The best way to learn a brand new language.

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Gamma Ray
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The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Gamma Ray » Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:51 pm UTC

What would you recommend?

EDIT:

I'm looking to learn Swedish, I downloaded that Anki programme but couldn't find any Swedish flashcards, although it does seem pretty decent software if the desired language was on there. I'm currently a student, and hence can't afford to go live in the country or whatnot just yet (ergo I can't afford classes either). I don't have any prior experience of it, and while I do know one or two people from there, I'm not in regular contact with them so it's quite hard to get some help off of them. Past the school-class basics I don't have any knowledge of any other languages, and as it is now, the only language I can speak even competently is English. I've not yet tried to learn Swedish which is why I'm trying to find out the best and easiest way of learning (although I do realise it won't be easy).

The town I live in the now isn't the most diverse area, and although I haven't properly looked, I can't imagine there's much outlets for a teenage student looking to learn Swedish in as remote a place as this. I'd say I've got a fairly decent level of English which is why I'm wanting to further it into (hopefully) more languages. I realise that the only effective way to learn may require money spent, so if I could at least learn the basics/essentials for free then I don't mind adapting that later on.
Last edited by Gamma Ray on Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:44 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Bobber
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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Bobber » Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:01 pm UTC

Wow, that is a terrible post you just made there, man.
I mean, I could disguise this as a "you could have done a bit better" kind of criticism, but no, I mean, really, that was just absolutely terrible.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Hobgoblin » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:43 am UTC

Bobber wrote:Wow, that is a terrible post you just made there, man.
I mean, I could disguise this as a "you could have done a bit better" kind of criticism, but no, I mean, really, that was just absolutely terrible.


Yeah, he could have loaded his post with lots of fluff, or he could have asked the question he wants to know the answer to.

But I know this is the language forum, and you can't get by without writing out your posts in god damn Iambic Pentameter without getting plenty of criticism.
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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby tetromino » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:04 am UTC

Gamma Ray wrote:What would you recommend?

Television. Watch TV programs in the language of your choice for a couple hours every day.

EDIT: this is assuming you already have some basic knowledge of the language. If you don't, then go to your closest institution of higher learning and sign up for a class.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Roĝer » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:41 pm UTC

Brain implants. Oh wait, wrong age. Then I'd say find learning material and preferable a course on that language. Learn some useful phrases first, then the basic grammar and then you can start expanding your vocabulary. Find someone who speaks the language to talk with you in a messenger or voice chat. And what helps best of course is living there for a while.
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Gamma Ray
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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Gamma Ray » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:33 pm UTC

Bobber wrote:Wow, that is a terrible post you just made there, man.
I mean, I could disguise this as a "you could have done a bit better" kind of criticism, but no, I mean, really, that was just absolutely terrible.


Wtf?

And cheers guys who gave a constructive response. I'm looking for the most cost-effective way of teaching myself basically, so I'll just start out with the basics.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby mr_pathetic » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:55 pm UTC

Well if you are still looking I hear Rossetta Stone is a good non class way to do it... of course just going over there and putting yourself in the culture will do wonders too.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Threb » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:58 pm UTC

Anki is an excellent program that lets you create flashcards and schedules them based on how well you remember them. I'd explain it better, but its website does a better job than I can. It's especially great for building vocabulary in another language.


www.livemocha.com is also very handy for finding speakers of your target language to help you out.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Eruantale » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:27 am UTC

Best Case Scenario:
Immerse yourself in a country where the language is spoken (possibly with some supplemental materials to understand grammar that you miss in everyday conversation).

2nd Best:
Surround yourself with foreign-exchange students or immigrants who are willing to practice on a consistent basis; encourage them to correct your mistakes so you don't form bad habits.

3rd Best:
Rosetta Stone (do this anyway, the chapter with comics is worth it) + lots of foreign films and music. Films/music will be much more beneficial than textbooks as long as you're not planning on high-level, formal translation or teaching.

Worst Case Scenario:
Take a class... *thumbs down*
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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Bobber » Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:34 am UTC

Gamma Ray wrote:
Bobber wrote:Wow, that is a terrible post you just made there, man.
I mean, I could disguise this as a "you could have done a bit better" kind of criticism, but no, I mean, really, that was just absolutely terrible.
Wtf?
Don't tell me you can't see what I meant. Even disregarding the fact that this is one of the most visited subjects on this subforum, a post of four words is a ridiculously small amount of information to work with when helping a person out. If you try looking at the other threads, you'll see how they either supply information from the beginning, or do it after other people request it. I'll throw just some of the questions out that can be relevant:
What, if not specific language, then language family are you contemplating delving into?
Do you have any foreign friends?
What level of education do you have?
What is your native language and country?
What type of town/city do you live in?
Do you already speak another language in addition to your native one?
Do you have any previous language learning experience?
Have you already tried any other methods?
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
mrbaggins wrote:There are two tools in life, duct tape and WD40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby steewi » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:59 am UTC

Absolutely ideal?

