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

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

Postby Lisa » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:01 am

Speakeasy wrote:Eschew resources for language-learning that are freely available on the internet or through your local library.


Why avoid the free resources? I've been having success with Anki, online dictionaries and grammar drills, and a novel and other books from the library... granted, there's loads of spanish materials around, so maybe it's different with other languages. But I don't see why free resources aren't useful, they've done more for me than just buying books.
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Bluepaint
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Bluepaint » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:41 am

Lisa wrote:
Speakeasy wrote:Eschew resources for language-learning that are freely available on the internet or through your local library.


Why avoid the free resources? I've been having success with Anki, online dictionaries and grammar drills, and a novel and other books from the library... granted, there's loads of spanish materials around, so maybe it's different with other languages. But I don't see why free resources aren't useful, they've done more for me than just buying books.


I believe Speakeasy was being sarcastic, sardonic even ;)
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Speakeasy
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Speakeasy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:02 am

Speakeasy wrote: … Eschew resources for language-learning that are freely available on the internet or through your local library...
Lisa wrote: Why avoid the free resources? I've been having success with Anki, online dictionaries and grammar drills, and a novel and other books from the library... granted, there's loads of spanish materials around, so maybe it's different with other languages. But I don't see why free resources aren't useful, they've done more for me than just buying books.
Bluepaint wrote:I believe Speakeasy was being sarcastic, sardonic even ;)
@Lisa, 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.” ;)
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Flickserve » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:43 pm

My advice is that the process of getting to a reasonable conversational level is actually longer than one might anticipate and therefore one should manage expectations accordingly.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Glossy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:12 pm

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.

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

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

Postby aquarius » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:42 pm

Glossy wrote:The most important piece of 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?”


I think that depends on the individual style and preference. When learning Polish, I started by "memorizing declension and conjugation tables". Nethertheless, I managed to learn grammar.

When speaking, I indeed never ever ask myself “what’s the first person plural dative of verb X?", since dative is a category refering to noun cases and not to verb conjugation, but it may happen that I ask myself "what's the third person plural of verb X", and this does not obstruct my speech, it's the very reverse.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Glossy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:25 pm

aquarius wrote:
When speaking, I indeed never ever ask myself “what’s the first person plural dative of verb X?", since dative is a category refering to noun cases and not to verb conjugation,


Actually, the mistake that I made there illustrates my point: as a native speaker of Russian I don’t know its grammar explicitly. I only know it intuitively, subconsciously.

To know that cases modify nouns and (mentally checking now) adjectives, but not verbs (you’re right about Russian there, and almost certainly about its relative Polish), I had to come up with a few examples. Then I had to check whether these examples felt natural to me. This might have taken half a minute or more.

When speaking Russian I decline and conjugate subconsciously, on instinct. How to get that instinct? By consuming large quantities of text and audio. Not by memorizing grammatical tables. If you acquired the instinct which tells you what sounds right and what sounds off, it would have been through massive input.
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby SCMT » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:33 pm

Speakeasy wrote:
Speakeasy wrote: … Eschew resources for language-learning that are freely available on the internet or through your local library...
Lisa wrote: Why avoid the free resources? I've been having success with Anki, online dictionaries and grammar drills, and a novel and other books from the library... granted, there's loads of spanish materials around, so maybe it's different with other languages. But I don't see why free resources aren't useful, they've done more for me than just buying books.
Bluepaint wrote:I believe Speakeasy was being sarcastic, sardonic even ;)
@Lisa, 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 thought it was funny.
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Lisa
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Re: Advice on learning a language for someone who only speaks one.

Postby Lisa » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:35 am

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

Postby elsmandino » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:07 am

rdearman wrote:I would suggest the following.

  1. One course book. Assimil is normally recommended but Teach Yourself or others are also fine.
  2. One TV series which you like in the audio in the target language, with sub-titles. (Watch it religiously until you can almost repeat it verbatim.)
  3. One Book to read, either fiction or non-fiction. Read this book. Underline words you don't know, look them up, create flashcards, repeat.



I love the simplicity of this approach.

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

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.

For example, I was watching a film yesterday (10 jours en or) and quickly realised that the soundtrack and subtitles bore very little resemblance to each other.

I realise that, sometimes, you have to say things differently to get the message across before the scene changes.

However, as a perfect example - at the beginning of the film, a man walks up to another and says "salut". The subtitle said "bonjour".

This makes no sense at all - not only do the two words have the same number of syllables, but the words are different. Salut is more informal and you immediately change the perceived relationship between the two actors on screen.

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

I made the mistake of trying sitcoms at first - my premise being that episodes would be short and the language would be simple.

However, I understood virtually nothing.

I looked into this further and realised that sitcoms are one of the most difficult thing for non-natives to understand as the comedic element leads to the mass use of puns, colloquialisms, unnatural language, references etc. just to make the jokes work.

I watched a murder mystery, however, and found that I understood much more.
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