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#1 Edited by DriveupLife (913 posts) -

I looove me some new languages. Like every American youth, i took some Spanish in secondary school, but fuck that shit. It's time for ADULT SHIT. SELF STUDY PROGRAMS.

I bought Rosetta Stone in 2009 and I've finished 1 level of it (which is a BILLION lessons...or closer to about 150), I'm starting back up again reviewing level 1 then moving onto the next level. I've also used Michel Thomas Mandarin and Spanish which are both fantastic and get you to speaking with real people much faster than Rosetta Stone. I still like RS for its depth and training techniques, and the new online tutoring is sweet too (go listen to Vinny's review of RS on a bombcast...somewhere back there in 2010 or so).

So GB forum goers, what language are you learning? How are you learning it? College courses? Pimsleur? Free language courses created by the military that are now public domain? (Google Mandarin Chinese: A Modular Approach)

PS. This topic is for discussing the current acquisition of new languages only.

Let the discussion commence!

#2 Posted by Captain_Insano (1534 posts) -

I've consistently started learning Italian but never progressed further with it. I did 1 and a bit years worth in senior school and then a 3 month community college course last year.

I feel that I have a pretty good grasp of the basics but have next to nothing that I can utilise in any real conversation or communication.

I've been thinking about getting Rosetta Stone for it because I think that its use could benefit me. I haven't really actively studied it though which would probably be beneficial.

#3 Edited by xyzygy (9935 posts) -

I moved to germany a month ago to study the language for a year. I've been studying it for 3 years in Canada and it's going very well here. My professor told me that it's "unbelievable" how I sound like a real German and am able to speak without any trace of an English accent at all. :)

I miss my consoles though. I have some PC games and a ton of emulators though.

#4 Posted by believer258 (11773 posts) -

My college requires a foreign language to graduate. Unfortunately, the only one that I could get a good time for was Latin. So... that.

And it's not going all that well. I didn't get the book until two weeks into the course or so, and I haven't quite been able to catch up since. Mid-term is Wednesday.

I'd like to learn Japanese, actually, but I wouldn't even know where to start on that one and I don't have anyone to speak it with.

#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

I'd like to learn Japanese, actually, but I wouldn't even know where to start on that one and I don't have anyone to speak it with.

You know there's a thread on this, right?

As for the other point, my experiences say you're screwed. I've never made it past one or two conversations with somebody on Skype, even when we've scheduled another meet-up (they're usually not online when we agreed to meet).

#6 Posted by punkxblaze (2968 posts) -

I started Japanese at my college this semester. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to study for in my educational career thus far.

#7 Posted by CynicalBuzzard (240 posts) -

I would love to learn how to speak German.

#8 Posted by believer258 (11773 posts) -

@believer258 said:

I'd like to learn Japanese, actually, but I wouldn't even know where to start on that one and I don't have anyone to speak it with.

You know there's a thread on this, right?

As for the other point, my experiences say you're screwed. I've never made it past one or two conversations with somebody on Skype, even when we've scheduled another meet-up (they're usually not online when we agreed to meet).

...I knew about that at some point but forgot about it. Thanks for reminding! Now, the only thing left to Google search for is the time with which I can study Japanese!

How far have you made it with your Japanese, VGK? And is it possible to learn it without having anyone else to speak to? I guess if you watch some unsubbed Japanese movies and anime and listen to Japanese podcasts or something, you could learn how to speak it and not just read and write it.

#9 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

How far have you made it with your Japanese, VGK?

Not much of an idea? I mean, I can play video games like Shin Megami Tensei and Napple Tale alright (except when they pull bullshit like this), but my understanding is still wonky.

And is it possible to learn it without having anyone else to speak to?

Depends on what you want to learn. Learning input-based skills (reading and listening) are "easy" enough, but output-based? Significantly harder. I've heard of shadowing, but I haven't tried it. And while I'm on this tangent:

I guess if you watch some unsubbed Japanese movies and anime and listen to Japanese podcasts or something, you could learn how to speak it and not just read and write it.

I spot a (popular) misconception. You don't learn how to speak a language just by listening to it. I mean, that's a component, but.....I don't know how to put it. I guess people use "speak" to mean "do fucking everything in a language", and that's a pet peeve of mine. You learn to speak by speaking it in some capacity, and you don't have to learn how to do everything in a language.

#10 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -

I learned English as a kid by playing video games and *trying* to decipher and read Nintendo Power magazines. My native tongue is French. Even fifteen years later, I'm still learning new things every week.

