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    English, French (semi-fluent)

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  1. I think that it is invaluable to learn multiple languages other then your mother tongue. You are opened up to an even greater amount of opportunities and possibilities if you're able to communicate in other languages. And, as others have said, it'll always look good on a resume for potential employers. As well, I think learning languages also helps you to become more knowledgeable about the different peoples, cultures, and ideologies which make up our world. I know that learning French has certainly made me appreciate the French culture much more and, living in a bilingual country, has allowed me to pursue job opportunities in both French and English.
  2. I've only taken serious French courses while in high school and university, and all of those have been in a classroom setting. While it'd be nice to have a one on one tutor, with sole focus on just your own language development, it's simply not always practical. Plus, the conversing and working with other students serves as a bonus to keep your language learning going. Being in a classroom setting also forced me to keep learning and maintaining my French. Knowing that exams, tests, and assignments were upcoming would help keep me motivated on learning the language and would help prevent me from slacking off. Despite this, I'd certainly be interested in taking a break from classroom lessons and going and immersing myself in the amazing culture of France!
  3. To each person, their own accent is the norm. I don't think anybody feels they have an accent, only that everyone else has one. I'm Canadian, and I suppose my accent isn't very distinguishable, and follows the North American norm. Funnily enough though, someone did say there was a slight Australian twang in my voice, even though I've got no familial roots outside of Scotland, haha I think that accents are easily picked up subconsciously when you visit a foreign country for an extended period of time. A friend of mine went and worked in Australia for 6 months, and when she came back she spoke some of her words with a noticeable Australian accent. But after a few weeks it was gone again, so I think that your accent can change fairly quickly depending on your travels.
  4. I find Google Translate is useful for translating certain words or extremely short phrases/sentences. Anything beyond that and it begins to jumble the words and lose any sort of correct grammatical form. There's no doubt, though, that it has certainly improved tremendously since it's initial inception, but it's still got a long way to go. When I'm working on long assignments or essays in French, I'll usually stick in a whole sentence occasionally, and translate it. After that I'll go through and correct the grammar and switch the words around if need be, but it's helpful for me as it adds in the accents and circumflex' that I do not have on my keyboard. Otherwise I'd have to go through the laborious process of copying and pasting the special characters every single time I wrote a sentence.
  5. One of the ways which I have been trying to improve my French and something that I'm hoping to get into the habit of doing, is browsing through french language news sites, or online versions of French newspapers. Thus far, my main focus has been with TV5 on their site tv5.org. I usually watch their 'flash info' segments and browse through their different news articles throughout the day. However I'm now hoping to expand to some other websites, but am unsure of where to go. Would any of the native french speakers be able to point me in the right direction towards some other French newspaper websites? And, if you don't mind, perhaps add a quick blurb about the general bias/tone of the newspaper? Are they liberal, conservative, a bit of both? Thanks so much!
  6. As others have pointed out, it definitely helps you learn the language a lot easier if you are immersed in a region where it is spoken as a first language. I think that being immersed helps with all aspects of the language learning process. Your reading is improved by reading and seeing the language on shop signs, in the newspapers, on the television. Your speaking is improved by being forced to converse with others and to be around others who are constantly speaking the language. And finally, your writing would also be improved as you'd likely have to write in the language if you were in the country it was spoken. When I traveled to Italy on a school trip, I found that in just the short two weeks that I was there, I had already learned as much, if not more, than what I learned in the few months prior to the trip that I was learning Italian. Unfortunately I never maintained my Italian and it's fallen by the wayside, but going to the country it was spoken was extremely helpful.
  7. I'd like to learn Russian next. I'm a huge history buff, and am taking some history courses in university at the moment. Of particular interest to me is the Soviet Union and the Communist influence in Russia (and the region). I feel that being able to have a working grasp of the Russian language would open up a ton of possibilities for me to do further reading and research on the subject in the language it was used in. It would also be interesting to compare a Russian interpretation of the effects/pros and cons of the Soviet Union with the Western, English interpretation of the Soviet Union.
