3

Every new language brings new opportunities, and we know that many of you in our translator community have talked about how keen you are to learn additional foreign languages. We’ve talked in previous forum discussions about overcoming plateaus in language learning and what it means to be fluent in another language, but what about when we’re starting from the very beginning? That’s where this month’s post about learning styles comes in.

It can often be helpful to think about visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, and decide which of these (or which combination of these) works best for us. Visual learners tend to have photographic memories and can often learn most easily by writing things down, so if you’re a visual learner, it can be helpful to use colour codes, sticky notes, sketches or images to help you anchor words and concepts in your memory.

Auditory learners respond best to the spoken word and can often benefit from listening to recordings, or recording and playing their own voice back, as well as taking advantage of both active and passive listening opportunities, such as conversation practice, films, and television.

Kinesthetic learners work best when learning through physical activity and normally tend to be quite tactile by nature, so working with flashcards and other interchangeable learning materials can be helpful here, as can memorising through routines.

Which learning style best describes you? We’d love to know what kind of language learner you are, and whether you’ve adapted your studies to suit your learning style. We’d also love to hear any other tips you have for learning a new language from the beginning - what’s worked for you, and would you recommend it? Let’s all share our language secrets together! 

27 comments

  • 3
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Hello Facundo, 

    Thanks for sharing more about your experiences in Taiwan! I love reading about people's experiences in other countries, and I think that people that are interested in languages are generally often interested in travel, too. I like to think it's part of the same 'mindset'. 

    How I ended up in Turkey was a story and a half, but effectively I went there for love rather than work or studies or anything particularly purposeful. (I now live in Belfast, so sadly the story didn't have a happy ending, but anyway.) Since I was in Turkey anyway, I started going to language school in the evenings so I could learn Turkish and meet new people, and as you described with Taiwan, I think it definitely helped to start with the classroom approach. As anyone who's been involved with Turkish will know, it's a really complex language to learn if your experience is mainly with other language groups, since the grammar, while actually very logical, is very, very different from most other languages, and certainly from my language (English). I studied really hard for about the first year I was in Turkey and I completed six out of the seven levels at the language school, and this was three hours a week, three nights a week. (The language school is Dilmer, in case anyone's familiar with Istanbul.) Not long before I left Turkey, I did an official level exam and got B2 which is quite respectable given how challenging I found the language. 

    But, and this is a big 'but' - I think there's a huge difference between having a classroom command of a language, and feeling confident speaking it, and I think that where I really fell down was not using Turkish enough in conversation with people. I had a couple of friends that I spoke to in Turkish some of the time, but I think that one of the problems of moving in 'expat' type circles is that you're mainly in the company of either other foreigners, or local people who are well-educated and speak good English. (At least, I was.) Another problem which I think many native English speakers will relate to is that it's really hard to convince people to talk to you in the local language if your own language is English. I loved so many things about Turkey but I sometimes felt that people weren't always that receptive to my attempts to speak the language, though there were definitely other times when people tried hard to help and involve me. I always think that speaking in any foreign language involves a HUGE amount of courage, and I'm regularly impressed by the way that so many of you here on the forum talk about languages you've learned in places that you've visited. It's a terrible thing to say, but part of the reason that I like Belfast is that I only have to speak English here!

    I'm really glad that you took such a bold approach to making friends in Taiwan and speaking in Mandarin, Facundo. It's great to have these experiences.

  • 3
    Avatar
    connie.huang0784

    Hi Katrina,

    Thank you for your comment. To answer your question about Tim in Takamatsu's blog, yes you can still access it at this site: http://ww8.tiki.ne.jp/~tmath/home/index.htm. The format looks a little different from when I was learning a decade ago, but the archived notes are all the same! That's an interesting point about whether we should use a different script/system to learn to read a foreign language. The only Irish I know is "Saoirse" the name of an actress, but the pronunciation looks intimidating. Personally, I found using romaji helped me out with diving right into the grammar and vocabulary without too much hesitation. However, reading Japanese was painfully slow for me later even as I got to an intermediate level, and it took using Google in Japanese and doing lots of regular reading to improve in that area. Speaking is a different realm altogether, and I can say that learning from textbooks or text chats did not do too much for my listening comprehension or speaking skills. 

