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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
By this I mean, if you know one, or a third language for that matter, what actual way did you use to learn it? How did it work? I'm terrible at learning languages and some advice would be nice. I'm trying to learn German, and my method is so far to read a book, learning words I don't know until I know enough that I can read without a translator. But memorising so many words is damned hard. So yeah this is basically an advice thread.
 

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I have absolutely no desire to learn another language. I speak and understand 2 as it is however it isn't a goal of mine nor do I ever have that urge to learn a new one. There are very few languages I enjoy listening too, I actually prefer an accent of English other than mine over another language all together. It takes a lot to Impress this INFP so another language doesn't Impress me whatsoever whether it be learning one myself or people who speak several.
 

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I learned a second language by studying it 3 years in high school and a semester in college. That was years ago. I have had little opportunity to practice it since those days years ago. I speak and read it haltingly now. I have forgotten most of the rules for tenses other than present and present progressive, and I have retained only a scant memory of the lexicon.

It seems that for me anyway that a continued use is required to make it stick and ensure fluency. I may also have a problem in that I learned word-to-word identification rather than word-to-concept identification (i.e., English word = secondary language word vs. secondary language word = object/action/concept represented).
 

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By this I mean, if you know one, or a third language for that matter, what actual way did you use to learn it? How did it work? I'm terrible at learning languages and some advice would be nice. I'm trying to learn German, and my method is so far to read a book, learning words I don't know until I know enough that I can read without a translator. But memorizing so many words is damned hard. So yeah this is basically an advice thread.
I learned English because it was just everywhere. I mean it was in the games I played, the series I watched and it even popped it's head around the corner in school. Becoming reasonably proficient in English was more of a given than something I had to attain. What helped me achieve fluency, though, is Skyping a lot with English speakers.

The best way for me to learn a language is to actually try and speak in the language. I imagine there are plenty of Germans online with a decent understanding of English, you can help them out with your English speaking skills and they can help you out with learning German. If that's one bridge to far, you can always try to listen to Native German speakers and/or watch german shows.

Good luck!
 

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This forum actually helped me a lot. Internet, gaming, movies and TV-shows were good for learning this language easier. But English is also un-fucking-believable easy as hell compared to other languages.

My current French level of speaking is achieved by school efforts. It's hard to speak it fluently, but I would be able to start a conversation.
 

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My first language wasn't English.

Now although my spoken English still isn't all that great, but my written English is imo, alright if I may say so.

As for how I improved my written English, well.... I did take some English course prior, but what truly helped me the most with everything considered was that I used to practice my English by arguing with people online and in forums (started out with gaming forums). Partly because I'm such a sensitive whiny shithead, and the other reason being me exploiting the opportunity to practice my writing skills.

But hey, it works as far as learning is concerned, though not exactly glorious as you can imagine.
 

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It first began with electronic role playing games — Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana, etc. —; I chose the genre because I really appreciated the idea of having to use my intelligence to make progress, and also because of the engaging stories (I literally cried during some of those); for that experience to work, however, I had to actually understand what was being said by the characters, and since none of those games were translated to my native language, I began to play with a dictionary by my side, translating every single piece of text that would appear before me, and as time went by I realized I could remember more and more, needing to consult the book less often.

That was my sole contact with the English language for a while; we didn't have access to the Internet in the Darklands, the VHS movies were already dubbed, I could get foreign music bands' cassette tapes (yeah) but didn't have the written lyrics — though after some time playing RPGs as described above I did begin to associate some of textual words I knew with the sounds I heard, at least now and then. Things really improved when the DVD technology first appeared, because then I could watch movies and series with their original audio, at first with subtitles in my language, then English subtitle, and eventually without subtitles.

Getting my first computer — with all the splendor of its 500mb HD, 64mb of RAM... wow! — introduced me to new technologies, which demanded more English. And with a dial-up connection, there were chats, PBEM RPGs, forums... There was much to learn from those, beginning with the way people sounded (or wrote) in informal contexts. I got to a point where the fellow participants of the online conversation (or whatever it was) wouldn't notice my not being native to their language. The Internet also meant I could acquire untranslated books for the first time — I can't remember which one was my first, by I've had a lot of them since then!

