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  • Success at learning a language quickly
  • Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    Has anyone on here ever tried, successfully, to learn another language – at least to conversational level – fairly quickly?

    I have a fairly strong affinity for languages, with a decent background in the one I want to learn, but I am in the weird position of already understanding quite a bit without the ability to respond.

    Where to start? How to increase comprehension and ability to speak in very short order?

    How do people like embassy staff do it?

    Premier Icon FB-ATB
    Subscriber

    Spend a lot of time with speakers of that language and don’t rely on English. When my sister moved to Valencia as a TEFL teacher over 30 years ago she couldn’t speak a word of Spanish.
    The school she was to teach at arranged a month of Spanish teaching for all the new TEFL intake. This was 9-5 mon-fri solid.
    It also helped that Valencia wasn’t a big tourist destination back then so many inhabitants (including her flat mate) didn’t speak English and she became fluent pretty quickly.

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    as above, i believe ‘immersion’ is the best way these days if its available to you.

    try looking at olly richards site, iwillteachyoualanguage and it generally leads you to other links.

    ive bought a few of his kindle books, for beginners and intermediate learners, plus a book of conversations, but i think just talking to other speakers of that language will be best.

    EDIT: being nosey, which language?

    Premier Icon piemonster
    Subscriber

    Immersion Course is probably still the best bet. But that’s quite an investment of time and money.

    Basically what FT-ATBs sister did, but not necessarily via that route. The route I took was a foreign language school course in the relevant country for a few months.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    @sadexpunk: Ukrainian

    I already work with the language, but my responsibilities have just been upped massively.

    It looks like a summer in Lviv again!

    Spin
    Member

    Harry Flashman always maintained that the easiest way to learn a language was in bed with a native speaker.

    Edukator
    Member

    Ukrainian. Have fun.

    I was going to suggest watching the TV of whichever country you’re going to but I can’t remember using a Ukrainian channel on the sat box.

    As for “quickly”, I taught languages for years and it’s never quick, however six months in the country just blocking out other languages should get you to the point communication happens. Try to learn “properly” not quickly. Someone once told me that life isn’t long enough to learn German properly, many years later I’m inclined to agree.

    And another tip, buy a real paper dictionary, when it falls apart from use you’ll be pretty good.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    @Edukator, thanks for that. What languages did you teach?

    I’ve got a couple under my belt because of family and academics, but Ukrainian has proven a bigger challenge than any other.

    drew27
    Member

    Good Tedx talk on learning a language:

    Basically speak as much as possible in the language you want to speak. There is some online ways of doing this as opposed to finding someone local.

    Identify key English phrases that you would like to use and translate/ speak those sentences as a starter.

    Duolingo and other learning apps are great but are better as building blocks for vocabulary as opposed to making you able to speak the language.

    Immersion is good but only if you try and engage – I.e. look at Gareth Bale

    drew27
    Member

    …and little and often practice (I.e. daily) is much better than say a big block weekly

    Best of luck!

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    That was a good talk….

    Premier Icon FB-ATB
    Subscriber

    Immersion/ regular contact with a native speaker also helps with the odd sayings we use that don’t have a direct equivalent.

    I used to work for a Swiss company and could have a simple conversation with colleagues with my long ago studied A level French. It’s when idioms got used that I struggled. Imagine a foreigner having an English conversation and we use terms such as a needle in a haystack; chocolate teapot for example.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    There might be Ukranian shows on Netflix – or, you can often choose the audio from a wide variety then have it subtitled in English.

    Edukator
    Member

    Mainly English, Saxonrider, though I got involved with French-German exchanges which was sometimes fun and sometimes pushed my German to its limits. My finest moment was getting a phone call from the German feds in Stuttgart as they had pulled up five of our French kids for smoking cannabis. The German teacher I was with passed me the phone – your problem (she wasn’t having anything to do with it). I turned up to find five kids up against a wall and two T5 Bullys of cops around them. After half an hour of bluff and double bluff, pulling nub ends appart “die sind nur selbstgedrehter Zigaretten”, arguing about drugs tests… the best insult the cop could find was “typische lerhrer”, followed by the magic words “keine Strafanzeige”.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
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    @drew27, that was an excellent video! Thank you.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    define conversational. chatting about the weather and your family and ordering an icecream or chatting about current affairs , say the impeachment of President Trump, and having a conversation with the bank manager about different morgage rates.

    It takes a long time. If you need to use the language to talk about a certain particular subject (you work as a mechanic, for example) quicker.

    7 years in Sweden, work in swedish, write in it, still need 7 more years.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    How do people like embassy staff do it?

    Immersion courses, for a good few months, every day.   It does work but it also helps a lot to have someone else paying for it.  When your job is to talk to other high level people in their language it’s impressive that it can be done in months only though

    edit: amusingly, the person I was thinking about that did it studied Ukranian first in London and then here

    https://ucu.edu.ua/en/

    Premier Icon rickmeister
    Subscriber

    Someone once told me that life isn’t long enough to learn German properly, many years later I’m inclined to agree.

    Me to. I’ve been here for a while and its impenetrable.

    CountZero
    Member

    but Ukrainian has proven a bigger challenge than any other.

    That rather surprises me, I’d have thought it was similar to the surrounding Slav languages, although, having said that, the Vikings were early invaders, and became local Princes, so it may be the mixture of Slav and Old Norse. Finnish and Hungarian are supposed to be two of the most difficult to learn, something to do with there being no other languages that they’re connected to.
    My g/f speaks Welsh, and she keeps trying to teach me; I have enough trouble remembering words in English, let alone another language! I can manage good morning and good night… 😊

    Premier Icon Moses
    Subscriber

    Use the above,plus listen to internet radio in Ukrainian as background, to get more used to the sounds. Remember to swear at it , too.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    If ukranian is anything like Polish then you’re going to have a lot of fun 😉

    I want to learn some Danish which is also crazy difficult

    alpin
    Member

    It took me around 5-6 months in Germany to get to a level where I was confident in going up to someone and talking to them.

    First two months I attended a language school. Four hours a day, five days a week. Living with other students from all around the world, of whom only a few spoke any English.

    I joined the local mtb group and rode with them twice a week.

    I first went to the South West corner of Bavaria to learn, so was dealing with a little spoken dialect, too.

    I would now consider myself fluent, but still make mistakes. Der die das den dem des is one I’ll never understand. Or the endings of adjectives. But I understand 95% of what I hear and can get my point across.

    Immersion really is the best way.

    I’m “trying” to learn Italian, but only ever make any progress when I’m in Italy.

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    I’m “trying” to learn Italian, but only ever make any progress when I’m in Italy.

    same. got two trips planned this year so ill get a bit of practice in but id rather live there 🙂

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