Learning a new language

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daisy
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Learning a new language

Post by daisy » Sun May 11, 2014 5:53 am

So I'm going to have 3 months of fudge all in about a months time. What better time than that to start learning a new language? But how to do it, starting from square one? Self improvement, screw you depression and all that.

I have a very limited command of French, but I must stress the limited part. I know a few words and simple phrases, but that's it. Barely enough to order food with in a restaurant. One might think that French might be the best option in light of that, but I despised my French teacher during my school days (I was between 11 and 14) and she sorta put me off.

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by HPD » Sun May 11, 2014 6:15 am

Well, I'm sure you can find some things on the internet. Also check out some nifty phone/tablet apps. I'm pretty sure there's stuff available. For the real good stuff you probably have to pay a little, but try to do your research before committing money. You don't want to end up with something that's crap.
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daisy
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by daisy » Sun May 11, 2014 6:16 am

Sorry I should've been more specific. I'm basically after other people's experiences. (We seem to have a lot of multilingual people here so...)

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Treedweller

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Treedweller » Sun May 11, 2014 6:55 am

I don't recommend language learning courses or apps.

The easiest way to learn a new language is to pick one that has a big, easily accessible media and immerse yourself in it until you magically understand words. French has a vast and accessible collection of music, games, books, graphic novels, podcasts, and movies, and it's accessible for an anglophone (similar words and grammar, but also France is like right across the English Channel so you guys would have a ton of French stuff in specialized stores). That'd probably be your best pick, but any European language that interests you is cool. It'll take you more than three months, though.

Over the past two and a half years, I spent a lot of time immersed in French, which is to say that I listened to and read things in French until I magically understood it. I'm not confident in my speaking skills, but otherwise it worked.

If you'd like, I can link you to blogs that go over the immersion method I used. Then if you like the method, I'd be happy to inundate you with a tsunami of French media links and recommendations.

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Bonesy
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Bonesy » Sun May 11, 2014 7:37 am

just watch wakfu and all those other ones i forget what hte sequels/prequels are called over and over i hear they be good

daisy
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by daisy » Sun May 11, 2014 9:22 am

Treedweller wrote:I don't recommend language learning courses or apps.

The easiest way to learn a new language is to pick one that has a big, easily accessible media and immerse yourself in it until you magically understand words. French has a vast and accessible collection of music, games, books, graphic novels, podcasts, and movies, and it's accessible for an anglophone (similar words and grammar, but also France is like right across the English Channel so you guys would have a ton of French stuff in specialized stores). That'd probably be your best pick, but any European language that interests you is cool. It'll take you more than three months, though.

Over the past two and a half years, I spent a lot of time immersed in French, which is to say that I listened to and read things in French until I magically understood it. I'm not confident in my speaking skills, but otherwise it worked.

If you'd like, I can link you to blogs that go over the immersion method I used. Then if you like the method, I'd be happy to inundate you with a tsunami of French media links and recommendations.
Do it.

I realise it'd take more than three months to become fluent. More like three years. I dunno I'd just like to be able to speak/read something other than English at a semi-acceptable level. Enough to be able to hold a basic conversation, anyway.

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Linkman
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Linkman » Sun May 11, 2014 10:29 am

I disagree with Treed. Do take a course.

It'll add a social aspect to learning. You'll make friends. You'll be accountable by a teacher. You are far, far more likely to succeed than by self-learning. You will eventually need immersion, yes, but book-learning is very useful for the first few months. Do not take a university course though--take a course that focuses in teaching you conversational french.

I have been learning French in such a course since March last year. It's very light, just two classes a week, and it costs me something like $100 a month, so about 12 bucks a class. I could afford it, and it was a wonderful outlet for my brain to think about other things than my job and personal affairs. I then quit the course in September, telling myself I had established enough of a base to teach myself; while in theory this was true, I procrastinated and dedicated very little time.

So now I took the course again and it feels wonderful. Even if I'm a lazy bastard all week, I'm forced to speak and listen to French during class twice a week. It's slow, but it works. It also feels very rewarding because apparently I'm good at learning French (which is logical since I speak both Spanish and Portuguese, but still, feels great.)
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Treedweller

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Treedweller » Sun May 11, 2014 2:39 pm

Sorry Linky dear, but learning a language shouldn't have to be about being a lazy bastard. Learning a language should be about building fascination with another system of representation, and then using its media to teach and entertain yourself.

I think it's nice when someone wants to learn to speak another language, but learners tend to fetishize speaking a foreign language without considering its real power comes in the media and people that it gives you access to. So, they take dull classes preparing for the day when they'll finally be able to understand movies or books or the radio, instead of being okay with not understanding everything at first and using those movies, books, and radio shows as tools.

Plus, you know three European languages. For you, building a base in French by going to a twice a week class might be fine. If I had done something similar over the past two and a half years, I still would've been barely capable of reading the Le Monde's headline story. Instead, I can read Le Monde just fine, and though I couldn't tell you what the dreaded french subjonctif is, I'm sure that I can use it.