Live in an immersed environment with intensive lessons from an experienced teacher.

That's not particularly practical in most cases.

So, a quick description of Second Language Acquisition (SLA):

There are four primary skills for SLA these days - reading, writing, speaking and listening. All of these are what will get you your second language. Obviously reading and writing are a modern part of it. You can learn a new language with just speaking and listening, and for many languages that's all you have, but generally, reading and writing are an inescapable part of modern languages, and you will find it a lot easier to learn, say, Spanish, if you can read and write it as well as speak and understand it. Thus, effective SLA practice encourages all four skills. Reading without writing, listening without hearing, etc. is likely to encourage bad habits that will not be useful later on. For example.

The other primary distinction is between active and passive knowledge and active and passive learning (which I wrote about in another thread the other day). The idea is that good learning requires interaction. You can learn, to a degree, with the old style Latin teaching - teacher stands up in front of everyone and makes them recite the conjugations over and over, reads a passage and translates it, essentially just lecturing on grammar. But it doesn't sink in properly. When you actually come up against a Latin text, or, heaven forbid, a Latin speaker, you'll fail miserably - and try to come up with a Latin composition from those students! Some will be able to do it, but most will come up with relexified English.

Interaction is key, because it makes the brain do something instead of just sponging. If you have to come up with your own sentences, come up with your own translations, have a conversation with someone, etc. your brain is forced to take all the bits it knows and apply them together, and likely doing it in a new and different way. The new experiences are not always correct at first, but the use of the language hammers home the theoreticals that before were just sitting there.

(much of this applies to teaching in general, but is very relevant to language teaching and acquisition).

If you're on your own and don't have a teacher, it is much harder. There are some techniques that people find useful.

- Talk to yourself. You don't have the interaction, exactly, nor do you have someone correcting your mistakes, but you're making new sentences and applying grammatical structures. This covers the speaking part

- Read. Duh. Find short and easy texts in the language you're learning and try to decipher them. You'll learn new words and native grammatical structures, so you can see where it's different from English.

- Write. Set yourself an exercise to write. It doesn't have to be long (at first), but you're doing something active. Write about your day, your holiday, write a short story, write a rant about something that's annoying you, whatever.

- Listen. Watch movies in language, or find youtube bits and pieces. Sometimes have the subtitles on, so you can see what's going on, but sometimes turn them off and see how much you can understand - just a few words? did you get that sentence? What can you fill in from the context?

- Don't be afraid to make mistakes. If you're not sure of how to say something, give it a burl anyway and see how it comes out.

- Find a native speaker. Don't language rape - it's annoying to have someone be friends just to practice language - but if you have other things in common, go for it, and don't be afraid to make comments in language on something. Go to the Chinese restaurant and thank the waiter in Chinese (make sure they're Chinese first), or something like that.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Threb » Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:00 am UTC

Bobber wrote:
Gamma Ray wrote:
Bobber wrote:Wow, that is a terrible post you just made there, man.
I mean, I could disguise this as a "you could have done a bit better" kind of criticism, but no, I mean, really, that was just absolutely terrible.
Wtf?
Don't tell me you can't see what I meant. Even disregarding the fact that this is one of the most visited subjects on this subforum, a post of four words is a ridiculously small amount of information to work with when helping a person out. If you try looking at the other threads, you'll see how they either supply information from the beginning, or do it after other people request it. I'll throw just some of the questions out that can be relevant:
What, if not specific language, then language family are you contemplating delving into?
Do you have any foreign friends?
What level of education do you have?
What is your native language and country?
What type of town/city do you live in?
Do you already speak another language in addition to your native one?
Do you have any previous language learning experience?
Have you already tried any other methods?