    I agree with you that speaking does involve a LOT of courage, especially at first. I think there are some identity barriers when you speak, such as the one you noted--if others don't perceive you as being capable of speaking their language that can cause someone to lose motivation. Also, there's the feeling of unfamiliarity or almost trying on a different identity or experience when you speak to someone in a new language for you. It can feel intimidating at first but also very rewarding and exciting when you get good feedback and get used to it.

  • 2
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Hello everyone!

    Felipe, thanks for the video link, and not to worry - dissenting voices are more than welcome on this forum! Wow - that video has certainly opened my mind! I have to say that I never even questioned the wisdom of ‘language-learning styles’ because it was so engrained where I grew up (England) that I accepted it as a universal truth without questioning it. But now, having looked at the video, I can see that this notion that every person has their own more favourable approach could actually be quite limiting. Who knows? Maybe it actually does ‘make learning worse’, as they say in the video. The idea of taking a multimodal approach and combining different strategies seems to be a good one, and as with everything in life, I can see how mixing it up could only bring benefits. That’s great that you’re learning Japanese, and we wish you all the best with learning all those kanji! 

    Miri, I think that what you say about doing something every day is really important. My Irish teacher is always telling us that too and I think that it’s true, that repetition really helps us to get familiar with a language. My teacher also said that you learn a language much more easily if you enjoy it and feel some level of enthusiasm for it, though I suppose that we don’t always have that luxury if we’re learning a language for work or for some other external factor. Interestingly, and I guess this could be a whole other topic, I’ve always been interested in the extent to which motivation makes a difference when trying to learn a language. I would guess probably quite a big one! Thanks also for your suggested resources - I think that Memrise sounds like a really good tool (for some reason I’d always hear more about Duolinguo), and as for italki - I hadn’t heard about this at all, but it sounds like a really good concept! 

    Antonella, some more very good tips about learning Japanese! I’ve noticed that a lot of people on the forum are interested in Japanese, and indeed if any of you ever want to start your own discussions about learning Japanese as a foreign language, or anything else Japanese-related, please feel free to go ahead. We’ll always help and facilitate this as much as we can. The NHK Japanese lessons seem like a really good resource, and I think that anything that can help with learning kanji is cool. It’s great that we have so many online tools to draw on now, rather than (or as well as) just relying on the old-school pens-and-flashcards approach. I think that your idea about involving all of the senses, and using a combination of different learning methods, is also very cool, and I think this definitely follows along with what Felipe’s video was saying about the traditional ‘language learning types’ being a bit restrictive in the sense of encouraging people to rely too much on the one approach.

    Thanks to Felipe, Miri, and Antonella for joining the discussion, and for everyone else following it, please feel free to leave any and all thoughts about what’s helped you when learning a foreign language.

  • 2
    Avatar
    gunnarbu

    Hi all,

    Very interesting topic, this! 

    We have all heard stories about people who manage to memorise a large amount of words, for example the names of 50 persons by using context/association techniques, i.e. creating associations for each word or even creating a whole story with all the words nested in, in their right sequence. The brain likes context. Context is of course equally important in language learning, and I have a good real-life example of that. When I was a young boy I lived in Italy for three years, and learned Italian at school and by talking italian daily. After three years I was quite fluent. After that I did not practice the language for 25 years, and my Italian proficiency withered away. At least I thought it did, but then I got a job in Italy and moved back for a few years. I took a short Italian refresher course before I went, but still felt that I was very rusty in speaking, in the beginning. The interesting thing that I discovered about context, was that if I tried to remember a single word in Italian, outside context, in many cases I would not remeber it, but when speaking a sentence including the same word – then it would just come naturally. The more I spoke, the more I remebered. Everything was archived away far back in the brain, and now started surfacing again. This may not come as a huge surprise, but I just thought I would share this little story anyway.

  • 2
    Avatar
    Facundo Martin Pallero

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience learning Turkish, Katrina! Indicentally, I knew a Turkish couple in Taiwan who tried to teach me some words, but they went in one ear and out the other. You mentioned the grammar is very different from English, and I imagine it musn't have many points in common with Romance languages either. It's impressive you completed 6 out of 7 levels and reached B2 proficiency! (My Mandarin was never so good.) Funnily enough, on the subject of 'classroom command' vs actually speaking the language, I sort of had the opposite experience. I had classmates who were raised by Taiwanese parents but struggled with reading and writing as much as me. On the other hand, I was cheeky enough to try and use my Mandarin whenever needed (and mind you, I did make tons of mistakes). It's true that a lot of conversations just defaulted to English and that can be frustrating when you're trying to learn another language, but I eventually I began to focus on the interactions themselves and lost track of what language I was speaking. Sooner or later, the chances to speak Mandarin presented themselves, though.