But fine, I agree with you that it might be nice to have the community that comes with taking a class. I didn't see value in it for me, though.
Last edited by Treedweller on Sun May 11, 2014 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Treedweller

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Treedweller » Sun May 11, 2014 2:55 pm

Also boglet dear, here are a couple resources:

Antimoon
This is a site about learning English, but it's actually an excellent general guide to learning any language. Just replace the word 'English' with your language of choice. Here's a link to Antimoon's page on input, which means immersion. That's the key concept you need to understand should you decide to use this method.

All Japanese All The Time (AJATT)
I'm not a fan of this guy's writing or his quirky ways to try to make me part with my money, but his basic ideas (input, use Anki, find stuff in your language that you think are neat) are sound. Read some stuff from the table of contents that I linked you to.

There's another or blog or two that I can dig up later, but I think that's enough reading for a little while.

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by MysteriousLad » Sun May 11, 2014 3:03 pm

daisy wrote:Sorry I should've been more specific. I'm basically after other people's experiences. (We seem to have a lot of multilingual people here so...)
Learning German, French, Dutch and English at school and some of the kids in my year have Latin, Greek and Chinese above that. I hate languages and some of my language teachers hate me. (Cough. Cough. French .cough.)
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Sven

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Sven » Sun May 11, 2014 10:21 pm

i've got 12 years of school french, and a university history course with lectures in french but essays in english. my only experience with spoken french has involved some magic the gathering tournaments in quebec where my opponents were unable to speak english - but there I only used a few canned phrases. i'd like to attack, i have a response, it is your turn, etc. i guess i ordered food in french too. i'm unable to do stuff like hold a two sided conversation, process humor or sarcasm without great effort, etc.

i had some long post about how i agreed with linkman and disagreed with treed until i realized treed was specifically emphasizing french - and there he's completely correct, immersion is 100% the best option for english speakers, for the reason he's already stated - the content is partially accessible immediately.

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by HPD » Sun May 11, 2014 10:52 pm

kinda had to hurry this post but w/e

Obviously the best solution is to do all of those things, but that takes a great amount of effort and dedication. But you need that regardless in order to master a foreign language.

I was pretty good in English before I started travelling, but spending a year in Australia and New Zealand basically forced to do everything in English really brought it to a new level. If you're using a language on a daily basis, that's truly when you pick it up. In the end it's all about practice, and you'll have to find which way of practicing a language works for you. But don't expect to learn to actually speak a language by just attending classes or consuming foreign media. You'll only learn that by speaking it yourself. I'm at the point where I'm quite confident in my German in terms of understanding and reading, but don't ask me to hold a conversation with native German speakers. It's something completely different.
"So when I say the fudge shaman flies he goddamn well flies and that's that." - Narts
"My motto is that there are far too many women in the world to waste time with men." - thefalman
"It's just that I'm not really aware of how a common conversation goes." - Imano Ob, talking on MSN about talking on MSN
"As for FE8, that was IS' variant of Man Spam - Dudes with Swords edition." - Xenesis

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Alecat » Sun May 11, 2014 11:04 pm

I agree with the idea that difficulties with understanding language shouldn't put you off trying to read stuff in that language. Immersion can be very powerful.

Flashcards can be super important for some languages. For a while I was rote-learning Chinese characters, 20 characters at a time, super rapidly using a flashcard app. I would never have drilled those nonsense characters (yay simplified Chinese /s) into my head if not for that.

For other languages, flashcards aren't so important. I've never used them for French.

At the end of the day, (I think from your original post you already know this) the biggest thing with learning a language is about passion. I have been frequently curious about learning languages, but never passionate about any. Hence I might learn a ton, but without keeping up the immersion I've retained very little in the long term, because there hasn't been a burning need to use what I've learned. So if you're sourcing suggestions on a language you can get passionate about... I dunno.

Here's a wacky suggestion: Dutch. We have native speakers. WWN can be your study-playground. You have people to hold you accountable to the fact that you're trying to learn the language, and possibly even be a resource for talking at/to and even talking back!

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Sven

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Sven » Mon May 12, 2014 12:01 am

flashcard applications are insane if your goal is reading comprehension. I don't think there's any other method that reduces the number of trips to the dictionary/conjugation chart as fast. automated spacing is crazy efficient compared to spacing manually.

i've used flashcard apps for multiple dead languages from the beginning, along with vocabulary expansion/various examples of tenses i was uncomfortable with in french.

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Linkman
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Linkman » Mon May 12, 2014 2:48 am

Treedweller wrote:Sorry Linky dear, but learning a language shouldn't have to be about being a lazy bastard. Learning a language should be about building fascination with another system of representation, and then using its media to teach and entertain yourself.

I think it's nice when someone wants to learn to speak another language, but learners tend to fetishize speaking a foreign language without considering its real power comes in the media and people that it gives you access to. So, they take dull classes preparing for the day when they'll finally be able to understand movies or books or the radio, instead of being okay with not understanding everything at first and using those movies, books, and radio shows as tools.
But that is your experience. I'm sure that is entirely in line with your academic experience and needs, and your view of the world, but that's not the case for everyone. Some of us learn languages for the professional proficiency, for instance, and if you're trying to make a good sales pitch, yes, it is important to understand the finer details of grammar and pronunciation.

