1. Hi there, Guest

    Only registered users can really experience what DLP has to offer. Many forums are only accessible if you have an account. Why don't you register?
    Dismiss Notice

Learning a new language

Discussion in 'Real Life Discussion' started by Zel, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. Zel

    Zel Professor

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2015
    Messages:
    457
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Brazil
    High Score:
    0
    So, in the height of my boredom, after too much vacation time (I didn't think that existed until now), I had the idea of learning another language. Well, I actually tried this not too long ago with Spanish classes, but it simply didn't click with me, never mind that thanks to the similarities between Portuguese and Spanish a speaker of one can improvise a bit on the other - with success varying from moderate to potentially embarassing situations I guess. In the end, there wasn't much that caught my attention in the few classes I attended to.

    As for a new one, I'm leaning towards German, but I'd like to hear your suggestions, and if possible, tips for learning better the one I choose. I want to avoid going to language schools again considering that I learned better by myself instead of having two, one hour long, classes in an entire week that were expensive as hell.
     
  2. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    3,999
    Location:
    Australia
    Zel
  3. Johnnyseattle

    Johnnyseattle Unspeakable DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2011
    Messages:
    764
    Location:
    Cascadia
    I think the best way, aside of taking an immersion-style class for it, is to do two things:

    1. Pirate a rosetta stone of the language you're wanting to learn, and learn all the basic stuff from that.

    2. Once you're familiar enough with the usual sentence structure, basic verb conjugation, and simple words, start watching TV shows and movies that you're already familiar with in your native language. You'll already know what they're supposed to be saying, and therefore you'll hear how they're saying it in the language you're learning. After a time, you'll have enough of the basics to work through harder stuff. Also, watch the world news in the same language as well. Again, you're going to know some of what's going on already, and so you'll be able to pick up on the meaning of some of the stuff they're saying.

    Some people are able to learn from programs like Rosetta Stone alone, and if you are, that's cool - your mileage may vary. I find it terribly boring though, and the TV/Movie/News thing has helped me a lot in the past, even with languages I already speak - it's a good way to pick up on the real language, not just the weird, ultra formal crap they usual throw at you in classes.
     
    Zel
  4. Perspicacity

    Perspicacity High Score: 3,994 Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    Messages:
    656
    Location:
    Elsewhere, more or less
    High Score:
    3,994
    Don't pirate software.

    For me, Rosetta Stone only works up to a point and then progress tapers off, largely because I tend to work through the software while on my commute and I find I don't tend to keep up with the speaking sections. To get much from the software, you really do need to work steadily, like 60-90 min/day, on all the parts.

    In the U.S., nearly every community has multiple Spanish radio channels. If that's the language you're learning, so you can get a lot of exposure this way. Also, Clear Channel in the U.S. has a French (Canadian) station, marginally better than nothing when learning French.
     
  5. Hawkin

    Hawkin Minister of Magic

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    Messages:
    1,289
    Location:
    QC, Canada
    Duolinguo is great for the basics as mentioned before.

    Listen. Listen. Listen. Watch TV or movies you've already seen in the new language. Audiobooks are great too if you like those.

    Read. Read. Read. Go to websites or grab a book in the language you want to learn.

    Talk. Talk. Talk. Find yourself a friend in the language you want to learn, and talk to them regularly. They'll correct your mispronunciation better than anyone else, they'll help you get accustom to the speech cadence, the idioms, etc. Set up some call on skype, or find yourself a nice discord channel in the language you're learning. Find a videogame you've played or that you've never played and set up the language to other than English.

    There's no secret. Practice makes perfect. And remember, have fun! :)
     
  6. Erotic Adventures of S

    Erotic Adventures of S Denarii Host

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    2,235
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Immersion classes didn't work for me at all. I did three in German and got very little out of them. The language is to fundamentally different to English that I was continually lost and would often go whole classes having no idea what was going on. Immersion only works I think if the language is similar to one you know, Dutch to German, Italian to French ect.

    1 class taught in English about German taught me more than 3 fully German classes.
     
  7. Vermis

    Vermis First Year

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Uh...what? English is a Germanic language...

    Well, ish. Germanic/Latin.
     
  8. Erotic Adventures of S

    Erotic Adventures of S Denarii Host

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    2,235
    Location:
    New Zealand
    The vocabulary yes, but the way the language is structured is vastly different.

    In terms of grammar it has more in common with French and Italian in some ways. Gendered words, multiple cases ect.
     
