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What languages do you speak/are you learning?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Ashcristokos, May 31, 2013.

  1. Ceoladir

    Ceoladir Come Fly With Me

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    I speak English (American) natively.

    Otherwise, I have the equivalent of about two years of HS Spanish behind me. Don't ask me to hold a conversation.
     
  2. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    How is it with the English-speaking countries nowadays, anyway? I've read that in Britain, foreign-language learning is in a state of free fall, with most high school students being incapable of actually communication in any language other than their native English.

    On the one hand it is understandable - you don't really need foreign languages because most people can communicate in English. On the other hand, it kind of gives the foreigners an advantage if they can speak English fluently, many on a near-native level, while they also speak one or two other languages.

    Two things:

    1) Motivation and will are two sides of the same coin. I don't think I lack for motivation, but I really cannot dedicate several hours every day to learning a foreign language and still have a life. German can be considered a semi-major language, definitely here in Central Europe, and I know that achieving fluency in it would give about 40% boost to my value on the labour market. I also kind of like it, it is very funny to me and I marvel at how morphologically similar it is to Czech. But learning it is sooooooo sllllooooooowwwwwww and this really underlines the need for strong will to persevere and carry on even though you don't really perceive much improvement. Realizing that I only understand like 20% of what a German person says is not really encouraging.

    2) Fascination is a good thing, but how many people actually do learn these languages? I think it was Traitorfish here who said "language class is the place where romanticism goes to die"...? :)
     
  3. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    For someone who's lived in Germany for the better part of a year, I speak embarrassingly little German. My vocab is fairly decent, but I have no spontaneity, which I guess indicates a lack of practice. Amongst other factors (such as my own complete lack of motivation), I blame the Australian education system for my monoglottism. The only compulsory non-English language classes were a couple of years of Japanese, for a couple of hours a week. The government apparently wants to push for more Mandarin, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, etc. speakers, but I don't think there's actually been any substantive changes to back up this desire.
     
  4. salty mud

    salty mud Ey-up

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    Aren't you Aussies big on learning Italian for some reason or another?
     
  5. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    Not on learning Italian, no, but Italian was, until quite recently, the second most spoken language in Australia, thanks to immigration (I think it's now been overtaken by Cantonese and maybe Vietnamese and Mandarin?). I suppose it was taught more than you might expect (probably much more than Spanish), but German & French were always the popular ones in schools, I think.

    Edit: Bureau of Statistics says that at the 2011 census there were 336410 Mandarin speakers, 299834 Italian speakers, 287174 Arabic speakers, 263673 Cantonese speakers, and 252217 Greek speakers. In 2006, there were 316894 Italian speakers, 252227 Greek speakers, 244558 Cantonese speakers, 243662 Arabic speakers, and 220604 Mandarin speakers. Which kinda shows that the Italian & Greek speakers are dying out, and Chinese immigration has shifted heavily towards Mandarin speakers in the last decade.
     
  6. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    If I look around me, I'd rather say all the Italians and Greeks come to the Netherlands to study here, instead of going to Australia ^^.

    ...then...you're apparently lacking it.
    If you want it just hard enough, then you can do it. No matter what drawbacks it has. (under the assumption that whatever you want is in general feasible)
    And it seems you just don't want it hard enough.
    Which is fine. Because, as you said: It's not really worth it. You need English, maybe the language of the country you're living in, and maybe the native language of your partner, but else you most often do just not need another language. It's more for fun. How you can have fun with it is another question, but it exists.
    I have a friend from Switzerland. She speaks obviously English and German, due to education also French, due to her history Dutch, and now she learns Swedish due to her BF (who's from Sweden), and Chinese just for fun. Don't ask me how she does that, but she does it. I know that's nuts, but obviously she gets something out of that, else she would not do it.
     
  7. mangxema

    mangxema I

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    English (native - mostly General American with a few Southern touches)
    French (somewhat fluent - I can read much better than I can speak/hear. Many of the filler words like although and yet still give me trouble but I can usually fudge it by context)
    Spanish (basic stuff)
     
  8. salty mud

    salty mud Ey-up

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    I sometimes feel quite upset at the fact I was born into an English speaking nation since my language skills have been hampered since birth. There is no need at all to delay learning a secondary language. French should be taught from age 6 or 7, just like English is in many other countries. I can't understand why it languages aren't learnt until 11.
     
