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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    Coffee Break Spanish is good, but I find myself zoning out and mind wandering a lot of the time. I've also been meaning to make some flash cards for verb conjugations that I struggle with. And just ignore Vosotros, no one in LATAM uses that and I think you could probably get by in Spain without it.
    Yeah, I'm having the same problem where I just zone out on it. That's why I'm going to try supplementing it with other techniques and hopefully a week in central america this winter.
    It sucks to suck.

  2. #27
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    years ago guy I know spoke spanish and just alittle bit of broken english
    usually had to have someone one interpret when we talked
    well sure enough over the years the guy learns pretty good english
    the only problem the coworker he learned english from grew up in appalachia guess how that turned out
    kinda like the mexican girl whose parents didn't know any english and let her watch cartoons as a toddler
    she was talking like sponge bob square pants when she showed up for kindergarden

  3. #28
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    I was going to post a similar thread for my Italy trip next month, then I realized it was a month out and nothing I can do at this point is going to prepare me.

    I took 5 years of spanish before graduating hs but don’t know if I would have ever considered myself fluent. Though I have been motivated the last couple months to become fluent as Spanish is the first language of pretty much our entire work force here. It’s weird, I can actually understand it better than I can speak it. Listening in on conversations every day helps tremendously.

  4. #29
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    When I was 29 I married a German girl, moved to Bavaria for a couple of years and learned 2nd grade German.
    “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
    ― Milton Friedman

  5. #30
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    appears to have worked out nice for ya
    .

  6. #31
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    Learned German at 22, in 6 months working in Vienna.

    Then Italian at 24 in 6 weeks

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    Learned German at 22, in 6 months working in Vienna.

    Then Italian at 24 in 6 weeks

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk
    sehr gut
    &
    hai fatto bene

    Impressive learning curve for learning italian. Did you have some other Latin based language you learned before going to Germany and Italy?
    perfect ass search
    Quote Originally Posted by AK47bp View Post
    Jesus god almighty!
    That link is the single best link I’ve ever clicked on ever.

  8. #33
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    Si, yo soy fiesta!

  9. #34
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    Might frame a learning approach that resonates with you:



    I'm fascinated by the craft of learning. For me, I break things into chunks and categories and then interweave them in practice & use:

    Interest and Curiosity -> you have to want to do this. be honest about motivation and motives. everything starts here.
    Context and knowledge acquisition -> what's important, how does it work, keeping adding new info and refine
    Develop an effective practice routine ->The art of practice. What areas? How much at a time? Repetition. consistency. challenge and incremental stretches.
    Application - Application - Application -> Study is study but it's worthless without application and this is the hardest part because you need to try and fail and try again without being discouraged. Putting yourself egoless in real-life situations where you will look like (cause you are) stupid/beginner. People are social creatures so we naturally correct and adapt this way. We learn by doing not studying.
    Engaged - Attention - Listen -> simply put - phoning it in doesn't work - you need to actively pay attention and refine your understanding constantly

    Edit: also goals. I divide into Process goals and Performance goals.

    Process goals = methods and intermediary milestones that move you closer to an ability/performance goal (eg: Practice verb conjugation 20 min every day for a month)
    Performance goals = execution of an ability (eg: be able to engage with Spanish speaker at XYZ level with 80% comprehension for 20 minutes after 3 months of study)

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Satch View Post
    sehr gut
    &
    hai fatto bene

    Impressive learning curve for learning italian. Did you have some other Latin based language you learned before going to Germany and Italy?
    Yeah, born in Romania, and 2 hours a week French lessons for 5 years, from 10 years old.

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  11. #36
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    not successful. Immersed w/o instruction. The people I know who've been successful had some kind of formal instruction, combined with immersion. There were a number of language schools aimed at tourists S. America.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWFlow View Post
    Norwegian -- started with Duolingo, did a couple months of a babbel online course, dated native speakers,
    How is this not the focus of the thread? This place is slipping for sure. Norwegian girls, motherfuckers. (OK, I don't know that this poster wasn't talking about dating dudes--could be a chick posting, could be a dude who likes dudes, but either way I'm good with thinking it's Norwegian women.) (Best option--poster is a chick who is into Norwegian girls. That's what I'm going with.)