#11 Posted by MormonWarrior (2561 posts) -

I gained proficient fluency in Spanish a little less than five years ago and I'm currently learning the basics of Italian. I'd love to learn French, Portuguese, and Japanese but language learning takes a lot of time, practice, and the opportunity to speak it with others, which I don't have with anything but English and Spanish.

#12 Edited by PandaBear (1344 posts) -

We had to learn a bit of German at school ... but that's it. I'd love to be bilingual.

Does anyone know how hard Spanish is? It seems easy(ish) ...

#13 Posted by Clonedzero (4196 posts) -

I barely passed Spanish in highschool and i dont remember a thing from it!

And I'm proud to say i used to know a bunch of russian curse words!

#14 Edited by Sinusoidal (1379 posts) -

I started learning Korean by default when I moved here 9 years ago. I'm not terrible at it, but still no where near conversational.

The Korean alphabet is awesome. You can learn to read it in a matter of hours. There are 14 consonants and 10 vowels, and they very, very rarely change pronunciation (unlike English where the letter "A" alone has a dozen different possible sounds.)

Learning to understand Korean is where the problem starts. One of the earliest stumbling blocks are the obscene number of unintuitive homonyms. Pear, boat, womb, diameter, stomach and probably some other more obscure meanings are all the same word in Korean with a different Chinese root. There's much that has to be intuited through context (which is why online translators often fail so horribly, hilariously at the language.)

Grammar is a whore. Most Koreans don't understand the grammar behind their language. The one course I tried to take that taught some Korean grammar was so stupidly complicated that most people just quit the class. You know how conjugating a verb in English you occasionally add an "S" or an "ING", not in Korea. There are a bunch of different conjugations depending on a large number of different factors including the age of the speaker and the audience, and the conjugations often change the appearance of the verb significantly such that it's even hard to recognize.

I've also discovered I don't have a head for languages. Learning Korean has completely replaced my French. I knew quite a bit of French, almost conversational. Now when I try to think of the French word for something, the Korean word pops into my head.

#15 Edited by Mechanical_Ape (247 posts) -

I'm fluent in Japanese and currently working my way towards fluency in Russian. Occasionally I feel like going back to relearn all the French I've forgotten over the years. I may do that once I reach a point where I feel fully proficient in Russian. I kind of see myself continuing to learn more languages throughout my life. For some reason I find the process really enjoyable. It can be very difficult and frustrating at times, but when you make it over a particularly tricky hurdle it feels great.

#16 Posted by Hunter5024 (5600 posts) -

@punkxblaze said:

I started Japanese at my college this semester. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to study for in my educational career thus far.

Same. Or maybe not hard, just incredibly time consuming. I have to have 4 semesters of it though so too late to give up now.

#17 Edited by believer258 (11773 posts) -

@believer258 said:

How far have you made it with your Japanese, VGK?

Not much of an idea? I mean, I can play video games like Shin Megami Tensei and Napple Tale alright (except when they pull bullshit like this), but my understanding is still wonky.

And is it possible to learn it without having anyone else to speak to?

Depends on what you want to learn. Learning input-based skills (reading and listening) are "easy" enough, but output-based? Significantly harder. I've heard of shadowing, but I haven't tried it. And while I'm on this tangent:

I guess if you watch some unsubbed Japanese movies and anime and listen to Japanese podcasts or something, you could learn how to speak it and not just read and write it.

I spot a (popular) misconception. You don't learn how to speak a language just by listening to it. I mean, that's a component, but.....I don't know how to put it. I guess people use "speak" to mean "do fucking everything in a language", and that's a pet peeve of mine. You learn to speak by speaking it in some capacity, and you don't have to learn how to do everything in a language.

Ah, I suspected as much. I suppose an ability to read and listen to Japanese without actually being to say Japanese words would be all right.

We had to learn a bit of German at school ... but that's it. I'd love to be bilingual.

Does anyone know how hard Spanish is? It seems easy(ish) ...

A lot of Spanish consists of memorizing conjugations and, of course, words. I had a lot of Spanish in middle and high school and could parse more basic sentences then. I couldn't do that now, though. I've forgotten practically everything, not that I tried so hard in the first place.

A funny note - Latin, which Spanish has roots in, is all about dem conjugations. Word order isn't anywhere near as important as having everything properly conjugated.

#18 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Ah, I suspected as much. I suppose an ability to read and listen to Japanese without actually being to say Japanese words would be all right.

