Learning a second language as an adult

FridaCat

Utah, USA
Messages
42
I suck at languages. I am trying to learn Spanish, and I am currently taking online immersion Spanish classes from LanguageConvo.com, 10 hours worth of private lessons for $125 via Skype (they offer smaller packages and first lesson is free). I schedule 1/2 hour lessons at my convenience, and I can converse with a native speaker and ask my "stupid" questions about what particular phrases mean, and ask for vocabulary, grammar, tenses, etc. lessons as desired. It forces me to speak Spanish, and I have learned more with this program than the year of college conversational Spanish I took ages ago. I went to Chile a couple months ago and was surprisingly able to get by with my beginner Spanish. I am an older adult, so in addition to never being good at languages, my memory is poor which I feel hinders my learning. So, as others have mentioned, speaking is the key, and this method allows me to practice speaking.

P.S. It is somewhat of a relief to hear I'm not alone in this endeavor!
 

PrincessLeppard

Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple
Messages
26,155
I just downloaded duolingo and started with German. Do I have to stick with that, or can I add another language?

eta: figured it out. And I am 4% fluent in French. I'm awesome.
 
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Oreo

Well-Known Member
Messages
500
In high school and college I was horribly shy in speaking a new language. The way I finally got over it as an adult was when I was living in Lima, Peru. Taxis were really cheap, so it worked out great to sit in the back seat where nobody could look at me and practice just god-awful Spanish with the driver--who I would never see again. It finally got me over the psychological hump!

As an aside, I was an Arabic and history major in graduate school. The Arabic most universities in the U.S. taught was really, really academic. I could translate pre-Islamic bedouin love poetry, but was never able to go to a market and ask for a 1/2 kilo of carrots. You had to take a dialect class for that, for which you got no credit.

One of my good friends was a high school dropout and spent the next 30 years traveling to all points of the world. He speaks seven languages fluently, having learned them on the road--including Russian and Chinese.
 

genevieve

drinky typo pbp, closet hugger
Staff member
Messages
35,969
In high school and college I was horribly shy in speaking a new language. The way I finally got over it as an adult was when I was living in Lima, Peru. Taxis were really cheap, so it worked out great to sit in the back seat where nobody could look at me and practice just god-awful Spanish with the driver--who I would never see again. It finally got me over the psychological hump!
If TAR has taught us anything, it's that you should always employ a few ¡Rapido!s when taking in a taxi in a foreign country. It does not matter what country it is or what language is spoken: ¡RAPIDO! :D
 

Kasey

Fan of many, uber of none
Messages
14,956
I learned French and Spanish in school growing up, and ASL (American Sign Language) and Russian as an adult. I currently have toddler level French at best, usually quite good in Spanish (in our area there are a lot of primarily Spanish speaking people who end up being patients!), quite good in ASL (but used that a lot at work when I worked with developmentally delayed children and adults 20+ years ago), and can read/write/hear Russian a heck of a lot better than speaking it, due to lack of opportunity! But I agree with Allezfred; don't be afraid to make mistakes, but just use it as much as you can! And have a wonderful trip! :)
 

Simone411

Well bleffing Covfefe! Clippy's flipping over P/C!
Messages
15,525
My first cousin married an exchange student from Nicaragua. He came to our high school during her sophomore year. He knew pretty fluent English and my cousin had taken Spanish. I was a senior when my cousin started dating him.

I never took Spanish, but I had to correspond with several men that spoke Spanish at the property mgt. company I worked for. They worked for the builders management that my boss also owned. After working there for 14 years, I managed to speak it pretty fluently, but I've never learned the written language. Whenever one of the builders guys would call in, the call would be transferred to me because I understood what they were saying and what they needed.
 

PrincessLeppard

Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple
Messages
26,155
Go to your profile, and where your stats are for your current language, there should be an option for "change." Then if you hit that, you can go in and add another language.

Eta: you will have to do this each time you want to practice the other language, but I was on the duolingo boards and some people have "mastered" every language on there, so it can't be that big of a deal.
 

Lothlorien

Active Member
Messages
424
I did a fair bit of French, including at university level and a 5-week immersion and could communicate somewhat. The instruction focused on speaking though, with almost no reading and no writing, so I found it very hard to maintain my skills over time. To me being able to read and write a language is a crucial aspect of knowing it. I can still speak a bit, but not sure if I understand much...

