Your language learning adventures

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Your language learning adventures

Postby Talib » Mon 23 Nov 2009 3:50 am

Since I don't think this particular thread has been done before, creating it seemed in order. Here we list our experiences learning languages: which ones we have studied, the reasons we chose them and how accomplished we've become with them. Feel free to go into as much detail as you feel is necessary.

For an example, Simon (Omniglot administrator) has a very thorough account of his language experiences here: http://omniglot.com/language/learning/index.htm

I look forward to reading your responses. For me, I'll probably write mine up tomorrow.
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby dtp883 » Mon 23 Nov 2009 6:42 am

My language journey started in September 2007 when I wanted to impress this Jewish girl. I found LiveMocha and they didn't have Hebrew so I learned some German from the site which I've almost forgotten. I learned Hebrew on and off until now and even found three people in Israel to help me, including an Israeli English teacher. I listened to Hebrew music, and for the most part still do from time to time. At this time I knew I wanted to learn Spanish but I put it off saying I'd learn it once I got into 9th grade and would be required to take Spanish. Once I started high school I had to take Spanish class and with the help of the internet quickly out learned the class and became bored but I still needed practice. In the Spring of 2009 I started to try to learn French with RosettaStone© and later switched to Michel Thomas. Then the month before school started I used Michel Thomas for Spanish to get myself back.

Now this year my honors English teacher (I hate it when people say honors classes cause they aren't that much harder but here it's relevant) is a linguistics minor and read to us in Old English because people in the class kept calling Shakespeare, Old English. :roll: Later I asked her a question about ablaut and we got into linguistics. This October I got interested in Arabic and have been passively trying to learn the script for which she brought in a book because she thinks it's beautiful.

So my best language is Spanish for which I have an actual teacher and abundant resources and two years of continuous study. My second best is French which is only because of its similarities to English and Spanish. I remember no German. I still study Hebrew on and off and am no where near intermediate. Lastly, I'm considering learning Arabic now.
Native: English (NW American)
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French
Beginning: Arabic (MSA/Egyptian)
Some day: German
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby Talib » Mon 23 Nov 2009 5:06 pm

dtp883 wrote:My language journey started in September 2007 when I wanted to impress this Jewish girl.
That's as good a reason as any.

For me, I've always been interested in word etymology and how other languages looked and sounded, and thought multilingualism was impressive, but I didn't actually become interested in learning any language until I was in high school. I took French classes every year from grades 1-9 but wasn't terribly interested and didn't try very hard, something I regret as I'm currently trying to improve my French without much success.

My first "real" language that I studied (ie. totally of my own volition) was Arabic, which I became interested in a few years ago when I came across some books on it. I had always had an interest in the Middle East and thought the script was beautiful, so I got it in my head to attempt to learn it. At the time I didn't know how hard Arabic is, so I was frustrated when I didn't make much initial progress. I enlisted the help of a Lebanese native speaker and improved greatly. Currently my Arabic is on hold because I'm trying to bring my Mandarin and Spanish up to scratch, but I try to refresh my skills now and then by reading articles in the language and chatting with native speakers on MSN and Skype.

The next language I studied was Swedish. It seems like an eccentric choice, but my friend really wanted to learn it and we have a mutual love of Scandinavia (not least for its liberal political tradition) so we worked on it together. We found it fairly easy and became conversant in the language, but as opportunities to use it were limited, we lost interest and haven't used it much since. I can still read written Swedish decently but it's not something I'm actively pursuing.

Next I thought I should learn some Hebrew as a sort of counterpart to Arabic and because my girlfriend was Jewish and wanted to learn it. I picked up a little by reading Jewish texts and got a grammar, and enjoyed studying that language but I've since given it up to focus on other languages. The problem was that I loved the classical language but can't stand Modern Hebrew. If I ever visited Israel (and I plan to) I'd try to improve though.

More recently I thought I should learn some Mandarin because of its growing political and economic importance. Before I'd shrugged it off due to the difficulty of the writing system and its complicated phonology. Luckily I found a teacher and arranged for private lessons once a week. I find Mandarin enjoyable but very time-consuming due to the nature of learning both the spoken language and characters.