I know there's a game out there that would screw that the hell up. I just don't know what. Something DS, probably.

#19 Posted by Tru3_Blu3 (3201 posts) -

@klei said:

I learned English as a kid by playing video games and *trying* to decipher and read Nintendo Power magazines. My native tongue is French. Even fifteen years later, I'm still learning new things every week.

The English language is a needlessly complex one. Being my first language while also being a pretty constant reader, there's still a lot about the language that's unknown to me.

Good luck, pal. It's a long road to mastering this devilish, yet beautiful language.

#20 Edited by believer258 (11773 posts) -

@believer258 said:

Ah, I suspected as much. I suppose an ability to read and listen to Japanese without actually being to say Japanese words would be all right.

I know there's a game out there that would screw that the hell up. I just don't know what. Something DS, probably.

The Japanese version of Nintendogs?

@klei said:

I learned English as a kid by playing video games and *trying* to decipher and read Nintendo Power magazines. My native tongue is French. Even fifteen years later, I'm still learning new things every week.

The English language is a needlessly complex one. Being my first language while also being a pretty constant reader, there's still a lot about the language that's unknown to me.

Good luck, pal. It's a long road to mastering this devilish, yet beautiful language.

English is more like a pile-up of a lot of different languages. It started out as something akin to German. I imagine some Old Norse got mixed up in there, somewhere, but I don't know enough about it for sure. Then some Latin started getting mixed in, then a lot of French influenced it to make Middle English, then we had that vowel shift and made modern English. And these days we just take words from where ever and mix it in.

I'm glad English is my mother language because it seems like an absolute nightmare to go about learning.

#21 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@believer258 said:

Ah, I suspected as much. I suppose an ability to read and listen to Japanese without actually being to say Japanese words would be all right.

I know there's a game out there that would screw that the hell up. I just don't know what. Something DS, probably.

The Japanese version of Nintendogs?

......And just like that, I have an idea for a dumb video feature.

#22 Posted by hermes (1397 posts) -

I learned English a few years ago, and I consider myself competent at it. I have learned Portuguese, but never formally, only conversational Portuguese, which I can handle rather well... Spanish being my native tongue makes it easier to learn cousin languages.

About learning a new language, the best advice I can give you is to speak a lot with people that use it, as soon and often as you can. Online courses that don't force you to apply it in real life situations are useless. Don't be afraid of making mistakes...

#23 Posted by ajamafalous (11935 posts) -

I took three years of French in middle and high school but I don't remember more than a few words.

I took a semester of Italian in college and, being an Italian-American, would be interested in becoming completely fluent, but realistically I don't have the time nor the drive to learn more on my own.

#24 Edited by CaLe (3944 posts) -

I'm at a point where I'm now just looking for interesting things to study in my second language. I'm finding that there's not much difference, in that studying something in a different language doesn't magically make it more interesting.

#25 Posted by Hockeymask27 (3683 posts) -

Even having to learn french all my life. I still think I pulled a fast one when I passed the required high school and college tests.

#26 Posted by Miyuki (176 posts) -

I took German and Spanish in school, but now I'm taking Japanese for fun (I work at a university and can take classes for free.) It is... challenging. But I'm pretty motivated, as I really want to be able to enjoy anime and jrpgs in their original languages. Plus I've promised myself a trip to Japan if I make it through 4 semesters. I just started, so we will see!

#27 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@cale said:

I'm at a point where I'm now just looking for interesting things to study in my second language.

Depends on your definition of "study", because I studied Japanese with whatever the fuck this is. Now I know how to say 浮気!

#28 Posted by wemibelec90 (1599 posts) -

Still in the process of self-teaching myself Japanese. Unfortunately, the site I was using hasn't been updated in awhile, so I've kinda hit this point where I have to figure out what to learn next on my own. Right now, I'm floundering a bit, only studying words and not so much grammar, but I'm investigating a few new sites and methods to boost my grammar skills. I have no problem remembering Japanese words, and only a little trouble remembering the various kanji, but grammar is hard to just fumble into understanding with. I'll get it eventually, but I'm not there yet.

#29 Posted by ShockD (2400 posts) -

I speak 4 languages fluently so I'm pretty much done with languages. They don't offer any challenge anyway. More like a hobby.