Now working on Spanish on my own (did some basic phrases and numbers years ago), and I'd like to learn an Asian language.
 

El Rey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,892
I lived in Spain as an adult, and set out to learn Spanish as an adult. I became quite fluent. I lived in Mallorca, and learned Castillian....which is not used here in California. We went back to Mallorca a few years ago, exhausted after a long flight, sitting in a tiny cafe, a waiter asking what we wanted, and I opened my mouth and Spanish just came out. It was great.
I'm assuming you meant you learned Catalan? Castilian is the Spanish spoken in Mexico, which is probably what you hear spoken in California...
 

AxelAnnie

Well-Known Member
Messages
11,014
:scream:Hey, thank you for the interest. Although typically Catalan is spoken in the Balearic Islands
Catalan is a language spoken in three regions of Spain: Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Outside Spain, it is the official language of Andorra. It is also spoken in some parts of France and Italy.
Catalan is a language in its own right. It does not derive from Spanish, or even from French, even though many people say that Catalan sounds like a mixture of both. Catalan evolved directly from common Latin. This of course explains Catalan’s similarities of vocabulary and grammar with French, Spanish and even Italian, because all of these languages fall under the so-called Romance languages, which branched out from Latin.
Mallorca even has a twist on Catalan, called Malloquin.(SP) I got to the point that I could understand that Mallorquin was spoken, but that was IT!

Personally, I learned Castillano
“Castilian Spanish” simply refers to a standard kind of Spanish language, or more precisely, the purest kind of Spanish accent. Saying that somebody speaks Castilian Spanish, is a little bit like saying that an English speaker speaks “Oxford English”. In other words, the person speaks the language in its “best”, “purest”, “proper” or “original” form.

The term “Castilian” actually refers to the province of Castile in central Spain. It is said that the Spanish language in its most original form comes from there. In Spain, Castilian Spanish is called castellano, and the term is often used synonymously with “Spanish language”.
We had friends who were Mallorquin, and spoke Malloquina, Castillano and often English. I actually had a friend who took on the task of making sure I was able to speak Spanish. She was from Basque Country.

Funny and true story: We lived in a gated community in a huge villa near a 4th century castle that was turned into a 4 star grand deluxe hotel (They only had 4 stars then). Our rent for the villa was $800.00 per month. Those were the days. Nuri and I were out on the terrace learning tenses (well, I was), and I looked at her and said, how do you say "smoke"? She said "Veo humo" and pointed. Yep, a little smoke on the road where some of the workers had gathered for lunch. A few minutes later I looked over and said, how do you say fire? "Veo Fuego" I then pointed again....at which point we went down to the hotel (the only place with a phone) called in the fire, and were evacuated for about 5 days. EEK:scream::scream::angryfire



Whatever is spoken in Mexico is pronounced very differently, hence the inability to be understood.

Due to prolonged contact with other languages, the Spanish lexicon contains influences from Basque, Germanic, Arabic, and some of the languages of the Americas. The 'Interdental' lisp or 'th' sound in words such as 'cinco and hacer' is merely a development of the language over the past 1,000 years
And, I guess it did not catch on in the New World. :cool:
 

tamms

Well-Known Member
Messages
375
So many good tips and inspirational stories here. Kudos to everyone! :cheer2:

I've been learning Japanese for about 8 years now. The only time I feel confident is when I speak it in Japan and native speakers think I'm one of them. They're probably being polite, of course. But in the end it gives me the encouragement to continue learning. My Japanese teacher is also very encouraging and insists on speaking entirely in Japanese during our lessons. It honestly helps to train my ears and also my speaking. I can only attend lessons an hour a week, which may not seem much but there's always news segments on figure skating on Japanese television to keep my ears busy during the rest of the week. :)

Chinese is also an language that I've been learning on and off. It's actually one of my native languages but there's so much to be learned and still hundreds of characters out there that I have yet to encounter. I know enough to read and write fluently, but nope, never enough. Especially for a Chinese-American! :)

The next language I want to conquer is French. After that maybe Italian or Spanish.
 

agalisgv

Well-Known Member
Messages
26,992
I'm working on French and Mvskoke.
Good luck with the Maskoke! A close friend of mine is a Maskoke language teacher, and of course we have a lot of fluent speakers here.

