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The best method to learn a new language



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  #1  
Old August 28th, 2011, 2:19 am
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The best method to learn a new language

How do you guys choose to learn a new language?
A classroom setting or perhaps videos?

I'm using the podcast format to teach myself German. My particular skills are in listening. I have excellent conversational recall. It's what works for me.
I spend $25 a month for the extra flashcard, wordbank and videos. It's suppose to help you learn faster. I like germanpod101's new flashcard system because it plays the word in German without any words. Once they added that feature it's helped my listening skills a lot.

I also love a few German bands so I listen to them.

I'm looking forward to my trip to Berlin in November for the full immersion experience.
I wish nintendo sold games with a German option.
I'm thinking of buying some games while I'm in Berlin for later.

I had a difficult time with Spanish in college.
I didn't retain much of what I'd learned after the course was over.
I'm not a big fan of just learning from a textbook.
I liked the nintendo ds game 'My Spanish Tutor'. The games helped me remember how to conjugate verbs.


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  #2  
Old August 28th, 2011, 5:22 am
AnnJohnston  Female.gif AnnJohnston is offline
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

Since I'm still a student, I like learning languages in a classroom setting. I like learning new languages, especially if the teacher is a native speaker of that language! Nothing beats trying to talk with a native speaker, I guess. And of course, doing practice exercises in books is very important - not if you're not that bookish, hehe.

For example, when I was studying Japanese, I really had a hard time writing things because of their different writing system. So I made flashcards for myself, drew objects that is associated with a particular character so that I'll remember it easily, and that it won't look that plain in my eyes. In that way, I have practiced my writing skills. Watching animes and Japanese drama helped me raised my listening skills. Listening to Japanese songs and radio programs also helped, since I'm not really the type who will sit the whole day and read a book... XD And talking to my Japanese teacher (who is a native Japanese) everytime I have the chance just to see if I can speak the language without fussing over grammar rules and such... That's just some of the things that worked for me.

But really, there are tons of things to try out when learning a new language. The only thing that I could tell is just do the learning method that best suits you and have fun in studying!


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Old August 28th, 2011, 6:44 am
Hedwiglives7  Female.gif Hedwiglives7 is offline
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

We've started using Rosetta Stone this year at school. So far, I've really liked it. We have a regular teacher, too, so it's not just sitting in front of a computer all class but I can definitely see it working!!

Edit: I'm learning Spanish FYI(:


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Old August 28th, 2011, 6:52 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

This can either go under the best or the worst way to learn a language. First youll learn the basics enough to help you get around, then if your a college student try studying abroad over there. If you an adult with a loose job try moving there for a year or 2. Thats how one of my friends sister learned spanish like perfectly.


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Old August 28th, 2011, 8:06 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

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Originally Posted by Nyjets4004 View Post
This can either go under the best or the worst way to learn a language. First youll learn the basics enough to help you get around, then if your a college student try studying abroad over there. If you an adult with a loose job try moving there for a year or 2. Thats how one of my friends sister learned spanish like perfectly.
I read Gwynth Paltrow did that. She moved to a small village in Spain to learn Spanish fluently.

I like that idea though.
I wish I could go after learning High German. I doubt I'll learn German the way its spoken in different areas without living there.

I hope the myth that you can't learn a language after childhood isn't true.
I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about the accent since theres so many different kinds anyway.


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Old August 28th, 2011, 11:21 am
MinervaRonDobby  Male.gif MinervaRonDobby is offline
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I agree with Nyjets4004, I thinkg going to the country for a while really helps you to learn the language, I am learning French and I went to France for a few weeks and was surprised at how much I managed to pick up, just from knowing the basics and everysingle type of food


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Old August 28th, 2011, 11:31 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

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I agree with Nyjets4004, I thinkg going to the country for a while really helps you to learn the language, I am learning French and I went to France for a few weeks and was surprised at how much I managed to pick up, just from knowing the basics and everysingle type of food
That was what I was hoping to read. Thanks
That is encouraging.

I'm really studying up on food since I'm a vegetarian I have to be careful.


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Old August 30th, 2011, 9:04 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I combine methods. I go to an evening class to leanr Icelandic, I read books, I listen to music, I write letters, I visit the country and meet up with native speakers and I watch movies.


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Old August 30th, 2011, 4:09 pm
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

It depends really. I find that from the foreign languages I learned in high school, I've forgotten most of my French, because I never need it. My German is still okay, mostly because I still hear/read things in German occasionally, but my English has only improved since high school, because I actively use it and have always been motivated to study it.

I am now considering reading the Harry Potter books in French, to refresh my memory. I read them in English when I was a kid, and that really worked wonders for me, because I already knew them so well in Dutch. So I'm hoping reading them in French will make me remember most of my French and motivate me to read more French books. Maybe switch the language and/or subtitles on some DVDs to French. Join a French forum. All those things worked for me while learning English.


