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Advice To An Aspiring Teenage Polyglot?

  Tags: Polyglot
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
38 messages over 5 pages: 13 4 5  Next >>
tarvos
Super Polyglot
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China
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Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 9 of 38
12 June 2012 at 4:20pm | IP Logged 
1) How do polyglots sustain a high level of commitment in a target language for an extended period of time? I find that my enthusiasm for languages in general tends to keep me going, but some days I find that I must force myself to get to work. I try to make up for this by listening to more foreign language music (cultural immersion) on those days, but is there a way to be more productive?

Personally I just don't think, I do. I try to find authors of books that I like and then delve through their back catalogues. I play football games with commentary and menus set to the TL. I use foreign language materials for my MSc thesis. There are a million resources, you just need to look for them a little bit. Shop around!
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Serpent
Octoglot
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Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 10 of 38
12 June 2012 at 5:22pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
What I force myself to do is mostly revision of stuff my teachers give me. I don't really need to force myself to listen to music or read books or watch films in my languages, because I find those activities enjoyable. Practising my writing, doing exercises, or just revising is quite a lot harder.
Do you learn your languages at school or do you take private classes? If it's the latter, talk to your teachers about your needs. Otherwise not taking classes seems like the easiest solution. That's just the downside of them.

As for writing, try starting a diary/blog and writing about whatever interests you.


About Latin... a few chapters of LOTR have been translated, there are also some podcasts in Latin like Nuntii Latini... It depends on your goals. For me Latin was the foundation for the modern Romance languages but I have no desire to speak it. If you want to treat it like a modern language, be sure to read Iversen's log. He should also be able to help you more.

Edited by Serpent on 12 June 2012 at 5:31pm

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montmorency
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 11 of 38
13 June 2012 at 1:43am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:



About Latin... a few chapters of LOTR have
been translated
, there are also some podcasts in Latin like
Nuntii
Latini
... It depends on your goals. For me Latin was the foundation for the
modern Romance languages but I have no desire to speak it. If you want to treat it like
a modern language, be sure to read Iversen's log. He should also be able to help you
more.



I learned Latin, or perhaps I should say I attended classes in Latin (to no great
effect) for 5 years at school, and in addition, as a Catholic growing up in the 50s and
60s, I heard it every Sunday (and quite a few other days) in church (and as a server I
had to learn a lot of it "parrot fashion"), but I have no conception of it as a
conversational language. Of course it must have been to the ancient Romans, but even to
the churchmen up to the middle ages at least, they must have spoken it, as well as read
and written it, and similarly with learned people in a secular context, for some time
after that. Latin was the international language, at least in Europe.


It's interesting if people are today treating it as a modern language, at least at some
level.



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sipes23
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
pluteopleno.com/wprs
Joined 3301 days ago

134 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: English*, Latin
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Greek, Persian

 
 Message 12 of 38
13 June 2012 at 4:03am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
About Latin... a few chapters of LOTR have
been translated
, there are also some podcasts in Latin like
Nuntii Latini... It
depends on your goals. For me Latin was the foundation for the modern Romance languages but I have no desire
to speak it. If you want to treat it like a modern language, be sure to read Iversen's log. He should also be able to
help you more.


Actually, the whole Hobbit is being translated. A September publication date if I recall correctly. The first two
Harry Potter books were as well, but I think they're out of print—a shame in the POD era.

As for Latin: Lingua Latina per se Illustrata is a great resource if you're still learning. If you're further along, the
Gesta Romanorum are a great set of tales that are a few steps easier than Vergil.

There is also a large group of bloggers in Latin. I think Grex Latine Loquendum is one thing you could search. My
periodically updated blog in Latin is here. The Melissa Foundation
publishes a magazine in Latin, whose title I've forgotten. There is tons of Latin out there if you're interested.
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catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
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Speaks: Malay, Hokkien*, English*, Mandarin*, Cantonese*, French, German, Spanish
Studies: Italian, Latin, Armenian, Afrikaans, Russian

 
 Message 13 of 38
13 June 2012 at 1:28pm | IP Logged 
Thanks everybody :)

tarvos and Serpent, both of you write that you speak/learn Russian. Do you have any suggestions on overcoming difficulty with the orthography? I can now write my letters in cursive/block and read out loud even if I don't recognise the words, but I'm having some trouble with dictation. I can recognise the words if they are written for me, but if I try to write a word in cyrillic directly from the sound, I get the letters all messed up. There are some letters that don't sound, and so I'm having some trouble with sorting out which letters should go where (I've ended up spelling phonetically). What can help me with this?