One of my many projects of late has been to bring together various tribal language revitalization programs under a single roof. So far we've done Caddo, Kiowa, Choctaw, and Maskoke. We're doing a little bit of Pawnee and Comanche right now, and soon will be adding Cherokee. Sadly, I've had to sit through most of those courses :slinkaway.
 

CantALoop

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,567
J'ai terminé le cours français de Duolingo, et mon niveau de maîtrise est cinquante-sept pour cent.

I haven't really had the chance to practice my conversation, but I find that I can read French news articles at a good pace with an online dictionary to supplement words not covered by Duolingo.

Duolingo isn't THAT bad. I haven't even completed half of the Spanish course, and earlier this week I was able to use broken Spanish to tell a lost tourist where the bus stop was, and what number bus she needed to take to get to her hotel.
 

antmanb

Well-Known Member
Messages
8,802
Whatever is spoken in Mexico is pronounced very differently, hence the inability to be understood.
:confused: While accents vary all over South America, a European Spanish speaker would be understood in South America and vice versa. The only variations that i've come across are that a lot of different countries have different words for fruit and vegetables, swear words (with plenty of cross over), and some specific idiomatic phrases. But I would say it's probably equivalent to the differences between UK English and American English, and the regional differences in accents in both probably similar to the regional and country differences in both.
 

PRlady

Gutting it out
Messages
32,013
THIS. My brain works like this too.
Mine, too. I've been semi-immersed in Hebrew for ten years now and the other day tried to speak French, which I studies for five years. Only Hebrew came out. :lol:

Although my accent isn't great, I speak Hebrew at maybe a middle-school level. When I move here in the summer I will enroll in an immersion Ulpan to try to get to where I can work in Hebrew. It's not that hard a language, having been reinvented only 130 years ago, once you know about 300 roots you can figure out a lot.

But my accent. Oy.
 

Kruss

Not Auto-Tuned
Messages
3,431
I'm so mad at myself that I took 3 years of French in high school where Italian was offered. My father is from Sicily, but he was 14 when he came to America and worked too many hours when I was a kid to be able to teach us the language as we grew up. Now he'd love for us all to speak it, and yet only one sister has taken a semester and understands a bit to be able to converse with him.

I need to get my butt in gear. Since I have a built-in conversationalist in my dad, it would be easy to practice with him. And my Italian cousins in Italy told me I need to learn the language before I visit them again.

p.s. - I took French only because a singer I liked when I was a pre-teen spoke it. Big fat deal...I've never used French anywhere, and while it's a lovely language, it's useless to me now.
 

Kasey

Fan of many, uber of none
Messages
14,956
I actually on a whim took an Italian CLEP test years ago when first starting college and trying to get out of taking certain core classes, like English and American history. With background in French and Spanish, I actually passed the Italian test without having ever studied it ;)

(and ironically, when taking the military language aptitude test, I was told that I don't have any aptitude for learning other languages to be a translator)
 

maatTheViking

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,361
:confused: While accents vary all over South America, a European Spanish speaker would be understood in South America and vice versa. The only variations that i've come across are that a lot of different countries have different words for fruit and vegetables, swear words (with plenty of cross over), and some specific idiomatic phrases. But I would say it's probably equivalent to the differences between UK English and American English, and the regional differences in accents in both probably similar to the regional and country differences in both.
I think there is huge difference when it comes to regional differences whether you are a native speaker or not.

I am pretty fluent in English, and can understand most American and British English, when people speak most common dialects. I can also understand Indian English accents pretty well, as I work with a lot of Indians. I sometimes have a hard time with Australian English.

I have also noticed that people with very heavy Chinese accents are hard for me to understand, where people who speak English natively has an easier time. I suppose it is the number of filters going through.

My MIL was a high school Spanish teacher, teaching European Spanish. She reads and watches a lot of Spanish books/movies too. However, when visiting here, and trying to speak Spanish with Mexican-Americans, she found it a lot harder to be understood and understand.