  9. Trig

    Trig Auror

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    667
    Location:
    Germany
    Something that has been working really well for me (not in matters of success, more in regards to how enjoyable and engaging it is) is Language Transfer. It's basically a series of conversations between a teacher and several people trying to learn a new language. These recording build up on each other, and try to intuitively teach you the basics and structure of that language's grammar via conversation.

    I vastly prefer it to Rosetta Stone or similar methods, which often try to teach a language via repetition without actually explaining a lot of the underlying building blocks.

    I think it really depends on what kind of learning process you prefer, but it's definitely worth a try.

    Language Transfer
     
    Zel
  10. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2012
    Messages:
    1,119
    High Score:
    2,058
    Yes and no . . . English has been so heavily influenced by French that it bares almost as much resemblance to it as it does German—moreso for vocab. Also, English has almost completely lost noun gender, and has dumped the split verb, where you have to go searching for the other half of the verbal unit somewhere down the line in the German sentence. On top of that, English syntax is much simpler, especially when it comes to scholarship; I've had German scholars tell me they wait until their German Colleague's books come out in English before they read them because it's easier for them—native Germans, mind you—to read and understand them in English.

    _________________

    To the OP:

    Honestly, there's no silver bullet here. Perspicacity was absolutely right, you need to spend an hour and a half or more a day focused on the language, no matter what you choose. So whether it's software, a website, a book, or some other medium, it doesn't really matter. 95% of your ability to work in the language will come from your time commitment to the language (provided that your medium is good quality).
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  11. Johnnyseattle

    Johnnyseattle Unspeakable DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2011
    Messages:
    764
    Location:
    Cascadia
    "Acquire" A copy of the Rosetta Stone for the desired language, however best works for you.

    Yeah, that's why I said only do the basics of it. It does get pretty droning after a time. The introductory stuff isn't bad, I didn't think. Then again, I came into it having learned two languages other ways already, so I was a bit more used to learning the important parts and then filling in the blanks later. Your radio suggestion is good as well once you get a bit more used to the language, but it's hard to relate stuff at first unless you can see what they're talking about - your brain (or mine, at least) makes the connections a lot better at first with a few visual clues - thus the news/TV/movies.

    Never tried Duolingo. Have to take a look at that.
     
  12. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,541
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Under your bed.
    High Score:
    2,002
    There are lots of apps floating around that make a game out of learning the romance languages. You should try one out.
     
  13. ScarletQuill

    ScarletQuill Squib

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    High Score:
    0
    I believe the structure of Portuguese is quite similar to Spanish? I am German and speak Spanish somewhat fluently. I guess the biggest challenge for you learning German would be the structure of the sentences. It can be really convoluted. Learning the articles must be annoying as well, as there are three of them and almost no rules as to their use. But referring to a tree as female instead of male doesn't really impede anyones understanding of what you are saying, so that isn't really important.
    The German verbal tenses are much easier than what I have come to know from romanic languages, you probably wouldn't have any problems with that.
     
    Zel
  14. Oment

    Oment The Betrayer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,877
    For learning a language, probably the most important thing - for any age or stage of language learning - is that the input is plentiful and authentic. (This is where most school classes fall apart, said the EFL teacher.) A situation like you described in your OP - of two language classes of an hour - isn't enough, especially considering the effective time is lower than that. (Though that will be less of a problem if you go learn on your own.) In any case, what several others said is true: you need to spend time on it, preferably every day. The exact time is up to you and your chosen programme to figure out. Just beware that there are diminishing returns involved at some point.

    Theoretically, older learners have a few advantages and disadvantages over younger learners [by which I mean children with single digit ages, and generally closer to 4 than 9 at that] - and though my studies only really focused on children versus adolescents, the general idea holds true for adults as well. Older people generally are better able to learn abstractions like grammar and vocabulary, plus they can bring their knowledge of the world to bear*, while younger learners are more likely to be able achieve mastery on actually pronouncing everything correctly, and they also (paradoxically, because they know less) are able to better deal with morphology. Of course, you probably know yourself better, but given no additional context, I'd focus on those things older learners are generally better at before moving on.

    Regarding comprehension: I don't know the programmes mentioned - I've never used them, I don't know their methods. I trust, however, that they are reasonably authentic, in that the written language used is standard, and that the spoken language is voiced by someone very competent at the language. (Not necessarily native speaker, but should definitely be thinking in that direction.) Once you feel up to it, I'd suggest actually going out and finding uses of the language online. Easy newspaper articles are absolutely fantastic for this in my experience: they allow you to use older learners' innate advantage of knowing the context, and thus being able to infer meaning even if you're not 100 % sure on the definition. Radio/TV/films** are also options, but harder because these are not done at your own pace.

