally agreed Footface! I was reading one webpage about how having an accent isn't horrible but then I read the about.com page for Italian and I found it demotivating like you HAVE to speak with your hands (but oh be careful because you may make an offensive gesture) and you HAVE to insert Italian 'pause' words or else you will sound like a robot. I say screw that, if you can understand half of what I say, I'm going to be happy.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:59 pm 
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Tonight's Korean meet-up was kind of a bust. I hardly spoke any Korean, and the organizers were kind of overstructuring things. Can't I just sit here and keep chatting? Do I have to keep changing seats, where I can end up talking with other regular-old Americans?

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:52 am 
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Thanks for the book recommendations, linalil! I'll try to find those here. Right now I've been using a combo of duolingo and the "Ciao" textbook. I've been pleasantly surprised at how much I've been able to communicate out in town, though! I am finding it a nice language to practice, because people here don't just switch to English.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:13 am 
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Imogen, caso vc quiser, a gente pode combinar pra fazer uma correspondência, bater um papo, sei lá, antes de vc esquecer o que já aprendeu.

I am at a weird point right now with my portuguese. I'm past the point of using it professionally and comfortably, and need to push it up to the next level, which i am calling "talking pretty", and involves uni-level training, I guess, and I just don't have time for it.
My family speaks very "common" portuguese, like what I wrote above- full of abbreviations, slang, lacking the proper agreement/declensions/etc as is common in spoken portuguese, at least in Brazil. The issue is that my friends and colleagues are people like me- language nuts. They LOVE their portuguese and their esoteric words and obscure idioms, and they love long, flowing prose and quirky vocabulary. They are also translators, editors, writers, and this is what's expected of someone working in this field, so I am doing my best to develop it. I have a few good models to imitate, and they're priceless to me, but when I speak that way at home (like on the phone with clients) my family is horrified. My daughter had a flip out on me yesterday because I used a formal pronoun (lhe) that "makes you sound even more foreign". I feel like I have two personalities in portuguese, which I don't think I feel in english even when i am talking to people who don't like language/literature/etc and who might not use the same vocabulary i do.
maybe that's the real thing, the different vocabularies. in portuguese they are a visible (audible) class divider. the different vocabularies in japanese are a tool, but not really used to judge people. it makes me uncomfortable.

speaking of, i am getting so many demands to work with japanese again and i just don't know where to start to get back to it. I was at a really, really good level with it years ago, and occasionally i will poke around the japanese papers and be surprised at how many kanji i remember, but then realize i am not 100% sure of how to pronounce them. I found an app or two that looked interesting, which is about on the level of time commitment i can put in.

the little voice in the back of my head, though, is saying "you've been talking about learning irish and arabic forever, and you ain't getting any younger or less busy." i just need more time.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:45 am 
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crepe, missed the edit window.

@aelle, i had a friend in Japan who learned how to answer the phone like the most polite elevator lady you ever saw, but couldn't do much more than that, and people would just talk and talk and she'd just quietly hang up, poor thing. worse, her phone number had once been used by a takkyubin company, so it was just wrong numbers all day.
Maybe if you found some alternatives for what you're trying to say (the agreement on the phone thing)- watching your boss at work on a phone call, where she's just "uh huh" and seeing what other options you have? I am a big fan of imitating people I like and mimicking what they say, it's how i learned my formal Japanese and I never would have learned keigo if i hadn't had a boss who was a superstar example.

FF, the accent thing... when i taught English I would always tell students that you could minimize accent but it is part of who you are, everyone has one unless you live in a completely homogenous society. Part of being in a cosmopolitan area is accepting the fact that people have accents and not getting freaked by it, so I always told students who told me they had trouble (or even my own husband) that it was the other person's problem, not theirs, and to try to move on. Of course, fate being the kindly sweetie she is, I live in a provincial snootyland where whenever anyone hears a slightly off sound it's all "BURN THE WITCH"

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:30 am 
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I really need to get back to speaking french every day! I am traveling to France in a month and I want to be able to keep up a conversation by then. I was so good at it when I was still in class every day, but it feels like such a big investment of time when I barely have time to vacuum my apartment or feed myself. I found a podcast called "coffee break french", but I need to figure out which level to start with. I definitely don't need to go through the super basic stuff again, I just want to work on les verbs et la conjugaison and on speaking relatively fluently..


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:09 am 
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linanil wrote:
Totally agreed Footface! I was reading one webpage about how having an accent isn't horrible but then I read the about.com page for Italian and I found it demotivating like you HAVE to speak with your hands (but oh be careful because you may make an offensive gesture) and you HAVE to insert Italian 'pause' words or else you will sound like a robot. I say screw that, if you can understand half of what I say, I'm going to be happy.


The talking with your hands thing is just a big load of crock. Not everyone does it in Italy, no more than anyone anywhere else. And what "pause" words are they talking about?