Yet again, Spanish speakers who have either type of Spanish as their mother tongue seem to not run into this issue as much.
 

sweetsparky

Good Ice Dance = THE SEX
Messages
13,505
:confused: While accents vary all over South America, a European Spanish speaker would be understood in South America and vice versa. The only variations that i've come across are that a lot of different countries have different words for fruit and vegetables, swear words (with plenty of cross over), and some specific idiomatic phrases. But I would say it's probably equivalent to the differences between UK English and American English, and the regional differences in accents in both probably similar to the regional and country differences in both.

The Association of Academies of Spanish Language aka ASALE (formed by Spain and American Spanish speaking countries Academies and also the one that exists in the USA) works for securing the unity of Spanish grammar and orthography. I would say that Argentina has the most singularities (voseo) but it´s perfectly comprehensible for any Spanish speaker (for me it just sounds like something I would read from XVII century or something, and is kind of pretty).

There are a lot of different accents, but honestly there are a lot of regional accents in Spain too and, I guess, surely in most American countries. Accents are not really a problem. There are very different local vocabularies but even if you don´t understand the meaning of the word the structure of sentences helps cause the context to understand, it´s like listening to someone with a lot of noise you don´t get the words but your brain covers the voids.

I am always surprised by the beautiful Spanish that many American immigrants speak (well, at least in my work field) that contrast with the currently poor (in vocabulary and expression) Spanish of some young (and not so young, television stars I am thinking on you) Spaniards.
 

gkelly

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,509
My MIL was a high school Spanish teacher, teaching European Spanish. She reads and watches a lot of Spanish books/movies too. However, when visiting here, and trying to speak Spanish with Mexican-Americans, she found it a lot harder to be understood and understand.

Yet again, Spanish speakers who have either type of Spanish as their mother tongue seem to not run into this issue as much.
I had a friend in NYC who had one parent from Spain and one from Puerto Rico. One of her grandmothers, probably the Puerto Rican one, lived with her when I knew her during high school. The grandmother did not speak English, but my friend could communicate with her just fine in Spanish.

However, she failed her Spanish class in high school, because the Spanish being taught was too different from what she spoke with her grandmother at home. This was embarrassing for her father, who was a school principal at the time but had started out as a teacher of French and Spanish.

She did better when she switched to studying German instead.
 

sweetsparky

Good Ice Dance = THE SEX
Messages
13,505
Did she tell you what were exactly the differences she found?

Out of the (not in America) use of vosotros as second person of plural (in Spain "ustedes" is used just as courtesy), I can´t, right now, think of any grammar or orthography real difference (Well , the "leísmo" is typical of Central West of Spain but the rest of the country is free of it as American countries, now that would certainly hurt in an exam out of Spain).

I have been reading Spanish American authors all my life and just had in very rare occasions to consult the "diccionario de americanismos" (dictionary of Americanisms).
 
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gkelly

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,509
I don't think she did give details. I knew next to no Spanish myself at the time. And it was a long time ago.
 

sweetsparky

Good Ice Dance = THE SEX
Messages
13,505
Thanks, I was just curious :)

I studied French at primary school and was very happy to switch to English later :shuffle:. Before entering University I´ve learnt to read English to a basic level and some grammar, but couldn´t really speak it.

Cause work reasons (I had to work with foreigners and translators for a long time) I decided to try to really learn English when I was in my very late twenties, did some courses through web and just improved my reading skills.

Once I moved to my next work I decided to go to the Official School of Languages and that helped me a lot but still have tons of troubles speaking and writing, cause there are long periods of time when I don´t use it. I don´t have a good ear and I´ve found always very difficult to get close to an average pronunciation (that in any language). Anyway for work I got a "great" :shuffle: level that allows me to take part in international meetings in my field.

I´ve tried to study French again, attended some courses through the web provided at work, but I admit I haven´t put the needed effort, just improved my reading skills.

I learnt an average level of catalán, while l lived in Barcelona, again the courses were provided at work, but more than eighteen years later I´ve lost it all, I still can read it quite well. I was once quite proficient in gallego, as my family stayed the summers in Galicia, but, again, now I just can read it.
 

PDilemma

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,608
Go to your profile, and where your stats are for your current language, there should be an option for "change." Then if you hit that, you can go in and add another language.

