Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

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rdearman
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby rdearman » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:26 am

Lisa wrote:
Speakeasy wrote:@Lisa[/i], my apologies for the confusion! Although my wife has cautioned me numerous times that not everyone appreciates my sense of humour, or much of anything else that I say, for that matter, Bluepaint got the point of my screed. That is, my “recipe for success” was “one for failure” or, at the very least, “a guarantee of a lack of progress” grounded in the blind veneration of a foreign language and its culture, the obsessive and totally unnecessary acquisition of basic materials which are indistinguishable one from the other, a lack of perseverance, and the recurring capitulation and returning to one’s comfort zone in the face of obstacles which anyone with an ounce of resilience and will-power could easily overcome. In other words, my advice to the OP was a self-mocking “do not follow the path of perdition, as I have always done.” ;)

I suppose to get a joke you have to have some common experiences. While I've always dabbled in languages, this whole hobby language learning, just for the point of learning languages, is kind of a strange subculture to me...

Don't worry, we don't understand him most of the time either. :lol:
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby rdearman » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:40 am

elsmandino wrote:With regards to the TV series (I assume that you need to find one that is natively in the target language):

Near enough to understand. Sub-titles are rarely verbatim, for example they translate idioms into something you'd understand. For example, in Italian “In bocca al lupo” (In the mouth of the wolf) would get translated as "Good Luck". Also, depends on the money spent for accurate translations by the film company. So translations are rarely literal. Besides, if you're good enough to recognize the sub-titles aren't accurate, you should consider it might be time to do away with sub-titles.


elsmandino wrote:2. Are there any particular genres of TV show that are better for beginners than others?

Probably personal taste, but I find documentaries are normally easier for me to understand. As you noticed, sitcoms have lots of jokes you're not likely to understand, plus lots of cultural references. For a beginner you'd probably be better off watching something you've seen before in your native language and are watching with TL audio. A lot of people here used Buffy the Vampire Slayer for example. Personally I watched a ton of Star Trek in French. I did the maths once and it worked out to well over 400 hours if you wanted all the various series of Star Trek. (Which are all available on Netflix BTW)

You are learning French so you might like these YouTube documentary channels.

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMultiCampeur
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYFI5P ... QOQ/videos
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby tarvos » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:54 am

Lisa wrote:I suppose to get a joke you have to have some common experiences. While I've always dabbled in languages, this whole hobby language learning, just for the point of learning languages, is kind of a strange subculture to me...


Strange, but awesome. ;)
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby badger » Fri Aug 09, 2019 1:47 pm

kids' TV shows are good for beginners - Peppa Pig is popular & available in many, many languages on YouTube.

there is a thread on the forum called something like "The Peppa Pig Challenge" that might be worth searching for.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby elsmandino » Fri Aug 09, 2019 1:57 pm

rdearman wrote:Personally I watched a ton of Star Trek in French. I did the maths once and it worked out to well over 400 hours if you wanted all the various series of Star Trek. (Which are all available on Netflix BTW)


Thanks very much - I had a look at Star Trek (the original one), but did struggle with quite how old it was and settled with the Next Generation one, which is actually not too bad. (I have a few Trekky friends that I owe an apology to! :D).

I am going to plough through the episodes, the best I can.

Might you have any advice on how best to learn from them, please?

I am watching them, with subtitles on, using headphones.

Is it better just to watch each episode straight through, or is it worth taking the time to pause/rewind to re-listen to parts or look things up?
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby StringerBell » Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:21 pm

elsmandino wrote:1. Is it crucial that the subtitles are an exact match for the audio? I have had a look on Netflix and, as a French learner, have found that this is virtually impossible to find.


In my opinion, the answer is yes. The point of the subtitles is to help you understand the words you are hearing. I have had this same problem with Italian, where about 50% or more of the dialogue in any movie or TV show is completely different from the the subtitles. I have a feeling that the people who create subs don't work with the same script that actors use. This is even a problem with native Italian media that isn't dubbed.

This was really infuriating but I found a workaround; I'd use youtube videos with subs (like the Easy series for languages where people are interviewed in the street) or other language-learning related videos with subs, and I'd use the auto-generated subs on YT when available. For Netflix stuff, I'd watch with Italian audio but English subtitles to get the gist, then watch a second time in Italian with no subs. I'd try to pick out words and phrases that I could hear. Slowly, I could pick out more and more. Sometimes I'd take timestamp notes when I couldn't make out the words they were saying and play that clip for a native speaker, who would write down what they were saying. Once I got somewhere around season 7 (150 episodes, multiple times each) there were very few things I couldn't understand.

Since you were asking about French, I've seen other French learners talk about watching the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer because there are transcripts available for free online: http://bufyvs.free.fr/series/btvs/transcript.php.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby rdearman » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:06 pm

elsmandino wrote:Is it better just to watch each episode straight through, or is it worth taking the time to pause/rewind to re-listen to parts or look things up?

