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  1. #1
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    Learning a new language

    English isn't my first language, but I learned it very early in school and so now, thinking about it, I can't say I remember ever being frutrated about the difficulty of learning it. I mean sure, I'd get things wrong every now and then, but it was in school and part of the standard curriculum so as a student you just kinda brush it off and eventually you just get better one way or another.

    Anyway, so now I am faced again with the challenge of learning a new language. I've recently moved to Germany and while technically, I'd say I'm pretty confident I'll survive the next few years without learning proper conversational German (everyone at work speaks to me in English, I hang out with a lot of other foreigners, etc...), I'd never forgive myself if I leave this country without learning the language. The problem is I kinda suck at it. This isn't the first time. I lived in Korea for a couple of years also for work, and right now, my Korean is still quite embarassingly elementary, which is something I regret. Now I'd love to attend intensive German classes, but my work schedule simply doesn't give me enough time for it. Right now I'm trying to learn by myself, studying a bit whenever I'd have time and energy to do so, but it's always sad whenever I feel like I've studied so much, and then the next day I listen in on a conversation and still have no idea what people are talking about.

    So maybe now I'd like to ask you guys for your success stories, you know, just to motivate me a bit, lol. How long did it take for you to learn a new language. Was it easy? Were you pressured into it? Did you learn it for fun, or just because it sounded cool?


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  3. #2
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    Take a German course, it is important to start with the basics. And at work, tell them you want to learn German. They may help you ^^

  4. #3
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    I love learning different languages, but so far I only know four. Would love to speak Russian though.

    I get taught English, French and German in school. What I find is that my English improved rapidly when I started conversations on the internet, and just watched English videos on youtube. The videos help you pick up pronounciations, and engaging in conversations teaches you grammar, vocabulary and ways of speaking, expressions...

    I learnt German when I was a kid, because we moved to Germany, and when you're still a little kid, it doesn't really matter if you speak the language, you'll find some friends anyway. But because I went to school with German kids, I picked up the language quite easily (may also be because my mothertongue, Dutch, is a Germanic language).

    My French isn't really as good as I want it to be, but I've noticed that I improved rapidly when I went on a French camp and could only use that language. Now I try to visit French websites to improve my French (which also teaches me a lot of vocabulary).

    What I'm saying is, that for me, once you get the basics, the best way to improve your knowledge of a language is to talk to other people in it. You'll subconsciously pick up so much while talking.

    That's why I too suggest that you go to a class, even if it's only one hour a week. You'll have the ability to converse with people in German that are learning it as well.
    My sketchbook - it's a little sketchy.

  5. #4
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    Watch movies in German (but no German-made movies, they suck. Just go to the cinema and watch TV), read (easy) books in German.
    And like Sushy said, tell the people at work that you want to learn German.

    I "learned" English by watching movies, reading manga and art forums like CA. I'm still not that good but at least I understand everything.

  6. #5
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    I grew up never knowing my parents native language and, oddly, at 18 I realized that I was basically missing out on learning a language for free by not picking their brains. For me, I didn't study at all, but I forced myself to speak it for 3-4 years when speaking to my family, and now I'm pretty much fluent. So.. yeah, my experience: force yourself to converse in the language even if you're embarrassed. When you do that, it's kind of like building something from scratch and when you're unsure how to proceed, reaching out and finally realizing what X tool was always for-- its the need to improvise in speaking that makes you expand your vocabulary and ability.
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  7. #6
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    Your two most important questions:

    1. How do you say...?
    2. What does _______ mean?

    With these two questions, I learned Slovak.

    Carry a notebook with you, and write it all down. Sure, I still don't know the declensions, but that's kind of minor, and I imagine it's the same in German. I still get lots of compliments on my Slovak, which I learned just from asking how to say things and copying my wife's expressions. Oh yeah, marrying someone who speaks the language also helps. Marry a German.

  8. #7
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    My Italian father learned Norwegian rather swiftly by watching subtitled cartoons. He learned pronunciation and spelling almost perfectly. He also read books for very young children. They are designed to learn children to speak and spell, so why would they not work on grown ups?

    Watch DVDs with German language and English subs. Repeat what they are saying. Then watch English with German subs. And once you start to feel ready German with German subs.

    I started learning Italian when I was incredibly young so I could talk to my awesome Italian grandparents. Picked it up pretty quickly too. I learned by pointing at things and asking "what is this?" and "how do you say?" and watching the TV. I'm almost fluent now I can read it almost perfectly, but I can't write it.
    I also learned my English watching movies. Starting fairly young.
    And because I spoke Italian I picked up french incredibly easy at school. Now I only understand a few words though.

  9. #8
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    I've found Rosetta Stone very effective.
    Thinking connects desire with creation.
    How good are you?

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    clog

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sushy View Post
    Take a German course, it is important to start with the basics. And at work, tell them you want to learn German. They may help you ^^
    Yeah, fortunately in the university where I work, they offer free German classes to foreigners. They have it once a week for one and a half hours. I love attending these classes, the only problem is, occasionally I'd miss class because of work that I literally can't leave. And then whenever attend them again I'd be so lost with the lectures Still, I guess it beats nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by TASmith View Post
    ... Oh yeah, marrying someone who speaks the language also helps. Marry a German.
    Lol, that's what I plan to do with my Korean. I met my boyfriend when I was living in Korea. We speak English most of the time though (which is again, something I regret). Everytime we agree on speaking only in Korean, the conversations eventually just revert back to English. Every now and then I try to brush up on my Korean just so that I won't forget it. Sadly I'm pretty certain I've forgotten quite a few words already.

