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Learning a new language

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  • Learning a new language

    I just ordered Rosetta Stone French I and II. We're going to be spending vacation time there for the next few years, and it's time to start talking with people. :-)

    Has anyone learned a new language as an adult? It's tough. Any tips, web sites or courses you would recommend?

    Any ideas or experiences would be appreciated.
    Pizza Ovens
    Outdoor Fireplaces

  • #2
    Re: Learning a new language

    Yep: Vocabluary is more important than grammar, the best communicators use their hands, feet and whatever words come to mind, without worrying about making mistakes... and I suppose like everything else, ten minutes practice per day is better than two hours once a week.

    Whereabouts are you going in France?
    "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)



    • #3
      Re: Learning a new language

      I'm currently learning Aussie.........
      My thread:
      My costs:
      My pics:


      • #4
        Re: Learning a new language

        I spent a year taking courses as an adult at the Alliance Francaise in NYC, before I spent a month in France, back in the min '80's of the last century. I learned a lot of vocabulary, a little grammar, and not nearly as many irregular verbs as I should have. At the end of the year, I could read fairly good French, form a pretty good sentence, particularly if I had a moment to think about it, and understand almost nothing of what anyone was saying to me.

        It's funny, if I can understand the dialog in a French language film, it's almost certainly from Quebec.

        I think the thing that needs to be done is to live in an all-French environment for a while. And don't make my mistake - Get a copy of "501 French Verbs", and learn as much of it as you can.

        Frances is right, there is almost always a way to get around something you don't know how to say. And most of the French will give you immense credit for even trying.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


        • #5
          Re: Learning a new language

          I think the every day advice is good. That's also true for exercise. Something every day is better than a big workout a couple of times a week. Thanks for that. The irregulars makes sense also -- memorize the important ones. :-)

          Yep -- practical is good; and it sure beats grammer. I once heard that how willing you are to blurt out poor grammer in a foreign language is a sort of personality test. Just how outgoing are you? :-)

          I've always been better as speaking than understanding -- which can make conversation is little difficult. I'm still developing an ear for where the verbs, nouns and adjectives are supposed to go.

          Frances, we're off to Provence. Carrie's sister and her family can drive down, so it's a good place to get the kids together. Hot weather, pools, lakes, food, etc.

          Me, I still miss Italy -- but it isn't practical.

          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces


          • #6
            Re: Learning a new language

            Something to be said for David's comments of not being able to understand a word that was spoken to him and his recommendation of spending time in a French speaking household.
            Personally, about 3 yrs ago I went to the trouble of buying 2 different sets of Italian CD's (I won't mention which ones) and listening/practicing for nine months prior to a trip to Rome, Naples, and Capri. I actually became pretty proficient at basic conversation.....the only problem, The native Italians, much like all of us, speak their native language SO MUCH faster than those who are learning or have recently learned the language. I like David, could not understand most of what was being conveyed to me. After about 3 days of frustration, I stayed with English and found many to be fluent or at the very least, understandable.
            If I were going for extended periods of time or frequently, I would stick with it...for the "once every few years" vacationer it was too much work and too much frustation.....and maybe a bit of lazyness.



            • #7
              Re: Learning a new language


              I use a cd series called "learn in your car Spanish" and when I was driving around or stuck in traffic ( Chicago!! ) I'd put a cd in. (actually started with the tape series until I gave that away)

              There were 9 cd's and to this day I have yet to get to the last couple advanced ones. Definately helps understanding and speaking. My vocabulary is great but my verbs suck. Also get a pocket dictionary....helps with that missing word.

              There is a lot to be said about communicating without speaking the same language. I recall that communication is not so much what you say but how you say it with what your tone/inflections are as well as body language....

              so American English #1, un poco de Espagnol, tres peu de Francais, pocat Valenciano, body language and a little sign language (astrology?)

              .....remember to smile

              And the use english recommendation is good. I had a street vendor in Paris yell at me to use my own language after ordering a ham crepe and he made an almond one!