    That's a great point about context, Gunnarbu! I suppose I've always used context subconsciously when learning languages, but it might be a good idea to try to come up with association techniques for study sessions.

  • 2
    Avatar
    connie.huang0784

    Facundo, I can imagine the chance to speak Mandarin is very common at the markets in Taiwan where I remember not too many people could speak English. I was in Taiwan for some time teaching English. Unfortunately for my Mandarin skills, in the working environment, everyone defaulted to English, but I have to admit that I didn't try my hardest to find more opportunities to speak Mandarin, so my Mandarin got limited to practical communications for daily life. I also think it's wonderful you mentioned forgetting which language you're using because everyone is focused on communicating.

     

  • 2
    Avatar
    Facundo Martin Pallero

    Connie, that's great you were in Taiwan too! And yes, I definitely got to practice my Mandarin at the night markets there (I really miss oyster omelette, stinky tofu not so much). Also, you've hit on a very interesting topic with language and identity. It definitely can feel as if you were trying on a different personality when you're speaking your first phrases in a foreign language. Of course that can be scary, but I think also exhilarating!

  • 2
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Very interesting thoughts, guys! I'm more than intrigued to know what an oyster omelette would be like : )

    I think Gunnar's point about context is really important, and for sure it's something that's helped me when trying to learn other languages. I also think that it can apply to a lot of scenarios in life even when we're not trying to learn something, like hearing a phrase that's also a song lyric, and the rest of the song coming into our minds, or hearing a phrase and associating it with a person or a situation. I guess the way the mind works is to always try to see connections between things. I also think there's something reassuring about the way that languages can come back to us, even if it's been a while since we used them. 

    I think the identity question is really interesting, too. Actually, and again this probably makes me sound really 'rigid' in my thinking, that's something that I've always found hard when speaking in other languages. I don't know if other people have had that feeling, too? What I find really hard about talking in languages that I'm not entirely familiar with is the difficulty of using catchphrases or having a wide vocabulary to draw on. I wouldn't say I'm a twenty-first century Shakespeare, but I like to think that on a good day I'm reasonably articulate in my own language, and I always felt afraid that people would think I was less intelligent if I couldn't speak properly in their language. I think some of it also comes from the culture we grew up in too. I don't want to stereotype too much about the United Kingdom - and other people are welcome to contradict me - but I do feel that when I was at school and at university, there was a feeling that if you didn't say something 100% correctly in a foreign language then it was almost worse than not having said anything at all, and it's hard to shake that off. Obviously, the extent to which foreign languages are taught in English-speaking countries is a whole other question...

    But following the same logic, I've always really enjoyed being able to speak to another person in THEIR language and to see the native-language version of themselves, if that makes sense. I think that's something that we sometimes miss out on if we don't know the native language of another person. I have friends from non-English-speaking backgrounds who speak languages I can't understand, and I'd love to know how they come across in that language but unless I learn it then I'll never be able to. That said, I sometimes think that being too conscious of our own and other people's languages (and possible barriers between these) somehow detracts from the overall connections that we can build with other people as humans, if that doesn't sound ridiculously high-minded! 

    I didn't mean to write so much about myself since it's meant to be a community discussion, but in any case I think it's always nice to share experiences, and I've really enjoyed reading everybody else's. Don't hesitate to keep your thoughts coming : )

  • 2
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Hi captnemo, thanks for joining the discussion! I think your thoughts on learning a language passively are really interesting, and I agree with you that now there are so many more ways to gain exposure to a language than there were previously. That's surely a good thing about the internet age. 

    I looked up Derrick and Der Kommissar on Wikipedia (I'm embarrassed to say that I first understood 'Derrick and Der Kommissar' to be the title of just one TV series, but that wouldn't make sense because in German 'and' is 'und'). Very interesting - I love hearing about those detective series. I see also that they were produced a while back, so I imagine that they must have that old-school charm. Is there one that's better than the other? 

    This also reminds me of the fact that a while back there was a real trend for Nordic police series like Wallander, at least in my part of the world (the UK/Ireland). Did anyone get into those? 

    Viel Glück with the Deutsch learning, captnemo!

