kelly_in_taiwan (kelly_in_taiwan) wrote in polyglots,

A Few Questions...

This community's been a little dead lately so I thought I'd try and spark a bit of discussion. ^_^

1) How do you 'choose' the languages you want to study? Do you base your choices on cultural reasons, academic interest or purely practical reasons (eg. furthering career prospects)?

2) What are your opinions on studying more than one language at a time? Do you prefer to dabble in several or are you the type of person who will not move onto a new language until you have attained at least basic fluency in your current language?

3) What techniques do you feel are best for language learning? Attending classes, self-study from books/websites, immersion programmes...?

Let's get talking. ;)
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good idea!
1,I choose mine cos of friends. For example I'm learning Dutch because I have dutch friends and also now I'm moving there when I finish uni.

2, I study a few at a time like now I'm studying Dutch, Japanese and Norwegian. I think it's possible to do well like that. It gets you into a frame of learning so you start to recognise verb patterns and sentance structures easier.

3, There isnt a Dutch class within 30 miles of me so I use self study books. In my experience teach yourself is good for coversation and hugo is good for verbs and sentance structure. Though I recently visited Holland and doing so helped my pronounciation.

haha is that a good start
Another Dutch learner! :)

I've found 'Teach Yourself Dutch' to be very helpful (although the 'Teach Yourself Dutch Grammar' book was very confusing and useless, in my opinion). I've also used the Hugo book and thought it was pretty good. To be honest, there are very few good books for learning Dutch. My partner's parents don't speak much English so I've actually improved my Dutch dramatically just by listening and talking to them! I also try and bug my partner to help me with my Dutch but he claims his Dutch sucks and that his English is a million times better. Oh well... :P


11 years ago

1.) My decision to learn Spanish, which is the first language I learned, was actually based on my need for a hobby. Seriously, I decided to learn a language one day (about 6 years ago now), and I picked up a book on Spanish and one on Japanese. I decided at the time that Japanese would be way too hard, so I went with Spanish. Now, I've chosen Japanese as my third language, BECAUSE of how hard it is. So it's really an academic exercise more than anything.

2.) I'm trying to, though not very hard. I was doing Italian for a while until I decided that learning another Romance language right after Spanish wasn't going to be as fun, and picked up Japanese. However, I didn't entirely drop Italian, I study it occasionally and still remember most of what I learned. It's easier for me to just dedicate all my language-learning time to one language.

3.) For people who don't have the money to travel, classes are essential, especially if the language isn't a popular one in the US. Finding Spanish speakers is a no-brainer in many US cities, but Japanese, not so much. I'm currently using Rosetta Stone for Japanese, and it's helping a lot.
I've never used Rosetta Stone. Is it any good?


11 years ago


11 years ago

I have what might be a ridiculous reason for choosing languages as I did. In high school, I was told it made sense to take Spanish if I wanted to continue living in California. That was probably true. Furthermore I like warm climates so I may find that I'd enjoy a South-of-the-border vacation.

However the language has never held much aesthetic interest for me. For reasons I couldn't put my finger on, I wanted to take Japanese. That wasn't available in HS, so I chose French.

I now have pretty limited knowledge of both and would like to study them independently. Am wondering if it's a better idea to do multiple at once or choose one to focus on.

Perhaps the discussions on this post will help me decide!
I think it's possible to study 2 closely related languages (French and Spanish), although you will need to take care not to confuse them. Perhaps set aside an hour (or half an hour) each day to dedicate to each one and try to stick to some sort of schedule. If you're able to keep the two languages separate in your head, then I can't see a reason why you can't study them both at the same time. :)

Alternatively, you mentioned that you were interested in learning Japanese, so why not study that one alongside French or Spanish (or both)?


11 years ago

Great to see replies! It's also amazing how popular Japanese seems to be...I started learning that a couple of weeks ago, too. :)

Anyway, might as well answer my own questions. ;)

1) How do you 'choose' the languages you want to study? Do you base your choices on cultural reasons, academic interest or purely practical reasons (eg. furthering career prospects)?

I tend to choose languages based on pure interest for the language itself and/or culture attached to it. For some, I have chosen to study for them for practical reasons, such as an upcoming vacation or because of friends. Here's a quick rundown...

♥ Spanish - Born and grew up in a bilingual environment (Gibraltar) so Spanish is something you're introduced to from a very early age. Spanish lessons are also compulsory at school.

&hearts French - Again, something taught at school but I do also have a personal interest in the language and have been trying on and off to improve my fluency as I believe it may boost my career prospects within Europe. I'd also like to be able to read French literature in its original language someday.

♥ Mandarin - I choose to study this at university as I was interested in Chinese history and culture (these days, most people study it for business reasons). I was also very fascinated by the writing system and tones and basically wanted a challenging language after years of studying Romance languages.

♥ Dutch - This one is for strictly practical reasons. My partner is Dutch and I'll be moving to the Netherlands later this year so having some fluency in the language will make my life a lot easier. Without it, career prospects are limited and I feel learning the language will allow me to make new friends as well as adapt to my new surroundings a little better.

♥ Japanese - This is the latest addition to my collection. My partner and I will be heading to Kyoto in about a month's time (hopefully) so it sparked an interest in learning the language. While I was originally aiming for just learning some 'travel' Japanese, I've grown to love this new language and enjoy working with another new grammar. Kanji are not that hard for me thanks to my Mandarin study and I've managed to memorise the two kana alphabets in the space of a few days. My goal now is to aim for the JLPT Level 4 (or 3) exam next December.

2) What are your opinions on studying more than one language at a time? Do you prefer to dabble in several or are you the type of person who will not move onto a new language until you have attained at least basic fluency in your current language?

