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Learning a Foreign language

I've been living and working in Luxembourg for some 8 months now. In that time, despite the fact that so many Luxembourgeois speak perfect English, the place is dominated by French and French-speakers and is the de-facto language of use in the country (despite the Luxembourg govt. trying to push the use of Luxembourghish and English too).
My office is meant to be English speaking, but as i'm the only person in a building of some 300 people whose first language is English, then the language spoken is French- office is about 40 per cent Belgian (but oddly predominantly French speaking Belge) , 40 per cent French, and the other 20 is a mix of others (Italienne,Portuguese, (there is a big Portuguese community),a few Lux , and other assorted Euroland countries).
I cant deny that I have struggled with the lingo, but the guys in my team (3xFrench,1 Belge(boss) and 1 Italian) have been fantastic towards me and helped me immensely - helped by all of them speaking English to some varying degree- and they treat me as a added bonus to the team because it helps them learn more English.
So, since September I have been taking French lessons for 2 hours every Wednesday, and this is now starting to show the benefits, I am now starting to communicate simply in French in the office (and get the piss taken out of me!) , and I can read most emails that come my way (hugely aided by my good mate Mr Google Translate)and can communicate simply in shops and restaurants etc.
I am now at the point where I think I need to accelerate my learning, and am thinking about going to Intensive courses to get me up to speed - I will never be fluent, but to be nearly business fluent would be a fantastic addition to my cv and would open up new possibilities - especially if I wanted to stay in Lux or Switzerland.

Anybody been in the same situation? And what they found to be the best way to move forward in learning a new language fast.? People talk about immersion, and its true, but its easier said than done, because its so hard not to be able to talk in your own language and also, which is one of the main things , at your normal tempo.When you've had fast French thrown at you all day, its nice to be able to go out and speak fast English in the evening.

Merci beaucoup pour votre connaisance.
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Comments

  • Immersion is a good way to learn.
    However without some form of immersion/daily contact it is difficult to short cut with language learning. Memorising is still the order of the day.
    Something like a target of ten words a day might work, and a decent teacher of course, but opportunities to use the language are very helpful.
    Mrs Plum is a language lecturer and has authored and co-authored five text books and her main opinion is not to learn a language in a vacuum.
  • A lot of people swear by Rossetta Stone, duolingo, stuff like that.
    I have also been told watching French TV with the subtitles on helps, as you start to pick up the words you might miss out on in conversation
  • edited November 30
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  • edited November 30
    I found Rosetta stone bloody awful, but I know plenty people who loved it.

    I found pimsluer to be fantastic and is easily found for free on tbd internet.

    I'd also say, as someone who teaches second languages, two hours a week is not enough even living around the language everyday.
  • I learned French at school many years ago but then forgot most of it. Three years ago I decided to re-learn.

    1. Hired a French tutor for a 2 hour lesson each week, with lots of “homework” in between.

    2. Did a 2 week immersion course in Tours in the Loire Valley. Stayed with a French family rather than in a hotel to add to the learning.

    3. Joined a French speaking social group (mostly French expats) to help conversational French. This was very difficult (speed, slang, background bar noise, multiple talking at once - all stuff that’s ok in your mother tongue but a bastard when you’re learning) and I didn’t keep it up.

    As a result my French is much improved although I am very far from fluent. I can pretty much read and understand most French newspapers etc. I can make myself understood in French. But I still struggle to understand what’s being said to me unless they talk slowly and I get the context first.

    One important thing I didn’t have was a friend or relative who speaks French that it would be possible just to practice with. Without that, it’s easy to forget what you’ve learned.
  • sam3110 said:

    A lot of people swear by Rossetta Stone, duolingo, stuff like that.
    I have also been told watching French TV with the subtitles on helps, as you start to pick up the words you might miss out on in conversation

    Subtitles can be quite different from what is actually being said though.
  • edited November 30
    I have shared an office with Spanish speakers for the last few years and always tried to make sure we spoke as much Spanish as possible, which really helped. This year I am in an office of four with only one Spaniard but we still all speak in Spanish as the common language.

