Interference

General discussion about learning languages
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Interference

Postby rdearman » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:31 pm

Long ago when I started learning French, because Italian was the stronger language I would get a lot of interference from Italian when I spoke French. Now, it would appear, that French is more dominant and so I'm finding when I speak Italian I get a lot of interference from French. I'm sure that as I progress things will "hopefully" become more distinct between the languages. But I'm curious about other peoples experiences with interference and when and how you've overcome it.

Any studies or further reading would be welcome. ((This is a hint for reineke.)) :lol:
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Re: Interference

Postby iguanamon » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:25 pm

I used to avoid Spanish like the plague when I was learning Portuguese. My tutor forced me to translate between the two. This helped, even though I disliked it. Depending on which language I've been speaking the most, if I have to speak the other one soon afterwards, I can still get interference. It usually clears up in a few minutes or so.

When I was in Spain and speaking Portuguese with my Brazilian partner, I would sometimes screw up speaking Spanish with other folks. She would too, occasionally and she's a native-speaker of Portuguese and has lived in a Spanish-speaking country for five years.

Translating between the two may help, as well as maybe reading alternate chapters of the same book in each language. It is hard to force yourself to switch but that's how you get better at switching between them, but you'll probably still screw up and get interference until your level gets higher. That's my experience.
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Re: Interference

Postby Speakeasy » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:53 pm

As I have been living in French for more than thirty years, it stands to reason that I have not suffered any interference at all from this language when studying Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Nevertheless, I have experienced interference from a wholly unanticipated quarter when attempting to converse with native-speakers of these languages. It does not come from English, my native tongue, nor does it come from French, my adopted language. Nope, it comes from German, the strongest of my secondary languages, after French. That is, whenever my mind becomes blocked in a Spanish/Italian/Portuguese conversation and I find myself stumbling for words, my thoughts come to me in German. Obviously, this does nothing to move the conversation along!
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Re: Interference

Postby IronMike » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:57 pm

When I first started learning BCS, I'd have trouble pronouncing the /o/. Then after I worked with the language for a while then went back to Russian, BCS endings and enclitics would interfere with my Russian!
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Re: Interference

Postby Decidida » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:12 pm

I mix up Haitian Creole and Spanish all the time. Especially things I earned in lists, like the days of the week.
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Re: Interference

Postby zenmonkey » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:32 am

iguanamon wrote:I used to avoid Spanish like the plague when I was learning Portuguese. My tutor forced me to translate between the two. This helped, even though I disliked it. Depending on which language I've been speaking the most, if I have to speak the other one soon afterwards, I can still get interference. It usually clears up in a few minutes or so.

When I was in Spain and speaking Portuguese with my Brazilian partner, I would sometimes screw up speaking Spanish with other folks. She would too, occasionally and she's a native-speaker of Portuguese and has lived in a Spanish-speaking country for five years.

Translating between the two may help, as well as maybe reading alternate chapters of the same book in each language. It is hard to force yourself to switch but that's how you get better at switching between them, but you'll probably still screw up and get interference until your level gets higher. That's my experience.


Interesting suggestion!

My Portuguese production is the "forever problem" because of Spanish interference. I've been thinking of doing drills for specific set phrases to create some islands. Maybe forced translations will also help. You know, when I get to it.

My interference is odd. I have strong interference from Spanish in Portuguese output and strong interference from French in Italian production. But I see almost no crossover from French and Spanish. I also see some (French) interference in Tibetan, but that may be related to the fact that my teacher is French and we use this as our source language. German interference has quieted down and unfortunately I can't tell you if it was with a specific language. I do have an issue with my German accent where French has influenced pronunciation. My Hebrew still sucks so much that I don't yet see interference. :lol:

All this really to suggest that perhaps interference (as bad as it is), is a sign of some emergent mastery.

In English I might have a sudden brain fart of another language but I don't consider that interference - it's infrequent, it will be a single word or construct that isn't an issue.

So along with the practiced translations from I' to I", I'd suggest also code-switching exercises - try reading out loud or other output exercises.

And for French & Italian, there are a bunch of books printed in France with bilingual French/Italian content (facing pages) that might be useful.
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Re: Interference

Postby Brun Ugle » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:56 am

I can mix any languages. They don’t have to be related at all. But I also find that some languages seem to be inherently “stronger” than others. I mean that I don’t necessarily speak them better, but that the language somehow takes over my brain and kicks out the other languages. That was one of the reasons I dropped Esperanto. Every time I worked on it, it would get stuck in my brain and I would have trouble switching to another language. German is also like that, but I don’t want to drop German, so I’m trying to deal with it. I spoke it last night and even though I studied two other languages after that and chatted in English, I still woke up this morning with my thoughts in German. The thing is, my German is really bad. I can hardly speak at all, but even so, it takes over my brain and kicks out the other languages, even my everyday languages, Norwegian and English. I had to force myself to think for a few minutes in a couple of other languages this morning, and now it seems OK. I think it’s just a matter of practice, as the others have said.
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Re: Interference

Postby garyb » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:10 pm

I was around B2 in French when I started Italian. In the first few months I had a lot of interference both ways, but obviously more from French to Italian. Most of it went away just from studying both and getting my Italian more solid, to around B1, although even now that I have quite a high level in both there's still occasional interference with words and structures. I just accept that as a fact of life and a very acceptable trade-off for being able to speak multiple languages. I've also dabbled in a couple of languages (Greek, Russian) and found them competing with each other.

My unscientific theory is that there's a "new language area" in the brain (metaphorically speaking at least!) and only once you've conquered the basics it goes into a "French area" or whatever and leaves room for another. So I'm a proponent of learning one to a decent level before starting another if it's an option, although some interference at the start or when picking up an old language again is probably unavoidable whatever you do. In the last couple of years I've focused on Italian and not spoken French much, and recently I've been using French a bit again and noticing the effects!
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Re: Interference

Postby tarvos » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:35 pm

I rarely get much interference if at all. But usually my levels are so high there's no expectation for interference, and when there's any, it's from my native tongues or the closest major language I speak (Russian for Czech, Czech for Polish, Swedish for Icelandic).
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Re: Interference

Postby Iversen » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:01 pm

I make the occasional error, but since I haven't hired a full-time quality assurance officer I can only know about the cases I notice myself. For instance I said something like *pronunziatione in my 5 minut speech in Italian in Bratislava (inspireret by French "prononciation" and English "pronunciation"), but the correct word is of course "pronuncia".

But who cares? If I were scared livid of making such errors in an improvised speech I couldn't do improvised speeches at all (or have conversations), so I just accept them as part of the game. No errors, no progress...
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