  • 2
    Avatar
    gunnarbu

    Aha! - Wonderful to hear that good old Derrick has come to good re-use. This series was a big hit in Norway, and I am so old that I remember sitting glued to the screen watching this when it was first run way back in time. According to wikipedia Derrick ran for 22 (!) years in Norway (1997 - 1999). The Swedish series Wallander and Beck have also been very popular here.

    Following on captnemos points, I am amazed to see how quickly young Norwegian children of today pick up English just by watching films and youtube videos, and playing video games with English language. Many have a good head start even long before they begin with English lessons at school. 

    Another point about 'passive' learning. We lived abroad a couple of years, but this was a long time ago, before children had such big exposure to English via films, games and youtube. My 5-year-old son went to an American school there and in the beginning he was very introvert and silent about English, to the extent that we and the teachers started worrying about his lack of picking up the English language. But then, suddenly, after just a couple of months, he started speaking very good english - just like that! Later I have heard similiar stories from others, confirming that some children just prefer to assimilate and process all of this new information internally, probably subconsciously, before they 'dare' to come out with it.

  • 1
    Avatar
    gunnarbu

    Hello,

     

    I dont have any strong views or experiences with language learning other than traditional language learning at school. However, I thought I would just share with you a method that I learned about through translation jobs on the subject. It is called Spaced Repetition Method. Has anyone tried that? 

  • 1
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    I'm curious to know whether anyone has tried the Spaced Repetition Method, too! I hadn't heard about it before you mentioned it, Gunnar, but it sounds like a good technique.

  • 1
    Avatar
    Felipe

    Not to ruin this thread, but it reminded me of a Veritasium video I watched a few weeks ago, titled "The Biggest Myth in Education". It basically debunks the theory that different people have different learning styles. Rather, it states that different content can be learned more efficiently using different styles. It's pretty interesting.

    I haven't used the Spaced Repetition Method yet but, out of curiosity, I started learning Japanese earlier this year and I found a website to learn kanji, called WaniKani, that applies this method in their software. I plan to use it in the future. For the moment I'm still focusing on hiragana and katakana, and only learning some basic kanji.

     

  • 1
    Avatar
    Miri

    Hi there.

    I learn languages exactly because of what you opened with: "Every new language brings new opportunities" - for me when traveling. Being able to speak to some degree the local language has almost always upgraded the quality of my travel.

    Unfortunately, I can't really advice on learning languages because, with the exception of English, I never learned any other language to fluency, only to a level where I am able to speak with locals. But it's fun and, depending on the country and probably the characters of peoples (where some peoples are either more shy or less interested), led to interesting conversations with locals.

    Usually at the beginning I would start with trying everything I can find in the internet and my local library, as much material as I can get. some of it will be fun, and I'll just stay with it. for instance, for Japanese I listened to the whole of pimsleur cd's from my library. 

    when I've passed beginner, and am more comfortable with the language, I would start listening to podcast and start talking with teachers or do language exchanges in italki. 

    The sites and amount and variety of material for every language are different, there are many sites with great material online which I'd try and stay with what I like. But for the main languages the amount of sources is much bigger of course.

    for spaced repetition, for instance, I like memrise. I just create my own courses and add all the time every new material and words/sentences I'm learning. This way I'm only learning what is relevant to me.

    Now I'm only maintaining Italian, and what I mostly do is listening to podcasts.

    One thing that I think is really important is to do something every day. set a minimum of even 10 minutes and stick to it.

  • 1
    Avatar
    Antonella Z

    Hello everybody,

    My starting point is that any language in the world is a work of wonder, a treasure chest full of gems just waiting to be picked up and admired, and possibly worn, too. That brings me to consider learning any language a sure source of fun and enjoyment. Too bad, learning a language requires time and dedication, which I no longer dispose of. Howver, I happened on the NHK World-Japan while surfing the net one day and found out about the Easy Japanese section, where you can learn the basics of the Japanese language through a series of lessons for free. I started right away and I was immediately hooked. I downloaded some apps that help you memorize katakana and hiragana and that was pretty easy, but then kanji  is an altogether different matter. Looking for websites and apps that offer ways to simplify the study of kanji I found WaniKani, too. I have been using it for quite some time (unfortunately I have very little time!) but I'm happy to say to Felipe and to anyone else interested, that it is really effective. Of course the more time and regularity you put into it, the faster you will learn, and then you should practice authentic texts as soon as possible along with it. The method used by WaniKani is both fun and effective, in my opinion. As for learning styles, I think the best is to involve all the senses. I would start with the buililding blocks, that is vocabulary together with some binding material, basic grammar, then put into practice as soon as possible with reading and listening first (passive use of languge), followed by writing and speaking (active use). 