    This is not encouraging for those of you hoping for native fluency, but it is definitely interesting:


    PARIS — When Notre-Dame burst into flames, I turned on the French TV news and realized that I had little vocabulary for either fires or churches. Whole sentences about collapsing spires were unintelligible to me.

    This happens a lot. When I moved to Paris in my early 30s and started learning French practically from scratch, I knew I’d never sound like a native. But I envisioned a hero’s journey in which I struggled for a few years, then emerged fluent, or at least pretty good.

    Fifteen years later, I’ve made strides, but they’re not heroic. I’ve merely gone from bad to not bad. I can usually follow the news, handle transactional conversations and muddle through any situation. Interviewing people is fine, because I’m mostly listening. If required, I can read French books.

    Yet my French is still riddled with gaps and mistakes. When I try to tell a story in French, I sense that the listener wants to flee. Things I’ve done recently to avoid writing formal letters — a staple of French administrative life — include not reporting a slow leak in my bathroom and not filing for possible medical malpractice.
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    Shouldn’t I be much better by now? Why is language learning so difficult?

    Hoping for an expert opinion — and perhaps some expert solace — I phoned Joshua Hartshorne, the director of the Language Learning Laboratory at Boston College.

    The sorry state of my French doesn’t surprise him. In a paper last year on which he was a co-author, based on an English grammar test taken by some 670,000 people, he found that — even for children — learning a language takes much longer than I’d thought. Children need seven or eight years of intensive immersion to speak like a native. These years must start by about age 10, to fit them all in by age 17 or 18, when there’s a sharp drop in the rate of learning. (He’s not sure whether this drop is caused by changes in the brain or in circumstances).

    And native speakers keep perfecting their grammar into their 20s. They reach a level called “asymptote,” when they’re not getting noticeably better, by around age 30, the study found. (But vocabulary peaks at about age 60, according to a study in Psychological Science. That’s probably because native speakers have had time to accumulate lots of words, and they haven’t started forgetting them.)

    What does this mean for someone who started learning French in her 30s? Dr. Hartshorne says my language-learning ability had sharply declined by then and was getting worse each year. In his study, nonnative English speakers who had been immersed in English in their late 20s made only slightly fewer grammatical mistakes than native speakers in preschool.
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    And though I live in France, I’m not immersed enough. I use French for work, but I speak lots of English too, including with my kids and husband. I don’t have an “école horizontale” — a romantic partner with whom I speak only French.

    I’ve tried to compensate by periodically taking French courses. And most mornings, I circle unknown words in Le Monde, then transfer them to sticky notes above my desk. But I recently discovered three notes reminding me that “ras-le-bol” means “fed up.”

    “Nothing seems to work as well as just speaking the language all the time,” Dr. Hartshorne said.

    You can learn basic grammar and vocabulary at any age. That explains my “good enough” French. But there’s also an enormous amount of low-frequency words and syntax that even native speakers might encounter only once a year. Knowing any one of these “occasional” words or phrasings isn’t essential. But in every context — a book, an article or conversation — there will probably be several. They’re part of what gives native speech its richness.

    In other words, no matter how many sentences I memorize or words I circle, there will always be more. “You can get pretty good pretty quickly, but getting really, really good takes forever,” Dr. Hartshorne explained.

    And your peak level might not last. I used to interview people in Portuguese; now the language merely sounds familiar. Most of what remains from three years of Japanese is a haiku I learned for extra credit in high school.

    Confidence matters too. It doesn’t help that with French, I’m studying a language that’s considered such a treasure that it’s presided over by a group known as “the immortals.”

