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Learning another language

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  • edited July 2019
    When the common language is English and this is everybody’s second language it comes as no surprise the UK has the lowest percentage. It difficult to chose which foreign to learn hence the varying number of languages that lifers are learning or speak. 
    In Addition it’s difficult to speak a foreign language abroad as they want to practice their English. 
  • Solidgone said:
    When the common language is English and this is everybody’s second language it comes as no surprise the UK has the lowest percentage. It difficult to chose which foreign to learn hence the varying number of languages that lifers are learning or speak. 
    In Addition it’s difficult to speak a foreign language abroad as they want to practice their English. 
    Agreed completely. 
    Example, Germany vs Spain held in Italy, stadium announcements in English 
  • Solidgone said:
    When the common language is English and this is everybody’s second language it comes as no surprise the UK has the lowest percentage. It difficult to chose which foreign to learn hence the varying number of languages that lifers are learning or speak. 
    In Addition it’s difficult to speak a foreign language abroad as they want to practice their English. 
    Very true.

    It has been made rather easy for us. I don't think that our particular circumstances have, overall, necessarily really helped us that much, either.

    We've got the whole (in parts) "Arrogant Brit" "our history", we love the monarchy! Get out of our country!...I'm going to go to Spain get pissed up and behave like a footy hooligan wreck less disrespectful twat"....thing going on.

    When really, let's be honest, we are not that great. We are just like any other country. We are a piece of land.

    We have many many reasons to be proud....but we can and should be doing much better! 

    I am actually a patriotic person but, I do think
    we need to let go of some unnecessary pride.

    Why can't we just move on? 

    We are not better or worse then any other country. 

    I just think we really need to improve our attitude. We should always demand for more. We should be better.
  • Solidgone said:
    When the common language is English and this is everybody’s second language it comes as no surprise the UK has the lowest percentage. It difficult to chose which foreign to learn hence the varying number of languages that lifers are learning or speak. 
    In Addition it’s difficult to speak a foreign language abroad as they want to practice their English. 
    Whilst in Sweden I found this the case.  If I was to open up in Swedish the swedes would invariably reply in English, if I was to then reply in Swedish we would continue the conversation in Swedish.

    A difficult thing is to stumble along in Swedish when they are standing able to have a better command of English than you!  Consequently you'd carry on in English.
  • There should be a lot more focus on learning another language in schools in the UK. The Brits and Americans are so far behind the rest of the world for this and, although English is obviously the global language, there are many reasons to have at least some of another language - work opportunities, better experience when travelling and putting yourself more in the shoes of others. Plus there is some evidence that learning another language can prevent Alzheimer's. Generally it's well worth it and there should be more focus on it in schools plus encouraging adults to learn.
    Interesting that you include Americans, a huge number of Americans I have met whilst living abroad can speak at least one other language. They are light years ahead of us in that respect.
    I would imagine most Americans living and working outside America would be in the top 10% in educational terms. The average Joe in America may have a smattering of Spanish (the second language culturally) but not much else. From my experience anyway.

    At least one foreign language, maybe two, should be compulsory on the National Curriculum from the age of four.
  • I'm an English native speaker by birth, but grew up and went to school in Germany, Luxembourg and the UK, so for me it's English, German, French and also that all-important world language Luxembourgish!
    Needed the last for nationality exam, I've had dual British and Luxembourgish nationality for the past 8 years now. Seeing as I live in France now and watching the national suicide pursued by the tory party I'm quite happy to be Luxembourgish!     
  • edited July 2019
    bobmunro said:
    There should be a lot more focus on learning another language in schools in the UK. The Brits and Americans are so far behind the rest of the world for this and, although English is obviously the global language, there are many reasons to have at least some of another language - work opportunities, better experience when travelling and putting yourself more in the shoes of others. Plus there is some evidence that learning another language can prevent Alzheimer's. Generally it's well worth it and there should be more focus on it in schools plus encouraging adults to learn.
    Interesting that you include Americans, a huge number of Americans I have met whilst living abroad can speak at least one other language. They are light years ahead of us in that respect.
    I would imagine most Americans living and working outside America would be in the top 10% in educational terms. The average Joe in America may have a smattering of Spanish (the second language culturally) but not much else. From my experience anyway.

    At least one foreign language, maybe two, should be compulsory on the National Curriculum from the age of four.



