Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Going from fluent towards near native

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
17 messages over 3 pages: 13  Next >>
Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3766 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 9 of 17
11 September 2011 at 9:19am | IP Logged 
At the risk of going against the wishes of the OP I must agree with leosmith on this one. Only the exceptional few will be likely to go from fluent to native-like unless they were immersed from childhood.

I know people who have lived in Norway more than 20 years, and even people who are married to Norwegians and have Norwegian kids, and the only one I ever met who I would consider native, is a Hungarian who arrived at age 4. My other Hungarian friend who arrived at 13 speaks better Norwegian than most Norwegians, but he will still occasionally mess up the genders, something a native Norwegian would never do. And Norwegian is a fairly simple language, I would think it would be even more difficult if we are talking about a really difficult language.
1 person has voted this message useful



Jinx
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
reverbnation.co
Joined 4125 days ago

1085 posts - 1879 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Catalan, Dutch, Esperanto, Croatian, Serbian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish

 
 Message 10 of 17
11 September 2011 at 7:54pm | IP Logged 
I don't think the OP's post really had anything to do with the question "Is near-native knowledge of a language even possible?" We all have our opinions on that. I, for one, believe it is possible. But that's more something I *choose* to believe, for one specific purpose: the purpose of motivating myself to keep learning. Whether or not I will ever fool Germans into thinking I'm one of them for an extended period (and I'm definitely FAR from that now!), I choose to work towards that goal in order to motivate myself and make my path clearer.

Now, to the techniques: I majored in German Studies, for which I had to read a lot of varying types of German (and D-A-CH) literature: Goethe, Heine, Schiller, Hölderlin, Eichendorff, Büchner, Frisch, Droste-Hülshoff, Keller, Mörike, Lessing, Brecht, Kafka, Haushofer, etc. I watched and listened to the music of German operas during some of my classes. I also took a course in "Minnesang", courtly-love/minstrel poetry, reading it in both modern and Middle High German. Later I took a modern German-film class, including films by Turkish-German directors such as Fatih Akin. For years I've been listening to German pop-rock music from the sixties until now and learning German idioms and quotations from friends and books, and recently I started watching German TV and reading "Krimis" (crime novels). Every time I hear a cultural reference to something German I don't yet understand, I go online and look it up.

As you can tell from the above paragraph, cultural literacy is, in my opinion, the difference between merely "fluent" and "near-native". You have to be able to share references with people. Just today, while chatting with my new German flatmates, I sang along with a silly song about a rubber duck – "Quietscheentchen, nur mit dir...", agreed that Tatort Münster is the best of all the Tatort series, and laughed in amazement at how well one of my friends could imitate the voices of Klaus Kinski and Udo Lindenberg. Now, I'm not claiming anyone would mistake me for a native, yet! But focusing on these things is what quickly brings you into a culture and a language, in my opinion.

To continue this as intensively as possible, I'm basically doing two things: constantly asking questions of German people (I don't care if I sound like a toddler: "Why does it rain? What's a cloud? Where's the moon?"), and hungrily taking in every type of German media I can get my hands on: highbrow literature, lowbrow thriller novels, cheesy soap operas, news websites, films of every description, music of every German-language artist I can find, etc. In fact, I don't only stick to German-language musicians: recently I discovered a list of the top 100 hit songs of all time on the German charts, and I made it my goal to go through the whole list and listen to them all. Because, you know, this is what Germans have grown up with. It's the most effective way I can think of to regain the lost German childhood I never had.

So, in a nutshell: after reaching a level of advanced linguistic knowledge, I believe the most effective way to proceed towards near-native knowledge is to become familiar with as many cultural references as possible.
9 persons have voted this message useful



Zwlth
Super Polyglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3658 days ago

154 posts - 319 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (Written), Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Latin, French, Persian, Greek

 
 Message 11 of 17
11 September 2011 at 8:38pm | IP Logged 
Jinx wrote:
So, in a nutshell: after reaching a level of advanced linguistic knowledge, I believe the most effective way to proceed towards near-native knowledge is to become familiar with as many cultural references as possible.


I couldn't agree more. Indeed, I even agree fully about the necessity for a full range of the lowest-brow knowledge. Some years ago, while already in my late 20's, I got to spend a few years living in France. Towards the end of that time, based on my accent and grammar, people tended to assume that I was one of them from another region of the country. On occasion, when they asked if I was from X, it was tempting to say yes. However, I always found that terribly nerve-wracking, for I would have had no idea of what to say if someone had said they were also from there - what street did I live on when I was a boy, what school did I go to, what was my favorite TV show, did I remember the jingle from such and such a commercial, etc.