#30 Posted by insane_shadowblade85 (1414 posts) -

Five or so years ago I spent around $600 on a Rosetta Stone Japanese Edition, which I used to get past the first lesson/volume and then decided to take a break. Never did get back to that. Before that I taught myself how to write Hiragana and Katakana as well as a bunch of Japanese words through various websites, which would explain why I straight up flew past the first lessons in Rosetta Stone.

Now though, I'm kind of tempted to buy the Italian lessons of Rosetta Stone because Italy is one of the places I really want to go visit. That or I'll buy the French one since I never took French in highschool.

#31 Posted by erhard (397 posts) -

Yeah, I began my fourth language, French a while back. It's such a great language.

#32 Edited by CaLe (3944 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@cale said:

I'm at a point where I'm now just looking for interesting things to study in my second language.

Depends on your definition of "study", because I studied Japanese with whatever the fuck this is. Now I know how to say 浮気!

I dunno how you find this stuff... but at least I learned the words 洋ナシ and モナド... so thanks, for that, I guess? I meant study something that is applicable to either getting qualifications or a job. If I ever need to learn how to write diary-style non-guides for games, now I'll at least know where to go.

@wemibelec90

May I interest you in a little thing I like to call grammar.txt?

#33 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@cale said:

@video_game_king said:

@cale said:

I'm at a point where I'm now just looking for interesting things to study in my second language.

Depends on your definition of "study", because I studied Japanese with whatever the fuck this is. Now I know how to say 浮気!

I dunno how you find this stuff...

[日本語name+セリフ]

#34 Edited by CaLe (3944 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@cale said:

@video_game_king said:

@cale said:

I'm at a point where I'm now just looking for interesting things to study in my second language.

Depends on your definition of "study", because I studied Japanese with whatever the fuck this is. Now I know how to say 浮気!

I dunno how you find this stuff...

[日本語name+セリフ]

I remember some years ago trying to find the Japanese script for MGS and I'm pretty sure I used this method, among others, but couldn't find it. I ended up just buying the scenario book for the game, which is way better. I dunno why they don't sell digital versions of this kinda thing.

#35 Edited by clumsyninja1 (817 posts) -

I'm learning Chinese and I find it a lot easier than Japanese, love learning foreign languages tough.

#36 Edited by ColonelRick (114 posts) -

Old English. It's going as well as one would expect, lol. It does help that it does resemble German and Dutch a lot more than it does modern English, which makes it easier for me, as a native Dutch speaker. It's weird to be confronted with declension on pretty much every syntactic category after years of barely having to think about it in modern English.

#38 Edited by Belegorm (396 posts) -

I took Latin for several years, now I'm taking Ancient Greek, and Spanish.

All I can say is that Greek's all Greek to me xD

#39 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@cale said:

I remember some years ago trying to find the Japanese script for MGS and I'm pretty sure I used this method, among others, but couldn't find it.

I think I found something through this method? I can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure I Googled that in my fevered journey to find reading material.

#40 Posted by CaLe (3944 posts) -

@cale said:

I remember some years ago trying to find the Japanese script for MGS and I'm pretty sure I used this method, among others, but couldn't find it.

I think I found something through this method? I can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure I Googled that in my fevered journey to find reading material.

The entire thing? I could find bits and pieces, but not the whole thing from start to finish.

#41 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@cale said:

@video_game_king said:

@cale said:

I remember some years ago trying to find the Japanese script for MGS and I'm pretty sure I used this method, among others, but couldn't find it.

I think I found something through this method? I can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure I Googled that in my fevered journey to find reading material.

The entire thing? I could find bits and pieces, but not the whole thing from start to finish.

Again, I'm not sure. All I can really remember is that I found something. I'll have to Google it to make sure.

Yea, from what I'm getting, it's bits and pieces, too.

#42 Posted by Krullban (1034 posts) -

I can speak Korean at a conversational level. Still have lots of learning to do, but I can speak fine with my girlfriend.

#43 Posted by pekoe212 (441 posts) -

Trying to teach myself Japanese. I'm using YesJapan textbooks mainly. So far I've learned hiragana and katakana, no kanji as of yet. Just getting into conjugating verbs. I think the most difficult thing is trying to make your brain quickly switch from one set of symbols to another, reading things is still very slow going. In comparison, French, Italian, and even Russian were a breeze because at least the "comprehending the sounds on the page" wasn't an issue. I know i just have to keep plugging away at it day by day so that that instant reading comprehension comes normally, instead of having to squint and sound out each word in my head.

