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About Bill_H

  • Rank
    Language Newbie


  • Native tongue
    US English
  • Fluent in
    German, Hungarian
  1. The next language I would like to learn is Russian. Maybe I picked up this desire from eleven years of living in Hungary -- so close to that Russian sphere of influence. I think it's clear that Russia is ascendant nowadays economically and politically. I believe the ability to speak Russian would have many advantages, regardless of the field one chooses to pursue.
  2. During the eleven years that I lived in Hungary, I taught my stepdaughter English -- not by any formal lessons but by speaking it with her mother, who was an English teacher. Years went by, and my stepdaughter always responded in Hungarian, no matter which language was spoken to her. But one day, everything changed. She told me in English, "Daddy, I want to speak English from now on," and she meant it! From that day on, she has always interacted with me in English. Her English ability is like a free gift from me to her!
  3. This is an interesting point. Most people think you have to start learning a second language as a kid if you're ever going to be good at it. I know this not to be true from my own experience. I took my first German class when I was 19, and within a couple of years, I was fluent (and still am today). Of course, my attitude and actions during those couple of years were all-important, and I spent that time learning everything I could about Germany and the German language. I was even fortunate enough to study in Germany and Austria. I was deadly serious about mastering that language, and I believe
  4. As a university English teacher, I can tell you that what I'm about to say is pretty politically incorrect: Mastering grammar IS important. You might expect an English teacher to say that, but a closer inspection of our training and the academic environment that surrounds us will show that English teachers today come under a lot of pressure to ignore grammar. "The successful conveyance of meaning, that's the important thing!", the teacher hears all around. Well, I beg to differ. I learned German and speak it very comfortably today, and the way I did this was to focus on grammar -- German has t
  5. If there's one thing that has complicated my life as an English teacher, it would be these electronic devices we're all so addicted to nowadays. It seems that no matter how many times I tell my students to turn them off at the beginning of class, my lesson is invariably interrupted by one of them going off. Add to that the potential for cheating that exists when a student can find virtually anything just by glancing at his palm! But to me, the most serious threat posed by devices has to do with security. It's very easy for a student to snap a photograph of a test and circulate it among his fri
  6. I had an experience in Korea in the early 1990s. I was walking on the street with a (white) Canadian girl when a group of young Korean boys passed by. One of them said something in Korean, and my Canadian friend whirled around and shouted him down. What those boys didn't know was that my friend had lived for years in Korea and spoke fluent Korean! Well, that boy bowed low and apologized. When the boys had left, my friend told me that the boy had called us "pieces of sh**" under his breath. Bet he'll never assume again that Western people don't understand his language!
  7. I remember that when I was a little boy, I thought "brought to you by..." was one word! That's one kid who'd been watching too much TV!
  8. All the time! I dream I'm speaking Hungarian. This is probably because for eleven years I lived in a small town in Hungary and HAD to speak Hungarian to the people around me every day. Non-Hungarians who have lived in Budapest probably cannot identify with this experience because in that major city, it's not hard to find someone who speaks English. Not so in the wilds of Hajdu-Bihar County! So, even though it's been seven years since I returned to the States, when I dream, I still find myself in the situation of having to explain something in Hungarian to someone who does not speak English --
  9. I speak German and Hungarian, but I am a living testimonial of the capacity of a person to lose a language if it's not practiced. I lived and taught English in Seoul for four years (20 years ago), and at that time I could speak some Korean. I bought a book, hired tutors, and made a genuine effort to master the language. I even had a circle of friends who did not speak English, and I used to go out with them regularly and spend entire evenings speaking nothing but Korean. And what of it can I speak today? Hardly anything. Just "hello" and a few nouns.
  10. It's important to stick with the genders in the early phases of learning German. Practice them until they become natural for you -- until you don't have to pause before using a noun, wondering what gender to use. Yes, the day WILL come when this happens, and when it does, you will glad that you took a disciplined approach right at the beginning of the process instead of trying to go back and learn them all later (which is pretty much impossible to do).
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