    I did have a big advantage when I first moved here as had studied and taught Spanish before but it is a big jump to actually speaking it fluently, and there is always a plateau for quite a while which is difficult to get past. I found that reading the paper every day and watching the news or other shows in Spanish really helped to get to the next level: even if you are not getting it all you are soaking it up.

    Attending lots of football here helped with swearwords and insults as well!
  • I found Michel Thomas really good when trying to learn Spanish. He uses the fact that English contains so many Latin bases words to help you build sentences out of words you already know just pronounced differently.

    ‘All words ending in ible are the same just pronounced iblay’ ‘Possiblay’ ‘is, is es’, it is possible ‘es possiblay’ it is not possible ‘no es possiblay’

    Really worked quickly to give me some confidence speaking basic stuff and then the more you use it the better you get.

    You may be beyond this stage now by the sounds of it
  • edited November 30
    I have always been told that you'll never be fluent unless you can think in that language.
  • The Michel Thomas cds are pretty good and I think learning the frenetic alphabet is a great help. Also I got to the point of knowing loads of words, but could tue them together, so learning the verbs off by heart is important.

    I can read French okay, but I do struggle writing it (like English), so I need to concentrate on that
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  • I have shared an office with Spanish speakers for the last few years and always tried to make sure we spoke as much Spanish as possible, which really helped. This year I am in an office of four with only one Spaniard but we still all speak in Spanish as the common language.

    I did have a big advantage when I first moved here as had studied and taught Spanish before but it is a big jump to actually speaking it fluently, and there is always a plateau for quite a while which is difficult to get past. I found that reading the paper every day and watching the news or other shows in Spanish really helped to get to the next level: if if you are not getting it all you are soaking it up.

    Attending lots of football here helped with swearwords and insults as well!

    Ha, shows you the type of people I work with, they have one word a day I have to learn, todays word is .....putain !
  • I love the idea of it being a frenetic alphabet, I have images of the letters running around madcap like a Karel Fraeye organised team.....
  • Merde.

    C'etait le mot d'hier !.
  • Really fluent people can apparently dream in their various languages. I can only dream in English and porn.
  • The Michel Thomas cds are pretty good and I think learning the frenetic alphabet is a great help. Also I got to the point of knowing loads of words, but could tue them together, so learning the verbs off by heart is important.

    I can read French okay, but I do struggle writing it (like English), so I need to concentrate on that

    Rob, does that you mean you can parler the lingo ok?
  • Mes wee monsewer
  • The Michel Thomas cds are pretty good and I think learning the frenetic alphabet is a great help. Also I got to the point of knowing loads of words, but could tue them together, so learning the verbs off by heart is important.

    I can read French okay, but I do struggle writing it (like English), so I need to concentrate on that

    Rob, does that you mean you can parler the lingo ok?
    Well, Ive got a Skype interview tomorrow at 14:00, partly in French, so will let you know.
  • As Davo says, context is another major player in understanding.
  • As Davo says, context is another major player in understanding.

    Imagine how important context is with a tonal language like Chinese.
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  • If the total immersion course is of the standard Berlitz had in london 25 years ago, then I recommend it, but it won't be cheap. berlitiz has a system, and the teachers are not allowed to deviate from it. And you get a range of different teachers each day. I was doing German, building on my O level, and in two weeks I was seriously improved. However I never got the chance to keep using it. I had supposed that I would move to Central Europe earlier than I did, and that when I got there, everyone would be speaking German as their second language. Wrong, it was English! But if you can get Berlitiz to that standard, I recommend it.
  • The Michel Thomas cds are pretty good and I think learning the frenetic alphabet is a great help. Also I got to the point of knowing loads of words, but could tue them together, so learning the verbs off by heart is important.

    I can read French okay, but I do struggle writing it (like English), so I need to concentrate on that

    Rob, does that you mean you can parler the lingo ok?
    Well, Ive got a Skype interview tomorrow at 14:00, partly in French, so will let you know.
    Is it an interview for your French citizenship application?
  • Couldnt imagine learning a non Latin alphabet language like Chinese - must be so tough.
  • The Michel Thomas cds are pretty good and I think learning the frenetic alphabet is a great help. Also I got to the point of knowing loads of words, but could tue them together, so learning the verbs off by heart is important.