    The other side is production. Practice, practice, practice. Find someone who speaks the language you're learning, again not necessarily native, but pretty decent, and accost them for feedback. Write them love notes, birthday cards, well-wishes, eulogies, grocery lists, complaints, anything really. Maybe some member here can help you with it, I wouldn't know. Speaking is harder to set up, but again, practice, and get feedback on it.

    Really, for production, I cannot emphasise feedback enough. It is one of the most useful tools for teacher and learner.

    *There is a downside to this as well: false positives do happen in comprehension, and it's going to be a big nuisance in speaking due to the adult brain being bad at distinguishing and producing foreign phonemes.
    **I am not sure I'd wish German dubbed films on anyone, though.
     
  15. desinys

    desinys Squib

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Finland
    High Score:
    0
    Listening to music and translating the lyrics word by word using a dictionary (you'll be so pissed at having to look up the same word twice you'll be motivated to remember them after the first time) works for me very well. You could also try reading your favourite books in German, as the terminology is quite easy to learn and since you know what's happening, the sentence structure isn't too confusing. If you know anyone who speaks German, befriend them immediately and don't use any other language with them. It'll be horrible at first but that's definitely the best way.

    My native language is Finnish, but I've studied English, German and Swedish. German is my favourite because I find the words very beautiful and funny and like the way it sounds. The words are easy to remember and pronounce, which is an enormous advantage when learning a new language. There is a long list of rules and an even longer list of exceptions, but once you memorise them by heart you'll be fine and can move on. German is one of the languages that are hard to learn in the beginning but once you remember the basics it gets easier.

    I think you should listen to different languages and see what sounds like something you would want to learn. I haven't studied German in school for years, but I keep learning it because I just love the way it sounds. You should probably pick one of the easy languages like German, Spanish, French or Swedish, they can be learnt pretty quickly if you put your mind into it. If you're going to study independently, Spanish might be a little easier than German. I've understood leaning Spanish consists more of listening and less of learning rules and exceptions by heart. A word of warning: besides Deichkind, Lena and Rammstein I find all the German music just insufferable and I preferred reading a German book over watching one more episode of Marienhof or Ein Fall für Zwei. I don't think you would have these problems if you chose Spanish instead of German.
     
  16. Hachi

    Hachi Death Eater

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    927
    Location:
    In the Zone
    wat.

    German, easy to learn? My 4 years of pure suffering in junior high say otherwise. :sherlock:

    I still have nightmares of German grammar.
     
  17. desinys

    desinys Squib

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Finland
    High Score:
    0
    Well, German is easy compared to other languages (although Swedish is definitely easier and Spanish seems pretty simple as well). Yeah the grammar is a little overwhelming at first but once you memorize the rules you'll be fine. I wasn't very motivated to study grammar in primary school so I know how you feel. Later on I got sick of getting bad grades, learned a few tables and lists by heart and now I just love it.

    For a native English speaker, German should be an easy language to learn since it's pretty similar English. It really sucks to be Finnish since it's similar to only Estonian and Hungarian and those are two pretty useless languages (sorry all Estonians and Hungarians out there, but I know Finnish is also completely useless outside Finland, so don't be offended).

    I found studying German a lot easier than studying English. English doesn't have proper pronunciation rules (there are some but they are seriously not worth learning by heart since they are so impractical) and there's so much stuff you just need to learn as you go and hope that you're not embarrassing yourself. Learning German is a lot less humiliating.
     
  18. Oment

    Oment The Betrayer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,877
    How hard people rate a language for learning is rather tricky to actually quantify meaningfully. There are the obvious surface indicators - sentence order (subject-verb-object, subject-object-verb, free syntactic structure), vocabulary similarities, the same alphabet, for example. Then you go dig a bit deeper, and find out that there are exceptions, like some weird word order leftovers or inversion, or additional diacritics to indicate things like stress. Then you dig even deeper, and start figuring out the orthographic depth of the language - how closely a language's written form is related to the pronunciation thereof. (English and French are rather opaque, or difficult, while Finnish and Italian are shallow / easy, in this regard.) Or you encounter grammatical cases, which English has largely lost.

    Just making a framework out of the above is already tricky, and I don't think the list is anywhere near complete, nor does it go into cultural aspects of a language (Japanese honorifics come to mind), and the framework is by definition centred around your own language, which means that my list would by definition have a different order than yours, desinys, or Hachi's, or Zel's, or yak's.