    Quote Originally Posted by p sage View Post
    I've found Rosetta Stone very effective.
    Cool thanks, I'll have a look at this.


    So far what I'm doing now is listening to these Learn in Your Car German mp3s every now and then. It's actually kinda nice. I don't think I'm ready for watching German movies yet though, and around here I haven't seen anything on tv that has German subs (I find it fascinating that Germans dub absolutely EVERYTHING.) But anyway these are all very useful pieces of advice, thanks.

  11. #10
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    English and German are both my first languages, so they were easy for me to learn. French was easy as well, since I started learning it in kindergarten and spoke it every day until I graduated high school.

    I started learning Japanese when I was 14, and took classes for 3 years. It was definitely harder to learn that any of the others, and I'd say simply because I didn't have as much exposure to it. I'd only be speaking it once a week.
    If you really want to learn German, you have the opportunity to do it quite well since you're living there. Make the effort to go out and order in German, ask questions at the grocery store, etc. Sign up for a class so that you have people to practice with on a regular basis.

  12. #11
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    itunes has free language learning mp3s.
    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kahel View Post
    Lol, that's what I plan to do with my Korean. I met my boyfriend when I was living in Korea. We speak English most of the time though (which is again, something I regret). Everytime we agree on speaking only in Korean, the conversations eventually just revert back to English.
    Watch more Korean TV/Movies....? I'm embarrassed to say watching Korean shows means I've accidentally started picking up words and phrases that I have superimposed with English ones in my brain. It's weird when it happens, and I don't have a Korean boyfriend or other good* reason to further my understanding. Seems like continuing to surround yourself with the language through media would promote you using it with your bf, even when in another country? I'll be interested in seeing what other people think work since I know nothing about it though, ha.

    *Other than for "personal improvement" which I would love to do, but I was terrible at language in school, and should start with an "easier" language that's closer in root to English...haha.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacari View Post
    I started learning Japanese when I was 14, and took classes for 3 years. It was definitely harder to learn that any of the others, and I'd say simply because I didn't have as much exposure to it. I'd only be speaking it once a week.
    To me any language that has its own alphabet (you know, besides the latin and the umlauts and whatnots) always seems so daunting. So I always find it so cool when people manage to learn languages like Chinese and Japanese and Arabic. It gives me more hope at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by OmenSpirits View Post
    itunes has free language learning mp3s.
    Aha, I didn't know that. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirana View Post
    Watch more Korean TV/Movies....? I'm embarrassed to say watching Korean shows means I've accidentally started picking up words and phrases that I have superimposed with English ones in my brain. It's weird when it happens, and I don't have a Korean boyfriend or other good* reason to further my understanding. Seems like continuing to surround yourself with the language through media would promote you using it with your bf, even when in another country? I'll be interested in seeing what other people think work since I know nothing about it though, ha.
    Lol. At least it's not Korean pop songs. I don't dislike them btw, but those things are pretty damn catchy. Korean dramas are my guilty pleasures haha. The boyfriend isn't into them unfortunately (probably because they're mostly made for the female audience anyway, lol). Whenever I think about learning languages, I panic a bit because I might be meeting his parents this Christmas and they don't speak English at all. And then there's this whole formal/polite speech to learn as well. I'm torn between wanting to learn German already and needing to improve my Korean. Ah, now, if only languages can just be istalled into people as well.

  15. #14
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    Oh hell, if we bring up Kdramas it will totally derail this thread. I haven't watched that many really, but I hope to. I'm more into the historical stuff than romance stuff. Got the husband (and just about every body else) to watch/love Chuno though.
    Last edited by Mirana; May 22nd, 2011 at 10:12 PM.

  16. #15
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    I'd love to learn Icelandic some day just because I think it sounds beautiful!

  17. #16
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    One day I'll try to learn French and Japanese.

    Most likely in that order.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Kobryn View Post
    I'd love to learn Icelandic some day just because I think it sounds beautiful!
    Lol, Jacob, I recently acquired a book on learning it, and I gotta say, I'm only as far as the very start of basic grammar, not even through the first chapter. It's incredibly complicated compared to English. O_O

    Kahel: It really just helps to keep going with it. I think it's easier to pick up languages when you're younger..

    When I left Russia I was thrown straight into an English-speaking school, and reading in English helped me a lot when going through that speedbump. Don't be afraid to try with basic books first until your reading improves. It's a poor substitute for actually being exposed to the language, but since you are, I think it'll only help you more.

    I learned some French and Japanese in school later as well, so I think if I found myself in either of those countries I'd be able to pick the language up faster, but then again only because I'd be able to have the most basic reading level to start with any books I can.

    Afrikaans is a Germanic language, and I've been able to pick it up in conversation living in a largely Afrikaaner-dominated city for the last 4 years, but I think I'm worse at it than I would be with French, because I just couldn't be bothered to read anything in it. (The literature is sparse). Point is, as far as the grammar structure and so on goes, it seems to share some with German, and that is easy enough.

    So yeah... tl/dr: Read stuff!

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