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Three at one time?

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
Cassiel
Newbie
New Zealand
Joined 5414 days ago

1 posts - 1 votes

 
 Message 1 of 5
28 August 2009 at 12:53pm | IP Logged 
Dear Professor Arguelles

Currently I'm a 17 year old highschool student. Five years ago I was forced to take Mandarin and to my surprise I found that I loved intensely. A year later German entered my life and I fell in love for the second time. However, my Mandarin is quite terrible. I have an extremely small vocabulary,and I doubt I could get by with it. To improve, I think I would have to increase my exposure dramatically and make a concentrated effort on hanzi. On the other hand my German is on a reasonable level, I've started to read light novels (mainly the Harry Potter series) without too much trouble.

I started to have an interest in Japanese a few years ago, but experimentations with it were difficult to balance with my other commitments at the time. I'm going to start University soon and I looked at their Introductory Japanese courses out of interest, but I think that I would rather self-study, as I could get more out of that than what they offer.

I am unsure of the best way to learn these three, whether to learn them all at the same time or if it is best to shelve one for the meantime (Mandarin). I don't want to be a dilettante. Ideally, I would like to be able to understand the languages spoken at at a native pace, as well as being able to read literature in all of them. At the moment, output is very much a secondary consideration, although that may change as I am planning to go abroad for one of my years at university.

Any advice is very much appreciated

Kelly


Edited by Cassiel on 28 August 2009 at 12:54pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Paskwc
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 5524 days ago

450 posts - 624 votes 
Speaks: Hindi, Urdu*, Arabic (Levantine), French, English
Studies: Persian, Spanish

 
 Message 2 of 5
28 August 2009 at 11:40pm | IP Logged 
Hi Cassiel,

Welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately Prof. Arguelles isn't as active on the forums as he used to be; it may
take some time to get a response from him. That said, I'm sure most people will suggest
focusing on one or two languages at a time (particularly when two of them are so
different from your native language, which I presume is English). However, in choosing
which language to push aside, it may be helpful to remember that your understanding of
the language will atrophy if you don't use it; meaning that you might lose whatever
progress you have made.

Best of luck.
1 person has voted this message useful



lugulbanda
NewbieRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5404 days ago

1 posts - 1 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, French

 
 Message 3 of 5
08 September 2009 at 1:00am | IP Logged 
Cassiel wrote:
Dear Professor Arguelles



I am unsure of the best way to learn these three, whether to learn them all at the same time or if it is best to shelve one for the meantime (Mandarin). I don't want to be a dilettante. Ideally, I would like to be able to understand the languages spoken at at a native pace, as well as being able to read literature in all of them. At the moment, output is very much a secondary consideration, although that may change as I am planning to go abroad for one of my years at university.

Any advice is very much appreciated

Kelly


Hello Casiel. If you supplant Mandarin with French, then you will be in a situation more similar to my own. I love language, and I have an affinity for working out new languages that is evident when I watch foreign movies. I have worked out some basic Mandarin and Cantonese by listening to friends and watching films, and also find it agreeable with regard to the harmony of written and spoken words, but alas I feel it would be irresponsible to pursue at the moment with French, Japanese and German on my plate.

I had some early introductions to French and Japanese culture, and after several years under the tutelage of an awful French teacher in high school, I discovered during a meeting with a university professor that I could understand and answer all her questions but did not have the confidence to reply in French. I am more focused now, so among other things, it is by joining this forum that I hope to improve my study.

My advice is that it's perfectly feasible, but you have to learn to divide your time according to your unique intelligences. Whatever you do, have an efficient and well thought out plan that addresses everything you need to be fluent whether by combining skills in practice or by spending more time to isolate effort on things that you are weak at.

For example, when I study French (now with proper auditory examples and after spending a short time reviewing the rules of basic pronunciation, elision, liason, etc.), I often skip the audio portions because I have a good ear and don't feel I need the extra practice with pronunciation despite my low fluency. Like Japanese, which I learned by working in a Japanese restaurant, watching television, and hanging out with native speakers, I'm sure if I improve my written fluency I can move beyond speaking in slang and basic language and that the rest will follow.

Maybe we can collaborate somehow.

Cheers, and happy learning to you.

--Banda

P.S. I would like to add that I was eager to share my experience which is perhaps similar in some ways to yours, but I in no way presume to have better answers than the esteemed Professor, who I'm sure can offer better quality advice.

Edited by lugulbanda on 12 March 2010 at 9:46pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Adamdm
Groupie
Australia
Joined 5284 days ago

62 posts - 89 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Mandarin, Japanese, Dari, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 5 of 5
12 March 2010 at 6:40am | IP Logged 
Well, it seems that Professorial imput has not been forthcoming on this one, so I humbly offer some advice from my own experience.

I've been studying Mandarin for a long time, with a concentration on learning to read. Progress has been fairly slow, but I keep going.

Recently, I have started on Japanese, and, in contrast to Chinese, it seems almost easy. I am primarily using the Michel Thomas audio course, and constantly pecking at (not systematically working through) writing, both in teaching books, and 'real' stuff.

I'm still going at both languages (and have recently started with some others). I think that my progress in Chinese has really been helped by my studying other languages (which may be surprising to many), and my Japanese learning has certainly been made easier both by my accumulated knowledge of the meanings of the 'Kanji", and of the relatively familiar (compared with Chinese) gramatical structure of Japanese.

To read 'real' Japanese (as opposed to just teaching material), you will need to learn lots of Kanji.

My advice to you is to try hard with your reading and writing in Chinese. Make flash cards and practice with them for some time each day. I have made my flash cards mainly using Richard Harbaugh's excellent dictionary (see www.zhongwen.com). In your case, put the Japanese pronunciations on the back as well as the Chinese pronunciations. If you use Harbaugh's dictionary, it helps to learn the Chinese pronunciation, and this can often help with the Japanese 'on' reading as well.

Hopefully, a combination of knowing the meanings of the characters, and your parallel audio learning of Japanese will let you learn 'kun' pronunciations.

When you've struggled for a while with Chinese characters/Kanji, learning the Japanese kana is pretty simple. It's probably not worth putting a great deal of effort into learning to read kana passages, as they are generally only found in teaching material. In 'real' written Japanese, hiragana is mostly reserved for the particles, and katakana for loan words, which are mostly English-with-a-Japanese-accent.

I expect that, as I am writing to a thread six months old, that Kelly will have already settled on her path, but maybe my comments can help someone else.


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