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Advice To An Aspiring Teenage Polyglot?

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 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 2999 days ago

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

 
 Message 25 of 38
16 June 2012 at 2:52pm | IP Logged 
I have not quite gotten the hang of this quoting thing, haha, if everyone is wondering why I'm not doing it :S Sorry if this is inconvenient!

tarvos: Hm, I always thought Vulgar Latin was a sort of Latin Creole used by people further out in the Roman Empire and those who traded with them, but I must have been wrong. I understand your 'just do it' approach, but how exactly do you 'practice until you can't anymore'? My apologies if I'm being annoying, but I'm really curious as to what combination of methods seems to work for different people who learn the same languages as me - which is something I haven't been able to find in the learning strategies page, which is a more generalised description of learners' experiences with each separate technique, or techniques for one language/one type. What practice methods do you find effective? :)

Serpent: Haha, that's exactly what I dislike about those audios! It seems like they are filled with a large chunk of irrelevant stuff, and then they say the important part really quickly and incomprehensibly all at once, and continue with some more useless stuff just to round it off :/ Though I guess that's the challenge (even if it's quite unrealistic to expect a situation like that in real life).

Thank you for the blogs! I am using them to practice my reading aloud for now. One day I will have a full understanding of what they say. One day. Did your visit to Poland help your Polish very much? People do tell me that even a short stay in a country can help the learner master said language much faster than he or she would at home, especially if he/she uses the language exclusively while abroad. Do you find this connection convincing?

The strange thing, even though I have been tested as a visual learner before, I don't really learn well from, say, mind maps or pictures. (For some strange reason, we do these tests in school here, along with MBTI Profiling and Enneagram tests). What I do learn well from is writing, again and again. Also, I find that after I learn a list of new theme-based vocabulary or some new tense, writing a short composition in that tense and using the theme really helps reinforce things, especially if I make mistakes. Heh, I guess that's pretty obvious though, the fact that practice and making mistakes will help you remember the rules!

sipes23: Is there a reason, in your opinion, why so little 'colloquial Latin' is left? This is true with all ancient languages, of course. For example, hieroglyphs weren't even used regularly in Ancient Egyptian, serving a purely ceremonial purpose, and yet it's one of our only links with the language of the time (thanks, Rosetta Stone). Is it simply the time period, which is a few thousand years, or is it the fact that the civilisations were destroyed or absorbed into others? Is it some historical event that somehow wiped out most of the casual parts? Or is it the fact that casual speech simply wasn't written down, and therefore not preserved? Or has casual speech in these old languages transformed itself into new ones (eg. Vulgar Latin -> Romance Languages)

Your text-driven approach must take a lot of discipline and time! However, I do see bits of your method surfacing when I study. For example, I do believe that the best way to learn a rule or some part of the language is to read a brief description on it, attempt to identify it, and then slowly figure out how it works. I do believe in studying prepared conjugation tables, however. Latin has Nominative and Accusative cases, as well as Dative (am I right? In German, I mean Dativ), which plenty of beginner students struggle with in German - would it be possible to identify the full uses of these three cases from reading and studying using your method described above? I don't doubt the reliability of your method, just trying to gauge which level it would be appropriate for :) In your personal opinion, of course!

Thanks everyone :) Heh this thread is turning out like a bit of 'all the questions I've ever wanted to ask about languages', so thanks for helping me.




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prz_
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Poland
last.fm/user/prz_rul
Joined 3290 days ago

890 posts - 1190 votes 
Speaks: Polish*, English, Bulgarian, Croatian
Studies: Slovenian, Macedonian, Persian, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Swedish, German, Italian, Armenian, Kurdish

 
 Message 26 of 38
16 June 2012 at 5:03pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
Or is it the fact that casual speech simply wasn't written down, and therefore not preserved?

