How do you learn languages?

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1,083
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Ciaran
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#1
I have, in the past, tried the Pimsleur tapes, Collins with Paul Noble and Rosetta Stone as means of learning a language.

Collins with Paul Noble was very helpful indeed although I combined it with living in France for ten months and it was undoubtedly the combination of both which led to me being able to speak French to quite a good standard.

However I harbour ambitions to learn a new language - either Spanish or Italian - before proving to myself that I am capable of learning languages and then moving on to Mandarin.

It is of course such a personal preference but what systems have people found have worked for them in the past?
 
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Paul
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#2
I think the very best way by far is total immersion, it's certainly the quickest as you're forced to speak the language in some form 24/7. Having said that, I've found the Michel Thomas CD's quite useful for applying tenses and generic morphing of Verbs. (I used the Spanish one)
 
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#3
I'm using Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese. But as said "total immersion" is the best way.
Of course it's not really convenient to go and live in a foreign country for a few years, but there is a wealth of videos and newspapers on line which helps

さよなら
 

Lynton

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Lynton (yes really!)
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#4
michel Thomas is a patronising git........

Adult education with a native speaker.. and then force yourself to learn it... when you go to the country of your learned language, use it and don't back down....... and then go round his house for tapas often and do the non curriculum stuff.........

I have had several surreal conversations in Spain... all the waiters / waitresses / taxi drivers want to improve their English as it makes it easier for them v The Giri's (Tourists - derogatory)

I have argued the price of a kiwi in a hotle in Madrid (3.5 Euros for one kiwi - when all i asked was, "what is kiwi in Spanish" - "kiwi")... had a drunken discussion with a columbian taxi driver on the merits of Schumacher over Alonso...... and told the gipsy beggars in Grenada to "foxtrot oscar" in a way that most certainly worked (and it was not "no gracias")

Oh I've had a few knockbacks........ "Una cerveza y una cola light por favor"
N Ireland accent........ "Do you speak English?"
"Lo siento, pero, no."



Other than that, take the plunge........
 
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Garry Edwards
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#5
I pretty much agree. I learned S. Italian as a young child without even realising I was doing it, just by playing with neighbours who only spoke Italian, it was many years later that I tried to improve it, and never really learned the grammar.

Then, when I knew I was going to go to work in Germany I went to adult education for an academic year first. Germany is a difficult place to practice German though, nearly everyone speaks pretty reasonable English and they all want to practice it at every opportunity, which doesn't make it easy for foreigner who want to practice their German:(
 

Lynton

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Lynton (yes really!)
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#6
I pretty much agree. I learned S. Italian as a young child without even realising I was doing it, just by playing with neighbours who only spoke Italian, it was many years later that I tried to improve it, and never really learned the grammar.

Then, when I knew I was going to go to work in Germany I went to adult education for an academic year first. Germany is a difficult place to practice German though, nearly everyone speaks pretty reasonable English and they all want to practice it at every opportunity, which doesn't make it easy for foreigner who want to practice their German:(


Quite agree Garry,

Lost count of the number of times I have been an Englishman in Spain speaking Spanish to a Spaniard who would only respond in English........

Generally it is quite fun, and my thinking is s/he can try out their english on the other 99% who have not bothered to learn.........

As I posted on here last week, what really amused me was Tesco's , Norwich... picked up an "El Pais" - Spanish newspaper, and the people behind me in the queue obviously saw me reading it (spread out on conveyor belt whilst waiting) and moaned about "bloody foreigners, coming over here......."
 
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Mark
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#7
I've started doing evening classes in Italian run by the local council adult learning service. It's been enjoyable and I'm making good progress, if rather slowly. Unfortunately it looks like there may not be enough people enrolled for the second part of the course and it may get cancelled - there were 14 when it started but some moved to the daytime class (do these people not have jobs to go to?) and a few gave up.

We are being taught by an Italian lady that worked as a journalist before coming to the UK. Her enthusiasm is a big help, the problem for me is not being able to practice between the lessons.
 
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Astraeus
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1,083
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Ciaran
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#8
I think evening classes would be an ideal way for me to do it (given that I can't just up-and-leave to immerse myself in the language). Unfortunately work commitments drag me into the evening more than twice per week which prevents me from committing to anything (he says, having had to cancel sports training, football matches, rock climbing lessons etc etc).

I reckon I am going to start with Rosetta Stone and Paul Noble before moving on to reading newspapers and websites once I have grasped grammatical concepts and a few key words.
 
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Paul
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#9
michel Thomas is a patronising git........
So you knew him then?

Git or not, I found his techniques simple and quite useful. It's just a pity that I'm never gonna have a realistic chance to get the real time exposure I need to become a reasonable Spanish speaker.

IMO, evening classes are a total waste of time and money, speaking personally as one who's done a couple of terms. Maybe I just got a crap college and tutors, but I would'nt bother again (n)
 

Lynton

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Lynton (yes really!)
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#10
no i listened to the first of 8 of his Spanish CD's...... and the perfect woman and idiot bloke approach i thought stank, and then his patronising condescending manner didn't fit well either.

