Lisa wrote:I tried to learn Vietnamese when I was in my late teens. I simply could not near the differences in the vowels; English is kind of flexible on how long and round the vowels are, and those Vietnamese o and u variants just always sounded the same to me. The tones weren't easy, but I could hear and produce them with effort, but the vowels were too much. Chinese was easier. Perhaps this is an inherent weakness, I'm not very musical.
A person's ability to physically hear some sound differences changes after babyhood, I don't remember, perhaps 2 years old... but I did read somewhere that the ear can be retrained even when older, it just takes some specific drills. And then, it is documented that the ability to hear certain frequencies declines with age. They say that only teenagers can hear high pitched sounds, so they can set up machines that generate those sounds and keep teenagers from hanging around certain places.
My learning of Spanish is not really comparable since I did learn it pretty well a long time ago. Given Anki and online grammar drills, and the determination and focus I have now; I'm finding it much easier and faster to learn much more vocabulary and grammar than I ever knew; it's much easier now than it was then. I have a good memory in general, and lately I have noticed a decline in my ability to remember things like the names of restaurants that I don't go to very often or 70s rock bands... I kind of think I'm pushing in so much new stuff into my head so fast, that it's pushing other things out.
First, welcome to the forum, and thank you for your contribution to this post.
I would imagine that Vietnamese must be a difficult language to learn for us who speak a Native European language. From what I have read on this forum, many oriental languages are tonal, which is a challenge for most of us to identify, and not to mention, to mimic correctly — the Chinese sounds are hard, it must be a difficult language to learn for me too.
I think having a musical ear may help, but most of us do not have this ability, and we learn languages just fine.
It appears that babies begin to acquire the intonation, stress, rhythm of the native language very early in the first year of life. I agree that adults can learn the prosody and pronunciation of a new language, and it takes listening to the language and get familiar with it.
On this topic, I remember reading on the internet about a linguist from New Zealand who believes that listening to the language patterns early on is essential to acquire a sense of the language and a proper pronunciation. I think that this professor has a language training website for Chinese students interested in learning English and applies his technique to help the students.
You can read more on this linkhttps://phys.org/news/2009-01-revolutio ... guage.html
In this forum, you will find many other language learners that share their language learning tips and help each other. I particularly enjoy reading daily posts from fellow members, but I also like to dig into past posts, sometimes ten years back. It is a gold mine worth of tips to learn a language. For example, there is a popular method call shadowing to help with listening and pronunciation skills. You can find more information about the topic searching the forum.
Learning Spanish is a good language to learn for several reasons. In my opinion, it is a fantastic language; it is such an important language that I decided to learn it the day I was born. In other words, If Spanish were not my native language, I would probably try to learn it.
There is no doubt to me that your experience learning Vietnamese as a teenager and some German and Italian here and there, will facilitate learning a new language. You are also familiar with Anki and online grammar sites, which means that you probably have the tools and confidence to learn languages.
I am in my early fifties, and I am a very forgetful person. I think I can remember that I was a forgetful person in my 20’s, but maybe I don’t remember too well, it seems a long time.
I love the 80’s English music, but I can’t remember the lyrics or the names of the songs, and paradoxically my 14yo son is into the 80’s, and he sings the songs by heart. I am glad it is not hip hop that he likes. My wife sings the songs along so, another proof of my bad memory.
Once again, welcome to the forum. Enjoy learning about learning languages.