Segmental and suprasegmental aspects of articulation and natural and flawless conversational grammar are in the most literal sense superficial, that is, they are on the surface and will make the first impression. However, it is cultural knowledge, most broadly understood, that really brings you into the spirit of a language.

Think of all the Battle of the Bulge type WWII movies when the soldiers, realizing that they have been infiltrated by Germans in American uniforms, begin asking each other trick questions about baseball in an effort to find out who is a real Joe.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
Joined 4198 days ago

2256 posts - 4045 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 12 of 17
12 September 2011 at 12:13am | IP Logged 
In an attempt to define near-native fluency, I would like to mention following possible categories for language-related skills: phonology; grammar, phraseology and vocabulary; register and cultural competence.
These categories are not exclusive; especially register knowledge often refers to other categories as well.

Near-native phonology covers understanding target language phonology including word contraction, emphasis, stage accents etc. present in the standard language and the sound changes in different dialects and accents as well as the ability to produce a consistent, natural accent in the dialect one chose to learn.
Thanks to modern media, it often is possible to study and emulate a lot of different target language media to develop a good model of the target language's phonology; reading doesn't particularly help with this skill. Techniques that involve imitating native speakers as closely as possible are my tool of choice for pronunciation, but I believe that to reach outstanding results, it is necessary to become part of a group of native speakers and interact with them on a regular basis.

Grammar, phraseology and vocabulary are self-explanatory. To develop my written register, extensively reading many different kinds of written sources is the tool of choice; alongside with translation, memorization and writing for different purposes; for the spoken register it sould be the same with extensive listening and speaking in many different situation. As the other methods mentioned so far, this isn't any different from what I do at any stage in my language acquisition, the main difference is that I focus on register rather than meaning.

Which leads to the last category; register and cultural competence. Apart from becoming an active member in target language communities, or alongside with that, I find it important to work with many different kinds of material, search for many different kinds of situations where one has to use the target language and always pay attention to the setting, relationships and level of speech; to the things that are said and the ones that are left unsaid; to non-verbal communication and different communication styles and skills. It is also important to learn a lot of factual information about the target language's cultures and subcultures combined with personal accounts of the same; as well are cultural rituals and expected behaviour in different situations. Typical experiences in the different stages of life, especially childhood and youth are of interest; as well as learning to understand any kind of humour. In the end, one should be able to develop a target language identity that can act appropriately in many different situations and adapt to any new one.

In spite of boldly stating my methods, I am still far from reaching near-native fluency in my active skills even in English, which is mainly due to a lack of concentrated effort. (Well, actually motivation.)
3 persons have voted this message useful



Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 3813 days ago

3971 posts - 7746 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 13 of 17
12 September 2011 at 3:26pm | IP Logged 
Zwlth wrote:
Your answer - that of a Québécois with English in Canada - together with Kuikentje's - that of a Walloon with Dutch in Belgium - truly highlight the fact that full and total immersion is key in attaining this goal.

Although I get your point, that is somewhat of a simplistic view -- bilingual countries are not bilingual everywhere. They are mostly made up on monolingual parts speaking different languages. I grew up in a town that was/is 98.5% French-speaking; I can't speak for Kuikentje though. I did however eventually immerse myself when I went to an English-speaking university. Then again, I wasn't the only one from my hometown to attend that same university and everyone's English level varied. As other's have already said, the right conditions don't work for everyone, and the set of conditions that could be considered ideal would vary depending on how distant the L1 and L2 are. I suppose I was lucky that French and English are so closely related.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Zwlth
Super Polyglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3658 days ago

154 posts - 319 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (Written), Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Latin, French, Persian, Greek

 
 Message 14 of 17
13 September 2011 at 4:29am | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
Although I get your point, that is somewhat of a simplistic view -- bilingual countries are not bilingual everywhere. They are mostly made up on monolingual parts speaking different languages... ...I suppose I was lucky that French and English are so closely related.


My point was merely that it is infintely easier for you to immerse yourself when you can stay in your own country to do it, as moving abroad is a much more complicated legal and logistic process.

I certainly agree that the task is much easier with closely related languages, which is why I ask again if you, with your professional linguitic background, have any strategies for ever improving your Japanese that you could share?

