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"Good at languages"

*Torque*
post 3.Sep.2006, 12:27 AM
Post #1


Thought I'd start a new thread after reading Aneud's comment that she was told that her language skills were good after her short time in Sweden, and her comment about hearing about how good VHW sounds.

I seem to be rather crap at speaking languages. In an emergency, I can come up with enough Spanish to make my point, and I can read Spanish, French and a couple of other languages to some degree. When it comes to speaking, say like when a German couple asked directions in my home town, I knew my foreign language skills would fail me, so I didn't try.

How in the heck are you folks "good at languages?" What are your tricks? Do you think that it's an inborn talent, do you try harder, or what?

How in the heck does a Romanian become "fluent" in Spanish and French? I can understand becoming fluent in English, as English is taught at school, is on the radio worldwide, is left in films in most countries, etc. (I also understand fluency in other languages for countries with lots of foreign films in original language on television.) I can't imagine "fluency" in any other language without living there and taking a lot of time and classes. (Personally.)

Thanks for any thoughts, words of wisdom, advice, etc.
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Thread Killer
post 3.Sep.2006, 12:49 AM
Post #2
Joined: 16.Aug.2005

Your emergency languages seem much better than mine.
I can speak fluent Scots, learned to speak English in my first year here and now I'm giving Swedish a go. But I reckon some people Have a better ear for languages than others.
My wife seems adept at picking up languages with ease, Germanic and Romanic mostly.
Me? well I'm good at lots of other things...
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*+mali+*
post 3.Sep.2006, 12:57 AM
Post #3


I'd go with 'it's an inborn talent ' option here. Just like not everyone is good at maths or physics , some got it and some not.
However it's not impossible to learn languages even if one isn't not 'gifted'.I think it depends on one's motivation too, if they really want to learn it they eventually will.Just they need to try a bit harder.
My advice is not to give up ?Lol
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*Torque*
post 3.Sep.2006, 12:58 AM
Post #4


Ear is fine, TK. It's tongue! Always, I am better in comprehension than speaking performance. Where's the barrier?

Ha-ha about the Scots to English, btw. However, you make a valid point. :wink:
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Thread Killer
post 3.Sep.2006, 01:31 AM
Post #5
Joined: 16.Aug.2005

I can say I'm rubbish with languages with confidences, but you've got an ear for them. I wonder if part of it has to do with teaching your tongue a bit 'muscle memory'?
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Grazy
post 3.Sep.2006, 07:35 AM
Post #6
Joined: 9.Sep.2005

To some extent I should agree with mali, some people are physics, maths experts and some find it really easy with languages, this would be my case.
In my point of view, anybody can learn a language even if it is completely different from the mother language.
So some of you might wonder :"why can I understand a language but can't express myself, can't communicate?"
It might be that most of us, when start learning a new language, feels shy and afraid of getting criticized, afraid of sounding idiot, pathetic.That's why my mom could never learn English for real(I'm from Brazil).
But here is the thing:I was never afraid of sounding idiot, say something wrong, cos it makes part of learning. So I always tried to practise the languages I learnt with natives, till I could speak them fluently.
Of course it takes a while, and it will vary from person to person.
Well that's my insight...many of you might not agree, but it is what I think. Of course there must be some other variables involved, but this I came up with is the first one that came to my mind.
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Kitten
post 3.Sep.2006, 08:57 AM
Post #7
Joined: 10.Jul.2006

I've been told that I have a 'real knack' for languages, and managed to learn enough Japanese to get by in Japan without really studying. My problem is I'm just lazy. laugh.gif However, I do intend to sign up for a SFI class at Komvux as soon as I get my personal number. Actually I'm going to remind them that I signed up. I've been in a queue for months.
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VikingHumpingWitch
post 3.Sep.2006, 10:22 AM
Post #8
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 21.Dec.2005

Gosh, I'm rather thrilled (and not a little surprised) that my Swedish abilities have become an Internet phenomenon! I set myself a target before I moved here that I would be pretty fluent within 6 months and I think I'm on course; the problem is that I defined "fluent" as "able to express myself even if I didn't know the exact word" and I didn't realise how far away that is from "able to express myself as I want to". It's still frustrating, frankly, and I have no idea how long it will take before I can be nearly as eloquent in Swedish as in English (years, probably). I think that I'm fairly tedious to talk to in Swedish!