    Must admit, of most of the Americans that I have encountered in Lux, their second language primarily is to shout English loudly.

    I have been in Lux now for over 2 years, and have found French to be a struggle tbh, gender being the most obvious issue.
    Any language that has La Bicyclette , and Le Veloh for the same thing has serious problems in my eyes.
    However, in saying that, it has become obvious that a huge amount of English derives from French and the French language, whilst having significant differences is not too dissimilar if you can get away from the gender gap (easily said than done).

    Agree with the language element in school. I get on the bus at the airport here, and the driver converses with people normally in 3/4 differences langauges - and that's just the driver.
  • If you touch tourism in your means of making money then being multilingual is a must. I’m sure we’ve all seen it whilst travelling whereby the scruffy urchin by the the banks of Ganges speaking umpteen languages to earn a few rupees or two. 
  • edited July 2019
    My Italian is pretty decent. My sister and I picked it up playing with other kids everyday whilst on holiday there - usually the whole of August every year. My brother is a lot younger than us and when he started going, the family started staying in hotels by the beach so he can't speak it at all. The best way to learn is to speak it day in day out with others who can't speak English. And to be a kid :)
  • I am not fluent in Hungarian but do speak a little and understand a fair bit courtesy of my parents speaking the language when I was a child. In fact, thanks to them, I now possess a full repertoire of Hungarian swear words!
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  • Solidgone said:
    When the common language is English and this is everybody’s second language it comes as no surprise the UK has the lowest percentage. It difficult to chose which foreign to learn hence the varying number of languages that lifers are learning or speak. 
    In Addition it’s difficult to speak a foreign language abroad as they want to practice their English. 
    The same is true in Ireland (the numbers who speak Irish as a first language are statistically small) and they get 75%: maybe they're all citing Irish as their other language but it's a lot better than here.
    And added to that - how many of those young people are speaking a second language that is one of their parents' mother tongues?

  • I can recommend the Michel Thomas range of modern language teaching. They relate the new language back to your current language.

    for the Spanish it would start like ‘so every word you know in English that ends I B L E is the same in Spanish but is pronounced different ‘eebley’ so possible becomes Posseebley. The same for A B L E so acceptable, becomes asseptablay.

    and the no becomes Noh, it’s not acceptable for me right now is

    For me is para me

    riggt now is in this hour or a hora

    noh Es asseptablay para me a hora,

    it is is not acceptable for me right now.

    No es possible para me a hora.

    it is not possible for me right now.

    you have to repeat the pronunciation of the phrases as they build up and I found you really do pick up a way of saying the words that is understood

    i got quite far and used it for 6 months in South America, was never fluent but found this better than my moe formal language lessons
  • Been trying to learn Hungarian for the last few months (we are adopting a child from there so need to be able to communicate with him/her till they learn English and Spanish) but it's a ridiculously difficult language. It's completely unlike any other apart from possibly Finnish and Estonian so there is absolutely no recognisable vocabulary, the sentence structure is baffling and the grammar impenetrable.

    Have previously had a pretty good go at learning basic Italian, Romanian and Russian but this is in a different league and they reckon that it's almost impossible for a non-native speaker to master or even get a basic grip on. Still, it's fascinating though extremely frustrating. Persistence is the key to any language I would say, as well as having a clear motivation for learning it.
  • We are the 32% 😉
  • "DOSS SIR-VAY-SAAS POUR FAY-VOUR"
  • Been trying to learn Hungarian for the last few months (we are adopting a child from there so need to be able to communicate with him/her till they learn English and Spanish) but it's a ridiculously difficult language. It's completely unlike any other apart from possibly Finnish and Estonian so there is absolutely no recognisable vocabulary, the sentence structure is baffling and the grammar impenetrable.

    Have previously had a pretty good go at learning basic Italian, Romanian and Russian but this is in a different league and they reckon that it's almost impossible for a non-native speaker to master or even get a basic grip on. Still, it's fascinating though extremely frustrating. Persistence is the key to any language I would say, as well as having a clear motivation for learning it.
    Having just come back from Hungary, I have to agree. Most european languages, even if you dont speak them you can recognise words because so many have common roots. English is such a mongrel language so it possibly has more than any other due to history and its huge vocabulary.
    But Hungarian - jeez, not a clue. You can stare at a page of newsprint and only recognise proper names. Happily, on a practical level, lots of information is given also in English (eg Budapest public transport announcements) though I suspect that's likely not the case outside the city.