    Dr. Hartshorne also points out that native speakers have exceptional precision. Even someone with 99 percent grammatical accuracy sounds foreign. He guesses that I have about 90 percent accuracy, which shouldn’t feel like failure. “Imagine if you decided you were going to pick up golf in your 30s, and you got to the point where you could keep up in a game with professional players. You’d think that’s actually really good. But for some reason, just being able to keep up in language feels not as impressive.”

    At least my struggle probably has health benefits. A study published in the journal Neurology found that being bilingual delays the onset of dementia by four and a half years. Another study found that bilinguals were better able to recover cognitively from a stroke.

    And I revel in small triumphs, like discovering that a woolen ball on a sweater is a “bouloche” (I learned this recently from my dry cleaner) and that French Jews and Christians use the familiar “tu” when addressing God. There’s also the pleasure of realizing that a French hypochondriac is merely a “hypocondriaque.”

    Often I can improvise. When my kids brought home notices telling me to check their hair for “poux” (pronounced “poo”), I correctly deduced that it meant lice. But later, in a first-aid course, I was perplexed when the instructor told us to immediately check an unconscious person for “poux.” (He demonstrated this by leaning over the mannequin’s head). It took me a while to realize that he was telling us to check for “pouls” — a pulse, pronounced identically.

    I should probably accept that my French will never spark joy in anyone else. It’s part of accepting, at midlife, that I’m subject to the same rules as other people and that there are things I won’t do.

    But I still expect to get much better one day. It would be hard to live here if I didn’t. I recently read an article — in English — claiming that many French people find their own language difficult and are convinced that they speak it poorly. Perhaps feeling bad about my French is proof that I’ve gone native after all.

    Pamela Druckerman is a contributing opinion writer and the author of “There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story.”

    The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

    Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.
    [quote][//quote]

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    Coffee Break Spanish is good, but I find myself zoning out and mind wandering a lot of the time. I've also been meaning to make some flash cards for verb conjugations that I struggle with. And just ignore Vosotros, no one in LATAM uses that and I think you could probably get by in Spain without it.
    I had a savant language prof in college that was still learning new languages in his 50s when I met him. He was devoted to flash cards. Took them everywhere and looked at them in every spare minute he had. I say savant, but really he was willing to put in the time looking at the cards and talking to himself as much as possible. He'd then go visit wherever he was focused on and immerse himself taking in local stuff. Taking buses or what ever forced him to communicate w people he didn't know ramped him up really fast w the string memory of the flash cards.

  14. #39
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    Immersion and watching TV shows helped me get to a level of Italian that was good enough to coach basketball and have good conversations about real stuff in my 20’s. Takes me about 2-3 days of immersion to get back to a good conversational level when I go there now.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by SB View Post
    Can you understand anything that SFB posts?
    LMAO. just lost some coffee.
    That is a good barometer.

  16. #41
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    I am at the point in my Spanish where if they don’t speak English well, it is fine.but generally (unless they are just being nice) if they speak English, we default to that, or do some Spanglish.
    I think it’s my poor use of little things like reflexive verb use and more complicated tenses, I need to actually study and practice.
    I do Duolingo for 15 minutes every day, and it really helps.
    StokePimpin' ain't easy

  17. #42
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    I've noticed that I say a handful of phrases really well, and it's false advertising, because if I start out that way the next thing I know they are rapidly throwing some long story at me in Spanish and I'm completely lost. It comes back to my listening skill, it's very weak.

    Someone mentioned using skype to converse with a teacher in another country. I did buy a 10 pack of lessons from a school in Guatemala (I think it was about $8 an hour) but I only used one and realized that for me to get the most out of it I needed to be a level or two higher. It's not worth paying to learn the alphabet and numbers. So, I'm going to revisit that soon.

    Dexter's article is great and it touches on some of my anxiety about ever living in another country full time. It's a bit scary to think that I could most likely never have those deep level conversations with people, or be quick witted and spontaneously funny at the right moment in another language. But this thread has made me realize that for even a low level of fluency, I'll probably have to spend a considerable amount of time immersed.

