Trying to keep my mind exercised, and not interested in most of the reading materials that I can find.

I decided to attempt to learn a language.  Actually, two.  The dilemma is, how do I do that without going to school - not an option - and without spending too much $$$.

I read that mature adults are actually able to learn languages effectively, if more slowly than kids.  The truism, that only young people can learn a foreign language, has been debunked by research.  Older brains do have less plasticity, and there are different nuances to what we can learn.  For languages, it looks like we can learn vocabulary, better than we can learn grammar.

I studied German for 3 years in high school and 1 year in college.  When I was in the Army in Turkey, I also studied Turkish for one year.  I used German more than Turkish there, because there were so many Turkish Guestworkers who traveled back and forth to Germany, so many Turks had some knowledge of German.  However, German is not useful to me now.  I've essentially forgotten 100% of the Turkish that I knew, and probably 90% of the German that I used to know.

I also studied beginning Spanish in college, 2 courses.  I've attempted to learn Spanish off and on, on my own, since then.  From what I've read, Spanish is one of the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn, due to easier grammar than German and some other languages, and many words similar to English. It would be useful, because there are several Spanish-speaking countries that I would like to visit, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Spain.

I was wondering if others here know more than their native language, what you do to keep up, and whether anyone has tried to learn on their own.  I know Chris is a native speaker of Dutch, and has English skills like a native. 

For starters, I dug up some conversational Spanish CDs and audios for my Iphone.  I can play those when walking, which is about an hour a day, and when driving.  I have whatever it is that  they have labeled "Level 1" and "Level 2".  I have Pimsleur Spanish lessons, but those are expensive to extend to higher levels. I don't want something analytic "These are the grammar rules.  These are the verb conjugations" but rather, conversational learning.

I also decided to try the same with Mandarin, with much less expectation of being able to say much and none  of being able to read / write Mandarin.  So I have some audio for beginning conversational Mandarin as well.

Views: 237

Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for the compliment! My English skills are not that good, but you can't see me correcting myself and I'm often too shy to speak very fluent, Dutch or English.

So you're becoming so quiet that you have room for study! Congratulations! I think you must first find someone to practice with, or else your good work goes down the drain. There are many courses for home study available, but you must overcome the passivity of them. Listening to lessons is good, but you need to talk back, and learn to cope with mistakes and snags and surprises during a conversation. Fifteen minutes a day of practice should be enough, and you can question yourself in spare moments: "How would I describe this in my new language?" "How could I answer this or that?"  'Descriptions' is a game I play with the people in my course from day 1 and they love it, it's funny and it gives them confidence.  I'll never forget the woman who was too shy to speak English, until she answered  "What is a cat?"  with " my house.... small.....MEOW!!!" Practice games like this one you can do all day.

So, nothing new, you probably knew all this, but it's nice to talk about my job now and then. Success with you study and let us know which language you've chosen and how it works out.


Funny story Chris!

According to this guy - the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn would be Dutch, Africans, Spanish or French.  That's due to many similar words and Grammar.   Around here, there are a lot of Spanish speaking people, so I might be able to get some practice with them.

Im doing about 30 minutes to an hour a day now with Spanish, by using 2 different courses simultaneously.  We'll see where it goes.  I do answer the questions out loud, although it still feels like rote.

He forgot one sister language that is still closer to English - Frisian. But it's only spoken in a part of the Netherlands. Somewhere I found this line: Good butter and good cheese is good English and good Fries - it really sounds the same but the Frisian spelling is different.

Spanish must be a good choice, and practical! I tried Spanish for a few years but I had no one to practice with. I can still order beer but that's about all.

In secondary school I had the usual languages: French, German and English - French and German were taught very badly, by teachers who hated mediocre pupils. My teacher of English was always kind and happy when she saw I tried hard, and that is the only reason that I'm a teacher of English.

I dont know if I have heard of Frisian.  The more I learn, I want to learn even more!  In another video, he describes Esperanto as quite easy.  However, it seems about as useful as learning Klingon!

¡Una cervesa, por favor!

Truly commendable, Daniel. You, too, Chris--it's amazing how well you write in English. I bet you speak fluently, also.

I took two years of French in H.S., boned up 8 years later before visiting France, but little good it did. I quit trying after 2 days there. I've considered relearning French many times since, but bad memories have prevented me from pursuing it.

Thank you Randy for the compliment.  I'm better with writing than in person.  I become tongue tied and stammer at times in person.

That's funny about your French experience.  I was sent to French classes from 4th to 7th grades, got all As but never understood.  I can still sing a French children's song by heart.  I quit when I discovered that I was just being a parrot and understood almost nothing.  When it comes to languages, my mind seems to be a sieve.  Also I remember stupid things.  For example, in Turkish I can still say "Do you have salt?" and "Where is the toilet?" but not a lot more.

It's interesting to learn that it's not as hard for an adult to learn a language as I've always heard.

I only know English, and don't see a need to learn any other, just wanted to say the above.

I also think Chris does very well writing English.

Spud, it's hard to find research-based studies regarding learning language as an adult.  A lot of websites parrot conventional wisdom.  I did find some that stated that adults have some better study skills, better language and experience base, and more discipline, can learn as well but will have more of a foreign accent.  The sites that I read did state that classroom is better than home study. 

One problem is that many of the discussions of learning language discuss older adults as someone in their 20s.  Ouch!  I won't let imperfection and slow learning stop me, unless I really don't progress.  But, I think I am progressing a little.

I haven't tried them, but I've heard that the Rosetta Stone programs are really good. They try to mimic an immersion approach, so you're learning the language in the same was a child learns its native language.

Thomas, does liking Mexican food help?

Not to sound redundant, but I agree with all others here that Chris' English and writing skills are superb.  Better than many native English speakers here in the States.


I've wanted to learn Spanish for quite a few years.  Coincidentally I recently downloaded the Duolingo app on my smartphone to begin that process.  The app also syncs up with their website to use on my laptop.  I read reviews and recommendations for learning language courses, and Duolingo seemed the way to go (for free!)  I'll see if it works for me.  I'm lucky to have ample opportunity to speak Spanish with others here in Chicago.  

Carl, muchas gracias for the Duolingo recommendation!  I am downloading it now!  We can compare notes!


© 2019   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service