Again, as was stressed above, what I am looking for is ways to continue improving when you are already very advanced. Unless you want to be a spy, it is not necessary to convince people by the way you talk that you were born somewhere other than where you really were born. What I think is much more interesting and much more admirable is to develop your linguistic skills to the point where your cultural knowledge can equal or indeed even excel that of many native speakers.
1 person has voted this message useful



Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 3813 days ago

3971 posts - 7746 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 15 of 17
13 September 2011 at 5:32am | IP Logged 
Zwlth wrote:
I certainly agree that the task is much easier with closely related languages, which is why I ask again if you, with your professional linguitic
background, have any strategies for ever improving your Japanese that you could share?

I've spent a fair amount of time explaining my strategy on this forum, including on my own log where I go into a fair bit of detail about my acquisition of
Japanese.

To be blunt, the likelihood that I would reach a near-native level in Japanese in the near-future is very slim and it would be foolish to claim otherwise; there
are still too many things that I need to work on. But I remain optimistic for the longer run. My main obstacles at this point are that I'm 37 years old with a
full-time job and family obligations, and that I can't access the language as much as I'd like. However, I don't feel that I'm any weaker a learner then I was
20 years ago.

When I learned English, I had lots of time to devote to the task, and learning English takes a quarter of the time it takes to learn Japanese, so this task will
inevitably take a lot longer. That being said, reaching a near-native level in Japanese continues to be my long-term goal. It's a work in progress.
3 persons have voted this message useful



cod2
Groupie
United Kingdom
Joined 2986 days ago

48 posts - 69 votes 

 
 Message 16 of 17
09 August 2015 at 11:08am | IP Logged 
Jinx wrote:
I don't think the OP's post really had
anything to do with the question "Is near-native
knowledge of a language even possible?" We all have
our opinions on that. I, for one, believe it is
possible. But that's more something I *choose* to
believe, for one specific purpose: the purpose of
motivating myself to keep learning. Whether or not I
will ever fool Germans into thinking I'm one of them
for an extended period (and I'm definitely FAR from
that now!), I choose to work towards that goal in order
to motivate myself and make my path clearer.

Now, to the techniques: I majored in German Studies,
for which I had to read a lot of varying types of
German (and D-A-CH) literature: Goethe, Heine,
Schiller, Hölderlin, Eichendorff, Büchner, Frisch,
Droste-Hülshoff, Keller, Mörike, Lessing, Brecht,
Kafka, Haushofer, etc. I watched and listened to the
music of German operas during some of my classes. I
also took a course in "Minnesang", courtly-
love/minstrel poetry, reading it in both modern and
Middle High German. Later I took a modern German-film
class, including films by Turkish-German directors such
as Fatih Akin. For years I've been listening to German
pop-rock music from the sixties until now and learning
German idioms and quotations from friends and books,
and recently I started watching German TV and reading
"Krimis" (crime novels). Every time I hear a cultural
reference to something German I don't yet understand, I
go online and look it up.

As you can tell from the above paragraph, cultural
literacy is, in my opinion, the difference between
merely "fluent" and "near-native". You have to be able
to share references with people. Just today, while
chatting with my new German flatmates, I sang along
with a silly song about a rubber duck –
"Quietscheentchen, nur mit dir...", agreed that Tatort
Münster is the best of all the Tatort series, and
laughed in amazement at how well one of my friends
could imitate the voices of Klaus Kinski and Udo
Lindenberg. Now, I'm not claiming anyone would mistake
me for a native, yet! But focusing on these things is
what quickly brings you into a culture and a language,
in my opinion.

To continue this as intensively as possible, I'm
basically doing two things: constantly asking questions
of German people (I don't care if I sound like a
toddler: "Why does it rain? What's a cloud? Where's the
moon?"), and hungrily taking in every type of German
media I can get my hands on: highbrow literature,
lowbrow thriller novels, cheesy soap operas, news
websites, films of every description, music of every
German-language artist I can find, etc. In fact, I
don't only stick to German-language musicians: recently
I discovered a list of the top 100 hit songs of all
time on the German charts, and I made it my goal to go
through the whole list and listen to them all.
Because, you know, this is what Germans have grown up
with. It's the most effective way I can think of to
regain the lost German childhood I never had.

So, in a nutshell: after reaching a level of advanced
linguistic knowledge, I believe the most effective way
to proceed towards near-native knowledge is to become
familiar with as many cultural references as possible.


This is a very old thread, so I hope nobody will mind
if I hijack it slightly....

@Jinx, respect. And many thanks for your comments on
soaking in cultural references which is exactly what I
did when I moved to England.

Question: I take it you do not approach the other
languages you learn with the same intensity? - because
there simply aren't enough hours in the day...

Edited by cod2 on 09 August 2015 at 11:09am



2 persons have voted this message useful



This discussion contains 17 messages over 3 pages: << Prev 13  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.4063 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2020 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.