As for my pronunciation, it was terrible; not because I didn't know how something should sound, but because I hadn't ever practiced; I could say something correctly when alone, but when there were others listening I would get nervous, and the words just wouldn't get out (at least not as intended). Honestly, I don't know why I wait for so long before changing that; I guess I just was too nonchalant about it, also happy enough with consuming, not trying to express myself; be as it may, I decided to take care of it, so I started reading everything aloud whenever I could until I developed an intuitive feeling about how a new word should be pronounced.

When I finally left the Darklands to inhabit more cosmopolitan spots, I had some opportunities of talking to foreign people and took advantage of that; I forced myself to be rather shameless about how terribly I sounded until I got comfortable with the frightening experience of communicating in a different language with a real someone, in person. Relaxing was a turning point: after overcoming that psychological barrier, my speech started corresponding to how proficient I actually was regarding the English phonology, to the point of people believing that to be my first language.

I have never followed any language learning method, I did it by a) long-term exposure and b) caring (or loving) enough some odd stuff. Some friends of mine share my interests, and have possibly had the same amount of contact with different languages I've had, but we've approached both differently: they were happy enough, when playing a RPG, with randomly clicking on everything until something happened, thus they didn't learn from playing RPGs; they waited impatiently until someone dubbed or subtitled a movie or TV series they wanted to see, but not so impatiently they would learn a new language to eliminate the waiting altogether — I know those who have learned English just so they could read the next Patrick Rothfuss' novel before it came to our country, and others who have become fluent in Japanese to watch anime without depending on translations.

Naturally, there are better ways to go about doing that — I mean, unless I were terribly lazy, I simply couldn't but learn at least some English after all those years! But I wouldn't wait for so long to learn a new language now, and I surely would make better use of my time. Some of the learning projects I have planned for the future — the current one, "un-messing my head", is taking precedence — include becoming fluent in some languages, and for each one I have dedicated time to learn about the best resources available and discover how to make good use of them, which has already led me to studying the acquisition of new languages in general.

Now, @Adonnus, there are different ways of tackling that, each fitting a different learning style. Some people prefer to start with grammar so they will understand what the language is all about, others prefer to watch people using the language and learning from the context, there are also those who prefer to do lots of drills... I'd advise you to experiment and discover what works for you. If you don't know where to start, try Prof. Alexander Arguelles' channel on YouTube; the guy is a polyglot himself, considered to be an authority on language learning, his videos are really useful (this one is about typologies of foreign language manuals and student learning styles).

Unless you just want to read German, start speaking since the beginning; it's harder to fix "pronunciation prejudices" later, so it's a good idea to try something audio based so you'll assimilate the new phonemes, learn the language's rhythm and so on. If you have $$$$, or access to some good libraries, you can check out courses like Michel Thomas and Pimsleur.

There are some good blogs on language learning out there; I like Benny Lewis' Fluent in 3 Months and Khatzumoto's All Japanese All The Time (useful not only for learning Japanese). The aforementioned Prof. Arguelles has also founded a very good forum: How To Learn Any Language. Spend some time browsing those links and I think you'll thank me later.

Viel Glück! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Unless you just want to read German, start speaking since the beginning; it's harder to fix "pronunciation prejudices" later, so it's a good idea to try something audio based so you'll assimilate the new phonemes, learn the language's rhythm and so on. If you have $$$$, or access to some good libraries, you can check out courses like Michel Thomas and Pimsleur.
Thanks for your reply, I'll definitely consider all of that a lot. But yeah, I actually did do a class for a year in college, and I've seen enough movies/songs as well to get the pronunciation of *most* words and letter combinations quite accurate I think. My teacher was awesome, she was a former East German. She told us how on the day that there was reunification she slept in, so when she woke up the country she grew up in just vanished.
 

