Dust off a forgotten foreign tongue, debate the best ways to learn another language, pick up some slang in the local lingo, discuss regional dialects. The subforums are archives of older resource threads.

The Best Way to Learn a Language

Spanky

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Tags: foreign language, story, humor
  • Added on: August 8th, 2007
Finally, I've found the best way to learn a foreign language.

Step 1: Rebel and try your hardest not to learn it

Step 2: Throw your copy of Living Language out the back door
(I was so frustrated I literally did this)

Step 3: Get really Drunk

Step 4: Have someone point out to you that you've been
speaking German for the last hour and didn't know it.

Worked for me, just the other night, bizarre. I've heard of things like this happening to people but I always thought it was B.S. And people say booze is bad for you

Haci Richard

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Jackson's Dad
 
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Location: Jackson Heights, Queens

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  • Added on: August 10th, 2007
I wonder if it works for other languages. I took a single semester of German in my last semester of college (I needed 3 free electives to graduate) and several years later I found myself in Litihoro, Greece, the gateway to Mount Olympus. As the night wore on, I got increasing drunk and eventually found myself hanging out with a bunch of old Greek guys drinking ouzo. We discovered the closest thing we had to a common language was German, so the night devolved into one of those where you get so wasted can't find your way back to your pension. We had great conversations, though, including some quite heated discussions about Macedonian politics, which drinking also made me an expert on.

I actually considered doing my MA dissertation on alcohol and language fluency before settling on a dryer topic. Preliminary research showed me that while fluency (the ability to speak without stopping, etc) improved, accuracy went to hell. It's all related to the way alcohol makes you lose inhibitions and do things you might not normally do, be it hit on that girl you've had a crush on, swim across that frozen river, or speak in a langauge you don't really know.
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Arre

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Holds PhD in Packing
 
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  • Added on: March 31st, 2009
I've definitely felt brick walls come down language-wise while I'm drunk. Would've been a pretty cool dissertation!

I think my favorite way to learn a language (besides immersion) is... well, it seems pretty willy-nilly now that I consider it. I'm currently trying to learn Russian, and my method right now is centered around spending an hour or so every day poring over a dictionary, grammar book, and beginner's language course I got from the library. Once I reach a certain level of basic competence, I like to read a book that I'm familiar with in my target language, keeping a dictionary on hand to look up words I don't recognize. Harry Potter is my favorite for this purpose, because a) they're pretty simply written, and b) I've read them all so damn many times that I can get the gist of a sentence in a much bigger hurry than I'd be able to in a book I'm wholly unfamiliar with. I actually ordered the first HP book in Russian off Amazon.com today, even though I'm not quite to the stage where I want to attempt it yet (no worries though, since I'm in NZ the estimated shipping time was 16-44 days. Guess I have some time to work up to it)!
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Osman23

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Location: Diyarbakir

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  • Added on: April 15th, 2009
Be determined and motivated. The rest will come along.
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seraphim

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Extra Pages in Passport
 
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Location: Antwerp, Belgium

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  • Added on: April 15th, 2009
Haci Richard wrote:I wonder if it works for other languages.


It does for Russian ;)
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KnottyNikki

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Holds PhD in Packing
 
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Joined: June 18th, 2009
Location: Michigan, eh

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2010
And for Spanish. When I'm drinking, I even take on the particular accent/regional dialect of the people I'm talking to. No way can I do that sober.

And sometimes I just talk in an Irish accent. No idea why, since I've only spent about three weeks of my life in Ireland. I'm unstoppable though.

And then there are the times I speak Spanish with an Irish accent while trying to translate for a guy who only knew Portuguese (which I don't speak) while everyone talked in a mixture of French, Spanish, German, and English.

I can't wait to get back on the road. C'mon, October...
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IloveAfrica

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Joined: May 19th, 2010

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  • Added on: May 20th, 2010
I spent seven years trying to learn Setswana the national language of Botswana and did OK but not brialliantly as most locals speak english. Then I married a local lady which improved my abilities ten fold, we then had two kids and it is my six year old daughter who is now my language teacher and I've worked out that I speak like a five year old as once she reached that age she overtook took me in my speaking skills. She now corrects me on a daily basis which can sometimes be a bit frustrating but mostly appreciated. So if you really want to learn a lauguage procreation with a native speaker seems to be the answer. Although I do agree a lot of alcohol frees inhibitions and that is when I really start flowing and amazing my local friends.

JR_TheDriftersBlog

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Lost in Place
 
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Joined: May 13th, 2010
Location: kaohsiung, taiwan

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  • Added on: May 21st, 2010
besides the op's suggestion (which seems to work well btw) i find that getting in tight with the locals will help you really get a grasp of the language. sometime, traveling in a pack doesn't force you to communicate in the local language because you and your comrades can get on just fine in your own tongue. but when you're going at it solo, you're almost FORCED to have to learn how to communicate in the local language. in the beginning sign language may suffice, but when you get to be great friends with the locals, you really want to get deeper witht hem, and to do that, you just have to speak.
JR@ DriftersBlog.com "The Drifters Blog" has tips, thoughts & inspiration for your next trip!

KathrynD

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  • Added on: May 25th, 2010
I agree that both necessity and alcohol work best. In combination, they are brilliant. I was invited (not allowed to decline) a dinner with two hotel owners in Algeria. They poured a lot of beer and wine and I managed a long pleasant evening speaking French. We watched Algerian TV in Arabic, they would translate to French, and then my husband and I would figure it out (ocasionally sharing thoughts in English) and responding in French. By the end of the evening, I felt pretty fluent. Whether it was just the bravado of alcohol speaking or whether I was really fluent, I couldn't say, but it certainly made me way less shy of talking. And after all practice is the key way language is learned.

Now I'm learning Chinese and longing to go back to China so I have the necessity of speaking. At least my son is learning Chinese too so I have someone to talk with (when he's in the mood to converse with mom!)

Felix the Hat

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Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

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  • Added on: May 28th, 2010
Get a lover or partner who is a native speaker of your target language, one who doesn't speak your native language well.

Haci Richard

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Jackson's Dad
 
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Joined: September 11th, 2006
Location: Jackson Heights, Queens

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  • Added on: August 10th, 2010
Felix the Hat wrote:Get a lover or partner who is a native speaker of your target language, one who doesn't speak your native language well.


I actually tell my students to do that. It's why I was near fluent in Turkish in less than a year in country and still hopeless in Japanese after five there.
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"Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either."

Frank Wilson

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Lost in Place
 
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Joined: July 26th, 2010

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  • Added on: November 25th, 2010
The best way to learn a language in my experience is to make friends who knows that language ( May be your room mate, class mate ), Its easy to pick and learn. I learnt french in no time. My room mate was french and he has loads of friends so I used to hang around with them. with in 3 months I was able to speak fairly well.

karen121

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Joined: October 26th, 2010

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  • Added on: December 14th, 2010
When you are in another country where you want to practice your language skills then refuse to speak your native language! Otherwise you will spend the entire time giving free (English especially) lessons to everyone who overhears you and wants to practice. It can be tough but it forces you to learn.

JasmineEVS

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  • Added on: November 22nd, 2011
Practise is the best way to learn a language and the best way to practise is spend some time in the country , where the language is spoken, the more- the better!

Vagabondric

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  • Added on: November 24th, 2011
I have taken a number of evening classes of Spanish but as everyone knows, you have to use it or you lose it.
Can anyone tell me their comments on software that you can use on a MP3, etc such as the MANGO system?


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