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Advice To An Aspiring Teenage Polyglot?

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 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
38 messages over 5 pages: 1 24 5  Next >>
catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 3000 days ago

89 posts - 184 votes 
Speaks: Malay, Hokkien*, English*, Mandarin*, Cantonese*, French, German, Spanish
Studies: Italian, Latin, Armenian, Afrikaans, Russian

 
 Message 17 of 38
14 June 2012 at 9:47am | IP Logged 
tarvos: Thanks for the quick reply! Yes, my native language is Mandarin Chinese, but my mother tongue is Hokkien (does that make sense?) and my father's language is Cantonese so I am pretty much split three ways. I get what you mean about the writing! Chinese, like in Russian, has a lot of sounds that sound exactly the same but are written differently, sometimes with different meanings etc. Actually, I think Mandarin might be more tricky than Russian, but I guess native speakers internalise these oddities more quickly than people who are learning a second language.

What I'm really finding tricky here is not the rules - but the unpronounced things which my English-oriented mind is finding quite hard to process, haha. For example, I transliterate using sounds. If it sounds like a 'd', I'll just write the according character Д. However, what really tricks me is for words like Здравствуйте. I find it quite hard to catch very fleeting or silent sounds, like the З in front, because the word sounds like 'dras-feetz-chyer' and doesn't really explain the в.

The tip about the stress is interesting, and I think it might actually help my pronunciation as well! :) Thanks for that, and I will try the listening/reading idea. I guess it's just a matter of time and practice.

Serpent: Wow, the idea of fanfiction as a writing practice is really cool, haha! I'm nowhere near enough to any semblance of fluency to write in Russian, but I am going to try writing fanfiction for other languages (eg. French). The thing is that I am learning Russian by myself with occasional help from one half-Russian friend who isn't very fluent herself in speaking and conversing, but she can read Cyrillic fluently and write it reasonably easily so she's basically helping me with that.

Your story on dictation in school is strangely similar to what we do in Chinese classes as native speakers :) Maybe the two languages are more similar than is usually thought! Yes, many native Mandarin speakers do have difficulties with dictation as well, especially with words where the sound is the same but there are several different options (with only one correct option) as to how we can write it. I shall take it easy with getting my friend to teach me spelling (the way she was taught is dictation) and do more immersion.

A few thoughts about your preferred route of fluency:
listening fluency -> reading fluency -> writing fluency -> spoken fluency

I find that people generally get to spoken fluency faster than writing fluency or listening comprehension. Is there a reason why it would be beneficial to approach in this way (I understand that how people become fluent varies with each person, teaching method etc)? However, it is true that writing tends to help with your spoken fluency, for some reason.

Thanks again everyone! :)
1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5029 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 18 of 38
14 June 2012 at 6:07pm | IP Logged 
You can write anything, as long as you polish it and read other things in a similar style. It has to be special for you, regardless of whether it's a story, a poem, a diary entry.

Oh I see. IDK, to me Russian is a very different case of not pronouncing things the way they are written, compared to say English. If you pronounce it slowly, it's nothing like dras-feetz-chye. It might be better to practice with slow recordings for learners in the beginning. (you know the t is soft, right? i think it might help to learn to distinguish individual sounds)

As for the route to fluency, I'm not saying I recommend this. That's just my personal preference. Those that say there's something inherently difficult about listening comprehension just haven't done enough listening. They listen to Teach Yourself etc till they understand everything, and then they expect to understand a movie in the target language. Not gonna happen. I like starting with listening as this is where the language begins in the first place, in oral speech. I don't have many opportunities to speak my target languages but in many ways I'm similar to those that say you should learn to listen and speak and only then to read and write. I also enjoy reading, though, so that's the next natural step when I understand a lot when listening. And then I learn to write through informal communication online (on twitter etc). I currently have no specific plans to go to Italy or Portugal, but when I do, I know it'll be just a matter of shadowing to get conversational. (well, I can't write fluently in these languages yet)
I think speaking is considered easy because in speech mistakes aren't as noticeable as in writing. However, this means learning to write is still difficult when you speak quite well.

So basically I'm sort of in favour of a silent period, at least as opposed to speaking for the sake of speaking. Of course it's different if you know someone who speaks the language or have an opportunity to travel.