#44 Posted by Deranged (1837 posts) -

Yeah! I learned Miranda not too long ago, almost fluent in C and C++ and I'm working on OpenGL now!

#45 Edited by Pepsiman (2464 posts) -

@pekoe212 said:

Trying to teach myself Japanese. I'm using YesJapan textbooks mainly. So far I've learned hiragana and katakana, no kanji as of yet. Just getting into conjugating verbs. I think the most difficult thing is trying to make your brain quickly switch from one set of symbols to another, reading things is still very slow going. In comparison, French, Italian, and even Russian were a breeze because at least the "comprehending the sounds on the page" wasn't an issue. I know i just have to keep plugging away at it day by day so that that instant reading comprehension comes normally, instead of having to squint and sound out each word in my head.

If it's any consolation, it's a slow process mastering kanji even for natives. They pick it up a few hundred at a time every school year like we do as non-natives because you need a few thousand to do comfortably in that society, but they still come away from the process pretty traumatized and happy to not go through with it ever again once it's all over. So long is the process for them that they're actually learning up until the last year of high school. At that point, it's probably debatable what's new material versus stuff that they just managed to pick up on their own from living with Japanese all their lives, but it's definitely a journey to master them no matter who you are.

I will say as somebody fluent in Japanese that there does come a time when things start clicking in your brain after a while, when all that kanji stops being indecipherable scribbles and become individual symbols that all hold meaning and significance. And as long as you keep at it, that doesn't turn off. Eventually, after you reach that point, you'll get to be comfortable enough around them that you'll be able to learn new kanji and vocabulary you encounter just by context, much like how we do it in English with things like prefixes and suffixes. It's really gratifying to reach that point and that's when language learning starts to really become fun, at least in my book. With enough practice, you could very well end up learning Japanese... in Japanese, which is how it was for me the last few years of my formal studying.

Anyway, I offer this to every Japanese learner on here, but if you've ever got language questions, don't be afraid to hit me up. I don't have experience with the textbooks you're using, but chances are I've otherwise gone through a lot of the same ups and downs, so I'm happy to give advice to people going through the motions if they need it. :)

#46 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@pepsiman said:

With enough practice, you could very well end up learning Japanese... in Japanese

I've seen this phrase a lot, but still have no idea just what that means. What exactly is supposed to fill the gap of your native language? "Meaning" feels nebulous and "Japanese" feels circular and uninformative.

#47 Edited by Pepsiman (2464 posts) -

@video_game_king: I mean it in a very literal sense. You can learn Japanese in a textbook written exclusively in Japanese and in Japanese classes taught in nothing but Japanese. I don't know a single English native textbook that delves into the super advanced points, so at some point, it just becomes a better use of everyone's time and money to teach and learn in Japanese and then just interact with each other based on what they all commonly know about the language. When I was last studying abroad in Japan, I tested into a class that prepped JLPT N1-level students like myself for applying their Japanese in the work world and all of the lectures and everything else in the class was conducted entirely in Japanese. Once you're good enough in the language that you can learn in that language without needing supplementary help in your native language, that's when your fluency really takes off.

#48 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@pepsiman:

No, I meant "what's going on in your head that qualifies as learning in Japanese".

#49 Edited by CaLe (3944 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@pepsiman said:

With enough practice, you could very well end up learning Japanese... in Japanese

I've seen this phrase a lot, but still have no idea just what that means. What exactly is supposed to fill the gap of your native language? "Meaning" feels nebulous and "Japanese" feels circular and uninformative.

This is just a limited example, but you're never going to find many of these types of questions and answers in your native language. Many of the questions on this site (have a look around, there's a lot) are only things you will ever get answers to in Japanese. There's just so much that is never explained anywhere in English that you have no choice but to learn in Japanese, either through explanations like those on that site, or living in Japan and being forced to use the language every day. There were a whole load of grammar points that I never fully grasped until reading detailed explanations in Japanese.

"No, I meant "what's going on in your head that qualifies as learning in Japanese"." ← I don't really get the question, but I'd say it's when you learn anything new about the language, in the language.

#50 Edited by Cramsy (1166 posts) -

I studied Mandarin in Beijing for about a year, kept up with it when I got back to Melbourne and I recently came back from an Internship in China. It gets the job done and sounds impressive, but I'm way off being 'fluent'. I'm going to start Korean next year and take some Mandarin classes on the side so I don't forget everything. Learning a language has totally changed my life for the better. I don't know where I'd be or what my mindset would be if I had given up