  9. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    That is not fair. I teach English enough to know what a lack of motivation/fake motivation looks like. I have the motivation, I just don't have that much time to really invest. But this is only a supporting argument related to the matter I raise below.

    Well of course, but this also depends on your overall nerdiness/geekdom measured by the time you're willing to spend locked in your room studying grammar and vocabulary lists. I mentioned this because personally, knowing well how hard it is to actually pick up language and learn it to a level where you are not absolutely rubbish at using it (i.e. the difference between "passive" and "active" knowledge; getting there is not easy, it is definitely not fast, and it requires a lot of will), I find it difficult to imagine investing all this time and effort into, say, Hungarian or some other obscure language just because I like the country. Then I see all these people writing on the Internet how they're planning to learn this and that language, listing 3 to 5 languages they would like to learn, and I am wondering if they're serious, savants, naive, or just bragging.

    It really puzzles me. I imagine if people are still doing college or high school and they have plenty of time to kill, this may be feasible, but for an adult with job responsibilities and some reasonable social life...? It does not compute :)

    (And please this is not a criticism/doubting of anybody here, I am genuinely interested where people get the time to do all the things they say they want to do.)

    Yup, I am just trying to understand this - or the "how", to be precise ;)

    Is French still the most popular foreign language taught in schools?

    Anyway, you're absolutely correct as to the start age for language education. 11 is way too old; best age to start is... well, from the time the child first opens its mouth to speak. Here in the Czech Rep. the new guideline is English from the 3st grade (~age of 9), but even that is too late. And the 2nd foreign language only begins in high school, which is just useless. I had German for 6 year at grammar school and it was complete rubbish; now, ten years later, I am basically beginning from scratch.
     
  10. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    Some people actually enjoy it, so would consider spending some time with vocabulary lists and grammar to be fun rather than the sacrifice that they have to make. My Greek comes entirely from some textbooks that I bought from Amazon and online editions of Classical authors; I quite enjoyed the challenge of learning it.
     
  11. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    I do enjoy learning German (not least because I am interested in the 20th century history...), but it's bloody time-consuming! It's a good thing I travel ~40 minutes to/from work, so I can do exercises in the tram. Still I have no idea how to move from "passive" knowledge ("I can read stuff if I have dictionary handy to decode unknown words") toward "active" knowledge ("I can go to Austria and have a basic conversation with someone on the street... in German").
     
  12. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    Why not find a German speaker who's willing to help you with that? I imagine it wouldn't be difficult to find somebody on the internet with whom you could correspond by e-mail, letter or something like Skype.
     
  13. salty mud

    salty mud Ey-up

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    @Winner, yes, French is the most popular second language taught here, with German and Spanish the next popular. Somewhat surprisingly though, Welsh in growing in popularity. I think it's partly down to school students choosing an easy qualification, though.
     
  14. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    If you speak english, chances are you already would know a few thousand greek words :smug:

    ;)
     
  15. Ceoladir

    Ceoladir Come Fly With Me

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    The quality of foreign language education in the United States varies by state. Michigan, for example, requires two years of a foreign language in order to graduate. Unfortunately, that was just put into effect this year.
     
  16. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Foreign-language education isn't much good if you don't use it, mind. I did four years of French in school, and eight years later all I know how to say is "voici mon pere". (I think it means "meet my dad". I think.)
     
  17. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    As long as your dad speaks French not that bad. Might be awkward in dating situations.

    But in general yep - that is why my Latin education was the most pointless thing I ever had to endure.
     
  18. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    Maybe I should try out using Voici mon pere as an opener, just to see what happens, outside the likely slap in the facte.
     
  19. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    If being slapped in the face is something worth going for to you, perhaps we can barely manage to change it into "meet your daddy"
     
  20. eduhum

    eduhum Aahh the gold old days...

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    All of this was field back in days
    Spanish, native
    Catalan, quasi native, both by my mother
    French, native in theory, but forgetting it.
    Flemish, buried. Curious because if I were to be again in Belgium, my 2nd nationality like, 1 month or 2, I'd regain my knowledge of that language in what another person would take 2-3 years.
    Of course, english, never native but nearly perfect.
    And beginning with German. I understand it, for the moment (I think).

    No one here knows Catalan. If anyone is jealous (which is highly doubtful), suck it! :p
     

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