I would watch it through once with English subs, then again with French subs, then move to next episode.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby tiia » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:37 pm

Lots of good advice here already.
Pick ONE language that interests you most. You can add other languages later, but don't do two languages at the beginner stage, since you have no previous experience in language learning. Personal interest ist probabaly the most important factor to make you continue, so choose the language according to this.
Continue learning even when it's hard. It probabaly takes years to actually be good at the language. That's normal and nothing to stress about too soon. As long as you feel some progress it's ok.

I've seen people here recommending to do something every day. That's great if you can do that. but honestly I haven't learned a single language by doing something every day all or even most of the times (especially in the beginner stages...). I recommend doing something at least twice per week/every 3-4 days. (Although just listening to one song in the language would not count in this case.) If it's more often, of course, it's better. You will see how often you have to do something in order to not forget too much from the previous session.
If it's going to be too stressful to do something every day, it doesn't matter to leave out one or two days. You will be slower, but you will still learn something. Language learning works best when you enjoy it.

At some point you should integrate the target language into your life in a way that you may not notice anymore that you have contact with it most of the days.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:11 pm

Glossy wrote:The most important advice I can give is “never, ever learn grammar explicitly”. For example, never waste any time on memorizing declension and conjugation tables. Grammar is either learned subconsciously, in the process of consuming tons of reading and listening material, or it’s not learned at all. When you’re speaking, you don’t have time to think “what’s the first person plural dative of verb X?” After you’ve read and listened enough, that will come to you subconsciously by itself.


Although I seriously avoided much native content early on, I was able to speak with natives having not read a single book for natives and having studied grammar explicitly and very close to entirely exclusively, including much memorisation of grammatical concepts, rules, lists of rules and exceptions to rules.

I did indeed find that I had to think hurriedly to ensure I was applying the correct memorised grammar or conjugation to utterances about to exit my vocal chords. So I disagree. It is possible, but I agree in that it’s not perfect.

However, nowadays I don’t memorise as much explicit grammar and I would recommend not memorising lists of rules and exceptions, but simply aim to understand them initially and revisit those tricky grammatical concepts until they ‘click’ while concurrently getting a feel for the language via reading and listening to increasingly complex native content.


Glossy wrote:The younger you are, the easier it is to learn a foreign language.


Adults can learn rather well, imo, but I do understand the point you’re making. From the perspective of a pliable brain, perhaps younger people are much better equipped for learning a foreign language.

However, I’ve learned French as an adult, and not an entirely young one at that. Yes I probably could’ve done some things better in my youth when it comes to learning a language, but why didn’t I? I lacked consistent effort, I was naive and lacked the insight that life experience and language learning experience brings to understand what is needed to really learn a language to an advanced level. Is it just good timing or was it that I was never really able to commit as a child/teenager? So if it was easier then, when I was younger, why have I achieved it so much later? All factors considered, I disagree with your statement. Adults can learn easier than children, or vice-versa, it depends on the circumstances of one’s life.

Glossy wrote:The ability to learn to speak one without an accent disappears after the age of 13. It IS possible however to learn to understand a language like a native in adulthood.


There is definitely some validity to this statement, however making such a generalised statement, well in short, there’s always exceptions. I don’t claim to sound like a native, but I do claim to sound incredibly close to the accent of a native French speaker without ever having lived in a francophone country. This is enough to tell me that it IS possible to not only learn to understand a language like a native in adulthood, but also to SOUND like one, although this is MUCH rarer after perhaps the age of 13 or thereabouts, agreed.

Glossy wrote:It’s good to start by reading with an online dictionary. You can pick a children’s book, then progress to adult ones. At first you’ll look up almost every word. As you do more of it, you’ll be looking up less and less.

The next step would be to start watching videos. News, movies, documentaries - whatever interests you. I think it’s a good idea to spend more time on this than on anything else. Don’t be scared if at first you only understand 5% or 10% of the words. That’s actually a good point for starting this. The more you watch, the more you’ll understand. You’ll start guessing the meaning of words and phrases from people’s intonations, body language, etc.

I think speaking should come last.

If you’re going to learn Mandarin, I would recommend ChinesePod and the Pleco dictionary.

It takes several times more time to go from English to Chinese than from English to a language like Norwegian.


Generally good advice, remembering not all paths suit others, but of course you’re speaking from your perspective and giving advice based on that, and it’s quite good.

I don’t mean to pick apart your post, your generalisations seem logical, but there are always exceptions, to which I believe I am one.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Lisa » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:09 am

Glossy wrote:The most important advice I can give is “never, ever learn grammar explicitly”.


Speaking as someone who often gets to A1 but not previously past that... it's learning vocabulary that has made the difference; you can get by with very little grammar. OTOH, I don't know what you mean by "learn", but while I'm looking at long tables of conjugations and know it will never be, it's been amazingly helpful to study grammar books to figure out the baffling constructions.

Glossy wrote:I think speaking should come last.


I've always thought speaking was the first thing. It's easiest since you can choose your vocabulary plus it's the most useful if you have anyone that you need to speak to. Is this to avoid the risk of getting stuck into bad habits and forever speaking poorly?
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