Serpent: Thanks for the podcasts :) I take private classes, which is overall good for me I guess because I need someone there to make sure I keep on schedule, haha! Sorry if I'm being rude or assuming things I shouldn't, but did you learn English in school or on your own? If you did learn it on your own, your English is remarkably good. How did you get to such a high level in a second language? Share your secrets please! (Since Russian is your native language).

montmorency: Actually, I think the draw of Latin is the classical literature and the history, and the fact that so many languages sprung from it. However, I kind of need to treat a language as a modern one to learn it effectively, as learning Latin from, say, rap is a lot more interesting than learning from Cicero (even though reading Cicero and his contemporaries is the reason why I'm learning it anyway). A bit ironic, don't you think? Heh.

sipes23: Thank you very much for the links and resources. Yes, it is very sad that the Harry Potter books are out of print in Latin. I guess it's just that there's a general lack of interest in Latin, especially among young people and the general public, who are the main readers of Harry Potter. It seems like the only people who speak Latin and are proud of it are people on this forum and Latin professors! :( You seem to have an interest in space from your blog. (Sorry, don't understand much yet, but I will). Just curious, how did you learn Latin?

Alright thank you everyone once again for your kind help!


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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5028 days ago

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 Message 14 of 38
13 June 2012 at 4:25pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
Serpent: Thanks for the podcasts :) I take private classes, which is overall good for me I guess because I need someone there to make sure I keep on schedule, haha! Sorry if I'm being rude or assuming things I shouldn't, but did you learn English in school or on your own? If you did learn it on your own, your English is remarkably good. How did you get to such a high level in a second language? Share your secrets please! (Since Russian is your native language).
Oh, it's absolutely okay, no worries :) The thing is that what works for English won't necessarily work for other languages. Anyway, I've had classes since the age of 8 (I'll be 22 next week) but I've learned a lot more on my own. I got very far by translating my favourite songs and listening to them many times, maybe up to basic fluency. I've also been forced to learn tons and tons of fancy vocabulary in my life, but ironically, I feel more comfortable using the words I've picked up on my own, as they feel more "mine". :) Specifically in writing, the final leap I've made since that post directed at ProfArguelles was mostly thanks to writing fanfiction. I'm not very visual and for me a smooth flow of words is the best thing about reading. I'm very picky as a reader, but I'm just as picky about my own writing. I can spend an hour polishing a 100-word piece. I google absolutely every point I'm not sure about, with quotation marks so I can see whether it's used in this very form.

But my learning process depends on the language. In an ideal world I'd prefer to have the following in my new language:
-music I really like
-football streams
-fantasy literature or at least translations of Tolkien and HP audiobooks + other books + fanfiction
-twitter accounts, some funny and some serious, also some personal ones
-most of the interfaces on my computer (the switch is easy as long as it's available)

I took inspiration from ajatt.com but what I do is more like Everything in Foreign Languages All The Time. Because the only languages in which I have it all are Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, with German also really close behind. As I said, you need to make it a part of your lifestyle. I incorporate whatever I have into my daily life.

My preferred route for fluency is:
listening fluency -> reading fluency -> writing fluency -> spoken fluency
The only additional steps are SRS for writing fluency and shadowing for spoken fluency, though I wouldn't say these are necessary.

Edited by Serpent on 13 June 2012 at 4:30pm

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tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 3138 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 15 of 38
13 June 2012 at 4:29pm | IP Logged 
Serpent is a native Russian, so I bet she learned how to speak everything right off the
bat without really consciously thinking about the tricky parts of Russian orthography.
I'm sure she'll have a few things to say, but remember the speech patters of your
native language are ingrained early; you'll know that you learned how to speak Chinese
(I can't tell which one of the Chinese languages you speak is your native one; would
that be Mandarin?) right off the bat, normally, and that any things us foreigners learn
as being inconsistencies will be marked as inconsistencies to you, but odds are you
will pronounce and write them correctly anyway just because you're used to hearing them
that way.