              Bon chance mes amis

              Last edited by Xabia Jim; 04-05-2008, 11:45 PM.
              sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


              • #8
                Re: Learning a new language

                Good comments dmun and XJ. I highly recommend the 501 verbs books as well. I haf one for Spanish and one for Italian. You cannot speak to the natives without verbs, at least the most common ones, and conjugate them correctly. Hard stuff, but having a pretty good basis in Italian, as I believe you do James, French should be pretty easy. Pronunciation is a different matter.

                I'm not as familiar with French as (I was) with Italian. Dialect differences in Italy are well known and really only a problem for foreigners. All Italians are taught "perfect Italian" language in school, but don't use it in everyday life - especially in So. Italy. If you speak Italian to them, they will understand. The French will likely pretend that they don't understand you, even if you speak perfect french, though with a touch of an accent. I love the country, but the attitudes towards Americans, ........... I'll stop there.

                I've completely forgotten the name of the CD sets that I've used in the past for my travels with the Navy - normally 15 CDs, 30 lessons per set. To really get along with the locals, you need to spend some time with a teacher, one on one, or just suffer through the difficult moments and keep trying when you're not understood.
                Last edited by gjbingham; 04-05-2008, 11:30 PM.
                Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.



                • #9
                  Re: Learning a new language

                  Originally posted by asudavew View Post
                  I'm currently learning Aussie.........
                  This might help Dave....found it when I was trying Aussie meself

                  HOW MUCH CAN A KOALA BEAR?
                  Australians may well be the laziest nation in the world when it comes to speaking. Any words containing more than three syllables are chopped in half and an O is added on the end. For example Afternoon becomes Arvo, Ambulance becomes Ambo and Bottle Shop becomes Bottlo. Easy, isnt it?

                  australian Slang sayings guide

                  sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


                  • #10
                    Re: Learning a new language

                    OI! I resemble that!!J.


                    • #11
                      Re: Learning a new language

                      OI mate....

                      Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemiitlichkeit
                      Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemiitlichkeit
                      .... Eins, zwei, Drei g'suffa!
                      Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
                      Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
                      sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


                      • #12
                        Re: Learning a new language



                        • #13
                          Re: Learning a new language

                          James ...........lots of good advice already given. Have a look at this site

                          Language course

                          It is useful for developing vocabulary and of course the all important pronunciation. The Lite version is free so it is well worth having a look.

                          Rosetta Stone is really good. It's an unfortunate fact that learning is kids stuff. It gets a little more difficult the older you are. The only advice I would give is never be afraid of getting it wrong. Most people are generous when it comes to your making mistakes and will help with corrections. The attempt will be appreciated. It is amazing to realise that it is possible to spend a lot of time with someone who does'nt speak your language, nor you theirs, and have a great time doing it.


                          • #14
                            Re: Learning a new language

                            For what it's worth, a couple of years ago my wife and I met an young English woman who was working at a British Pub on The Charente River in France ("Les Gabariers" at Saint-Simeux). We were doing the canal boat thing and asked her how hard was it for her to make the language transition (as she had said in conversation that she spoke not a word of French before arriving six months previous). Her answer was to learn to conjugate the verbs "to be", "to have" and "to want" and one can get by quite well. Unfortunately these are irregular verbs. The "to be" is obvious, however, if you can learn to conjugate "to have" and "to want" simply adding the infinite of whatever verb for whatever action you wish and you can make yourself understood. Much easier than memorizing alot of conjugations of other verbs at least to start off or for short stays in country.

                            I'm sure that it helped that she was both young and good looking. But the advice sure made sense.



                            • #15
                              Re: Learning a new language

                              Originally posted by Wiley View Post
                              Her answer was to learn to conjugate the verbs "to be", "to have" and "to want" and one can get by quite well. Unfortunately these are irregular verbs.
                              All the really good verbs are irregular...