  18. #43
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    I've dabbled in Spanish for a few years, but am taking it more seriously now. 2wks in Chile, 1 month in Mexico in the past few years both advanced understanding and provided an impetus to learn more.

    TLDR version: My method is Duolingo app, Duolingo podcast, Spanish chapter books (for children), talking to spanish speaking friends. Not sure if I will ultimately get to where I want to be, but I'm enjoying the process.

    I do ~30min of Duolingo daily. I find that I have to actively engage to learn from it. If I just press the buttons, fill in blanks, look at all the words and phrases, I can complete the exercises fast, but my brain doesn't turn on and I don't learn. If I force myself to try the phrase without looking at the words, say everything out loud, etc. it works much better.

    Reading is easiest for me, then speaking, then listening and understanding. If the speaker is slow and deliberate I can understand a lot (ie interview with Spanish speaker on NPR). Not so much in conversational context. I'm trying the Duolingo podcast to improve the listening, and just received my first Spanish chapter book (Manolito Gafotas).

    I'm fortunate to have a couple friends that are native Spanish speakers, and my goal is to speak with them in Spanish as much as possible when we're hanging out. Easier said than done, even when you're with pals.

  19. #44
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    As others have mentioned, immersion is the only way. I grew up in France and learned Engrish in school, spent a bunch of summers in the UK and the US, but when I moved to the US at 21 I was clearly not fluent and people would immediately identify me as French. Basically my mind was functioning in French and I was translating. I spent a year in NJ before moving to UT where very few people noticed I was not a native speaker. I barely spoke any French that first year and that was the key, letting the mind make the switch full time. In grad school I met a lot of foreigners whose English sucked at baseline and never improved because they lived and hung out only with people who spoke their language. In some of the labs you'd find groups of Chinese or Indian students who only spoke English during lab meetings and were completely unintelligible. They basically created small enclaves of the home land and never immersed themselves... I thought it had to do with the structure of the language and sounds that simply don't exist in other languages but then I lived with a kid from Taiwan who hated mainland Chinese peeps refused to associate with them. He hung out with Americans exclusively and within a year he had picked up every slang out there and lost most of his accent. It would be hard to tell where he is from if you heard him on the phone.

    My wife has been learning French for about 3 years She uses flash cards a bunch and with her photographic memory her vocabulary is excellent. She watches Netflix shows in French with English subtitles and soaks things up in an impressive manner. She'll blurt out elaborate sentences out of the blue with barely a mistake. That being said she improves more spending 2 weeks in France with my parents that she does in a year of practice with me... She's self conscious as hell though and hates making mistakes which holds her back a lot. When we met she took a few French classes and her mom joined her. Her mom is still at it, she joined a language group with other retirees, reads in French, watches TV in French, and will talk to anyone about anything. Her accent is horrendous but she's basically fluent after 3 years. She has a lot of time on her hands though...

  20. #45
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    I started learning Spanish at the age of 31. Did some home study with the Living Language series and then took a class for three months and moved to Puerto Rico, where I have lived for the past 19 years.

    The self study and class provided the basics, but it took 4-5 years of total immersion before I felt that I could communicate above the basic level. I should say partial immersion as my wife and I initially spoke only English at home to force my kids to learn it. At this point I am speaking Spanish almost full time. My accent is less noticeable and will never disappear, but I no longer embarrass my daughter with my Spanish.

    I think many people are held back in their learning because they are afraid of making mistakes and embarrassing themselves by sounding like an idiot. In addition they don’t progress beyond trying to translate everything back to English. If you want to become fluent, you have to think in the language that you are learning otherwise holding a conversation is nearly impossible.