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I use three languages. My first language is called Sundanese language (Basa Sunda). It's my ethnic language. Somehow I use this language more often than Indonesian until my college years because the most of the student in my campus is Sundanese. So, I used this to interact with my family and my friends.

My second language is Indonesian. Of course I've known this language since I was a kid but I only used it in formal setting like when I needed to present my work to everyone in the classroom. Basically, I've been frequent using Indonesian only since 3 years ago because I only met people who are not same ethnic. It was really not comfortable at first but somehow I can use it like a real Indonesian lol. I learned this language by interacting directly with other people of course.

Then my third language is English. English is one of main courses in schools. But, the studies were not effective. It looks like I only learned about basic grammar and that is. My English was really horrible (now it's still bad though). I couldn't understand what the speaker said in the final English test even though she/he talked so clear. My English was improved because I watched so many Anime and Japanese drama in college. The subtitle was always English so it can't be helped, I need to understand the subtitle if I want to understand the story. I remember the first time English subtitles that I needed to read frequently was Naruto. So, I needed to pause and looked the dictionary (it was a real book dictionary since the we didn't have google translate in 2007). So, I think this is really effective. My nieces are also good at English since they are more familiar with English subtitle. However, the only bad thing is that we are terrible if we talk with English because we never have a chance to practice. I think this only will be good if we have an environment to talk with English regularly.
 

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I first started learning English in 7th grade, so 5 years ago. For me it was probably the combination of learning grammar at school but also listening to a lot of English in the form of videos, movies, music etc. at home. The best method is in my opinion to just try and integrate the language in your case German in your everyday life. Try to surround yourself with German, but don't feel discouraged if you don't understand everything from the beginning. It takes time to get used to listening to a new language.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You can also learn a language instantly with this black magic tip by grinding 3 official dictionaries of the same language into a bowl of juice/soup and drink it all up in 1 go without ever taking a breather/break................................

Anybody wanna try? If it doesn't work, I'll treat you sweetrolls.
Incorrect, my sources tell me you also need to read out some holy rites in that language and blend in their national alcohol as well. If that doesn't work with luck you'll be too wasted to notice
 

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I live in Ontario. Even though I wasn't in a French immersion school, I started learning French pretty early. Grade 3 or 4 I think. I continued with it all through high school and minored in French in university. However, I haven't had any experience immersing myself in a French-speaking community. I can read and write French practically fluently, but my actual speaking French isn't fantastic.

As an adult, I've started learning German and Korean. Consuming media in the language you're learning is always a great way to practice your comprehension. You should get your hands on some learning materials if you can (books, online lessons, etc.), especially for grammar. Duolingo helped with my German vocabulary, but I got the most out of taking a German class in university. As I mentioned above, you can learn a language decently well by yourself in terms of grammar/reading/writing, but it will be really hard to get fluent without having some kind of immersion experience (living for a time in an area that speaks that language). The website iTalki offers online language exchanges, where you skype with someone who knows the language you want to speak (and who may also want to learn your language), and so you practice speaking with each other. They also have teachers who you can get skype lessons from. I haven't tried it myself but I've heard good things about it.

A tip for vocabulary in any language: get post-it notes and put them on everything in your house with the word for what it is. Since I'm learning German, on my windows I have sticky notes that have "Fenster" written on them; on my fridge I have "Kühlschrank" written on it, etc. Say them each time you see them so you associate the word with the thing.
 

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Try this audio course. Deutsch - warum nicht? | DW.COM
I'm following it at the moment, finished the 3rd series last week and highly recommend it. It is quite an entertaining course, since there is a story interwoven in all of the lessons. There are also different and interesting characters you get to know. This makes it easy to identify, relate to and very accessible.

I'm about to start reading short novel I just finished reading in my native language, that is in german originally (Demian). I think that'll be quite the challenge.
 