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Old August 30th, 2011, 5:15 pm
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I have a Bachelor's Degree in French and studied Russian for a year in college. I never use either and have forgotten most of both (I do remember how to say "I speak Russian very well" in Russian and that's just about the only thing I remember.)

With languages, if you don't use it, you lose it.

I have a friend who is going to learn Spanish based on hearing it, so he can speak it. He believes the best way is to learn sentences. I was taught in a class room - breaking words down into syllables, conjugating verbs, etc. This is something I haven't lost - I'm good at seeing unfamiliar words and guessing their meaning, based on the original Latin root of the word, but he says only language Geeks do that. Myself, I can't imagine learning only based on sound.


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  #11  
Old August 30th, 2011, 6:38 pm
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

Hmm, I'm not too sure about learning by sentences either. I remember that when my parents took me on my first trip to Spain with them (they're both Deaf), I felt that there it would be even more important for me to interpret for them than back home in Germany... so I threw myself into learning (or rather, trying to learn ) all the sentences in a booklet "Spanish for travelers" by heart. I must have been 9 or 10 at the time.

So then in Spain, in the supermarket we came across a nice Spanish woman. I proudly told her in Spanish (and I bet with an awfully German accent, because I never bothered with pronunciation ) my name, where I was from, counted up till ten - or twelve? - and I don't know what else I told her. I was so proud of myself. Until she beamed at me and started answering me in Spanish! I didn't understand anything and, against all logic, turned around desperately: "Mummy, what is she saying?"

Soon after, I started getting English lessons at school, at the age of 10 / 11. And I think that was how I realized it should be done - not just learning stuff by heart, but understanding the sentence structure and grammar and realize how to form a sentence with different words. That same way also helps a lot with understanding the answer. Later on I took on French and Spanish at school, and I've retained much more of that than of the initial rote learning I tried.

That said, I agree that if you don't use it, you lose it. At High school I paused with English for a while (in favour of French and German), and in my Translation studies I also focused on French and Spanish rather than English. But at the same time I did get a lot of practice in English and Spanish in - by having to study specialized literature (linguistics) in English, spending half a year in Spain in a university exchange and, eventually, discovering Internet pals and my first (Spanish) MUD, in both English and Spanish. And later on Harry Potter and the HP forums, of course.

My French, on the other hand, has been quite under-used over most of the time, and now I actually feel more comfortable in English than I ever did in French. Funny that now I live in an (albeit multilingual) mainly French-speaking place.


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  #12  
Old August 31st, 2011, 8:57 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I think you have to combine learning the grammar (i. e. breaking the sentences down) and learning by whole sentences. With Icelandic, it is a very logical language with a lot of grammar to take on board and sometimes you would not even understand the sentence without understanding the grammatical structure. For example "This is Anna" means "Ţetta er Anna" (Anna = Nominative) whereas "I know Anna" means "Ég ţekki Önnu" (Ö = Accusative), you would not understand this without knowing the declension rules. On the other hand, it is very hard to just learn all the conjugations and declensions by heart and hearing them used in sentences over and over again can help you memorise them.


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Old August 31st, 2011, 7:09 pm
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

As someone who was left to figure things out on her own in a Finnish kindergarten a few days after her arrival in the country, before she was able to speak a word of Finnish and before her peers were old enough to start English lessons, the best, and most effective way of learning a language in my mind would always be the sink-or-swim method. Forget about memorizing grammar, vocab drills, textbooks, the whole enchilada. They are helpful tools, but they aren't the essence in learning a language. You learn a language by using it, and maybe more importantly, thinking in it. Why do kids learn language so fast? I think part of it is precisely the fact that they don't use the dry classroom methods that adults use, nor are they so ingrained in thinking in their native tongues that they automatically think in their native language and then translate what they want to say to the target language. To them, apple and pomme are both that round, more-often-than-not red fruit you eat, whereas someone older might be more inclined to process pomme as the French word for apple first, and then link it back to that fruit Snow White's stepmother poisoned her with. It's not an easy thing to do, especially as you grow older, but I would still maintain that the best way of learning a language is try to forget that you know any other language aside from the one you're trying to learn, and try to take it in as a baby would his/her first language. Try to process the world in the language you're trying to learn, instead of the one you're most familiar with. Try not to fall back on English, or whatever your native language is, when you don't know how to say something, and try to describe it or work around it using the words and grammar constructions you do know like a child growing up in that language would. Forget about subjunctives and accusatives and past participles and whatnots, just start using it for Merlin's sake. If kids can be fluent in their native language and be grammatically correct for the most part without knowing the particulars of tenses and grammatical cases and all of that, so can you.
And just remember one thing: you're learning that language so that you could use it like a native, not to get a 100% in the grammar drill in your textbook. (or if the latter is indeed your goal, we might have a problem here.)