Eta: you will have to do this each time you want to practice the other language, but I was on the duolingo boards and some people have "mastered" every language on there, so it can't be that big of a deal.
Once I got the second language added, all I have to do is mouse over the flag emblem thing and a drop down box appears then I can click on which language lesson I want to do.

Brushing up on my long lost high school French and trying Irish. If it seems like these work, I may try Spanish.
 

AnnieD

Active Member
Messages
862
I studied French and Italian from high school when I was 11 then took them to degree level. I always felt more comfortable with French but Italian came quite easily because the structures were so similar. I took a half course in Portuguese (none of which I can remember) and did a year of Russian - I know at the end of it they told us we were roughly at A Level but other than reading Russian aloud I'm beyond useless - my comprehension is zero.

I hadn't used either my French or Italian in years because after uni I became a primary teacher but the Scottish Government has brought in a new initiative for children to begin learning a foreign language in Primary 1 when they're 4 and start a second language in Primary 5 when they're 8, so being the only linguist in the school, I've been teaching everyone French for the past year and a half. I was amazed at how much I regained using it every day - even at a low level! My Italian is pretty much useless as the other language our cluster of schools is using is Spanish. I've started on our council's teacher training program for it but it's ridiculously slow and I find it very easy to read and understand - it's producing the language myself which is the problem! I'm battering on with Duolingo and convincing my Spanish friend to talk to me as often as possible - but it's certainly not as easy to memorise the vocab as it was when I was a teenager with a great memory (definitely getting old!) although the grammar is so much easier to understand because of the other languages.
 

Tinami Amori

Well-Known Member
Messages
17,211
Bit the bullet and have finally signed up for 15 weeks of Spanish classes. Went to the first one last night and really enjoyed it and came away feeling strong about making introductions and small talk about myself so hopefully that will continue!

Anyone else done similar and what was your experience like?
Fantastic! glad you and hubby doing this!

You can not relay on few classes per week to learn quickly or efficiently. Need to do "homework" if you want better results.

Once you take a few classes and build up basic vocabulary, start watching Spanish TV news and read Spanish news papers on line.

The subjects which are usually covered in the news, and formats, are pretty much standard internationally. You will be able to "recognize" a lot of words and phrases, even if you have not learned them yet. And for you it will be easier, since you already learned French.

Just look for similarities between all European languages that you are familiar with, even if it is just few words, and if you think you found "similar words", look them up to make sure. Start with simple stuff.

Spanish: El Mundo (The World)
Donald Trump y Bernie Sanders arrasan en las primarias de New Hampshire
………….......… (and)………….......……(sweep/win) ……………………………………..

http://www.elmundo.es/internacional/2016/02/10/56ba900a22601d49278b4635.html


French: Le Monde (The World)

Bernie Sanders et Donald Trump remportent la primaire du New Hampshire
………........…… (and)…………......……(take away/win) ……………………………………..

http://www.lemonde.fr/elections-americaines/article/2016/02/10/primaires-americaines-bernie-sanders-et-donald-trump-remportent-le-new-hamphsire_4862356_829254.html http://www.lemonde.fr/elections-americaines/article/2016/02/10/primaires-americaines-bernie-sanders-et-donald-trump-remportent-le-new-hamphsire_4862356_829254.html

I'm not sure "the elephant drinks water" will be totally helpful for my trip to Madrid in April.:lol:

Ah! but the trick is not to just lean about “elephant”. Take the sentence structure….

“El elefante bebe agua”….. and work with it (with any sentence or phrase).


First look at the foreign phrase and see which words you recognize (for whatever reason):


- “Elefante” is clear, it’s the same in most European languages.

- “Agua” is clear, it’s “aqua” etc..

- “Bebe” could be figured out, since you’ve been to Spain and ordered “Bebidas”/drinks, and it’s sometimes a slang word for “drinks”.


So now you have 4 words you know even without a dictionary.


Now, the sentence: “El elefante bebe agua”.

Look up substitutes: I drink water, dog drinks water, man drinks beer.

Then build up: Elephant eats carrots, I eat ice-cream, etc.


If you take few phrases, sentences, words you learn in each class, and play with them at home like homework, the progress will be faster.
 
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