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  1. #1
    Resident Snot-Nose GZA's Avatar
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    Default Learning a Language

    I've been considering learning (Quebec) french for a while now. I stopped taking formal french lessons at school two years ago because I wanted to accomodate other classes, but I've always, in the back of my mind, wanted to learn french.

    But is there an effective, preferable free, way to learn a language without taking formal lessons?

    I've heard of people learning to read, write, and speak english using these techniques with good results.

    -Watching TV or DVD's (i.e. setting the language setting on a favourite DVD to whatever language you want to learn, or watching a TV channel in the language you want to learn, a little bit each day (30 minutes)

    -Reading articles (i.e. reading an online newspaper or blog in the desired language daily). Once skills improve, reading a short story or novel could be beneficial.

    -Joining message boards/forums (but only once you can actually write decent sentances. This would get a lot of practice if its a topic you enjoy)

    -Setting the language setting on a video game to the desired language (only really helps if the game has a good amount of writing in it and if you enjoy the game).

    -Listning to music in the desired language

    What are your opinions on these techniques? What do you think the best way to learn a language is?

    If I can find an interesting, fun way to gradually learn french, I'll probably do it.

  2. #2
    Scream down the boulevard LadyJaye's Avatar
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    Learning a new language can be so fascinating I've been learning Czech, and I've found it to be tremendously helpful to be able to hear the language spoken, and be able to correlate it with something on a printed page. Have you gone to your library yet to see if they have any language tapes/cd's in their inventory? I didn't expect mine to have anything on Czech, but I was delighted to find an entire introductory course on cd, and then I supplemented them with Czech language books.


    I hope you have great success with French! Good luck!

  3. #3
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    getting completely immersed in a language (ie. going somewhere it's the native language) works really well- that's how I learned portuguese! I learned quite a bit of Italian by reading the news, watching cooking shows and listening to music in Italian though (which means that as long as the Italian speaks to me about food I'm set!)
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  4. #4
    Scream down the boulevard LadyJaye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    getting completely immersed in a language (ie. going somewhere it's the native language) works really well- that's how I learned portuguese! I learned quite a bit of Italian by reading the news, watching cooking shows and listening to music in Italian though (which means that as long as the Italian speaks to me about food I'm set!)
    Portuguese! Wow, am I envious - it' such a difficult language to learn!

  5. #5
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    yeah- I can even pronounce Sao Paulo correctly now! (it took a lot of getting made fun of to be able to speak the language correctly!)

    Czech though- THAT sounds like a signifigantly more difficult language? why did you pick that?
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  6. #6
    Resident Snot-Nose GZA's Avatar
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    Whats the correct way to pronounce Sao Paulo? I thought it was "Saow Pol-low"

  7. #7
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    I really can't figure out how to type IPA symbols here, and the pronunciation can't be conveyed in English The nasalized a in the word Sao sounds like you're kind of holding your nose- almost like you're saying sano paulo, only without tapping your tounge to the roof of your mouth.

    sorry- I take way too many linguistics courses!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GZA View Post
    I've been considering learning (Quebec) french for a while now. I stopped taking formal french lessons at school two years ago because I wanted to accomodate other classes, but I've always, in the back of my mind, wanted to learn french.

    But is there an effective, preferable free, way to learn a language without taking formal lessons?

    I've heard of people learning to read, write, and speak english using these techniques with good results.

    -Watching TV or DVD's (i.e. setting the language setting on a favourite DVD to whatever language you want to learn, or watching a TV channel in the language you want to learn, a little bit each day (30 minutes)

    -Reading articles (i.e. reading an online newspaper or blog in the desired language daily). Once skills improve, reading a short story or novel could be beneficial.

    -Joining message boards/forums (but only once you can actually write decent sentances. This would get a lot of practice if its a topic you enjoy)

    -Setting the language setting on a video game to the desired language (only really helps if the game has a good amount of writing in it and if you enjoy the game).

    -Listning to music in the desired language

    What are your opinions on these techniques? What do you think the best way to learn a language is?

    If I can find an interesting, fun way to gradually learn french, I'll probably do it.
    Yes.
    You have said it. Go ahead.

    The dictionary is an enemy. Never use it before you have learned the language.

    My daughter learned English by herself, at the age of 5. Not one minute of formal learning. If there had been formal learning on the side it would have been impossible.

    School destroys the language learning process.

    Read newspapers, novels, books on different subjects. Never mind if you do not understand anything in the beginning.

    Watch the dvd movie first in English. Do not pick any subtitle. It takes your attention away. Preferably, watch it as many times as you need to know it by heart.

    Then choose both audio and subtitles in French. The same thing: Go on until you know it by heart.

    Then pick up another movie. Again, watch it first in English without the subtitles. You have to learn it by heart. Then French, and only French.

    Do not mix languages. Never try to translate. Translation obstructs understanding.

    If there is a book or an article you know by heart, read it in French ten times over.

  9. #9
    To the top of the world arcticangel02's Avatar
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    Well, I've been learning German for a while now... I did it in high school, then took a year off and went on exchange to Germany, and have done one German class a semester at college ever since. The year in Germany took my level of the language from very very limited to fluency (though far from perfect grammar). And since then I've been slowly losing it, because I don't hardly ever use the language.

    Personally, I think it's very very difficult to learn a language without being immersed in it. I mean, some who are more studious and dedicated might, but there's still something missing if your entire knowledge of the language is based on grammar rules in a textbook.

    Because I think you learn the language much quicker when you have to create sentences of your own, and communicate in return. You do pick it up slowly just from observing, but actually (being forced to) engage and invent and communicate in the language itself really speeds up the process.

    But I don't know if you can actually go and stay someplace where they speak french, so with what's left to you, hmm. I'd suggest doing a combination of anything you mentioned that you can get your hands on (plus a dictionary - essential, but try and guess word meanings before you automatically rush to look it up), until you feel like you can understand the rudimentaries, then throw yourself into, yeah, a messageboard or something where you're around native french speakers, and try and communicate.

    Personally, I find the slow, often frustrating process of learning a new language enough to make me not want to do it, so actually being there and having no other choice was definitely the best option for it.

    And practise constantly!

    On another note, my sister is doing the same year abroad that I did, except she's in Finland. I really wish she would learn the language, because how cool would that be, to know Finnish!! But her host families speak rather good english, plus I've heard that Finnish is like the hardest language in the world to learn. She has picked up a little, but since she's not speaking it herself, she's been there 10 months and knows only the very simple basics.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GZA View Post
    But is there an effective, preferable free, way to learn a language without taking formal lessons?
    Oui absolutement J'utilise tous les miens t'as dit chaque fois que j'apprends une langue nouvelle, et je n'ai jamais appris une langue dans un college, toute ma vie, et je sais au moins six! Et aussi - en particuliere, n'oubliez pas trouver quelqu'un qui parle Francais couramment pour avoir souvent les conversations ensemble

    I missed out the accented letters there cos they only play havoc with the formatting when people quote them. But yeah, there you go. I am a STRONG advocate of the naturalistic method of language learning - you achieve so much more so much quicker. If you learn formally, you learn things in order of ascending grammatical complexity, so it tends to take a long time before you can start actually having half decent conversations with natives. But if you learn naturalistically, you learn in order of usefulness (just like a child learning its native tongue), and so can understand and be understood in a much shorter time, which gives you confidence to keep talking and in time, iron out the kinks in your grammar.
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