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Learning another language - advice?
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TOPIC: Learning another language - advice?
#42967
BeautifulSamurai
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Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 0
Hey,

has anyone on here ever tried to learn another language? Any advice for someone who's really basically . .. a language idiot? lol I'm trying so hard, but it's just not sticking.
You see, I decided to take a year off before continuing to college, and the "finale" of my gap year has been to move to the Middle-East and learn Arabic for a few months at this Arabic school. The schools great and completely safe, the teachers kind, and the class small, but i'm just getting further and further behind the rest of my classmates, to the point that I skipped the last two days because I felt so anxious & humiliated. I feel like i'm cramming 99% of the time, not learning.

Any advice?
 
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#42969
QuothTheDragon
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 6
Honestly, the best advice is to practice it in everything you do. Ask yourself questions and answer them throughout the day. This is exactly what I do to practice Japanese and (when I was taking them) French and Spanish. So, when you wake up in the morning and ask yourself what you want to do, ask yourself in Arabic. Languages are easier to understand when you start training yourself to think in them. I hope this helps!

Major kudos to you for being brave enough to go overseas like that.
 
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#42970
Madison
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 29
Well, I learned English on my own 3 years ago (French being my first language).

What I did might not work for you, but no hurt it telling ya right? Lol.

I bought a french-english dictionary, and started my journey. I watched shows in english with ENGLISH subtitles, and EVERY word I didn't know, I looked in the dictionary (can you say PAIN IN THE ***).

Meanwhile, I was also reading english magazines, and doing the same thing. I've always had a passion for writing, so I thought, hey everything I'm writing in french, I could instead do in English.

So I began writing short stories in English. It was a struggle because I didn't know many words, and it was fill with mistakes of course. Nonetheless, I kept doing it.

Overtime, doing all this together improved my English. When I reached a decent level, I went on "chatty" site like, this one, or even forum about shows I liked, met some people, talk to them, and that was the final boost.

And now, well I moved to the English part of Canada, and goes to an all English College, and I only know English people who don't speak a word of French, lol.

Sorry if this isn't much help.
 
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Last Edit: 2010/05/01 12:22 By xMaddiex.
 
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#42972
BeautifulSamurai
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 0
Thank you both for sharing your stories with me. It really does help, and I know i'll keep refering to it for the rest of my stay here. I'm glad Maddison that I'm not the only one who has to look up every word in the dictionary all the time! The older I get the more humbled i feel . . .lol
 
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#42975
Chie
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 82
I've never tried to learn a language on my own, so I have no experience in that area. I remember though what tips our English teacher told us back in high school (English not being my native language either ). She said probably the best way to learn a language is to go where people speak it natively. The point is, one should expose oneself to the language as much as possible. . Second best way after that, according to her, was reading in that language. I think that at least is a more interesting way to build up one's vocabulary than cramming! And interesting book in one hand, a dictionary in the other. Though I have to say, unlike Madison, when I first started reading books in English, I didn't look up each word I didn't know. Some words you could kind of figure out thanks to the context alone.

One thing my dad told me, is that you should not hesitate using the language. It feels a bit embarrassing to you, I'm sure (I know I would be, making the best out of my very rusty German), but the thing is, the natives (usually) don't really mind. They understand you're trying, and they might even want to help you!

I think what you need is to try and make it more fun and interesting for yourself. If you're just cramming it must be very stressful to you! Why not try and grab a good fanfic for example, and then try translating some sentences in it, or perhaps try and write a short summary of it in Arabic? Just some suggestions, sorry if they're not much of help, but I do wish you the best of luck! Learning a new language is such an exciting journey. :3
 
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#42977
kogazgirl29
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 3
my problem learning a new language a lot of times is the pronunciations. in different languages like for instance in japanese the word "hai" sounds like "hi" and in the english language it looks like it would be pronounced like "hey/hay" i am of irish german native american descent yet i can speak welsh german latin spanish french japansese some south korean and lakota souix (native american)most of those i picked up from movies and others because of my bloodline. i have to say that right now japanese is the easiest one for me to speak.
 
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#42978
luree
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 0
First, let me commend you on your desire to learn a second language. Monolingualism is a disease that plagues the American people; thank goodness there is a cure!

When I began learning my second language (French) I did all the things my teachers suggested. I made flash cards, copied verb conjugations over and over, labeled the objects in my house, EVERYTHING...but it wasn't enough. I, like you, was having difficulty making it stick. I didn't feel like I was learning, just cramming the information into my short term memory so that I could pass the exam and then I would promptly forget.

Where my language breakthrough really happened was when a Canadian friend mentioned that I should check out some of french speaking bands. I found that when I sang the language I was better able to remember. The melody and the beat helped to make the words stick. She also sent me some Goosebumps books in French. Those were a great help too. As I had read all of them a bazillion times as a kid, when I came to a word I couldn't understand, I was able to generally remember where the story was going. And looking the unfamiliar words up became a game of, "huh, I wonder what the french word for 'rotten egg monsters from space' is?"