  • bobmunro said:
    There should be a lot more focus on learning another language in schools in the UK. The Brits and Americans are so far behind the rest of the world for this and, although English is obviously the global language, there are many reasons to have at least some of another language - work opportunities, better experience when travelling and putting yourself more in the shoes of others. Plus there is some evidence that learning another language can prevent Alzheimer's. Generally it's well worth it and there should be more focus on it in schools plus encouraging adults to learn.
    Interesting that you include Americans, a huge number of Americans I have met whilst living abroad can speak at least one other language. They are light years ahead of us in that respect.
    I would imagine most Americans living and working outside America would be in the top 10% in educational terms. The average Joe in America may have a smattering of Spanish (the second language culturally) but not much else. From my experience anyway.

    At least one foreign language, maybe two, should be compulsory on the National Curriculum from the age of four.
    A lot of research suggests children should not be learning anything other than language until roughly the age of 7.

    My wife and I are trying to raise my son to be bilingual, although that's obviously a lot easier for us, as English and Chinese will be native languages for him, we're also planning to live in a 3rd country for a year before he starts kindergarten, which should also help.

    Just got to decide where.
  • edited July 2019

    My biggest problem is deciding what to learn. I live in Hong Kong so have tried Cantonese, but with 9 tones it’s one of the hardest in the world. I can get by ordering food, telling taxi drivers where to go, and knowing if someone is talking about me, but no further.


    I tried learning Mandarin which is easier but then decided I’d like to learn a language of a place I dream of living. So I started learning Italian. But then I decided I’d like to learn a more widely spoken language, so I started Spanish. Then I second guessed myself and couldn’t decide between Italian or Spanish.


    So now I haven’t been learning anything.


    On the subject of Brits not being taught another language early enough, it’s not really in the government’s interests. Similar to Japan, they don’t teach other languages because they don’t want their best and brightest moving abroad, neither does the UK. It's not right but it's the explanation.


  • Purely anecdotal, but I used to travel around Europe doing client support. I could speak very basic French, German and a little Dutch. All the meeting would be in English. 

    Although all the people I met were taught English at school, many said that their main way of learning was through subtitled TV shows and pop music. A sort of partial immersion you couldn’t get in England. 

    As as was mentioned earlier, it’s also difficult to engage people in their language, if they can speak English. I used to have odd conversations in a newsagents, where I’d try talking to the guy in Dutch, and he’d answer in English, and neither of us would give in. 

    One other thing, which I always felt was a problem when I was at school. Language were taught grammatically - but the concepts were all new. Never once did anyone really teach us English grammar to the level we were expected to learn for French or German. 


  • By coincidence this series started on BBC World Service yesterday (2/7) .. it's quite long but well worth a listen

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz4pt
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  • I've always wanted to speak French fluently, but found it very difficult comprehending French as it is naturally quickly spoken by native speakers.

    That tells me I need to develop and practice my listening skills.

    And that's the biggest problem with many "Teach Yourself" courses.
    They're so grammar intensive right from the start, which is fine if you need to write French or pass an exam.

    But I get bogged down in sentence structure and all the 'correct' or formal stuff.
    And when I go to France, I find most people don't speak like that.


    Now I focus on trying to become fluent in 'building blocks' of colloquial phrases from films, kid's programmes and songs.
    That gives me an idea of what to expect to hear when French people are talking to me.
    I've also learned to sing a few songs in French which helps.

    And that's another thing ..... the 'music' of the language, the flow of intonation and expression.
    Language isn't just a collection of words, it's the way it's 'sung' at you in normal conversation.


    Actually, the best 'teacher' I've ever had were French friends' 6 year old. Just with him being around us doing simple everyday things and talking about it, I learned so much so quickly. Kids are the best teachers!