    As an aside, but the US Foreign Service Institute released a list of approximate difficulty a few years back. They have German in their own little group, rating it harder than pretty much every other Germanic or Romance language, but ahead of the Slavic languages. Obviously, this is Anglo-centric, and many language teachers and learners would disagree, but it's pretty much the only framework-list I could find, just as an indication of how hard it is to make said framework. :)

    Then, assuming you come up with a framework like the FSI released, there's the completely personal aspect of what you're actually decent at doing. I never had too much trouble with most grammar (especially English, which has actually been a hindrance in teaching it) but I despised rote learning, and my vocabulary grades for French and German were appropriately meh. A friend of mine could really sit down and power through said rote learning, but had a ton of trouble trying to figure out tenses in English. Knowing this might point you to specific languages in a group, because they may require things you are (or perceive yourself as being) good at.

    Tl;dr: Languages are wonderfully complex.
     
  19. Agent One

    Agent One Seventh Year DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Messages:
    235
    High Score:
    0
    In my opinion, you should go for Hindi (Indian?) as it may be the easiest to learn using the watching TV/Movies with subtitles method. The Indian Film Industry is doing quite well for itself and in a few years may even give Hollywood a run for its money. And some of those movies are pretty awesome.

    Using apps to learn a language has always seemed a bit...gimmicky to me. I will however second what everyone else is saying in regards to watching TV shows and movies.

    My entire family was obssessed with Indian Soap Operas (We're not even Indian ourselves) and back then I didn't quite know how to use the Internet so the TV was my only source of entertainment. I mostly sat through the Soaps because Kenan and Kel showed at 9:00 and that was when their Soaps finished. But then I started reading the subtitles and got interested in the plots. There were four back to back soaps from 7:00-9:00 so that was essentially 10 hours of language lessons a week. Soon I was able to underastand what they were saying without the subtitles. It was only a matter of time before I could speak the language with some level of fluency.

    Now, the main problem with using this method is actually finding something to watch in the first place which is why I recommend going with Bollywood movies. But since you have a preference for German then I suppose you can start off with that Hitler movie that everyone used to make those YouTube videos about a few years back. I think it's called "The Fall" but can't be sure.
     
  20. desinys

    desinys Squib

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Finland
    High Score:
    0
    Obviously. However, it's still possible to compare the complexity of different languages, which is usually related to the amount of work required to learn it and thus how hard we think it is to learn that language.

    This is one of the main factors that affect your ability to learn a new language and should be taken into consideration when choosing the language. Some people will never be able to get rid of their accent or pronounce some sounds they don't have in their native language. For example two of my classmates (Lithuanian and Romanian) had lived in Finland for years and could not hear the difference between the names "Anika" and "Annika" or say the latter. That was a problem since our classmates had those names, so they ended up saying "Anika with two Ns". I think one has to deal with the relation between spelling and pronunciation in the very beginning of their studies instead of it being "digging deeper".

    Agreed, but what I said about evaluating the complexity of language and using that as a way of measuring the difficulty of the language is still valid. I understand that we are talking about rough evaluations that are based on our personal opinions as well as generalizations. Thus when I write a list of what languages are "easy", you should not take it personally and believe German cannot be labeled as an easy language by someone who has learned it just because you found studying it challenging. I believe German is one of the easiest languages that are still somewhat useful, and you don't have to agree with me. I found it pretty obvious that there is no way for me to tell what languages are easy for Zei and thus listed the languages I've found easy or have heard are easy to learn. I guess I should have stated that separately to avoid any misunderstandings.

    That says more about the simplicity of the other listed languages than the complexity of German. It's very possible that Romanian is easier to learn than German, but so far I've focused on languages that are somewhat useful. Romanian isn't useful outside Romania and Moldova, and unless you're planning on visiting those places (which I wouldn't do without a local to accompany me anyway), there's no point to learn Romanian.

    Instead of Danish and Norwegian I listed Swedish, since it is easier and more useful (at least Norwegians can understand it). Dutch is related to German and Portuguese to Spanish, so I'd say German and Spanish are more useful. Even though there are probably hundreds of languages that are easier than German, German is way more useful than most of them and thus makes it to my top 5 easy languages that are worth learning.

    Obviously, but as I've stated, the complexity of languages can still be compared. Are you a native English speaker? Because if you are, using learning English grammar as an example doesn't work in this context. I get your point, but surely you agree that learning the grammar of your native language is completely different from learning that of a foreign language.
     
Loading...