    I can read French okay, but I do struggle writing it (like English), so I need to concentrate on that

    Rob, does that you mean you can parler the lingo ok?
    Well, Ive got a Skype interview tomorrow at 14:00, partly in French, so will let you know.
    Is it an interview for your French citizenship application?
    No, its a French gun and country attire maker who are expanding into the UK would you believe
  • The Michel Thomas cds are pretty good and I think learning the frenetic alphabet is a great help. Also I got to the point of knowing loads of words, but could tue them together, so learning the verbs off by heart is important.

    I can read French okay, but I do struggle writing it (like English), so I need to concentrate on that

    Rob, does that you mean you can parler the lingo ok?
    Well, Ive got a Skype interview tomorrow at 14:00, partly in French, so will let you know.
    Is it an interview for your French citizenship application?
    No, its a French gun and country attire maker who are expanding into the UK would you believe
    I thought it might have been your interview to become a French MEP .
  • Speak French daily, even if only a little. Sharpen your listening skills, that's where most of it falls down and be confident about speaking another language.

    I loved French at school, wish I had more chance to use it.


  • I did O-Level French at school but always wanted to always wanted to improve it. Did 3 years at a local evening school, then a few of us in the class hired a private tutor and used to meet weekly to discuss various topics.

    Worked in Lausanne for a while and being slung in with a few non-English speaking people really helped me improve.

    Had to give it up when my daughter was born and have unfortunately forgotten a lot of it but can still hold a conversation (just about)
  • Couldnt imagine learning a non Latin alphabet language like Chinese - must be so tough.

    The written language is marks in an imaginary rectangle, as opposed to on an imaginary line.
    The basic western alphabet has 26 letters, the basic strokes in Chinese is 8. In both cases it is how these things are put together.
    The written Oriental languages are all the same.
    It is like if you speak English you can read Italian even if you can't speak it.
  • Davo55 said:

    I can pretty much read and understand most French newspapers etc. I can make myself understood in French.

    But I still struggle to understand what’s being said to me unless they talk slowly and I get the context first.

    Tout à fait ..... that's me, too.

    I can invariably make myself understood, even crack a simple joke in French - but when you ask a question, their answer can be almost impenetrable.

    What with regional accents, nasal sounds, and the fact that in most cases the last consonant is not pronounced except with the wretched liason, is bad enough.

    But I struggle to hear it. My real problem is that there's rarely any stress on syllables and with the liason, they turn a 20 word sentence into what to me sounds like one very long word, until they finally have to stop to breathe.

    I perfectly understand the 1st word and the last, because they are stressed but God only knows what they've said inbetween.

    And then it's compounded by the fact that nobody speaks "Teach Yourself French" except in the most formal of occasions; like in English, much is colloquial or slang - and the youngsters almost seem to speak a different language.

    Reading is no problem for me and I can watch and comprehend a French language film with French subtitles - but the vocals are just white noise. French friends tell me it's just a matter of tuning your ear, like you would the radio. Simple, eh?

    I do try to listen to French radio, Youtube and stuff I find on the net whenever I've got a few minutes - and it does help. I can pick out key words and now sometimes I can even work out what they're talking about!

    But I learn quickest when I'm actually doing something together with a French person; the activity and action seems to provide the hook to remember.

  • Couldnt imagine learning a non Latin alphabet language like Chinese - must be so tough.

    Chinese makes A LOT more sense than English, things like numbers, days, months are much simpler, no tenses makes grammar much easier.

    I find the biggest problem is the tiny amount of people that actual speak mandarin, the large majority of people speak in their local dialect, which can make things tough, especially when travelling.

    People from outside Yunnan claim Yunnan people speak like 'inbred dogs'

    Sadly my reading/writing in still miles behind my speaking/listening, mostly because I don't need it on a day to day basis and I'm an awful student. Being single for quite a while helped a lot with the speaking ;)
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