Edited by Serpent on 14 June 2012 at 6:11pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



sipes23
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
pluteopleno.com/wprs
Joined 3302 days ago

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

 
 Message 19 of 38
14 June 2012 at 10:44pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
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?


I learned Latin in school, but in hindsight my teacher was pretty unorthodox. And I took it a step further. And the
internet really opened my eyes. Before about 2005, or so, I thought I was the only one who would write anything
in Latin. So I started my blog and found out about the spoken Latin community.

And yes, most of the people who know Latin are the teachers. As far as my blog, I suppose I write about lots of
things, but recently space. Somewhat as a reaction to other Latin people. They *really, really* love the literature.
So do I, but I also like science. It gives me something interesting to write about.
3 persons have voted this message useful



catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 3000 days ago

89 posts - 184 votes 
Speaks: Malay, Hokkien*, English*, Mandarin*, Cantonese*, French, German, Spanish
Studies: Italian, Latin, Armenian, Afrikaans, Russian

 
 Message 20 of 38
15 June 2012 at 11:09am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
You can write anything, as long as you polish it and read other things in a similar style. It has to be special for you, regardless of whether it's a story, a poem, a diary entry.

Oh I see. IDK, to me Russian is a very different case of not pronouncing things the way they are written, compared to say English. If you pronounce it slowly, it's nothing like dras-feetz-chye. It might be better to practice with slow recordings for learners in the beginning. (you know the t is soft, right? i think it might help to learn to distinguish individual sounds)

As for the route to fluency, I'm not saying I recommend this. That's just my personal preference. Those that say there's something inherently difficult about listening comprehension just haven't done enough listening. They listen to Teach Yourself etc till they understand everything, and then they expect to understand a movie in the target language. Not gonna happen. I like starting with listening as this is where the language begins in the first place, in oral speech. I don't have many opportunities to speak my target languages but in many ways I'm similar to those that say you should learn to listen and speak and only then to read and write. I also enjoy reading, though, so that's the next natural step when I understand a lot when listening. And then I learn to write through informal communication online (on twitter etc). I currently have no specific plans to go to Italy or Portugal, but when I do, I know it'll be just a matter of shadowing to get conversational. (well, I can't write fluently in these languages yet)
I think speaking is considered easy because in speech mistakes aren't as noticeable as in writing. However, this means learning to write is still difficult when you speak quite well.

So basically I'm sort of in favour of a silent period, at least as opposed to speaking for the sake of speaking. Of course it's different if you know someone who speaks the language or have an opportunity to travel.


Do you know any websites where it would be possible to share fiction with native speakers/advanced learners who would correct your writing (fanfics, poems, stories, etc.), hopefully in more language-oriented sites than fanfiction.net or other fiction sites? Also, what I'm looking for is the blog of someone who writes about learning languages in their target language (I think it would be interesting). Any suggestions, perhaps? I understand this is a bit of a specific request and it would not be likely to find one, but hey, worth a try! :)

True, you can't really progress much if you cannot listen - how are you going to be able to have a conversation, or even read books with accompanying audio? I guess it's just my rather regimented experience with listening comprehension like in language exams that makes me have this innate dread of listening, especially when there are questions attached!

What is your experience with dreaming in languages? Is it really true that when you start to dream in a language, you are on the 'right path' to greater fluency? I find that I've never dreamt in my mother tongue, and most of my dreams don't really contain many words anyway, just action and natural sounds (eg. wind rustling the trees).

Thanks again for all your help!
1 person has voted this message useful



catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 3000 days ago

89 posts - 184 votes 
Speaks: Malay, Hokkien*, English*, Mandarin*, Cantonese*, French, German, Spanish
Studies: Italian, Latin, Armenian, Afrikaans, Russian

 
 Message 21 of 38
15 June 2012 at 11:15am | IP Logged 
sipes23 wrote:
catullus_roar wrote:
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?


I learned Latin in school, but in hindsight my teacher was pretty unorthodox. And I took it a step further. And the
internet really opened my eyes. Before about 2005, or so, I thought I was the only one who would write anything
in Latin. So I started my blog and found out about the spoken Latin community.

And yes, most of the people who know Latin are the teachers. As far as my blog, I suppose I write about lots of
things, but recently space. Somewhat as a reaction to other Latin people. They *really, really* love the literature.
So do I, but I also like science. It gives me something interesting to write about.


