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Learning a new language?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I guess this could be the thread for anyone who wants to learn another language... I myself am struggling with a poor French (my biggest disgrace).

Perhaps I may be a sucess in languages among most of my peers, due to my excellent English. But it was because I started to be educated in English at 6 yrs of age. By 3 my mom had already taught me to read and write in Spanish and basic arithmetic, and by 6 I started at a distance school (Puerto Rican education is in the stone age, am afraid... no school is even familiar with the concept of someone learning to read before 6) in the states whose entire curriculum was in English.

Since we lived in a coastal town, where many there were many foreign ship owners, I got to have many American friends of my age at that moment, and perhaps that helped my practice.

I don't know... lately I've had dreams where I am capable of talking in English... so I guess I know my bit of it.

Spanish has lately become a world language. Perhaps one of the most curious parts is American passports. My parent's passports from the 1980s were in English and French. My passport nowadays (issued in 2000) is in English, Spanish, and French.

Spanish has around 400 million speakers, and English has 600 million. The two most spoken European languages.

According to the Cervantes institute of the Spanish tongue, Spanish has become almost an official language in certain regions of the USA. And I am not stranger to that. We joke here that in Miami, you have more chances of being understood in Spanish than in English.

At the same time I am interested in if there are other Spanish speakers around here.
post #2 of 18
I wouldn't say that Spanish has really become a world language. It has become a fixture in America and on American forms because of the massive influx of Mexican immigrants who either cannot or will not learn or speak English.

For a long time, German was the preferred second language to learn in American schools, then it became French, now it is Spanish for sheer survival and marketability in jobs.

Long ago and far away, I taught Spanish, but I was never truly fluent (although I did dream in Spanish a few times). I haven't used it in about 7 years, so I've lost most of the vocabulary.
post #3 of 18
Second language preference really depends on economic and political climate. In the past as pointed out above, German and Japanese are popular languages to learn due to economic reasoning and Russian for political reasons (Cold War.) Now it seems the 'hot' language to learn is Mandarin (proper) not Cantonese due to the emerging China while Arabic is a popular political language.

French is a good language to learn if you want to work in those world bodies since although they have multiple official languages, French is one of their more popular official language and it helps in your application to speak it.

And finally the language to learn to really impress people or recruiters (university or work) is Latin. Nothing says "I am a motivated individual" more than learning a language that is not needed for communications. Although learning Latin will improve on your English too.
post #4 of 18
Second languges are always difficult. I went to Costa Rica (lucky me) with my family and learned to speak spanish there. I was so happy about it,i could help but show off alittle. *lol* But saly I stoped practicing it,and forgot almost all of it.
post #5 of 18
I took French in high school, not for any political/economic reasons, but because I perceived it as more difficult and challenging than Spanish, because "everyone knows Spanish is an easy A" (at least it was in my high school) Besides I really didn't think I would use a foriegn language after high school anyway. (I grew up in small-town Montana - no immigrant population to speak of, even in the late 80's) Alas my two years of French were not enough to satisfy my University requirements, so I ended up taking two years of German in college, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Had I had any German friends I could have been almost conversant, though most of that has faded from memory now. I can still read a bit, but switching the word order always gives me a headache.

My best friend, who grew up in San Diego, caught a lot of grief from her parents for NOT taking Spanish and instead taking German. "It'll help you get a job!" they wailed.
Years later, when she and hubby were stationed in Germany and her parents came to visit, she took them out shopping one afternoon, without any of her German friends, and after completing a transaction (auf Deutsch!) on a cuckoo clock her mother had fallen in love with, she turned to her father and said, "Aren't you glad I didn't take Spanish?"
post #6 of 18
Originally Posted by Ilovecats
Second languges are always difficult. I went to Costa Rica (lucky me) with my family and learned to speak spanish there. I was so happy about it,i could help but show off alittle. *lol* But saly I stoped practicing it,and forgot almost all of it.
The trick they say is to be exposed to the language at an early age. And when I mean early I mean at the time the baby/child is learning to speak. So if you have a baby or are thinking of having one, even before you give birth make sure you sign up the child for language and other early development programs. Some of the more popular ones have a several year waiting list.
post #7 of 18
Good point Bumpy! A baby is born with the ability to speak any language in the world, but as they grow up and do not use those abilities, they lose them. Case in point: when I was teaching Spanish in High School there were some kids who literally could not make their mouths do the rolling/trilling "rr". Simply couldn't do it. And it has been proven that young children (I mean under 6 years old) will pick up fluently any language they are exposed to for a period of time. I remember one linguist wanted to prove this, and as he and his wife were fluent in multiple languages they did an experiment. They had a 4 story house and spoke a different language on each floor, i.e. English on the first floor, German on the second, etc. Their children all were fluent in all four languages, and would switch on the fly while playing and running up and down the stairs!

We have our education system completely mixed up linguistically, for teaching additional languages. We should be teaching multiple languages in pre-school and kindergarten, not first offering them in High School. But, you would still have to reinforce the multiple languages throughout school or, as many of us have found out, if you don't use them you will lose it.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Exactly! That is why I learned such a good English! Because I started to learn it at 6, by the end of first grade I already was becoming fluent. Add to that the exposure to all the American channels we get via cable tv and all the magazines/books I read in English.
post #9 of 18
An easy second language to learn is Sign language
post #10 of 18
Not all that easy Kellye for some, but definitely interesting and worthwhile to learn.
post #11 of 18
Well my second language is French and I still go to classes to keep good french and around the house and stuff I sometimes find myself using alot of french, Mum just looks at me like::censor::censor::censor:: . I haven't dreamt in french though That would be so cool! I loved learning french and I love speaking it, it's a very beautiful language. I want to learn Russian as well!Good luck to all those learning a language.
post #12 of 18
An easy second language to learn is Sign language
Yes! I am trying to learn Auslan, an Aussie version, but I'm not very good LOL.