     

  • 1
    Avatar
    Miri

    Katrina, duolingo and memrise are just very different sites. duolingo I think is nice for the real beginning, to get some feel of the language, some vocabulary and grammar.

    You have a prepared class - you just need to follow. I think it gives a nice base. It's quite superficial though.

    Memrise is completely different, it's a flash card app, and you can use the many sets they already have, but I like much more to build my own, and that's something you can use when you are much more advanced with the language.

  • 1
    Avatar
    connie.huang0784

    I agree with Miri that you finding content you enjoy in a language facilitates the learning process a lot. You're more motivated and will enjoy the process more. I started out wanting to learn Japanese with an interest in anime series and Japanese music, as many do. However, I went the old-fashioned grammatical approach to learning when I first started as a beginner. I found a blog called Tim in Takamatsu that featured all the grammatical points in the Japanese language from beginner to intermediate levels and just started reading from there. The writer wrote very clear and simple examples of how to use the Japanese grammar points, and he did so all in romaji (which some people now don't recommend learning in, since it gets you too reliant on reading that instead of the actual scripts used in Japan).

    It worked for me, because I was very motivated, but I wonder if my progress could've been quicker and faster if I started with more modern approaches, like full language immersion or apps like DuoLingo or WaniKani. It's a bit late for me to experiment from the beginning with Japanese, but I'm curious now to try with another language like Swedish or Afrikaans.

  • 1
    Avatar
    Facundo Martin Pallero

    Hi everyone!
    This is a great topic and it's nice to see Japanese resources I didn't know like WaniKani and Tim's Takamatsu. All my efforts are currently aimed at maintaining (and maybe trying to improve) the languages I can already speak to different degrees, but I remember when I was a beginner in some of them and have also occasionally dabbled in new languages when traveling.

    French:
    This would only work if you already speak a Romance language, but I tried reading articles and short stories in French even before taking formal lessons. A tool like Readlang or anything allowing you to look up words quickly would be really helpful for this approach. If this worked for Kató Lomb before the Internet age, it might be worth giving it a shot now! 

    Japanese:
    In addition to traditional classes, I got most of my grammar foundation from Tae Kim's guide: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/. On the subject of spaced repetition, which was brought up earlier, Anki is a pretty useful app for building up vocab in any language. The ability to add kanji, kana and romaji to flashcards makes it particularly suited for Japanese.

    Mandarin:
    A friend first taught me a couple of words and then I did the FSI Chinese modular course. Still, I was pretty much a complete beginner when I showed up at NTU's Mandarin Training Center— and, in fact, I was placed in the lowest level course! But after 1 year and a half of studying there while living in Taipei, I was able to at least navigate my way through daily life in Taiwan. So, I'd definitely recommend the "shock immersion" method!

    I also agree that DuoLingo is a good choice when you're starting from scratch. It can definitely come in handy while traveling and has helped me have extremely basic exchanges with locals in Portuguese, German and Czech! 

  • 1
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Hi everyone, 

    I'm SO SORRY for leaving it such a long time to write back to those of you who most recently left comments. I wanted to say that I was following along with all of them as they were appearing in my email alerts, and I really enjoyed reading all of them and was really happy that you put so much thought into writing them. 

    Miri, thanks for your tips about Duolinguo and Memrise. I feel a bit embarrassed now that I work for a translation agency and don't know the difference! (Though I feel that on these forum discussions, learning is very much a two-way process!) I've recently installed Duolinguo on my phone for Irish and I'm looking forward to checking it out :) From the way you describe Memrise, I think it also sounds really useful and I think that the option for creating one's own cards sounds like a very good one. I'm really grateful - as I'm sure many of us reading along are - for all of these suggestions! 

    connie.huang0784, that's very interesting that you took the old-school approach to learning Japanese, and I'm sure we'd all be very curious to learn about your progress when using newer learning tools with other languages. I think that your point about whether or not to use Romanised script when learning a language with a non-Roman alphabet is really interesting, too. As I keep mentioning, I'm trying to learn Irish but I'm finding it really difficult because although it uses the Roman alphabet, and its pronunciation conventions are supposed to all be really logical, all of the words just look so daunting to me. (If anyone else has tried learning Irish, they'll understand me!) I feel I'd learn better by seeing words written in a way that makes it easier to guess at their pronunciation, but I've struggled to make my own systems for this, and when I've tried, it's confused me more. I know that some say it's better to use a language's native writing system from the outset, and in languages with a lot of sounds that don't correspond to English (or whatever our own native language is), I guess that makes sense, but I still find it hard. I'd like to see what other people think about this. One last thing - do you know if the Tim in Takamatsu blog is still live? 

