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When did you start to learn a second language?


cbintz
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My native language is Croatian. I went to a private Catholic school and I got English right at the start. I may have been six years old (1st grade primary). In fifth grade, we could choose whether we wanted French or German (the parents were the one choosing, really). As there were two classes, one got French, one German. Mine was lucky enough to get German (or unlucky, depends from which perspective you're looking at it). In highschool, I got Latin and Ancient Greek as preparation for the university where I also chose Elementary Spanish. I had that for only one year, but it was very interesting. So, it varies from country to country and it also depends on the school. Only my school introduced English in the 1st grade. The rest of the schools in Sarajevo don't before 4th or 5th, I believe.

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I started to learn Spanish when I was a little girl, about 7 years old or so, but I didn't learn enough to become fluent.  In the 9th grade I took Spanish, and in the 10th grade I took Spanish and French.  Not yet fluent in either of them though.

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I started learning English as a second language since I was in Prep. During my time, that's the entry level for a first-time student. But at home, my mom sometimes talked to us in English. It was in school though where I was obliged to really write and speak the language. Not only it is compulsory, it is also the medium of instruction in every school in our country.

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Foreign languages were not compulsory in my elementary school and i only got to learn a bit of German while in college. I made it my duty to learn as much as i could possibly can and by the time i was through with college, my German was above average.

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  • 6 years later...
On 3/5/2014 at 4:51 AM, gubernaculum said:

When I was 10 years of age my asthma had become such a life-threatening problem that my chest specialist in the UK gave my parents a radical option in terms of treating my illness. I was sent to the Eastern Pyrenees area of France, to a small ski resort town called Font Romeu, for 9 months of high altitude treatment. They say that beyond a certain altitude, the dust mites that cause problems for so many asthma sufferers can no longer survive and at 1800m, Font Romeu was of sufficient altitude as to be an effective location for just such a purpose.

Being one of only two English speakers at the residential clinic and with all the other kids being barely able to speak one word of my native tongue, I was put in the position of needing to learn French quickly if I was to have any kind of a life over there.

Happily, the language came to me quite rapidly and, due to the immersive nature of the experience, I was able to retain it right up until the present moment. It is definitely true that a young brain is able to learn a foreign language much better than an old one!

I also learnt French the same way as gubernaculum.....I may have been the 'other' kid they did not get on with aside from the fact that the other kid I was with appeared alot younger than me. The teacher at Le Nid Soleil was awful at teaching English from a Larousse Dictionary...far worse than our school text book French and if you were caught gum chewing in class they would demand you take it out and they would put it in your hair. The copier was a hand operated one on which worksheets would be printed. You would do weaving for art. The childrens home did not speak English to you even if they could. I felt isolated and lonely. They used their language and your lack of understanding it as a way to bully you. The bedrooms were 70s dorm throwbacks and the food at times was inedible. This place frightened me...there was another child leaving called Donna Aseltine who looked very relieved to be going...

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