  • Missed It said:
    I'm trying to learn Japanese. Bit concerned that I'm learning Textbook Jap and not the stuff they actually use though. :/
    I've been learning Japanese for a few years and in truth, they do teach it a little bit backwards.  The 'polite' conjugations are a lot simpler though so you can make yourself understood quicker.  Plain and casual forms are what people use every day, but the conjugations and grammar sort of make my head spin a bit so now that I'm learning those I can see why they teach the way they do.
    I noticed that too with the conjugations. Had a feeling they would be more likely to speak the causal form! Do particles get used in conversation?
  • Chunes said:

    My biggest problem is deciding what to learn. I live in Hong Kong so have tried Cantonese, but with 9 tones it’s one of the hardest in the world. I can get by ordering food, telling taxi drivers where to go, and knowing if someone is talking about me, but no further.


    I tried learning Mandarin which is easier but then decided I’d like to learn a language of a place I dream of living. So I started learning Italian. But then I decided I’d like to learn a more widely spoken language, so I started Spanish. Then I second guessed myself and couldn’t decide between Italian or Spanish.


    So now I haven’t been learning anything.


    On the subject of Brits not being taught another language early enough, it’s not really in the government’s interests. Similar to Japan, they don’t teach other languages because they don’t want their best and brightest moving abroad, neither does the UK. It's not right but it's the explanation.


    Another thing about Cantonese is it isn't on Google translate! 
  • Chunes said:

    My biggest problem is deciding what to learn. I live in Hong Kong so have tried Cantonese, but with 9 tones it’s one of the hardest in the world. I can get by ordering food, telling taxi drivers where to go, and knowing if someone is talking about me, but no further.


    I tried learning Mandarin which is easier but then decided I’d like to learn a language of a place I dream of living. So I started learning Italian. But then I decided I’d like to learn a more widely spoken language, so I started Spanish. Then I second guessed myself and couldn’t decide between Italian or Spanish.


    So now I haven’t been learning anything.


    On the subject of Brits not being taught another language early enough, it’s not really in the government’s interests. Similar to Japan, they don’t teach other languages because they don’t want their best and brightest moving abroad, neither does the UK. It's not right but it's the explanation.


    Another thing about Cantonese is it isn't on Google translate! 
    Pretty sure it's just called 'Traditional Chinese' whereas on the mainland we use 'Simplified' 


  • Chunes said:

    My biggest problem is deciding what to learn. I live in Hong Kong so have tried Cantonese, but with 9 tones it’s one of the hardest in the world. I can get by ordering food, telling taxi drivers where to go, and knowing if someone is talking about me, but no further.


    I tried learning Mandarin which is easier but then decided I’d like to learn a language of a place I dream of living. So I started learning Italian. But then I decided I’d like to learn a more widely spoken language, so I started Spanish. Then I second guessed myself and couldn’t decide between Italian or Spanish.


    So now I haven’t been learning anything.


    On the subject of Brits not being taught another language early enough, it’s not really in the government’s interests. Similar to Japan, they don’t teach other languages because they don’t want their best and brightest moving abroad, neither does the UK. It's not right but it's the explanation.


    Another thing about Cantonese is it isn't on Google translate! 
    Pretty sure it's just called 'Traditional Chinese' whereas on the mainland we use 'Simplified' 


    No, both are mandarin! I assumed the same and only found out a few weeks ago. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNY9r1UkNm4
  • Odd, as no one uses traditional here!
  • Missed It said:
    I'm trying to learn Japanese. Bit concerned that I'm learning Textbook Jap and not the stuff they actually use though. :/
    I've been learning Japanese for a few years and in truth, they do teach it a little bit backwards.  The 'polite' conjugations are a lot simpler though so you can make yourself understood quicker.  Plain and casual forms are what people use every day, but the conjugations and grammar sort of make my head spin a bit so now that I'm learning those I can see why they teach the way they do.
    I noticed that too with the conjugations. Had a feeling they would be more likely to speak the causal form! Do particles get used in conversation?
    Every day conversation with friends and family would be casual.  The difficulty I had was learning verbs in the polite 'imasu' form without being taught the plain form at  the same time so I've had to go back to pick up all the vocab again.  Even if you don't use it right away its worth looking up the plain form when you get a new verb.

    Particles are the vital bits that string the language together.  They can get a bit confusing as many particles do several different jobs grammatically depending on the context they're used in.  It takes a bit if getting used to. 