The lazy bastard argument stems from the fact that when you're learning a language for pleasure and curiosity more than need, it will be lower in your priority list. If you have a full time job, or are in university with a full courseload, or anything else that is time-consuming, you will find it difficult to squeeze in a few hours a week to learn French. Even when you're relaxing from duties, any time you dedicate to learning is time you're not dedicating to your personal relationships: family, friends, significant other. This is a huge deal for me, so yes, it is difficult, and trust me, I'm every bit as fascinated as I should be. The expression 'lazy bastard' isn't the right one though, I concede that.

It's true I have a bit of a headstart, but I don't see how it should be any different for bog or whoever else wants to learn. I fully agree with you on the immersion aspect, that is the very best way to learn a language. But formal learning has many advantages and might be a big help for structured people, which I consider myself to be: yes, I'm the kind of guy that learns faster by knowing what is the complement d'objet direct, and where it can be used.

So I stand by my opinion: take a course.
"everytime I try to draw xen I end up drawing a kangaroo smoking a cigar while chainsawing a tree" - Deoxy
"I can't believe I'm the only person who voted Stallone. His appeal lies in watching is movies again and again just to hear what the hell he's talking about." - Kilteh

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Bonesy
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Bonesy » Mon May 12, 2014 2:51 am

learn esperanto

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Treedweller

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Treedweller » Mon May 12, 2014 2:57 am

I see what you're saying and concede that you have a point, Linky dear.

I will add, though, that I dedicated time to learning French first while having a full-time job, then in University as a grad student, and continued after grad school with my current full-time job. So I do know what it's like to balance immersion with other responsibilities and a social life. It is hard.

And since we're talking about flashcards, Anki, y'all. It's free, and you'll become a super genius at anything that demands rote memorization.

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Linkman
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Linkman » Mon May 12, 2014 5:19 am

Well yeah, but you're a cool dude with amazing focus. :P ;)
"everytime I try to draw xen I end up drawing a kangaroo smoking a cigar while chainsawing a tree" - Deoxy
"I can't believe I'm the only person who voted Stallone. His appeal lies in watching is movies again and again just to hear what the hell he's talking about." - Kilteh

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Treedweller

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Treedweller » Mon May 12, 2014 8:15 am

Well, jeez, it's pretty hard to argue with flattery. You know how to make a girl feel good.

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Linkman
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Linkman » Mon May 12, 2014 8:50 am

What do you say we go have a little bite avec un bon vin? You'd like my apartment, it has a lovely view. We can put on some Edith Piaf and sip the wine away, while you let me admire your beauty...
"everytime I try to draw xen I end up drawing a kangaroo smoking a cigar while chainsawing a tree" - Deoxy
"I can't believe I'm the only person who voted Stallone. His appeal lies in watching is movies again and again just to hear what the hell he's talking about." - Kilteh

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Alecat » Mon May 12, 2014 11:25 am

You guys are making me barf.

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by monkymeet » Mon May 12, 2014 1:55 pm

Ew simplified Chinese...
imageshack swallowed up my sig. This is a placeholder.

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Twelve Boats
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Twelve Boats » Wed May 14, 2014 1:27 am

the trick to learning a new language is to go back to being like 1 years old and going to an immersion school
the dream

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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Lambda » Mon May 19, 2014 6:31 pm

I haven't read the whole topic but if you are going to learn french and need some help, feel free to ask whatever you want. I'm not really proficient in english but as a French, I would be glad to help.

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Treedweller

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Treedweller » Thu May 29, 2014 2:49 pm

So, like update us! Did you pick a language yet?

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Sven

Re: Learning a new language

Post by Sven » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:08 pm

gonna spend some time on my french over the next year.

probably going to be working through http://www.fsi-language-courses.org/Con ... age=French again. it's the only free resource dedicated to pronunciation that i remember being usable. i'd like to focus on 'conversational' french this go around. luckily in a big metropolis there's bound to be some places i can go and chat with people.

HPD pretty much nails it in his post - comprehension is entirely different from conversation with native speakers. I'm not really interested in reading comprehension this go around, leaving me in a weird spot where my background (ancient languages lol) won't really help.

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Dragonite
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Dragonite » Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:35 am

Nobody really wants to learn Dutch out of the blue though. Kind of sad. :p

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Linkman
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Re: Learning a new language

Post by Linkman » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:10 am

I know we're not supposed to link to, uh, illicit activities, but if you go to the... buccaneer's bay, and search for "French Language Learning Pack", you'll find a very interesting torrent that has sixteen gigs of useful information.
"everytime I try to draw xen I end up drawing a kangaroo smoking a cigar while chainsawing a tree" - Deoxy
"I can't believe I'm the only person who voted Stallone. His appeal lies in watching is movies again and again just to hear what the hell he's talking about." - Kilteh

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