I thought I'd get the forums' collective expertise on learning foreign languages.
So let's hear it! Who here has learned a new language as an adult? What approach worked for you? How long have you maintained it? Have you been able to maintain it even without a lot of other speakerrs of it to talk to?
I'm particularly interested in learning Arabic. Is there anythign I should keep in mind to modify my approach bearing in mind the differences between the Semitic language family and the Indo-European language family?
I took one semester of beginning Spanish. I liked it, but I haven't kept up with it, so I forgot much of it.
I have 4 quarters of Uni level Russian under my belt thus far, and I'm getting pretty comfortable with it. I've netflixed movies in Russian and read Russian children's books, both of which have really helped. I've looked into Arabic and, well, best of luck to you. It might as well have been in...well, Arabic, as far as I was concerned :-).
Looks like I'm going to have my work cut out for me. The thing is that I anticipate being sent to the desert in the forseeable future (I'm Air National Guard), and I think being able to speak to the Iraqi people in their language would be the least I could do for them. Plus, it'll be a good "at-a-boy" for my career.
I think I'm going to go with whatever I can find at the public library (books, CDs, etc) and any cheapo discount software I can find and then seek out people to practice on.
LOL! I was afraid you meant goats or camels! j/k
You do have a point though. Some Arab women are fucking smokin' hot. To forstall the inevitable outcry of "TF, pics!" I present to the forum the lovely Lamia El Hashem who is apparently some manner of celebrity in the Arab world.
I guess there's no way to get around the whole need to have people to speak it to in order to gain/retain fluency.
I don't feel the need to put a bunch of time and money into a class if I don't have to so I think I'll go with a strategy of combining books/CDs/software (for instruction) with friends/penpals (for practice). Once I get underway with this, I'll post again to mark my progress and share insights of my own about what's working for me.
Anyone else have anything to add?
BTW, cajones, thanks for that link. That is a good thread.
Btw. I don't know how to spell it but they speak Farcey in Iraq.
bigbrawler, John is correct. Farsi is the language of the Persian people.
John, I thought "Hello" in Arabic was "salaamu aleykum"?
Trey, I have heard about that proble,, but I still think it would be at least worthwhile to learn modern standard arabic and then at least the Iraqi dialect.
I have to say Iam suprised to see punchdrunk here. J/c but could you tell me what the Iraqi dilect is. I was certain that Iran and Iraq spoke farsi but hey I could be wrong.
Not being an expert, I'm not sure if the Iraqi dialect of Arabic has a name of its own.
Farsi is the language of the Persian people; Iran used to be called "Persia." Iraqis are Arabs and thus speak Arabic. Q.E.D.
I am Indian, but I barely know a phrase or two of Hindi (like enough to ask the person I'm talking to if he speaks English!). But my Bengali is ok. Well it's not as good as my mom's English, but I can usually understand what someone says if he/she isn't talking too fast.
BTW John, you know who I am, right? I'm that friend of James(Striker18) who gave him those conditioning tips a couple years ago.
I just noticed out last posts came in at the exact same time...lol. Do you have AIM? I'm on right now. My screenname is "zongalt"
Getting away from the specifics of any particular language - it's a pet peeve of mine that most high schools and colleges have a language requirement when the research clearly shows that the best time to learn a foreign language is from pre-school up to maybe 3-4th grade. Kids are simply much better at learning and retaining both words and accents. One study I saw suggested that the average 3 year old was capable of learning upwards of 50 words a day, every day, and retaining them across most of the lifespan. Think about how tough it would be for you (at 18, 25, whatever you are) to have to memorize a 50 word list every day of your life now and to be able to know those words 10 years later. It'd be a gold-plated bitch. Toddlers do it routinely, though.
Not to say it can't be done later, of course - it's just that it's a lot easier at younger ages.
And now that I've scared the crap out of you :-) two things are key from my knowledge of learning theory in general and languages in particular - repetition, repetition, repetition, and conversing with someone else in that language.
TB, not scared. I kind of figured that this'll be rough. No illusions here...lol.
Seriously though, you have conjugated the correct regardinght e stupidity of starting foreign language study in one's mid-late teens instead of early childhood. I'd been getting my exposure to Bengali in dribs and drabs starting from birth and I honestly think I'll retain a fair amount of it for the rest of my life. Spanish, however, in high school and the first year of college was nowhere near as easy and I've barely retained any of it.
Its weird because I learnt French in primary school haven't spoke it to anyone since and still remeber pretty much everything I learnt. It might be because Spanish is very similar to it but I don't know for sure. Either way if you want to learn a language very very quickly learning it through hyptnosis is a viable option. You might not believe in that mumbojumbo, but I would definatly suggest it as atleast a helper in learing the language. like it was previously said about toddlers learning languages better then adults. Thats basically because a toddler doesn't have a language "set" in there mind yet. So they can learn more then one language easier because they don't need to translate it in there mind.
PS Learning a language through hyptnosis won't allow you to write in it. But pick your battles right.
I learned to speak decent Chinese as an adult (started around age 23). I can read history, literature, law, etc, albeit slowly. I'm working on classical Chinese now.
I owe my Chinese proficiency to hard work and excellent instruction. So, that's my advice: take classes at a good school and work hard. They're both important. There are some very fine language departments in the U.S. and study abroad programs in the PRC and some that suck ass. You'll learn a lot more per hour of study at a good program than a bad one.
For hard languages, you may need to find language study instrisically rewarding (unless you're very gifted at languages). As a beginnner, you'll learn a lot faster if you enjoy the discipline of memorizing vocabulary or grammar patterns and are social enough to like talking to random people in a foreign country. As an advanced student, you'll be more likely to keep it up if you enjoy the literature you're reading in class or have an interest in linguistics. The mere desire for a useful skill may not be sufficient motivation to keep going.
poopyhead: Thanks. Yeah, I could've guessed the motivation thing is important. In fact--it's probably the most important element of the endeavor. I don't want ot fizzle out and give up on it, but if I do, then it wasn't meant to be.
Being smart doesn't have much to do with learning a language. Since as you so eloquently put I am a dipshit. I however know 3 languages. I can read write and speak two and can speak one. Theres one that Iam kinda sketchy on and wouldn't say I know it yet. Bassically if you have a commitment to learn it you'll learn it. Its about as simple as that. I think people who grew up bilingual it is much easier to pic up another language though. So that kinda means alot of America is at a disadvantage.