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  1. #1
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Default Bilinguals or multilinguals

    Circumstances dictate that I can not physically immerse myself into a foreign language environment for more than a week or two at a time, so what is the best way to learn a foreign language?

    I was told that learning it by the usual methods (like taught in school or with tutorials) is useless and you will reach a certain level (far from the highest), and then just stagnate/stop if you haven't immersed yourself. I was also told that unless you have a few months to study it FULL-TIME, then you won't learn much. Is this true? A bilingual told me this. Please tell me this isn't true.

  2. #2
    L'anima non dimora Donna Cecilia's Avatar
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    Your friend is right (and I'm used to give bad news). I'm a multilingual.

    In order to master a foreign language, not only you need that time period, but also the chance to speak it on a daily basis.

    You don't have to go anywhere, there are voice chats in every language possible. You should give it a try.

    "An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise."
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  3. #3
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_...ge_acquisition

    A lot depends on what language you want to learn, what your motivation is, how ambitious you are and how motivated and disciplined you are. Are you usually good in a class room? Do you prefer to learn through interaction with others (maybe a tandem partner would be a good idea).

    Generally speaking, it is hard to reach a native speaker level when you are already older than 10 or 12 years, but an adult can still get near native speaker skills.

    More details, please!
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  4. #4
    Unlimited Dancemoves ® AgentF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donna Cecilia View Post
    Your friend is right (and I'm used to give bad news). I'm a multilingual.

    In order to master a foreign language, not only you need that time period, but also the chance to speak it on a daily basis.

    You don't have to go anywhere, there are voice chats in every language possible. You should give it a try.
    she's right. if you're reading this, you have access to innumerable online language resources, and a global community of people with whom you can practice for free.

    i speak 4 languages. the internet's a great way to maintain 'em. (plus, pick up some nifty-ass cuss words!)

    EDIT: the interwebz can help you maintain. not acquire imo. full-time immersion is what you want for the acquisition of practical language skills, and if you're smart when you get there you'll stay away from your fellow expats.
    I may be kindly, I am ordinarily gentle, but in my line of business I am obliged to will terribly what I will at all.
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  5. #5

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    I spent 8 years studying French in school (nearly half my life once I'd graduated from high school). Every year, every other day for an hour and a half. And I didn't pick it up much at all. I can't speak or write it worth shit. Listening and reading are OK. But not what you'd expect after 7 years.

    I spent 10 months in China and can speak, interpret, read and write quite well. And it is a much harder language to learn than French (for an English speaker). The last few months I was there I was thinking, dreaming and problem solving in Chinese. If I were conversing with a friend and we were switching back and forth between Chinese and English, I wouldn't be able to tell where one started and the other began. I finally understood what it was like to be fluent in another language.

    Since coming back to Canada, I've lost the fluency rapidly. But I have a strong basis now. I'm sure if I took classes (and I plan to) and found a good Chinese community to practise often with, I could regain some of the fluency I've lost. But it probably won't compare to actually living in China.

    So yeah, bad news is, from personal experience, immersion is THE way to go.

  6. #6
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    I agree that immersion is the way to go. If you honestly want to speak a different language, you have to learn to think in that language. The English to other language mental conversion doesn't grammatically work.

    Purportedly trilingual, with multiple dialects in one of them. In actuality, I only think in one language.

  7. #7
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    I realize immersion is best but I can not immerse myself. I'm stuck here. I still want to learn if possible. Any suggested methods or ways to do that?

    Red herring, I'm an adult. I learn best by "doing" or by using my 5 senses.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenaphor View Post
    The English to other language mental conversion doesn't grammatically work.
    Right. You can't map the new vocabulary you're learning to your database of English vocabulary. It's an incompetent system. Takes extra time cause you have to go through multiple folders and files to get to where you want to go.

    When I realized this while learning Chinese, I started to approach learning the language as if I were a child learning language for the first time. Instead of mapping words together, I started mapping words and objects/ideas/images/concepts together.

    For instance, you learn the English word for "door" in your new language. Except it isn't the English word for door. It's 门:



    I know it sounds like common sense, but it's amazing how difficult it is. Your brain wants to sneak in there and get you to associate the new words with your old words. Cause it's so ingrained in you. So easy. But it won't help you one bit in becoming fluent. In actually learning the new language.

    And that's why it's harder to the older you get. Young kids have had less time with their native language. It's not AS comfortable as an adult. You just gotta pretend like you're a kid again.

  9. #9
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Immersion is extremely useful but neither a guarantee you'll actually learn more then at home nor the only way to go. As I said, a lot depends on your personal preferences, your learning style, etc.

    I speak three foreign languages; two of them on a near native speaker level and the third well anough to read long newspaper articles and hold my end in a normal conversation. I started all of them in a class room, then had some immersion and/or contact with native speakers later on in life. Most of my friends are multilingual as well and they all have very diffeent backgrounds. From personal observation I would say young age and immersion are very helpful, but not essential if you "only" want a good enough level to read books, follow movies and have a decent conversation! The single most influential factor I have observed in learning another language is a foreign boyfriend or girlfriend. I have repeatedly seen that do wonders to previously unsuccessful people, which makes me think it's all about motivation, talent coming second and the larger environment on a clear third place. There are more than enoug people who go abroad for a year or more and never learn the damn language (because they get by without it).

    So don't give up yet, but don't think it will be a walk in the park either. Most of it depends on you.
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  10. #10
    Phantonym
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    Why can't you immerse yourself? You can learn the basics in a classroom or on your own, but after that...try the TV, movies, books, the Internet, anything and everything you can get your hands on or become part of in that particular language...be interested, search for opportunities and sort of immerse yourself that way.

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