I think learing a second language is such a good way for adults to keep their brains active. Much of what we do in everyday life isn't all that brain taxing and you know what a good feeling it is when you're nutting out a cryptic crossword or lateral thinking question and you finally get the answer!
Another great thing is learning a new musical instrument. I play a few instruments - piano as well as a few brass instruments. I have felt a bit like my brain isn't being challenged like it could be lately, so I'm going to be taking up the violin once kitten season is over. I have bought a very inexpensive student violin and had a go but I can't stand the screeching! I feel like a mother saying, "Tania! Stop making that infernal noise!" So I've put it away and will begin with a tutor soon.
post #13 of 18
I learned Spanish in high school and took a refresher course for my job way back when I was still in the branches. I had transfered to a new position in the heart of a Spanish speaking community. The silly bank didn't even think to place bilingual tellers so we were relying on other customers to translate for us. I remember about 30-50 words. In high school I was in an excelerated class.

My nephew was a slow talker. No physical problem, just didn't want to talk. But he created his own sign language by the age of 1 which Grandma and Mommy understood. At 18 mo, he went to a Portuguese babysitter who had a few of her own nephews during the day. She spoke Portuguese to them, and my nephew was speaking fluent Portuguese by the time he was 3. Unfortunately, we didn't. He's lost all of it.
post #14 of 18
Difficult. I majored in German and minored in Spanish in college, and am now living in southwestern Germany, where English is considered the "first" foreign language to learn, and French the "second". I personally think that Spanish is both easier and more useful than French, but have to admit that I've always had extreme difficulty with French, because I'm hearing-impaired and French speakers don't move their lips enough for me to make out what they're saying. However, in view of the global economy, I'd say much more emphasis should be put on Mandarin and Russian (I have numerous students from Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and so on, and marvel at how they can easily communicate with each other in their native languages.) My high school required Latin as a second foreign language, but I was granted a "reprieve" because my mom was a Latin teacher and my dad was fluent in Spanish. I kind of regret not having taken Latin now. My husband had 8 years of Latin, and, while not fluent in foreign languages, always manages to make himslef understood. We regularly visit Hungary, and make out okay, although Hungarian friends laugh at my "baby talk". My vocabulary isn't bad, but my grammar is horrendous. My husband actually understands the grammar rules, but his vocabulary isn't very good, so together we muddle our way through.
post #15 of 18
Heidi, I thought you taught English, I didn't realize you taught Spanish.

Victor, I speak Spanish, but I don't consider myself fluent. I teach English as a Second Language, and many of my students are from the Caribbean countries. Knowing Spanish is a big help with my beginner students.

As for younger children learning languages, it is true that they acquire a more native pronounciation. Adults and older children can learn another language pretty well by relying on their first language and because they know how to study. They may not sound like a native, but they can still use the language.
post #16 of 18
Over here I'm afraid we dont really 'do' a second language as we truly believe that everyone should speak English (note - not American, English) If you dont we just talk LOUDER and slower. French is considered okay for school kids but not for the grown ups, possibly due to the age old animosity between the English/French.
Personally I like the Italian language and way of life more but today it is cold over here and the people are grouchy. There is something about the Med that just makes warmer people. I dont have an 'ear' for leanring another language although I have tried. I can lsiten and talk and then poof its gone!
Anyway I think that we just see the rest of the world speaking English as, dare I say it, colonisation by the back door
(i was looking for a 'tongue in cheek' smilie, but couldnt find one)

My nephew who is married to a Japanese speaks more or less fluent Japanese and they intend to bring their children up speaking both languages. I think that is brilliant.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Actually, I have a small time project in my mind of languages: Portuguese.

Portuguese and Spanish are so alike we joke "Portuguese is in truth badly spoken Spanish". Anyway, the differences between Spanish and Portuguese are almost systematic, so if I can learn it "for Spanish speakers" rather than for English speakers, I think I can learn it.

Anyway, I haven't got acess to such a course just yet. But, I am going to take Latin soon now in High School.

Now, I have a little joke for you guys:

Now, although in the state courts here everything is done in Spanish, in the Federal Court for the District of PR, in order to keep uniformity with the other federal courts in the states (I think, nobody has been able to explain to me why they do that) the proceedings are done in English.

That has lead to some of the greatest bloopers of all time: Virtually all of the people who have to testify or are accused there ask for a translator (Even legislators and cabinet members!), in order to understand, and even attorneys who have litigated there, when they have to testify have asked for translators. When they select the jury, they have to start sifting for the qualification that the person needs to "Speak, read, write and understand English". One of the greatest bloopers was when the Vice President of the House, Edwin Mundo was called to the witness stand, and when the prosecution asked him "What do you do for a living?" he answered "In Hato Rey".

I really have always wondered if its possible that they can make some exception to the rules allowing the proceedings at the federal court here to be done in Spanish... all the judges, jurors, attorneys, defendants, etc. are Puerto Ricans... it would run more smoothly, and truly everyone could be jurors.

Shows you how far has the Puerto Rico educational system has come! (Here English as second language is an integral part of curriculums from kinder up)
post #18 of 18
Originally Posted by bren.1
Heidi, I thought you taught English, I didn't realize you taught Spanish.
I actually taught both. I was hired as a Spanish teacher, but the second year I was there one of the English teachers retired. Since my degree was actually in English, they hired a Spanish teacher to take over most of the Spanish classes, while I kept a couple Spanish classes but had more of the English classes.
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