I think a "language learning protips" thread would be nice to have around.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Bobber » Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:38 pm UTC

Threb wrote:
Bobber wrote:
Gamma Ray wrote:
Bobber wrote:Wow, that is a terrible post you just made there, man.
I mean, I could disguise this as a "you could have done a bit better" kind of criticism, but no, I mean, really, that was just absolutely terrible.
Wtf?
Don't tell me you can't see what I meant. Even disregarding the fact that this is one of the most visited subjects on this subforum, a post of four words is a ridiculously small amount of information to work with when helping a person out. If you try looking at the other threads, you'll see how they either supply information from the beginning, or do it after other people request it. I'll throw just some of the questions out that can be relevant:
<snip>
I think a "language learning protips" thread would be nice to have around.
I agree. Maybe the breath-takingly great post by Steewi can be integrated into it.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
mrbaggins wrote:There are two tools in life, duct tape and WD40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.

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Gamma Ray
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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Gamma Ray » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:42 pm UTC

Right then, more info.

I'm looking to learn Swedish, I downloaded that Anki programme but couldn't find any Swedish flashcards, although it does seem pretty decent software if the desired language was on there. I'm currently a student, and hence can't afford to go live in the country or whatnot just yet (ergo I can't afford classes either). I don't have any prior experience of it, and while I do know one or two people from there, I'm not in regular contact with them so it's quite hard to get some help off of them. Past the school-class basics I don't have any knowledge of any other languages, and as it is now, the only language I can speak even competently is English. I've not yet tried to learn Swedish which is why I'm trying to find out the best and easiest way of learning (although I do realise it won't be easy).

The town I live in the now isn't the most diverse area, and although I haven't properly looked, I can't imagine there's much outlets for a teenage student looking to learn Swedish in as remote a place as this. I'd say I've got a fairly decent level of English which is why I'm wanting to further it into (hopefully) more languages. I realise that the only effective way to learn may require money spent, so if I could at least learn the basics/essentials for free then I don't mind adapting that later on.

Sorry for any confusion, I'll edit this post into my first to save any more. And once again, cheers guys.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby Threb » Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:08 pm UTC

Gamma Ray wrote:I'm looking to learn Swedish, I downloaded that Anki programme but couldn't find any Swedish flashcards, although it does seem pretty decent software if the desired language was on there.


Personally, I just add my own flashcards for words and phrases I come across that I think are useful as I go along.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby steewi » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:42 am UTC

Adding a few more tips. These ones are more for online sole learners.

- Find a forum. For most of the bigger languages there are forums in the language (and for some surprising smaller languages), and even some specifically for learners. Although fora like these are not great for practising bad English, people are reasonably forgiving of mistakes from a learner, assuming you have something vaguely intelligent to say.

- Podcasts. Although the podcast fad is passing, there are a bunch of language podcasts out there for different languages. I know there are good ones for Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Spanish and Italian with a good backlog of casts at different levels. Other ones don't necessarily have much, but they're still useful for hearing clear speech.

- Public Domain. Again, for larger languages, there are public domain books (and sometimes recordings) of languages. Some very good Latin grammars are public domain and available from archive.org or gutenbergpress. The FSI language courses are public domain, and are torrentable with both PDF and audio.

- Skype. Although most of the language exchange websites are dodgy mcdodge dodge, skyping with a native speaker can work very well if you can find one who wants to improve their English (or another language you can share). It's easy to lose out on it, though, because it requires a certain persistence on both parts to work, and a good amount of preparation, or you won't know what you're going to do. Definitely at first, you want to prepare things in advance, so you're not wasting time in silence and irrelevant small talk.

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Re: The best way to learn a brand new language.

Postby bulldozer » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

Gamma Ray wrote:What would you recommend?

EDIT:

I'm looking to learn Swedish, I downloaded that Anki programme but couldn't find any Swedish flashcards, although it does seem pretty decent software if the desired language was on there. I'm currently a student, and hence can't afford to go live in the country or whatnot just yet (ergo I can't afford classes either). I don't have any prior experience of it, and while I do know one or two people from there, I'm not in regular contact with them so it's quite hard to get some help off of them. Past the school-class basics I don't have any knowledge of any other languages, and as it is now, the only language I can speak even competently is English. I've not yet tried to learn Swedish which is why I'm trying to find out the best and easiest way of learning (although I do realise it won't be easy).

The town I live in the now isn't the most diverse area, and although I haven't properly looked, I can't imagine there's much outlets for a teenage student looking to learn Swedish in as remote a place as this. I'd say I've got a fairly decent level of English which is why I'm wanting to further it into (hopefully) more languages. I realise that the only effective way to learn may require money spent, so if I could at least learn the basics/essentials for free then I don't mind adapting that later on.


i'm from sweden. can help you out with some swedish stuff if you want to. let me know.


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