I think that anyone can learn a language but some will do it more quickly than others and it probably is something you're born with. I can't do simple maths and have never been able to remember how to do things like percentages - I just cannot retain the information and have to ask somebody for help at least every other week. But I like words so I find it interesting to learn new languages. I also had the benefit of learning Latin from the best teacher EVAH, so I have a good grounding in language structure. I suspect that the more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn new ones because you get an understanding of how languages work. At least, if you stick to languages within the same group - I have never tried to learn a language that isn't Indo-European.

The two things that have helped me the most are reading Swedish books and forcing myself to speak Swedish to my Swede. I am less shy of saying something stupid in front of him. Reading develops your vocab and things like sentence structure without feeling like it's studying.

Question for Aneud - someone told me the other day that Romanian is closely linked to French, is this true?
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Kitten
post 3.Sep.2006, 10:58 AM
Post #9
Joined: 10.Jul.2006

QUOTE (VikingHumpingWitch)
Question for Aneud - someone told me the other day that Romanian is closely linked to French, is this true?

That's interesting. Whenever I've heard the Romanian language it's always reminded me vaguely of Italian. Romanian, French, Italian, and Spanish are all Romantic Languages so they all sound kind of similar.
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Markusaurelius
post 3.Sep.2006, 11:37 AM
Post #10
Joined: 11.May.2006

Here is a very good site on the internet which explains, in part, why some are good at speaking/comprehending foreign languages while others do not.
Additionally, it gives examples of how to better learn and speak a foreign lanague.
I think it is a very good site, and reccommend people check it out.
Good Luck.
-MA

http://www.tpr-world.com/brain-research.html
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*Move*
post 3.Sep.2006, 12:58 PM
Post #11


QUOTE (Kitten)
That's interesting. Whenever I've heard the Romanian language it's always reminded me vaguely of Italian. Romanian, French, Italian, and Spanish are all Romantic Languages so they all sound kind of similar.


dont forget portuguese.
and they dont sound similar...the gramatical part is similar but vocabulary and fonetic is sometimes dferent in the latin basis languages.
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Kitten
post 3.Sep.2006, 03:05 PM
Post #12
Joined: 10.Jul.2006

QUOTE (Move)
dont forget portuguese.
and they dont sound similar...the gramatical part is similar but vocabulary and fonetic is sometimes dferent in the latin basis languages.

You're right of course. I should have said they are structurally similar. French doesn't sound anything like Spanish or Italian, although I have heard that the latter two are often mutually intelligible.
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*Torque*
post 3.Sep.2006, 03:37 PM
Post #13


Thanks, Marcusaurelius, for the web link. Interesting stuff. Playing with language seems intuitively right. I did well at French in two semesters with the language (Good enough that when I travelled to Belgium I could read the French guides at the museums nearly two decades later.) I remember that I used to dream a lot in French, having conversations that were better than I could hold during class. Of course, it was a dream, and these conversations could have been nonsense. Still, French was not a chore to learn. I was amazed by the number of French speaking dreams I was having at the time. Perhaps I could try directing my dreams these days.
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High Priestess Kang - Slu...
post 3.Sep.2006, 05:02 PM
Post #14
Location: Not in Sweden
Joined: 14.Jul.2006

I think the key to learning languages is starting at a very young age. I started learning a second language when I seven or eight (I cannot remember exactly). Fortunately for me, it was Hebrew so I had to not only learn the language, I had to master a different alphabet and reading and writing from right to left. After that, every other language I have studied has come to me relatively easy.

The school district I attended starts teaching foreign languages in the sixth grade (not too shabby for public schooling). All students were required to take French, German and Spanish their first year. I loved it.

I also believe that some people have an innate knack for learning languages, however. Whenever someone comments about my ability to speak a foreign language, I remind them that I am so devoid of the ability to do math, I cannot perform simple things like calculating percentages without an abacus or calculator.

I am such a nerd, I read grammar and style books for pleasure.
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High Priestess Kang - Slu...
post 3.Sep.2006, 05:03 PM
Post #15
Location: Not in Sweden
Joined: 14.Jul.2006

QUOTE (Kitten)
You're right of course. I should have said they are structurally similar. French doesn't sound anything like Spanish or Italian, although I have heard that the latter two are often mutually intelligible.


But it is easy to read a different Romance language provided you already know one of them. All one needs to do is identify the root.
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