Comments: Learning languages

"Even if I wasn't really listening to a conversation in German I somehow ended up with a sense of what was being spoken about."

I could understand the gist of some Japanese conversations immediately. If you can pick out some proper nouns, read the attitudes to these in body language of two people, and can bring to bear some background understanding of the topic, you can interpolate a *lot* of information. Many conversations don't bring any new factual information to either speaker, and if you already know the facts at hand you can often easily understand the subtext from the nonverbals.

Posted by Nik at November 30, 2004 12:40

So putting it summarily, German is easier for me than French.
maybe i can come up with a reasonable explanation for this: english and german are both germanic languages and therefore related, whereas french is roman language. now if you take german utterances you can immediately relate to the grammar because it is similar to your mother tongue's, whereas in french, even if you understand some words of an utterance, these words will occur at different places in the sentence. thus your intuition doesn't work as well here. one could say that english and german share the same 'architecture' in which you feel at home, which isn't the case with french.

Posted by feuerfisch at November 30, 2004 17:10

french is a romanIC language, sorry :)

Posted by feuerfisch at November 30, 2004 17:20

Hang on, personally I'd be practising the skiing more than the French. Calves and quads endurance exercises at the very least.

And skiing can trash knees, so either a) set your bindings very loose, or b) go boarding instead. This has the added advantage that you probably have knee and wrist pads just kicking about.

Big snowfall this winter, so we've a plan to go boarding on xmas day. Oh yeah!

Posted by jez at November 30, 2004 23:27

I took French in high school for three years, and I've been taking German in college for just over three years now. Like you I'm much better in German than in French, though I managed to communicate some with the locals in Paris a few summers ago.

You are right that when it comes to learning a language nothing beats living in a country that speaks it. My German improved a lot this past summer during just a five week stay in Germany. I'm going back next year for six months, and that should really help.

Of course most people in the U.S. don't have the resources let alone the inclination to send their kids abroad to learn foreign languages. It'd be something at least if Americans would start learning a foreign language in grade school.

Posted by David at December 1, 2004 04:36

I can relate to the comments about school. I also got "A" at GCSE French, and went on to study at AS level, however my level of French sucks. I can comprehend some written French ok (because my brain has time to backtrack and decipher it), however I find it very difficult to speak, or understand when spoken.

I recently started to learn Italian, primarily via the Michel Thomas audio course. I strongly recommend the style of teaching he uses - I was very impressed by the level of conversation I could have after just 8 hours of audio. The reason? His theory is you learn as you do when a child, ie. forget compicated grammar points and reading etc and concentrate on listening and speaking first. The rest comes later.

Final point - I agree on Friends Abroad - awesome site. I now have a plethora of cute Italian "penpals". Apart from one 16 year old who worryingly thinks my picture is very beautiful....

Posted by Darren at December 1, 2004 11:55

So who are the two English people with remotely good French accents, Paul?

BTW if you really want to improve a foreign language fast, find a native speaker and exchange conversation with them; one hour in English, one hour in your target language. That's the idea behind of course...

Posted by Dom at July 15, 2005 13:45


Posted by singles personal ads at October 16, 2006 14:41
Post a comment

Remember personal info?