I have an Italian accent after living in NYC almost 30 years now, and I am proud of it. When I speak to someone and they tell me I have an accent, it makes me very happy. I don't ever want to lose it.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:51 am 
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Angelina wrote:
I have an Italian accent after living in NYC almost 30 years now, and I am proud of it. When I speak to someone and they tell me I have an accent, it makes me very happy. I don't ever want to lose it.

that just made me smile.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:31 pm 
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I find pronouncing German difficult sometimes. I know the sound in my head, I just can't get it out.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:54 pm 
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Do you think there's different types of language learners? I always thought it's a myth and tried to teach my mother to study differently but Im not sure anymore. She always translates everything in my head and I'd find that wayyyy too difficult. If I want to really need to speak a language I need to be able to think in that language and then talk, no German/English/other language involved if possible.

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ashley wrote:
I have never thought "This coffee is okay, but it would be better if it were oily."


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:47 pm 
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i think there are different types of learners that are more receptive to different approaches, absolutely.

(i'm the anal retentive crasshole type, who's always asking naggy questions about exceptions)

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:08 pm 
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Somebody mistook my daughter for a boy the other day, and then said, oh, because I know you're foreign and you don't cut boys hair until they're older. Apparently I have developed a backward accent? She only heard me speak English.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:22 pm 
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You know, I'm finding that language learning as an adult is very different from language learning as a college student. In college, I studied enough to get good grades, but I don't remember actually being motivated beyond that. With Korean now, I'm looking stuff up throughout the day, composing sentences in my head, making connections with words I've heard in k-pop songs, going to language meet-ups, meeting with a conversation partner (well, twice, before I gave it up). I don't know whether I'm actually learning more, but I'm much more engaged. It means a lot more to me now.

And—maybe because it's just me and my teacher, and not a class full of people—the picture I get of the language feels really different. I'm aware of a lot more nuance. (Korean is seeming like a language for poet-lawyers, with all the different connotations and shades of meaning of various constructions.) Not that I can exploit or navigate these nuances, but I know they're there. I'm aware that there's all this stuff I'm not aware of. Or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:05 am 
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I wasn't motivated in my French class in school, I suck at it. But at university I was always super exited, but most of my language courses was stuff I did for fun anyway, not for credit.

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ashley wrote:
I have never thought "This coffee is okay, but it would be better if it were oily."


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:46 pm 
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I need to improve my German. I have A1, I read and understand better than that, but I have a very difficult time actually speaking it. Since I never speak it with anybody other than polite exchanges with cashiers at the grocery store...
I don't want to take more classes before I get more comfortable actually speaking. I found my 2 months of classes good, but it was mostly grammer and not conversation.
I need to find people to practise with and there are many good options for that, I only have to get over my fear of meeting new people where I have to lie etc./avoid topics :/ (long story) so I've been putting it off.


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:39 am 
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I don't know how similar exactly Korean and Japanese are, FF, though I've read they share similar origins, but I've always felt that Japanese is a language that requires a lot of thought, not necessarily to speak but to gauge the landscape around speaking. You're constantly gauging people, who they are and what their relationship is to you and to others, and in turn altering how you speak, from choice of verb tense to completely new sets of vocabulary. Comparing this to other languages I've studied that are considered to be more precise than current English (Latin, Old English), I feel it's a whole different ballgame.

I feel very sad to not be working in a language that has much wordplay. Portuguese has very little. In English, it's a part of life, and I miss it.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:03 am 
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Berlinerin wrote:
I need to improve my German. I have A1, I read and understand better than that, but I have a very difficult time actually speaking it. Since I never speak it with anybody other than polite exchanges with cashiers at the grocery store...
I don't want to take more classes before I get more comfortable actually speaking. I found my 2 months of classes good, but it was mostly grammer and not conversation.
I need to find people to practise with and there are many good options for that, I only have to get over my fear of meeting new people where I have to lie etc./avoid topics :/ (long story) so I've been putting it off.


You could always talk to me if you need someone to practice :)

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ashley wrote:
I have never thought "This coffee is okay, but it would be better if it were oily."


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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:31 pm 
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torque wrote:
I don't know how similar exactly Korean and Japanese are, FF, though I've read they share similar origins, but I've always felt that Japanese is a language that requires a lot of thought, not necessarily to speak but to gauge the landscape around speaking. You're constantly gauging people, who they are and what their relationship is to you and to others, and in turn altering how you speak, from choice of verb tense to completely new sets of vocabulary. Comparing this to other languages I've studied that are considered to be more precise than current English (Latin, Old English), I feel it's a whole different ballgame.

I feel very sad to not be working in a language that has much wordplay. Portuguese has very little. In English, it's a part of life, and I miss it.


Japanese and Korean have plenty of structural (and "social"?) similarities, but they're not closely related at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Language Lab: joys (and not) of foreign language learnin
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:42 pm 
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yeah, origins was not the word i wanted. similarities was, thank you for catching that.

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