  21. #46
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    A few years ago a coworker mentioned duolingo and I randomly started in studying French. I plowed through the entire duolingo course but when I was done I realized that I couldn't speak a word of it despite having a pretty decent ability to read basic french. So, I hired a teacher through italki who specialized in pronunciation. I continued to do some loose studying but I still can't speak french. I did however, get a chance to try to speak french on a ski trip to France last spring. The thing that I took away was that it would certainly be possible to become functionally fluent if I was truly immersed. The french teacher that I hired used a method called "the silent way". If you're struggling with pronunciation then I would look into finding a teacher that uses that method. With that said, I doubt that you'll become fluent unless you truly immerse yourself in it. I think that the people who become truly fluent do it by living somewhere where they can only speak the language that they're trying to learn. My understanding is that in that scenario you can become functionally fluent fairly quickly.

  22. #47
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    No love for Pimsleur?

    I've used it for German, Mandarin and now Czech, and always as an adult.

    It's "listen and speak" only, they emphasize not to try to read or write, but it's a good crash course before you go somewhere and immerse yourself. Available on Audible and you can listen in your car on the way to skiing. The usual caveats apply - some people definitely do better with this approach than others - but I like it.

    I supplement the vocabulary with Google Translate to "customize" the lessons . . .

  23. #48
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    OP, You can do it, at one point as a young adult I had to learn French, Arabic, and Serbo-Croatian but it is easier if you’re living in the country acting like a local
    “I have a responsibility to not be intimidated and bullied by low life losers who abuse what little power is granted to them as ski patrollers.”

  24. #49
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    What is college? Stop going until we figure it out. Because I went to college, I have no idea what it was. I went to college, I was 18 years old, I looked like I was 11. I lived like a goddamn Ninja Turtle. I didn’t drink water the entire time. I lived on cigarettes and alcohol and Adderall. College was like a four-year game show called Do My Friends Hate Me or Do I Just Need to Go to Sleep? But instead of winning money, you lose $120,000. By the way, I agreed to give them $120,000 when I was 17 years old. With no attorney present. That’s illegal. They tricked me. They tricked me like Brendan Dassey on Making a Murderer. They tricked me like poor Brendan. They pulled me out of high school. I was in sweatpants, all confused. Two guys in clip-on ties are like, “Come on, son, do the right thing. Sign here and be an English major.” And I was like, “Okay.” Yes, you heard me, an English major. I paid $120,000 for someone to tell me to go read Jane Austen and then I didn’t. That’s the worst use of 120 grand I can possibly fathom. Other than if you, like, bought a duffel bag of fake cocaine. No, I take it back. That’s a better use of the money, ’cause I know you’d be disappointed when you open up the duffel bag and you realize it’s not real cocaine, it’s like powdered baby aspirin or whatever they do. But at least you have baby aspirin. And maybe you have a baby and one day your baby goes, “Oh, my head,” and you go, “Hey, I’ve got something for you! Come here, little guy.” And you dump it out on a mirror. You make it nice for the baby. You make it nice. You cut it up into lines with your laundry card or whatever and you make it nice, and your baby takes his sippy-cup straw and he holds it in his little ravioli-sized baby fist and he leans over– [snorts] and he snorts up the baby aspirin, and he gets rid of his baby headache, plus you get a duffel bag! That is way better than walking across a stage at graduation, hungover, in a gown, to accept a certificate for reading books that I didn’t read. Strolling across a stage, the sun in my eyes, my family watching as I sweat vodka and ecstasy, to receive a four-year degree in a language that I already spoke.
    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    the situation strikes me as WAY too much drama at this point

  25. #50
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    The thing I have noticed that other posters touch on is the difference between conversational, functionally fluent, and fluent. I've never been totally fluent in a foreign language and am always impressed by those like Boissal who appear to become totally fluent. Despite living abroad and speaking a foreign language a good part of my life here, I still find that i can't quite make the same jokes, use the slang properly, all that touched on in the article Dexter posted. I am ok with never being fluent, but I guess it's important to make the distinction that it's pretty easy to get to a conversational level, doable to get to functionally fluent, and really fucking hard to get to fluency.

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