I don't know if either of these things will work for you, but they did wonders for my language retention. The important thing, I think, is to make whatever strategy you decided to use relevant to you. What do you love? What's your passion? Find that within the language and the culture you are learning and it will make learning it exciting and rewarding, even when it's challenging.

-L
 
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#42979
KyuubiPandoraChan
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 0
I took up Japanese as my minor last year and I found that listening and trying to speak the language helps a lot. It forced yourself to learn it.
 
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#42980
Janey-jane
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 11
I understand your frustration - I think a certain amount of language ability is something you're born with - only one person in my entire extended family (aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc. etc.) speaks anything but English. And most of us have studied at least one other language for multiple years in school.

I had the same problem it sounds like you're having - where no matter how many tricks I tried and how hard I studied it always felt like everyone else in the class picked it up a million times faster, and I still had the abilities of a three-year-old. Although I never became fluent, and was only barely conversational in Spanish I found that forcing myself to watch spanish-language television, music, and reading spanish newspapers allowed me to develop decent comprehension. Even though I had the grammatical abilities of a toddler I could understand other people and cobble together enough vocabulary to be understood.

As a couple of people have mentioned - the important thing is to not give up. It might never be easy, or come fluently, but most people will understand that you're trying, and they should make allowances for that.
 
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#42981
jgem
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 8
I'm not sure what age you are, but personally, I seemed that the older I got, the harder it has been for me to sit down and just memorize pages of vocab words and grammar rules. It just wasn't sticking;or at least it didn't seem to. I did the cards, read and translated songs, mangas, stories, etc. I understand the frustration of wanting to learn a language and it just not happening.

However, what I did find was that I really did know more than I gave myself credit for. The problem was the pressure of recalling the words when I needed to speak the language myself. The only way I found to get over it was just to let go and speak it. The more I spoke it, no matter how gosh awful my pronunciation or how badly I mangled the grammar, it did slowly improve my recall.

When I actually got the chance to live in Japan and forced myself to speak it, my language skills improved rapidly. I just had to get over the fear of mistakes. I have traveled to many countries and based on my observations, people are thrilled when someone tries to speak their language. My mangled grammar and basically "baby talk" was always welcomed. People know that learning a language is difficult and we all admire someone who is really trying to master a language.

Sometimes, instead of focusing on what you haven't learned, you need to step back and say look at what I have learned. Good luck with your Arabic and I know that you will conquer it.
 
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#42982
Lonelylark
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 5
Learning another language is always challenging. I'm a native speaker of both English and Spanish, and when I got to high school I studied French and Italian. It helped sometimes that I already knew one romance language, but other times it just thwarted me because I would confuse this form with that of another language's. Regardless, I did pretty well until I started Japanese this year, which essentially became the rape of my entire Freshman year of college. I had the class every day, 5 days a week, and so much homework that it made me question whether my major was English or Japanese. There were a few people in my class who had studied independently on their own, and so my first semester I was very self-conscious about speaking in class. What my professor did was have me come in for 15 - 20 minutes once a week and he reviewed some class exercises from the week before. I found that such one-on-one time, even once a week, was very helpful.

My suggestion, from my experiences with foreign languages, is that you shouldn't cram. Try doing a little bit of review every day. First, review what you learned in class - give this the most focus, since it's new and you need to store it in long-term memory. Then go back and review some of the old stuff. The best way to do this is to try and tie in the new structures with older ones, and it will help you understand how they work together.

As was mentioned by someone earlier, try talking to yourself in Arabic (or whatever language it is that you are learning). For me, the best way to do this was to learn the vocabulary terms of every-day things that you use or come into contact with often, even if they are terms not learned in class. Then, whenever you encounter them, practice saying the word out loud, or if you're in public, think of the word. If you're having trouble remembering the vocabulary, try coming up with funny, memorable connections to something you know or are passionate about (i.e., I memorized how to write certain Kanji and how to say certain words by linking them to Inuyasha characters, or to an image the word-parts sound like in English).

Also, don't be afraid to experiment or to talk to people, even if you make mistakes. Maybe find a native speaker, even if they are not a professor, and encourage them to correct you. The more you speak it and hear yourself speaking it, the better you'll become at speaking and correcting yourself. If you have any friends in your class, use any opportunity to practice the language with each other (I force my roommate to use Japanese ).

Everyone's method is different, so I won't promise anything, but these are the things that worked for me. I wish you the best of luck learning Arabic. Let us all know if we helped, yeah?
 
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#43002
Aura
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 10
Eh back in high school I used to learn words by repitition. I'd write out the word or phrase I was working with and do it -a lot-. Often 100 or more times. I didn't get past a couple years but it helped. In the advanced classes (year 3+) the teacher wouldn't let people speak unless it was in the language.
 
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#43346
BeautifulSamurai
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Re:Learning another language - advice? 8 Years, 5 Months ago Karma: 0
Thank you all so soooooo much for you support and advice. I'm doing my best to implement and experiment with it. I'll let you know if I have any other questions. You all are wonderful *hugs*
 
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