    Facundo, I'm more than impressed by the range and diversity of languages that you've studied! It's also really inspiring to hear that you spent a year and a half living and studying in Taiwan, and it sounds like you learned a lot while you were there. I'd LOVE to hear other people's stories about trying the 'shock immersion' method - I tried something similar with Istanbul and Turkish, but it would be great to hear some experiences from the community (or if you want to, Facundo, you could tell us more about yours, or other shock immersions that you've tried).

    Thanks to everyone who's contributed to the discussion, and I hope (even though some time has elapsed) that some more people will chip their thoughts in, too. 

    Wishing everyone the best of luck with their language-learning! 

  • 1
    Avatar
    Facundo Martin Pallero

    Hi Katrina,

    I'd definitely love to hear about your experience with Turkish in Istanbul! Expanding on my year and a half in Taiwan, I'd say that receiving formal teaching at the beginning and being open to meeting people who didn't share a common language with me were key.

    As your proficiency increases, the benefits of a traditional language classroom probably taper off and, conversely, you're able to pick up more and more new expressions from daily interactions. However, I think I'd have been at a complete loss trying to buy food at a market stalls or open an account at the bank without formal lessons (and even a year later I kept needing help from bilinguals for more complicated things, like enrolling in Taiwan's health insurance scheme). Being immersed in the environment gives you a huge motivation to learn and being enroled in a language learning program gives you a great foundation in vocab and grammar. It's also nice to be able to compare "textbook phrases" with the way people actually speak on the street right from the start.

    On the other hand, attitude also plays an important role. While I had many friends who spoke English and Spanish, I made a point of not limiting myself to a linguistic clique. This might seem daunting because there will inevitably be misunderstandings and things you cannot express, but being positive and smiling often do help! Thanks to my Taiwanese friends and my classmates who didn't speak any common language with me other than Mandarin, I was able to improve faster and interact with more and more people. 

    Those are my two cents. I really enjoy these threads and reading other members of the Gengo team, and I look forward to exchanging more language learning tips with everyone in the future!

  • 1
    Avatar
    Facundo Martin Pallero

    I agree that the fear of sounding less articulate/making mistakes can be hard to overcome sometimes. In a sense, you have to go back to being a child when you start learning another language, and that's really difficult for most adults. There will always be those who judge you, but I'm thankful to have met mostly very supportive people along my language learning journey.

    As for what oyster omelettes are like, their consistency is kind of different from Western-style omelettes (I think they're made with sweet potato starch). And I really liked the sauce they were served with (it tasted somewhere in between soy sauce and ketchup).

  • 1
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Good to know, Facundo! Sounds tasty : ) 

  • 1
    Avatar
    connie.huang0784

    Sorry for my super late reply. It takes me a while to read and process things, so I end up procrastinating!

    Katrina, to add to the topic of identity when speaking in a foreign language, for me when speaking in Japanese, I was told that I sound happier and more agreeable. I don't think that my personality had changed, but maybe some parts were enhanced. I think I feel happier when speaking in Japanese, especially as it is still a relatively novel experience for me to be speaking in it, but perhaps also some nuances of the language itself also leads to a change in my "identity" when conversing. For example, there are a lot of polite phrases and words of gratitude that are imbedded in the day-to-day communication, so I think I may have gotten more polite, too!

    I also understand your feeling of not having a wide variety of catchphrases and vocabulary to draw upon in a foreign language. I get "stuck" using the same vocabulary words over and over again. As far as feeling like you need to speak 100% correctly in a foreign language goes, I personally don't have that anxiety--since I don't expect myself to be able to do it. Maybe it also comes from having exposure working or interacting with non-native speakers in the U.S. that I just don't expect people to have perfect English either. I have a student though who, like you, is very conscious about speaking 100% correctly. Actually, she told me she had ordered bowling shoes a half size larger because she didn't know how to say ".5" in English.