Is there such a thing, in your opinion, as 'Latin slang'? Even what was considered slang in Ancient Rome has become 'proper Latin' to us. Do you know of anyone out there who is constantly changing up the Latin language? For example, new English words like 'captcha', 'hoodie' and 'texting' have been added in the last 10 years. What about Latin? Is it changing, or would the Latin we speak today be very similar to the Latin spoken 2000 years ago?

Well, I think the interesting thing about Latin, for me, is not so much about what I can do once I have mastered it, but the learning process. After learning so many other languages, many of them Romance languages (ie. related to Latin), every time I read a sentence in Latin, I catch so many words resembling different languages like French, Italian, Spanish etc and I find this all very amusing and entertaining.

A question that isn't Latin-related, but is still of interest to me because I tend to ask this of every language learner I come across: What methods do you use (that suit you, of course) in languages? Any cool learning methods, materials or schedules that you have devised for yourself?

Thanks :)
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 3139 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 22 of 38
15 June 2012 at 11:39am | IP Logged 
Latin "slang" has a name - it's called Vulgar Latin. The reason for this is that the
Latin as you see it written actually is purely a written language - it was spoken quite
differently by the common people who used a modified and simplified version called
Vulgar
Latin, which is the ACTUAL precursor to the romance languages - an example is the word
"caballus" which became "cheval" in French, whereas Latin has "equis" for horse.

So the Latin SPOKEN 2000 years ago has developed, but in like 5 different directions.
The
French and Spanish you speak now are the actual descendants of Latin spoken 2000 years
ago.

As for techniques, mine is "just do it". That sounds silly, but in my view the best way
to learn a language is practice it until you can't anymore, and when you reach that
point you practice some more for good measure. I try to think less about what I'm doing
and focus more on actually doing it.

Edited by tarvos on 15 June 2012 at 11:41am

5 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5029 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 23 of 38
15 June 2012 at 3:02pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
Serpent wrote:
You can write anything, as long as you polish it and read other things in a similar style. It has to be special for you, regardless of whether it's a story, a poem, a diary entry.

Oh I see. IDK, to me Russian is a very different case of not pronouncing things the way they are written, compared to say English. If you pronounce it slowly, it's nothing like dras-feetz-chye. It might be better to practice with slow recordings for learners in the beginning. (you know the t is soft, right? i think it might help to learn to distinguish individual sounds)

As for the route to fluency, I'm not saying I recommend this. That's just my personal preference. Those that say there's something inherently difficult about listening comprehension just haven't done enough listening. They listen to Teach Yourself etc till they understand everything, and then they expect to understand a movie in the target language. Not gonna happen. I like starting with listening as this is where the language begins in the first place, in oral speech. I don't have many opportunities to speak my target languages but in many ways I'm similar to those that say you should learn to listen and speak and only then to read and write. I also enjoy reading, though, so that's the next natural step when I understand a lot when listening. And then I learn to write through informal communication online (on twitter etc). I currently have no specific plans to go to Italy or Portugal, but when I do, I know it'll be just a matter of shadowing to get conversational. (well, I can't write fluently in these languages yet)
I think speaking is considered easy because in speech mistakes aren't as noticeable as in writing. However, this means learning to write is still difficult when you speak quite well.

So basically I'm sort of in favour of a silent period, at least as opposed to speaking for the sake of speaking. Of course it's different if you know someone who speaks the language or have an opportunity to travel.


Do you know any websites where it would be possible to share fiction with native speakers/advanced learners who would correct your writing (fanfics, poems, stories, etc.), hopefully in more language-oriented sites than fanfiction.net or other fiction sites? Also, what I'm looking for is the blog of someone who writes about learning languages in their target language (I think it would be interesting). Any suggestions, perhaps? I understand this is a bit of a specific request and it would not be likely to find one, but hey, worth a try! :)

True, you can't really progress much if you cannot listen - how are you going to be able to have a conversation, or even read books with accompanying audio? I guess it's just my rather regimented experience with listening comprehension like in language exams that makes me have this innate dread of listening, especially when there are questions attached!
There's lang-8.com for getting your writing corrected... Other than this, I think it's best to just find some helpful native speakers who share your interests :)

Oh, I hate those audios too. Especially if you're not given the questions in advance - my head is not a tape recorder and even if I understand 100% I can't necessarily reproduce it.
Yeah, I think it's quite useless to try to converse when you can only say and understand very basic things (unless you're in the country of your target language, of course!). My learning of Polish has been quite different from other languages in that I went to Poland after like 8 weeks, however, I had done a lot of LR, so even if I couldn't say much, I could understand practically any reply.