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Lots of good things has already been said. I think it depends on many things (english was very different to learn for me than french for example(which I have now forgotten...), because english was all around, and when we did grammar in school everyone knew the correct way to write a sentence, but couldn't say what gramatical rule that decided it was to be so, it was more like learning a language as a child, intuitive, while french was both later, and is less abundant in media etc, so it was more of a conscious effort, learning the rules and putting sentences together from them.). Someone who is very talented when it comes to language might be able to sit and read a dictionary (I had a classmate who actually did this), and remember. While other might have to use word-cards, put them into a story, and repeat them a hundred times before they stick. For me in english, reading novels were what brought me over the edge where I felt like I could use the language outside of lessons and homework. I don't think it is necessary to look every word up, it can be time-consuming and disrupt the experience too much, perhaps just words where you don't understand what is happening unless knowing it, or words that come back several times. Something that is easy to forget is everday-words. I knew things like entropy and epistemology before saucepan for example, there are still lots of words like that I don't know. So Verigo's suggestion about sticky-notes I think is an exellent idea. One of the last things toward total fluency, which I have not yet bothered with myself... if getting the sentence structured just right. I think that is usually how I spot people not having a language as their first language, we say things the order we would in our own language quite often, and then translate it. It might not be incorrect, just sounds a little bit unusual. I think talking to someone and ask them to correct you is probably the best way there, and just communicating with people a lot, like on forums :) . Esperanto I mainly learnt from reading and writing on a forum, which was possible after only a few days, even if I couldn't have any deeper conversations. I think Duolingo has similar forums for learners? I think it might be easier if knowing the others are also still learners. But once good enough to make yourself understood, I think one of the best ways to learn a language is to swallow all pride and embarrasement and speak and write a lot, even if it might be wrong and with strong accent or whatever.
 

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If your problem is memorizing words, this app called Anki could help. It's basically digital flashcards except better (and free if you download it on your computer) :D! Based on how well you remember the card, it will make you review it in intervals (so first off the next day, next time three days later etc.). According to research, spaced out review of the material is best for memorizing something. You don't have to make your own flashcards if you don't want to, you can download flashcards someone else made. Most people use Anki for language learning so I'm sure there must be something for German.

http://ankisrs.net/

(Don't worry, I downloaded it and I didn't get any viruses haha)



And for writing, there's this website called lang 8. Basically people write stuff on there in the language they're trying to learn and fluent speakers can correct it. Helpful if you're having trouble with tenses, grammar, and things that don't fit the rules such as weird grammar or expressions.

Multi-lingual language learning and language exchange | Lang-8: For learning foreign languages
 
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Yay for languages :happy: I'm fluent in four languages and have a varying command of another eight or so. As a relatively withdrawn and non-talkative introvert, here's how I prefer to do it:

1. Pick a language I love (no love, no learning)
-> 2. Formal studies (in my case, mostly high school/uni, but online is definitely an option)
-> 3. Self study (textbooks, online materials etc.)
-> 4. Consuming culture in original (in particular, reading fiction)
-> 5. Interact with native speakers

#4 is what I enjoy by far the most, and I don't need to be anywhere near fluent in a language to enjoy reading it. Many words can be guessed from context, others are non-essential for enjoyment. I don't read with a dictionary, that kills the enjoyment; a language written in an alphabet I know generally takes ~150 hours of continuous study (at least a few hours / week) to hit a level where I can enjoy reading in it. Some books are easier to read than others! I prefer learning words by context as opposed to dictionaries, although those can be helpful, too.

It is vital that I enjoy the stuff I'm reading/watching/listening to - makes learning so much more fun! Imagine reading Dostoevsky, Voltaire, Goethe, Borges, Hemingway, Umberto Eco and others in original! I would even say that many of my favourites don't translate well or at all, so speaking their language is the only way to truly enjoy and appreciate their genius.

I've done a fair bit of #5 as well, but only in places I like visiting - so I've lived in a number of countries. I'm location independent work wise these days, that obviously gives me an advantage. I find loud/extroverted cultures exhausting, although there are quiet people everywhere for nice one-on-ones. You can easily do #5 online these days, although nothing beats immersing yourself in the language/culture/country.
 
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