  • 1
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Hello, connie.huang0784! Not to worry - it's great to read new comments no matter how old a thread is, and in fact it's always exciting to see a thread that has become quiet suddenly come back to life again. It's really inspiring to see that both you and Facundo take such an adventurous approach to speaking in other languages, and I'm very happy to hear that people have remarked on how cheerful you sound in Japanese, since that's a nice contrast to my (apparently very ingrained) feeling that maybe in some cases we lose something of ourselves when we're operating in another language. I'm also SUPER CURIOUS to hear your, or anyone else's, thoughts on using different registers or degrees of politeness when in speaking another language, as you mentioned in relation to Japanese. I guess this is something that's very unique to each culture and language, and it must be interesting to move from one approach to another. In my language (British English) there's a lot of emphasis on being seen to use polite phrases but, unlike in many languages, there's no formal or informal version of 'you' and, as far as I can understand, not that many grammatical markers that indicate politeness. I always find it VERY hard in other languages to know which version of 'you' to use.

    I actually feel your student's pain about the bowling shoes since, I'm ashamed to admit, I've actually ordered things off menus that I didn't really want just because they were something that I knew how to ask for. I've also had situations where I've been given something that I hadn't quite expected and just rolled with it because I was too shy to try to remedy the situation. I think we've all been there, though (at least, I hope so!)

  • 1
    Avatar
    captnemo

    There are no wonder methods available...

    You learn a new language by getting exposed to it for as many hours as possible.

    The mysterious bit is that you may learn a language also when you are not actually learning it, when you just listen to a waterfall stream of "strange" "new" "uncaught" words. All that will prove useful later, sometimes years later! 

    Nowadays it is easier or less boring to get exposed to a language for example through youtube videos or internet online radios, etc.

    Recently in order to improve my acquisition of the German Language I have been watching many hours of Derrick and Der Kommissar (natürlich auf Deutsch) on Youtube (and namely on the channel KultKrimi. If you need subtitles try and visit the official ZDF website. There are a few episodes with subtitles. - Just as an example! - ) ...

    Repetition may help! All in all, it is a long and tedious process   :)

     

    Edited by captnemo
  • 1
    Avatar
    captnemo

    Hi Katrina Paterson.

    Your comment is really interesting.

    Derrick

    'and' ( :) )

    Der Kommissar

    were created by the same script writer (and namely Herbert Reinecker). As a consequence, you could recognize similar patterns, treating similar or identical topics, for relative episodes in both Derrick and Der Kommissar. In other words, I suspect Reinecker reused his work from Der Kommissar on new episodes of the Inspektor Derrick, readjusting/rejuvenating/adapting or updating it. Of course some ideas are completely original in both Derrick or Der Kommissar...

    There are also older Reinecker's German Films or TV series which are interesting, check his Filmography out!

    Reinecker's Style is very good at a psychological and social level, and in the way he creates characters and plots.

    To answer your question, Der Kommissar is - in my opinion - perhaps even more interesting than Derrick! Taken as a "time machine" travel in the german society of the 60s and 70s!...But Derrick is perhaps more up-to-date and modern.

    To curb our enthusiasm, both reinecker and Horst Tappert (Derrick) were probably involved with SS troups during the Nazi German period. That has been sort of a scandal, but did not scandalize me...

    The German language used in these old German Tv series is real quality, so I don't complain ;)

    So long and thanks for your Feed!

    Tschüss,

      Markus

    Edited by captnemo
  • 1
    Avatar
    Katrina Paterson

    Hello! I just realised I've let this particular thread slide for a while, so I apologise to Gunnar and Markus for not having responded to their comments in a more timely manner. Gunnar - thanks for reposting on the other thread the part where you described your son's experiences acquiring English at an American school (for the benefit of others reading this thread, you can read Gunnar's story here).

    Gunnar - I'm curious to see what people will say here or on the other thread, but I would imagine that even as adults, some people might have had that same experience of taking a while to 'absorb' a language before confidently speaking it. I think it's amazing how much of a language we pick up unconsciously, and I guess that after a while it all falls together. It will be great to see what people have to say about this. 

    Markus - I'm more than intrigued by your recommendations, and actually they came at a good time, since a friend of mine is trying to learn German at the moment. I'll be sure to pass them along (and I'm particularly intrigued by Der Kommissar - the way you describe it puts me in mind of the Dr Who series in the UK). I'm also interested to hear the way you describe the German language that's used in old TV series - but I guess for those of us non-natives, it would be harder to appreciate. One day, maybe! Thanks to you too for your response! 

Please sign in to leave a comment.