Definitely try listening to interesting content without worrying about whether the pen was blue or black :)

(Although I have to say I've had a positive experience as well... For some reason, listening exercises in German have often been easier for me than for many of my classmates, so it was my time to shine hehe :))

Oh and I can't help you much with blogs but I like this one in Russian. It's about learning languages on your own, though about 40% is specifically about learning English. Here is this guy's old blog, much less about English and more about learning in general, but it's no longer updated (still a lot of posts to read through:)))

As for dreaming... it mostly just means it's important for you. It's more likely after long study sessions and non-fluent people report it a lot (it may also be just gibberish sounding like your target language). Not everyone even thinks in words, so don't worry about dreaming in your target languages.
(The more important thing here is that the way you describe your dreams probably means you're very visual - be sure to take advantage of that! (I love making "fancy" graphics like this for example ;) and I'm not even particularly visual)

Edited by Serpent on 15 June 2012 at 3:16pm

1 person has voted this message useful



sipes23
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
pluteopleno.com/wprs
Joined 3302 days ago

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

 
 Message 24 of 38
15 June 2012 at 8:33pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
Is there such a thing, in your opinion, as 'Latin slang'? Even what was considered slang in
Ancient Rome has become 'proper Latin' to us. Do you know of anyone out there who is constantly changing up
the Latin language? For example, new English words like 'captcha', 'hoodie' and 'texting' have been added in the
last 10 years. What about Latin? Is it changing, or would the Latin we speak today be very similar to the Latin
spoken 2000 years ago?


Latin slang? Remember, the Latin we have left to us is the highly polished literary language of the elite of Roman
society. Tarvos covers the situation nicely.

The Latin we have today is most assuredly not changing in terms of syntax or morphology. New words are being
added as needed, but they are usually built out of existing Latin/Greek roots. Or repurposed older words. The
word "raeda" (cart) has been repurposed to mean car. For the most part, this works. I'd like to think that I would
understand the speech of educated Romans and they in turn would understand me, but there's no way to know.

catullus_roar wrote:
Well, I think the interesting thing about Latin, for me, is not so much about what I can do
once I have mastered it, but the learning process. After learning so many other languages, many of them
Romance languages (ie. related to Latin), every time I read a sentence in Latin, I catch so many words resembling
different languages like French, Italian, Spanish etc and I find this all very amusing and entertaining.


I agree. I'd say 90% of my knowledge of Spanish is built on my knowledge of Latin, which allowed me to engineer
quite a bit of free knowledge, which allowed me to understand some Spanish, which allowed me to further
engineer more knowledge, etc. So I do get that motivation.

catullus_roar wrote:
A question that isn't Latin-related, but is still of interest to me because I tend to ask this
of every language learner I come across: What methods do you use (that suit you, of course) in languages? Any
cool learning methods, materials or schedules that you have devised for yourself?

Thanks :)


I suppose my method is mostly this (and I'm more interested in languages as text than actual speech for my own
consumption, but everyone is different): Read textbooks that give me as much reading practice as possible. I
don't really like things like Wheelock's Latin and prefer stuff like Ørberg's Lingua Latina. My preference is to do as
much figuring out of the rules for myself as I can, though obviously some explicit instruction is needed at the
beginning. For example: I have no firm idea (yet) about when an article is needed in Ancient Greek, but do know
that I know exactly how they work when I see one.

I read the reading bits in the textbook again and again. I've got no real schedule, since I've got little kids. But
repetition is one key. The other key is to find an accessible bit of full-strength text. A heavily annotated text
where vocabulary and grammar help is given is/was my usual fodder with Latin and Ancient Greek. Wikipedia for
modern languages. I keep using the textbook and poke over to the "original source" again and again. I bang my
head on the original source and go back to the textbook. Repeat as needed. Once Wikipedia isn't completely
opaque, I branch out to other media. With Latin and Greek I consult the notes less and less.

It's slow, but works for me. When I get more motivated to speak, I watch movies. I visit places where I can use the
language—usually restaurants. As an American living in the middle of the country, I don't have much opportunity
to use a lot of spoken languages, so my text-driven approach works for me.


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