  8. I'm a little confused about your question? Are you asking what is poor about your grammar in particular? Or are you just wondering what is considered "poor grammar" in general? For me, the most obvious sign of poor grammar is when the flow of a sentence is inhibited. If it takes me a few reads to understand what a sentence is trying to say or if there are unnecessary punctuation marks thrown in, I'd deem the grammar to be poor. There are a multitude of different grammatical rules that as a native English speaker, even I am unfamiliar with. If your writing is coherent and logical, as yours does appear to be, you should not have any problems.
  9. No, I've never attempted to learn a fictional language. To be honest, I think it'd be a bit of a waste of time considering the only ways to express/utilize it would be in reading/watching the medium it was created in. ie. only being able to use Klingon in Star Trek related books/film. As well, I think it'd be exceptionally hard to learn a fictional language because there would likely be little textbooks, study guides, or other educational materials to help you learn it, as there would be with a real language. It'd also be pretty difficult to keep it up, without getting bored and reading the same stuff over and over again.
  10. Really? I'd counter that by saying that cheques are still being used regularly. Hell, I even got one from the government just the other day, and is also the primary method of payment from my job. I suppose that with the growing usage of direct deposits to bank accounts, cheques have gone down in usage, but in no way are they obsolete yet. Just my thoughts. As for the original question, I still continue to use the word "cheque" when describing a bill at a restaurant or the paper, monetary cheque. Perhaps that is because I am Canadian and the majority of our words follow the British spelling (ie. colour, neighbour, etc). I use "check" as in check mark or to check something off of a list.
  11. Learning a language is highly variable and dependent upon both (a) the person; and ( the language. First of all, the amount of concentration, time, and effort you put into your self study of the language will determine how quickly you learn to grasp it. The age old saying "you only get out of it what you put into it" really applies in language learning. If you watch a foreign film once a week and occasionally browse through a foreign language newspaper, you'll never become fluent. But if you create a daily routine for yourself which combines reading, practice, memorization, and some conversing (if possible), you are able to learn within a year or so. The language you plan to learn also plays a role in the time it takes to become fluent in it. If you're learning french, which uses the same alphabet as English (with some differences), you don't have to worry about learning new letters and the majority of the pronunciations are very similar. Whereas if you're aiming to learn Russian, you've got an entirely different set of letters and symbols with the cryllic alphabet. For English speakers (or speakers using that alphabet), learning Russian and many of the Asian languages is extremely daunting. It all depends on your willingness to learn and the difficulty of the language.
  12. I think one of the most effective ways is simply, as others have mentioned, complete immersion in the language. Being constantly surrounded by the language and being forced to use it in order to interact with others is the quickest way to learn a new language. However, for most people this is simply not feasible all the time. You can't drop everything, spend loads of money, and go live in Paris for a month. For those who aren't able to be immersed in the language, I think it's a big combination of online tutorials, conversing with others (online through Skype, games, forums, etc), and rigorous self study (memorizing verbs, conjugations, tenses). Daily repetition of the above routine also enables one to learn a language from home, without having to travel to another country. With that said, everyone learns differently and everyone has their own method tailored to themselves. Learning a language takes work, but it's very rewarding!
  13. Speaking and conversing in French has always been difficult for me (compared to reading it or writing it). My speaking abilities have never been up to par, and throughout high school it was something which I often put on the back burner. This eventually came back around to bite me in the behind, as oral exams made up a large portion of my mark in the french classes of my senior years. This was likely my most nerve wracking experience with speaking French - being made to converse on a subject that I did not know prior and hopefully being able to remember some related vocabulary or phrases to use. Aside from this, however, my experience with the french language has been relatively positive!
  14. I've been taking french language courses in school since the elementary grades, but one issue I've always had was with verbs. To me it seems so daunting to try and study, learn, and remember the french word for basically everything. Do I just need to sit down and go through flashcard after flashcard? Or is there any other way that I can speed up the memorization process? If you've got any tips I'd be eager to hear them, as verbs (and speaking) are my biggest difficulty with the french language at the moment. Thank you!
  15. I don't have a problem with these words being added to the dictionary (although, what is "tweep"?). A dictionary should reflect the common words of a language, and over time reflect their change in usage. These new additions simply reflect the current trends of today's world. I'm sure 'Internet' and 'telephone' were at one point thought strange to be in a dictionary, yet they've become commonplace today. Give it a few years, and some of these new slang words will seem like nothing new.
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