As far as I know, people then already know what's graffity:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_profanity
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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5028 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 27 of 38
16 June 2012 at 7:05pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
Did your visit to Poland help your Polish very much? People do tell me that even a short stay in a country can help the learner master said language much faster than he or she would at home, especially if he/she uses the language exclusively while abroad. Do you find this connection convincing?
It depends. Travelling is certainly a good idea, but imo mostly from the point of view of motivation and materials.
I was in Poland during the 6WC and I clocked 3260 minutes of Polish in those 11 days, including 2275 minutes of "immersion". But I don't really think that listening to people around you chatting, reading the signs etc is essential for fluency. In a broader sense, immersion can be achieved by doing stuff in your target language all the time, ie listening to music, watching TV, reading, switching all interfaces to your target language... That's all more important than being in the country, and it's absolutely possible to travel without doing any of this.
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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 28 of 38
16 June 2012 at 11:21pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
tarvos: Hm, I always thought Vulgar Latin was a sort of Latin Creole used by
people further out in the Roman Empire and those who traded with them, but I must have
been wrong. I understand your 'just do it' approach, but how exactly do you 'practice
until you can't anymore'? My apologies if I'm being annoying, but I'm really curious as
to what combination of methods seems to work for different people who learn the same
languages as me - which is something I haven't been able to find in the learning
strategies page, which is a more generalised description of learners' experiences with
each separate technique, or techniques for one language/one type. What practice methods
do you find effective? :)


I've never had a particular strategy I used that I can say "helped me get to fluency",
partly because the languages I speak very well (Dutch, English) are both languages that
I got for free in a way (I learned English very young), and when I wasn't around
English anymore all the time physically (due to moving away from Canada) there was
always tonnes and tonnes of Anglophone material my parents gave me - I didn't speak
English at home but in all practical respects I've been raised to learn English as well
as I speak Dutch. So that has more or less happened by immersion and accident more than
it has to do with any particular strategy for grammar or memorization.

Other languages that I have some semblance of ability in (French, German, Russian) are
languages that I learned at school and then have had to reuse in other situations
practically (French), are close to my native tongue (German), or I don't have that much
ability in (Russian). In other words, I do use textbooks, especially for Russian, but I
do not go into them with the idea of "I'm going to use Anki or I'm going to keep
shadowing lessons every day". The way I've been learning to speak more French has
nothing to do (in my view) with any sort of formal study of the language, beyond the
basics of the grammar I was taught at school and the class I'm currently taking at the
AF.

What kickstarted my French was living with French speakers for two months and forcing
myself to speak French to them (I asked them to, and they were happy to oblige me). In
other words, I did not think about how to use grammar in situations or what the correct
plurals were. I just spoke to people, and if it was wrong, they corrected me (and I had
basic sentence formation down, so it worked!). Now that I am back home, the way I feel
I can make improvement is simply by reading French novels and writing things in French
(I have to do that for class and it's the tool that makes me really feel like I am
progressing). That's what I mean by "just do it". The way you progress isn't by waiting
until you're ready to do something or not. If you want to learn a language, you have to
use it actively, and the only way is to go out of your way to do so. That really helps
you along more than you studying the formalities of the grammar ever will (apart from
making your speech sound more educated and helping once you start doing business
writing or have to take formal French university courses or something).

The way I learned most of my Russian was partly from Assimil books, but mostly through
regular VK contact with a Russian-speaker about topics that weren't Russian language
learning. Just writing short updates, responding to her statuses, looking up words in
her messages. Once I have finished my textbooks (I use them as sources for idiomatic
expressions and I mine them for every bit of vocabulary I can find - I simply use Anki
only as a vocabulary tool) - I am going to post more on VK, write things in Russian,
look for Russian thesis materials and read Russian novels as well as perhaps listen to
Russian radio or watch Russian television programmes. I might also spend some time in
Russia and converse with Russians entirely in Russian. But I won't do it formally - I
am just doing it only to speak, speak, speak, speak, speak, listen, listen, listen,
listen, listen, and read, read, read, read, read. I am going to EXPOSE myself to the
matter and not think intensively about what I learn, but just use it often once I have
the basic rules down. Then I can only get better from there!

Practice, social context, and using native materials teach you much more than textbooks
do. Textbooks exist for a reason - to give you the solid basic foundation you need to
understand basic grammar, basic things you need to identify context in a piece of text
or audio and learn to recognise the key idiomatic phrases, the "logic" of the language.
Once you've worked out that logic the best thing to do is to use it actively. And
that's what I mean by just do it - it's better to have a shitty conversation entirely
in Russian and learn a few words than switch to English or Mandarin because you can't
get the point across eloquently otherwise.

If they have a lot of audio they can also help you with pronunciation, although that's
something I tend to pick up passively.