Since I now knew some French, Arabic and Mandarin my new goal became mastering the six official languages of the United Nations. To that end I joined a Spanish conversation class which meets once a week. There I practice listening and my limited speaking ability, and in between classes I try to brush up on my Spanish at least once weekly. Luckily I find Spanish very easy so far and I'm learning rapidly.

So far the only one I've left relatively untouched is Russian, which I find very intimidating.

In the future, after mastering these six, I would dearly love to learn Hindi/Urdu, and some German and Japanese as well. I'm also considering Indonesian/Malay, Portuguese, and maybe Italian but I'm not sure if I'll ever get to any of these.

So there you have it. I've got a lifetime of language learning ahead of me.
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby Sobekhotep » Tue 24 Nov 2009 3:23 am

(American) English: This is my 1st language. I speak it at a native level

(Brazilian) Portuguese: The 1st "foreign" language I encountered. As a child, I learned a lot from my father, a native speaker, but also studied it on my own as a teenager. Despite years of exposure, to this day I never really attained fluency, primarily due to a lack of speakers in my area & because I've always been focused on another language. I will go back to this language later & try to attain true fluency.

French: This is the language that got me interested in languages. I took French courses all 4 years of high school & also a semester in college. I didn't really do any self study, though, & that's probably why I never got fluent. A few years ago I quit learning it. I just completely lost interest in it. I currently stand as a "low intermediate" & have no plans to go back learning it.

(Latin American) Spanish: I first encountered this language during high school. There were a lot of Latinos at my school so I heard the language daily. I decided to start learning it on my own. I got to about an intermediate level before I lost interest.

Italian & Romanian: I started studying these language while I was in high school because I was also studying Portuguese, French & Spanish. I didn't study either language for very long, though. I can understand some written Italian mainly because of its similarities to Portuguese & Spanish. I know almost no Romanian.

Japanese: The first non-Italic language I got interested in. Around midway through high school I fell in love with this language. I first taught myself kana & then started learning on my own. At that time, I wasn't exactly an expert at learning languages so I didn't progress much. I took a course my final year of high school & also a semester in college. Currently, I'm still only an intermediate because I never focused completely on Japanese (until recently). But I do have a strong knowledge of kanji. This is the language I'm actively learning.

Korean: I got into this language because I had heard it was similar to Japanese. I taught myself hangeul in high school & took 3 semesters in college. I also learned a lot from spending 10 months living in South Korea. Currently, I'm an intermediate & will return to it after I reach fluency in Japanese.

Thai: This language I first encountered during late high school. I really liked the orthography so I taught myself that & also lots of words & phrases. After some months, though, I quit to do other languages. To date, this is the only tonal language I've studied that hasn't given me problems. I wonder why...

Cantonese: I studied this language for several months about 4 years ago. But I eventually quit because I felt like I wasn't getting the tones right.

Vietnamese: Another one I studied about 4 years ago for a few months. Again, the tones killed me! I also didn't like the grammar so I quit.

Icelandic: I studied this one for about a month a few years ago. Didn't get too far, though.

Czech: I'm not really sure when I started learning this language. Somehow, I developed an intermediate ability in the language. To this day I can understand a lot of written Czech. But, I have no plans to continue it.

Malay/Indonesian: I first encountered this language while living in South Korea. I hated it at first, but then started to like it gradually. I never really studied this language very intensively; mostly on-&-off. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue with this language later on or not.

Swedish: Also encountered this language while in South Korea (I met several Swedes). I like the sound of it & gave it a shot. I learned to read it pretty good but never could speak it well.

Uyghur & Uzbek: A couple of years ago I read about Turkic languages & decided to give one a try. I started with Uyghur but quit very soon because I didn't feel like learning the Arabic abjad. Then I started Uzbek. I really like the language a lot & studied for a a solid 2 months. But after I read about Uzbekistan's terrible human rights track record I quit the language.

Mongolian: I studied this language for about a week earlier this year mainly because I liked the idea of knowing it. But, I quit it because I don't like the sound of it.