AE classes vary place to place. Thankfully, Iñigo thought the "curriculum" was a waste of time as well....... so it was "if you want to learn real Spanish - you stay with me, if you want to hear 'Hello my name is Lynton, I am 30 years old - Jack & Jill Spanish' then go next door to the other class"

Whilst some on here do live over in Spain, ricardoforce and someone else....... it's easy enough to learn enough to get by on holiday.
 
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#11
So you knew him then?

Git or not, I found his techniques simple and quite useful. It's just a pity that I'm never gonna have a realistic chance to get the real time exposure I need to become a reasonable Spanish speaker.

IMO, evening classes are a total waste of time and money, speaking personally as one who's done a couple of terms. Maybe I just got a crap college and tutors, but I would'nt bother again (n)
Personally I found his CDs an invaluable aid to my Spanish studies here and I would recommend them to anyone that wants to learn the language. BUT (there is always a but isn't there) you have to bear in mind that:

a) his accent is terrible and sounds nothing like Spanish

b) some of the vocab he uses just doesn't exist in Spain

c) he only uses generic latin american spanish conjugations. That is to say, he only uses 5 conjugations when in Spain there are 6. He doesn't teach the vosotros at all.

Spanish is like an onion, it's so layered and fascinating to learn.
 

Lynton

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Lynton (yes really!)
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#12
and so colloquial as well..............

I have never seen beggars scatter so quickly as they did in Grenada......... with a swift "Joder coño!"

No doubt Michel is good at what he does - just his teaching style clashed with my learning style..........

there's loads of helpful stuff online and to be honest, if you're looking to use it for holidays etc...... 100% of the Spaniards will know you are a billy brit...... 99% of them will favour you as you are making an attempt at speaking their language...... 99% of them will respond in English as they (generally) want to improve their English....

and if you do know some of the language, you will know if you are being taken for a ride of not...........

Restaurant also in Grenada........... food comes with a smile and a "Aqui tiene Giri!" ("here you are" + derog term for a tourist)
His face went deathly pale as I said..... "Si soy un giri, pero un giri qui hablas Esapnol . Donde esta el Jefe per favor?"...........

Sure it wasn't perfect and was a while back now, but the message got across
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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#15
The Greek pronunciation on Duolingo is as different to what we tend to hear (on Crete) as Glaswegian is to RP.
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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#17
The best way to learn a language is from a local mistress who has as much grasp of your native language as you do of hers. So I'm told!!!


I'm not allowed to be fluent in Cretan Greek!!! :(
 
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11,601
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Rich
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#18
It's easy to be multi lingual, just speak loudly leaving long gaps between the words.
Full English is known and understood throughout the civilised world.
 
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2,139
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Kev
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#19
I have used FutureLearn to learn Italian, there is also a Spanish course available.
Anki (and/or AnkiDrioid) is great for revision, not just languages. It is based on flashcards, you can create your own and there are decks in various subjects which you can download. All for free! I have used it for French & Italian.
 
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#20
I have been doing French and small amounts of Dutch on Duolingo, find the app great (a little fustrating when you run out of hearts and im too tight to buy premium).

The only thing it lacks imo is some real world conversations. Would be nice to say force a conversation between native speakers and leaners
 
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Mark
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#22
Full English is known and understood throughout the civilised world.
Only as a type of breakfast :p.
I've started doing evening classes in Italian run by the local council adult learning service. It's been enjoyable and I'm making good progress, if rather slowly. Unfortunately it looks like there may not be enough people enrolled for the second part of the course and it may get cancelled - there were 14 when it started but some moved to the daytime class (do these people not have jobs to go to?) and a few gave up.

We are being taught by an Italian lady that worked as a journalist before coming to the UK. Her enthusiasm is a big help, the problem for me is not being able to practice between the lessons.
I posted this nearly seven years ago and I'm still learning. The course continued to the summer, then the teacher left to work full time at the university. The following autumn it resumed at the next level, with a new teacher and the minimum number of pupils for the council not to cancel it. The next year another new teacher but largely the same students.

At the end of that year, the four of us that were the core that had continued got together and decided to contact the person that had taught us the second year and we have continued to have lessons privately with her ever since. My Italian is probably 'intermediate' level now, but two hours a week perhaps 30 weeks a year (or less, she's had two children and is pregnant with a third at the moment so there have been gaps), with no opportunity to practice outside the lessons limits the speed of progress rather. Even in Italy most people reply to my Italian in English!
 
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Dave
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#23
I have tried and given up learning languages more times than I care to remember.

Most recently I tired Italian, around 50% of the people I work with are Italians so I thought that near constant surrounding of people speaking Italian around me would help. But as it turns out, not so much. My main stumbling block is that when people talk in a foreign language naturally I cannot pick out pauses or breaks between words, each sentence is sounds to me like a continuous mumble of sounds which impossible to pick out individual words from, so any chance to decipher it is gone.

What I need is people to speak slowly and clearly with obvious gaps between each word, a bit like trying to teach a toddler to speak for the first time. But that is completely unnatural and clearly wont happen from just immersing myself amongst foreigners.

Five years of working with Italians and my vocabulary still starts with bonjourno and ends with ciao. So I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will just have to put up with having the p*** taken out of me whenever I have to go to the continent and sit there smiling and nodding like an idiot. :LOL:
 
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