Now, I can't say I am a fluent speaker of Russian, I've spent a total of nine months
learning it and got to a level where I am fairly confident in spelling most words that
I recognise in written form (I am very visual when learning, so I rarely pick up words
from the spoken language without wanting them written down for me), but at this point
the orthography and pronunciation of Russian is posing some minor problems, but nothing
really hindering my dictation of Russian to the point of it being "incomprehensible
garbage". The problem is that Russian spelling is reasonably logical but it's not
entirely phonetic due to devoicing and vowel reduction (based also on stress). What
I've mostly just done is practice and learn the stress for every word individually. You
can predict some stress patterns (especially for derived forms of words), but most of
the time you'll just have to learn it by heart. I have spent hours behind Anki
flashcards showing me the English word and having the translation on the flipside. I
would then proceed to pronounce the correct word (if I knew it), emphasizing the
correct stress (and if I wasn't sure, looking it up in the dictionary).

What's important to know is that consonants don't really change their pronunciation
very strongly, except if they become voiced/voiceless in a cluster (g --> k, d---> t)
and a few exceptions, like the reflexive ending being pronounced hard or the g in some
endings being pronounced as a v. These are common exceptions and you'll find them quite
easy to assimilate because the pronunciation of consonants on the whole is fairly
stable (do note consonant change in verb conjugations though).

What's tricky in Russian dictation is vowel sounds and stress patterns and the changing
of vowel sounds (or them running together) once the stress in a word shifts. The
typical example is o's becoming a's but then there's ya going to i, e going to i, a
going to almost a schwa in some cases, etc. So what you have to do is learn the stress
of the word and find out where it's located. If you can identify that, usually the
spelling will pretty much follow from the stress. That's not always the case but it
usually is.

The problem with the rest is just that Russian speech and dictation needs time to sink
in. It's not Spanish or German where a pronunciation can be instantly guessed from it's
spelling, or vice versa. You're going to have to take time out and practice saying and
speaking words correctly and getting help with the correct stress because Russian is
not simple in that regard. It takes hours and hours to perfect it and I'm not even
close to having a 100% grasp of it, I'm just at a level where I can MOSTLY guess how a
word is pronounced from the spelling.

I think the best thing to have would be to look for an audio source with a
transcription and see how they match up sentence by sentence. Do this intensively,
taking time out to study every phrase and how it fits. I've not done that a lot
personally because it's time-consuming and I try to pick it up by naturally listening
and then reading the text (I use Assimil, which is great for this) but if you want to
get it down it's probably essential to have parallel audio and reading materials so you
can compare and contrast.

In short, there are no shortcuts you can take. You'll just have to practice and sit it
out - Russian is hard when it comes to this. Sorry.
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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5028 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 16 of 38
13 June 2012 at 4:50pm | IP Logged 
As for Russian, native speakers have huge problems with dictation too, at school. We generally learned a few rules at a time and then wrote a dictation. If it was an entire text, a few "difficult" words would be written on the blackboard, and things that were too advanced for our level would not affect our marks.

It's funny. I used to think for a long time that in language learning, I need to see the words written down to learn them. I was remembering a specific anecdote when there was the word гроздья in a dictation, and I hadn't ever seen it written somehow so I just left it blank lolol. Now thanks to your post I've realized that it was just a problem with my native Russian. (Does it mean I need to see more written Danish? Maybe.......) Since then I've successfully learned a lot of words from listening in the Romance languages and Polish. Perhaps it was a psychological thing as well... wow.

Anyway, back to school. Most of the time we just had to put words into different forms to figure out the spelling. It was easy for us, native speakers. So perhaps you need to pay more attention to the various forms? No need to learn them all by heart, just pronounce them, make them feel logical to you.
Perhaps it's just too early for you to write dictations. It's simply a very popular technique here, but it's basically just a way to test what you already know. Explain to your teacher that you feel quite comfortable with cyrillics but the difficult part is remembering the spelling. As you learn more, you'll be able to read in Russian and this should help a lot. (at first read aloud or with an audiobook on, so that you didn't learn incorrect pronunciation from the written text).


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