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catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 2999 days ago

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

 
 Message 29 of 38
17 June 2012 at 11:39am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
catullus_roar wrote:
Did your visit to Poland help your Polish very much? People do tell me that even a short stay in a country can help the learner master said language much faster than he or she would at home, especially if he/she uses the language exclusively while abroad. Do you find this connection convincing?
It depends. Travelling is certainly a good idea, but imo mostly from the point of view of motivation and materials.
I was in Poland during the 6WC and I clocked 3260 minutes of Polish in those 11 days, including 2275 minutes of "immersion". But I don't really think that listening to people around you chatting, reading the signs etc is essential for fluency. In a broader sense, immersion can be achieved by doing stuff in your target language all the time, ie listening to music, watching TV, reading, switching all interfaces to your target language... That's all more important than being in the country, and it's absolutely possible to travel without doing any of this.


I agree. Do you find that there is ample support for language learners in your native country? I live in a country that does value math and science above, say, linguistic interests, not that you can't have all of them at the same time. What's it like in Russia?

Well, what I think makes immersion effective is the fact that you are 'forced' to use that language, so you're less likely to 'escape' back into your native language, haha. Have you ever taken a break from languages or encountered burnout of some sort (eg. you just didn't feel like hearing another word of Polish, no matter how informal the studying was) Thanks!
1 person has voted this message useful



catullus_roar
Quadrilingual Octoglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 2999 days ago

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

 
 Message 30 of 38
17 June 2012 at 11:51am | IP Logged 
tarvos: Sorry, but what is this VK? Is it something like Facebook? Well, I guess what you're saying does have a point. Maybe doing less routine studying and just going with the flow would help my enthusiasm when I get bored.

Have you ever experienced language confusion between your less fluent languages? Sometimes I am looking for a word in French and I think of the word in German, Spanish, Mandarin etc, but just not the one in French. I usually catch myself before the wrong language pops out, but I was just wondering if you ever encounter this, and whether there is any way to prevent it.

For you, do group lessons or private lessons work better? (Since you take classes at the AF, as do I).
1 person has voted this message useful



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 31 of 38
17 June 2012 at 2:19pm | IP Logged 
VK = VKontakte. It's the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It does have an English
version (which is my interface at the moment), but all my friends on it speak Russian.

I don't think I experience much of a confusion between my languages, except perhaps
continually inserting and peppering my Dutch with English words (but that's common
anyway). I'm fairly good at keeping them separate. Of course there's always a situation
where you know a word in either language that you don't know in the TL you're speaking,
but I don't experience a lot of confusion mostly because when I switch to French - my
brain takes a few minutes to "acclimatise" and then functions solely in French. The
only problem then is lack of specific vocabulary at times, which will lead to me
inserting the English word or some awkward circumlocution.

The trick I use to speak French is to think in French and route my thoughts through a
French filter. This has the added bonus that when I read French, I don't lose a lot of
time mentally on figuring out sentence structures or something. I will miss words, but
I can read at a similar speed to my other languages (slightly slower, because I will
miss words) but there is no practical impediment. So after a few minutes, it's normal
for me to answer in French.

I haven't tried private lessons as this is the first time I'm taking French courses in
years. I have the hunch that a personal tutor would help me quite a bit, but I do fine
in group classes as long as other people's accents don't annoy me. It's more of an
obligation and a discipline tool than it's a teaching aid, apart from the bits of new
grammar I learn and having regular feedback on my writing.

Edited by tarvos on 17 June 2012 at 2:21pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 5028 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 32 of 38
17 June 2012 at 2:43pm | IP Logged 
catullus_roar wrote:
I agree. Do you find that there is ample support for language learners in your native country? I live in a country that does value math and science above, say, linguistic interests, not that you can't have all of them at the same time. What's it like in Russia?

Well, what I think makes immersion effective is the fact that you are 'forced' to use that language, so you're less likely to 'escape' back into your native language, haha. Have you ever taken a break from languages or encountered burnout of some sort (eg. you just didn't feel like hearing another word of Polish, no matter how informal the studying was) Thanks!
IDK, I've basically never been in a situation where I was FORCED to use Finnish because the person didn't speak English. Didn't prevent me from getting fluent :)
It's all down to your attitude. I just consider using English such a shameful thing (if I know the local language) that it's almost never a problem. Interestingly, that's more of a problem when I'm travelling alone.

Burnout? Nah, not really. Classroom study used to make me sick of English and German though. I still have a much lower boredom threshold in German because of that.
But with Polish, nope. It's not like I'm tired OF a language, more like I WANT to do something in another one :)

I really recommend VK, btw. I myself use it in Polish hehe.

Here's a thread about interference. I think normally that's just the feedback that you don't know the word well enough. I recommend shadowing for having various phrases ready in your mind.

Edited by Serpent on 17 June 2012 at 2:52pm



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