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Everything posted by kilat

  1. I studied a few different languages at school and college, always in classroom setting with a bunch of other students. I found I most enjoyed (and did best at) the ones where I was in a small group rather than a big class. Since then I've studied a couple of languages with a private tutor (Indonesian) or in a group of 4 (Japanese), and have had a much better experience than I had when trying to learn in a class of 20 to 40 students. I have a friend who says the exact opposite - that she does well in a large class as she's very competitive and wants to show that she can do better then everyone else. I guess I'm just not that bothered about what other students are doing, and prefer to work at my own pace rather than fit in with others!
  2. Maybe I'm old or old-fashioned, but I've never used lol, lmao or any of the acronyms that suddenly appeared when everyone started texting (there, that's probably the first time I've ever typed them!). I have recently started using smilies sometimes, however so I expect I'll get as far as using lol and the rest too at some point!
  3. I have worked as an academic editor, and in that context I'm certainly a grammar Nazi, but I wouldn't correct anyone's spoken English (or any other language I speak well) if they make a mistake. It's simply not good manners to point out when another person is doing something incorrectly, as long as the mistake doesn't affect other people. However, if people ask me to help them learn a language by correcting their mistakes, then I'm happy to do so, in a gentle and constructive way of course!
  4. Of the languages you have studied, which one did you find the most difficult? I know Swedish is often considered hard to master, but I'm fortunate enough to have learnt it as a small child. Are the Slavic languages especially difficult, in your opinion? I would love to learn to speak Russian one day. I know there are lots of cases to keep track of! What about languages that use non-Roman alphabets, such as Arabic, Thai or Chinese - do you find it harder to learn them because you have to learn to read and write in a whole new way? When I studied Japanese I found the language itself (vocabulary and grammatical structure) quite manageable, and I was fine with the kana, but I did have problems learning all the Chinese characters I needed to use.
  5. I still spend most of my time in Indonesia (moved here over 20 years ago), and I speak standard Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) but none of the thousands of other languages that are spoken around this huge country. The remote islands in the East of the country seem to have the highest number of languages (in absolute terms as well as in proportion to population numbers), while the densely populated island of Java, which contains two thirds of the population, has relatively few (probably a few hundred, though). In many cases these 'languages' could be called dialects as they are more like local variants of the regional language. Papua (the Indonesian-administered, Western half of New Guinea) is home to thousands of languages, and in many cases these really are separate languages as the inhabitants of the countless deep valleys in the jungles had little to no contact with other people for centuries, and developed their own languages that can be incomprehensible to people from the next valley. You can actually get around the entire country with standard Indonesian as it's still the language of instruction in schools, and the language of most newspapers, TV broadcasts, official documents, etc, and most people speak it in addition to their own regional or local language or dialect.
  6. Of course you can't become fluent in a foreign language in 10 days, but you can certainly pick up enough of the basic structure and an adequate vocabulary to be able to communicate, for example if you're traveling somewhere where your own language isn't spoken. Naturally it depends on a number of factors such as the number of hours you spend learning every day, your own ability, how the material is structured, and which language it is. I managed to learn to communicate adequately in Indonesian within 10 days, but it's a relatively easy language to learn at a basic level, and I had private lessons with a great teacher every day. I was also pretty motivated as some of the people I had to communicate with spoke no English at all, and knew what I needed to be able to say from one day to the next and was able to learn the appropriate vocabulary and structures and then go off and put it to use. I should add that I continued my daily Indonesian lessons for 6 months, and then twice a week for another year after that, so that proves that you can't master even a comparatively easy language in 10 days. However, I was certainly able to understand and communicate in simple sentences in a variety of situations within 10 days.
  7. The next language I'd like to learn to speak well is Spanish. I already have a decent reading ability in Spanish, and have managed to make myself quite well understood on trips to rural Spain where nobody speaks anything else (other than Catalan, which didn't help me much!), but I would love to learn the language properly. I studied Spanish grammar in Latin class way back in high school, so that should be no problem. Ideally, I'd like to go somewhere in Latin America for a few months to take an immersion course and surround myself with Spanish speakers. I tend to learn best in a small group or private lessons, and when I have to revisit the material every day or so.
  8. I used to be really shy about speaking French, and basically didn't say a word during my first visit to France as a teenager even though I was top of my French class in high school! I still read and write French much more easily than opening my mouth and speaking it. As I grew older I found it easier to lose my need to be perfect, and in my twenties spent a fantastic couple of weeks in a Spanish village where nobody spoke any English. I had never learned Spanish formally, but I managed just fine with my phrasebook and grammar guide, along with my knowledge of French and Latin. And I've always been good with accents, which helps. In general, the best way to really learn a language is to dive in at the deep end and surround yourself with people who don't speak your language, and with whom you have to communicate. Of course you can study at the same time, or beforehand. You won't get caught up in concerns about feeling self-conscious - you simply have to make yourself understood!
  9. I find that paying attention to subtitles can be a great help when I'm learning a language - but I'm always aware that the quality and accuracy of subtitles varies a lot. I some Asian countries, for example, it seems the subtitles were written by someone who doesn't even understand the original language of the movie or TV show, so you get some stunningly misleading translations! So I would say that you need to have a good enough grasp of both languages to ensure that the subtitles accurately mirror the dialogue before you start relying on them to improve your vocabulary!
  10. Foreign-language TV shows in Sweden are usually subtitled in Swedish, and standards of accuracy are pretty high (I know because I used to write some of them). If you're in Sweden and trying to learn the language, or simply perfect it, you can pick up a lot of words and phrases simply by reading the subtitles as you watch the show in English or whatever the original language is.
  11. I'm half Swedish too, and grew up bilingual. I left Sweden after high school but I've managed to keep my Swedish fluent although I don't speak it every day any more. I find that reading in Swedish (or any other language that I'm not getting much practice in) really helps me to keep it active.
  12. I'm curious to hear from people who are learning Swedish. Do you find it hard - is it harder than other languages you have studied? I know the pronunciation can be tricky, especially for native English speakers, but do you find it hard to master the language itself? I grew up speaking both Swedish and English, so I guess it just comes naturally to me. I'd be particularly keen to hear from people who speak many different languages regarding how Swedish compares with other languages they know.
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