My current plan is to continue Japanese until I get fluent in that. Then, I'll go back to Korean to get fluent in that. After Korean, I'll go back to my Portuguese to get that fluent. What's after Portuguese? I'm not sure. I'm torn between Indonesian, Sinhala & Russian. Any ideas? :D
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby Talib » Tue 24 Nov 2009 3:55 am

Wow, your high school offered Japanese? That's awesome; mine only had French.
Uyghur & Uzbek: A couple of years ago I read about Turkic languages & decided to give one a try.
But not Turkish? You have some very eclectic choices.
I'm torn between Indonesian, Sinhala & Russian. Any ideas?
Well, Russian is scary, and Sinhala is only spoken in one small country. So Indonesian it is. I hear it's easy and it has quite a lot of speakers. Plus it's mutually intelligible with Malay, I believe.

Or if you want something totally new I recommend Hindi/Urdu. I don't understand why nobody studies this language; it probably has more speakers than French, Italian and German put together.
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby Sobekhotep » Wed 25 Nov 2009 1:31 am

Talib wrote:Wow, your high school offered Japanese? That's awesome; mine only had French.

I get that a lot! Actually, during my freshman year my school had Spanish, French, German & Japanese. But by my sophomore year German was gone. Apparently, nobody was taking German so they stopped teaching it.

Talib wrote:
Uyghur & Uzbek: A couple of years ago I read about Turkic languages & decided to give one a try.
But not Turkish? You have some very eclectic choices.

Well, I was & still am very fascinated by Central Asia, which Turkey is not a part of. That's why I didn't want to do Turkish.

Talib wrote:
I'm torn between Indonesian, Sinhala & Russian. Any ideas?
Well, Russian is scary, and Sinhala is only spoken in one small country. So Indonesian it is. I hear it's easy and it has quite a lot of speakers. Plus it's mutually intelligible with Malay, I believe.

Russian is scary! :o But it's so damn useful! Plus the Russosphere, especially Russia, is a media powerhouse! :)
Indonesian is easy to learn & is mutually intelligible with Malay, since it's the same language (akin to Serbian & Croatian). But I love the Sinhala script! :D

Talib wrote:Or if you want something totally new I recommend Hindi/Urdu. I don't understand why nobody studies this language; it probably has more speakers than French, Italian and German put together.

Indeed, Hindustani has some 900 million total speakers. The issue I have with it is that most educated Hindustani speakers are also English speakers so I wouldn't need Hindustani to communicate. But it is a cool language.

I don't know, lately I've been thinking of trying Mongolian again or perhaps picking another Turkic language.
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby Talib » Wed 25 Nov 2009 4:50 am

Sobekhotep wrote:Actually, during my freshman year my school had Spanish, French, German & Japanese. But by my sophomore year German was gone. Apparently, nobody was taking German so they stopped teaching it.
Interesting that German was gone but Japanese wasn't. I take it your class had an awful lot of anime geeks.
Indonesian is easy to learn & is mutually intelligible with Malay, since it's the same language (akin to Serbian & Croatian).
Well, those are written in different scripts. Perhaps a better analogy would be Swedish and Norwegian.
Indeed, Hindustani has some 900 million total speakers.
I think that total is probably inflated (but then so are the numbers for English, French and every other major language). But it's still the most influential Indic language, and India interests me a lot.
I don't know, lately I've been thinking of trying Mongolian again or perhaps picking another Turkic language.
I think it's best to stick with what's most useful to you.
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby dtp883 » Wed 25 Nov 2009 7:22 am

Why isn't this thread more popular? I was really looking forward to reading them.
Native: English (NW American)
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French
Beginning: Arabic (MSA/Egyptian)
Some day: German
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby Talib » Wed 25 Nov 2009 7:34 am

dtp883 wrote:Why isn't this thread more popular? I was really looking forward to reading them.
Me too - I guess some members haven't been online recently or haven't noticed it.
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Re: Your language learning adventures

Postby linguoboy » Wed 25 Nov 2009 4:14 pm

tl;dr
english*deutsch*nederlands*català*castellano*gaelainn*cymraeg*français*svenska*韓國말*漢語
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