I always like to work on at least 2 languages at a time as it keeps me from getting bored with any one language. Currently I'm working on Dutch and Japanese and I try and dedicate equal time every day to each one. I have separate notebooks for each language and try and do at least one hour's language study a day. I feel life's too short to dedicate yourself to only one or two languages. While I'm sure it's easier to reach native fluency in a foreign language if you're only studying one (or two), I'd rather have basic fluency in a wide range of languages. This way you'd learn a lot more about human languages as a whole...I personally enjoy comparing and contrasting. :)

3) What techniques do you feel are best for language learning? Attending classes, self-study from books/websites, immersion programmes...?

I've never really felt that language classes at school (or even private classes) are all that useful. You spend too much time memorising grammar structures and verb conjugations that it kills your interest in the language and you never learn anything that would be immediately practical, such as conversational language. So I definately prefer self-study as I can learn what interests me or meets my own needs. I tend to use a selection of textbooks, a good dictionary, audio CDs and websites in my study and, where possible, I try and find a native speaker to talk with as that's the best way to improve your speaking and listening abilities. I also like to include films and TV shows into my learning programme. Magazines and newspapers are also very useful once you've grasped all the basics.
полиглоты, хватит заниматься глупостями, учите китайский :)
Any chance of a translation? I think the first word means 'polyglot' but that's about the extent of my Russian. :P


11 years ago


11 years ago


11 years ago

I think that there aren't the universal way to learn languages. Some people learn it in one way, some people - in another way. If you've good visual memory - read a lot. If you've good audio memory - listen a lot. But, of course, it's neccessary to read, listen, write. When I learned German, I tried to learn out all plural of all German words. But after some time I began to FILL which form of Plural I must to use. It's a best way, I think. FILL a language, don't try to translate the sentence from your language into foreign language. Speak in foreign language.
1) I choose them by personal interest. I admit I chose French because my brother studied it in school and also because I found both German and Spanish horribly ugly. But then I chose Russian because I wanted a non-romance and non-germanic language, and also because there is that thing about Russia and its culture and history. I got interested in Arabic because of my interest for Islam and middle eastern culture. My real goal in learning languages is actually to read books. I think.

2) Go ahead! As long as you have enough time, why not? With just one language, there is that risk of getting bored...

3) To learn as much vocabulary as possible (with flashcard and the weird association technique in my case), internalize grammar (I'm very poor at this though), varying your learning, using different kinds of sources (i.e. texts and audio/video material) and well... just mixing in a little bit of everything. A private tutor is great to have as well :)
1) I like languages and have a knack for it. I started with German in high school. Started and stopped French in high school, too. I sort of picked up Spanish along the way. Then learned French and Tahitian because of a Mormon mission (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Finally learned some Russian in college.

Also, new age drivel or not, I think that German and French have to do with past lives. Empirical? No. Possible? Who knows?

2) I tried it in high school with German and French. It didn't really work for me. So, I've been a one language at a time guy.

3) Immersion when possible, of course. Classroom otherwise. Unless you are very self disciplined and have someone to talk to I don't see how self study can do anything for you except teach you to read the language.

1) How do you 'choose' the languages you want to study?

Latin -I took a year of latin back in 7th grade when I was convinced it would lead to a prosperous career in biology. I've since returned to this as a stress-buster because I find working it methodical and soothing... plus the Metamorphoses is one of my favorite books. I was lucky enough to be handed all the language books my family has ever accumulated in a big box.

French- I took five years of this in school (would have learned much more autodidactically but oh well.) I switched originally only because I liked the Phantom of The Opera. So began my actual career in theater design...

German/Italian - because I intended on a music career somewhere between biology and design, I did a few years of Opera lessons. It's kind of nice if you have some idea what you're singing ABOUT besides doing so correctly, so that's how that started.

Japanese- I had fleeting interest in this because I think it's a lovely country and the language seemed a great deal easier than Chinese. This one was really just a whim and I audited a second semester class at my university, which was great because it really kicked my butt in gear.

Hebrew- my roommate last year was Israeli and needed a study partner for her boyfriend who was converting to Judaism. I, the learning whore, happily volunteered. Now I'm fortunate enough to have an Israeli coworker to harass. My understanding is limited, but still progressing side by side with my...

Arabic- my archeologist boyfriend is just back from a dig where he had a two week Arabic intensive. I've since spirited away his textbook and notes...

2) I keep French as a secondary learning platform besides English. It's nice to be able to practice two languages at once that way. I originally had thought studying two very different languages simultaneously (like a Asian and a Romance) was the best, but I won't know until I have better fluency with Arabic/Hebrew. I might change my mind. I myself have dabbled all over the place, Russian, Attic Greek, modern Greek, Mandarin, matter what, even understanding as little as the alphabet of some other language gives you useful insight. The more languages you understand, the more you understand how languages work, and the better you can learn.

3) When you can, immersion is of course the best. I've always studied by myself, which is of course why my translation is always better than my spoken. There's only so much one can do on a budget, but the internet is amazing. Podcasts are one of the greatest things to ever come to learning a new spoken language. Streaming audio and radio programs is number two. Learning from used textbooks is fine, but once one finishes one, one needs to use a different one because they're never very comprehensive. On the other hand, texts do give a full lesson plan and progression, so they're great for starting out.
Oh, and let's not forget the benefits of anime and manga for learning japanese. Picture books and watching subtitled movies are an excellent start for any language, especially once you cover the subtitles and start really listening.
1. I am leading of my internal desire, if I like language, people, their culture I try to learn their language foe language is as key, open door for secrets of nation.

2. I think it 's bad practice - to learn several language at once. My scheme is at first 1 language basic level but for advanced level learning of several language is normal.

3. Language diving, talking, hearing real native speakers, but good grammar textbook is necessary any way.