    I enjoy the challenge though.   Learning to think backwards is the hardest part I find.  Pretending to be Yoda helps!
  • A few random points.
    Announcements on the (fantastic) Beijing underground are in Mandarin and English.
    'Chinese' characters are more or less universal in far eastern languages, so it is like not being able to speak Italian, but being able to read it if you are Chinese engaging with Japanese for example.
    Listening to two teenage girls chatting away in Italian is close to listening to wonderful music.
    Latin used to be a pretty 'universal' language, and in some ways it still is.
  • Chunes said:

    My biggest problem is deciding what to learn. I live in Hong Kong so have tried Cantonese, but with 9 tones it’s one of the hardest in the world. I can get by ordering food, telling taxi drivers where to go, and knowing if someone is talking about me, but no further.


    I tried learning Mandarin which is easier but then decided I’d like to learn a language of a place I dream of living. So I started learning Italian. But then I decided I’d like to learn a more widely spoken language, so I started Spanish. Then I second guessed myself and couldn’t decide between Italian or Spanish.


    So now I haven’t been learning anything.


    On the subject of Brits not being taught another language early enough, it’s not really in the government’s interests. Similar to Japan, they don’t teach other languages because they don’t want their best and brightest moving abroad, neither does the UK. It's not right but it's the explanation.


    Another thing about Cantonese is it isn't on Google translate! 
    Pretty sure it's just called 'Traditional Chinese' whereas on the mainland we use 'Simplified' 


    No, both are mandarin! I assumed the same and only found out a few weeks ago. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNY9r1UkNm4
    Cantonese is a dialect whereas simplied/traditional Chinese refers to two different sets of Chinese characters. People in Hong Kong and Taiwan both use traditional Chinese characters. Hong Kong people speak Cantonese but Taiwanese speak Mandarin. People in mainland China speak Mandarin and use simplified Chinese characters.
  • Missed It said:
    Missed It said:
    I'm trying to learn Japanese. Bit concerned that I'm learning Textbook Jap and not the stuff they actually use though. :/
    I've been learning Japanese for a few years and in truth, they do teach it a little bit backwards.  The 'polite' conjugations are a lot simpler though so you can make yourself understood quicker.  Plain and casual forms are what people use every day, but the conjugations and grammar sort of make my head spin a bit so now that I'm learning those I can see why they teach the way they do.
    I noticed that too with the conjugations. Had a feeling they would be more likely to speak the causal form! Do particles get used in conversation?
    Every day conversation with friends and family would be casual.  The difficulty I had was learning verbs in the polite 'imasu' form without being taught the plain form at  the same time so I've had to go back to pick up all the vocab again.  Even if you don't use it right away its worth looking up the plain form when you get a new verb.

    Particles are the vital bits that string the language together.  They can get a bit confusing as many particles do several different jobs grammatically depending on the context they're used in.  It takes a bit if getting used to. 

    I enjoy the challenge though.   Learning to think backwards is the hardest part I find.  Pretending to be Yoda helps!
    Thanks. I (deludedly) believe that once I've got my head around the grammar, which seems easier than English but completely different to how we speak I'll just have to remember words. 

    Like you I welcome the challenge! JessieAddick said:
    Chunes said:

    My biggest problem is deciding what to learn. I live in Hong Kong so have tried Cantonese, but with 9 tones it’s one of the hardest in the world. I can get by ordering food, telling taxi drivers where to go, and knowing if someone is talking about me, but no further.


    I tried learning Mandarin which is easier but then decided I’d like to learn a language of a place I dream of living. So I started learning Italian. But then I decided I’d like to learn a more widely spoken language, so I started Spanish. Then I second guessed myself and couldn’t decide between Italian or Spanish.


    So now I haven’t been learning anything.


    On the subject of Brits not being taught another language early enough, it’s not really in the government’s interests. Similar to Japan, they don’t teach other languages because they don’t want their best and brightest moving abroad, neither does the UK. It's not right but it's the explanation.


    Another thing about Cantonese is it isn't on Google translate! 
    Pretty sure it's just called 'Traditional Chinese' whereas on the mainland we use 'Simplified' 


    No, both are mandarin! I assumed the same and only found out a few weeks ago. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNY9r1UkNm4
    Cantonese is a dialect whereas simplied/traditional Chinese refers to two different sets of Chinese characters. People in Hong Kong and Taiwan both use traditional Chinese characters. Hong Kong people speak Cantonese but Taiwanese speak Mandarin. People in mainland China speak Mandarin and use simplified Chinese characters.
    Ha, simple! Can you speak Cantonese?
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