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Old September 1st, 2011, 8:36 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

@dreaming heart: Good description there! I like your "swim-or-sink image"! And you are most definitely right when you say that people should forget about any other language, it's a common mistake. I use my various language as an inspiration to work out for something could mean in another language, but nothing more. For example, the German word "Herberge" means "inn" whereas the Icelandic word "herbergi" means "room", so I just remember that these words are linked, but I would not translate them lityerally. A lot of people fall into the trap of using the same grammatical structure of their own language in another one and that does not work. A common German mistake in English would be "I have goe to the cinema yesterday"


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Old September 1st, 2011, 10:03 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I like the image as well. But IMHO it'd be a bit much to expect from an adult to be able to learn a new language the same way as a small child would. In most people, that particular skill of quick language acquisition in the "swim-or-sink style" seems to be lost eventually as you age (bolding mine):

http://pandora.cii.wwu.edu/vajda/lin...cquisition.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linguistics 201
Language learning by adults (the so-called "second language acquisition")

During childhood, language acquisition is a natural consequence of prolonged exposure to a language. A spoken language need not be formally taught to a child in order to be learned. (By contrast, written language must always be taught.) Any small child will acquire native fluency in any language if exposed to it on a consistent basis in a social setting. A child will naturally acquire native fluency in more than one language under these circumstances.

In the overwhelming majority of individuals, however, this natural ability to acquire spoken language without deliberate effort begins to diminish sharply at about the age of puberty (12-14 years of age). Teenagers exposed to a new language after this age will acquire it with definite interference from whatever language or languages they had been exposed to before puberty. Language acquisition by adults is language learning--a deliberate, painstaking, intellectual process that rarely, if ever, results in the total native fluency acquired so naturally by any small child, regardless of intellectual ability or personal motivation. The deficiency is particularly evident at the phonetic level, and adults who learn second languages usually speak them with some recognizable non-native accent. Thus, language acquisition by children and language learning by adults are strikingly different phenomena. What accounts for this difference?

Today we will talk about language learning by adults (post puberty individuals), a process usually called second language acquisition. But this term is misleading. Some people think that it is the presence of a first language that caused the difficulty. This is not true. Before puberty, young children can acquire second and third languages with equal ease and fluency, although they will forget them just as quickly if they cease to be exposed to them in childhood. Also, a child who never acquires a first language will still have problems acquiring a language after puberty (cf. the story of Genie, an abused child found by social workers at about age 13 1/2 who had never been spoken to and had no first language at all). So the presence of one language is actually not the critical factor that slows down a person's ability to acquire other languages. Instead, the crucial factor seems to be the age and maturation of the individual: a person before puberty acquires language naturally, while the same person after puberty must learn the language with great effort that yields less than perfect results. (...)


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Old September 1st, 2011, 10:30 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

@Serpentine: There is actually one advantage that you do have as an adult when learning a language: You can assess a language in a more "independent" way than a child can. What I mean by that is that you will have some understanding of grammar and language patterns that will enable you to analyse a language to a certain degree. A child would not be able to explain why it uses one word or one form (declension, conjugation) f a word whereas an adult should be able to see some structure.


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Old September 2nd, 2011, 7:30 pm
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

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Originally Posted by MerryLore View Post
I have a Bachelor's Degree in French and studied Russian for a year in college. I never use either and have forgotten most of both (I do remember how to say "I speak Russian very well" in Russian and that's just about the only thing I remember.)

With languages, if you don't use it, you lose it.

I have a friend who is going to learn Spanish based on hearing it, so he can speak it. He believes the best way is to learn sentences. I was taught in a class room - breaking words down into syllables, conjugating verbs, etc. This is something I haven't lost - I'm good at seeing unfamiliar words and guessing their meaning, based on the original Latin root of the word, but he says only language Geeks do that. Myself, I can't imagine learning only based on sound.
I gave up on the Pimsleur method because learning solely based on sound was too difficult.
I'm having more success with the podcast and going to their website to read the transcripts as I listen.

I read recently if you take a nap after learning vocabulary words you retain them easier.
I think this is true for me. I wasn't doing this intentionally but I work nights so I always take a nap during the afternoon.


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Old March 13th, 2012, 2:31 pm
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I say that the best way to learn a language is through conversation. This way, you get a gist of the accent and it comes more natural to you once you've learned the language. At least that's how my brain works.


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Old December 21st, 2012, 6:11 am
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

I am currently in college spanish courses and was considering reading the HP books in spanish. Anyone who has read the books in another language can you tell me if that helped you substantially or what?


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Old December 28th, 2012, 5:34 pm
Verena  Undisclosed.gif Verena is offline
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Re: The best method to learn a new language

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I am currently in college spanish courses and was considering reading the HP books in spanish. Anyone who has read the books in another language can you tell me if that helped you substantially or what?
I read the Harry Potter books in English, or rather, I like to read my favorite passages of the books in the original language, and I have to say that I'm sorry to see some errors (and cuts ) in translation (or adaptations). However, reading the Harry Potter books in the original language (and the viewing of the films, of course, helped by subtitles ) has improved slightly my poor English, but the only way to learn a new language is always to move abroad.


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