18 votes

Tilditors fluent in 1+ language, how did you get there?

Share learning methodologies, particularly good resources, tips for your languages, etc.

18 comments

  1. [4]
    ainar-g
    Link
    Oh boy! I am a real linguaphile, and I am on my way to becoming a polyglot, so this is totally my thing. My native language is Russian and I am good-enough in three other languages: English: I've...

    Oh boy! I am a real linguaphile, and I am on my way to becoming a polyglot, so this is totally my thing. My native language is Russian and I am good-enough in three other languages:

    English: I've had classes in school since grade three, but I don't think I've learned anything there because the teachers would often change, and most of them weren't particularly interested. The “breakthrough” happened around grade nine, when two things happened. Firstly, my school hired a teacher that actually cared about us learning the every-day language. Secondly, I got Internet. I basically used Benny Lewis' “Speak From Day One” method, trying to communicate with team-mates in CS:S and with the people from anonymous image-boards on IRC. That led to me buying, reading, and watching more and more books and films in their original English. Add to that the fact that I've grown up to become a software developer, which is a job that pretty much requires English, and boom! Here I am.

    Esperanto: I think I started learning Esperanto around grade eight or nine. I liked the idea behind it, I liked how it looked and how it sounded. I ordered a text-book from an Esperanto publishing house in Kaliningrad, read through it, and went on IRC and forums to talk to people. Then I kind of forgot about it until Duolingo made their Esperanto course. Since then I kind of rekindled my love for the language, although I don't have as much time to hang out on IRC and Discord as I would like to.

    German: Again, it started around grade ten, when my only school friend and I became massive fans of Rammstein. Besides that, I also became a fan of Marx and Nietzsche (as one does when they're in their late teens). I learned the language on-and-off for the next years until I decided to get serious about it and attend classes led by a native. The classes have significantly improved my level, mostly because they've added a kind of schedule and order to my studies, but also because my teacher(s) give useful feedback and know when to comment on an error I make too many times.

    I'm planning to “go East” next year and learn some Tatar (my second native language that I don't speak at all) and a language from the Chinese-Japanese-Korean triplet (most probably Japanese; yes, because of anime and manga; shut up). I also dabbled a bit with at least five other languages, but I'm nowhere near any meaningful level in those.

    I guess the key point here, to me at least, is that if you want a breakthrough you have to get communicating. Even if your level is shite right now, nothing will force you to learn at an increased pace and remember more words and phrases you will actually use like a real-time conversation.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

    18 votes
    1. [2]
      Grzmot
      Link Parent
      What would you classify as "good-enough"? Can you speak those languages fluently?

      What would you classify as "good-enough"? Can you speak those languages fluently?

      3 votes
      1. ainar-g
        Link Parent
        I guess my English level is pretty self-evident. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of practice with Esperanto these days, so it kind of became rusty. When I actually have the time to chat, I look...

        I guess my English level is pretty self-evident.

        Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of practice with Esperanto these days, so it kind of became rusty. When I actually have the time to chat, I look up forgotten words all the time. But other than that I would call my Esperanto level “conversational”.

        As for German, a couple of friends from Germany visited my city this summer. We've spent a couple of evenings together, and while my grammar was nowhere near perfect, they could understand what I'm saying and I could understand them as well. And I think that I have imroved even more since then.

        4 votes
    2. NeonHippy
      Link Parent
      Your written English is better than most natives'!

      comment on an error I make too many times.

      I'm planning to “go East” next year and learn some Tatar (my second native language that I don't speak at all) and a language from the Chinese-Japanese-Korean triplet (most probably Japanese; yes, because of anime and manga; shut up). I also dabbled a bit with at least five other languages, but I'm nowhere near any meaningful level in those.

      I guess the key point here, to me at least, is that if you want a breakthrough you have to get communicating. Even if your level is shite right now, nothing will force you

      Your written English is better than most natives'!

      1 vote
  2. KapteinB
    Link
    I like to brag I speak 5 languages, but that's not entirely true. The Scandinavian languages (except Icelandic) are mutually intelligible (as long as you speak slowly) so it's a...

    I like to brag I speak 5 languages, but that's not entirely true. The Scandinavian languages (except Icelandic) are mutually intelligible (as long as you speak slowly) so it's a learn-one-get-two-for-free situation.

    Norwegian: My native language. From what I've heard it's quite hard to learn. My tip would be to focus on pronunciation and vocabulary, not too much on grammar. We usually understand what you're trying to say even if you completely screw up the grammar. Pop culture is a good way to practice language. For music, check out Kaizers Orchestra. If you like crime novels you can give Jo Nesbø's books about detective Harry Hole a try. (The books are a lot better than the film.) A good way to learn a language might be comics, since the pictures provide some context for the words, so if you like comics, see if you can get your hand on some Lunch or Pondus in their original language.

    Swedish: Speak Norwegian, and sing-song the words.

    Danish: Speak Norwegian, and pretend you have something stuck in your throat.

    English: Everyone learns English in school here. I started learning when I was 10, but these days kids start learning English from grade 1, at age 6. Much of our pop culture is in English; the music we listen to, the TV shows and films we watch, and the video games we play, so most of us become close to fluent in English, even those of us who don't do well in school.

    German: From grade 8 we had electives in school. (Is electives the right word?) At the school I went to we had the choice between French, German, specialised English, and commercial fishing. For reasons I can't really recall, I chose German. It's the same language family as Norwegian, so it wasn't too hard. Well, the grammar was kinda hard. German pop culture worth checking out includes Rammstein (obviously) and the German TV shows on Netflix. I watched a pretty good one about some teenagers selling drugs on the dark web, but I forgot its name. I wouldn't really consider myself fluent in German, but I sometimes give directions to lost German tourists.

    Mandarin Chinese: I had a one year course of Chinese at a folk high school I went to. It was fun to learn! The grammar is super easy, and I love the way pronunciation changes the meaning of words. I never learned to read or write much Chinese, but I can introduce myself, say a few phrases, and count to 9.999.

    Polish: I recently started learning Polish on Duolingo. It's quite hard. Most languages use an alphabet; Polish abuses one. But I think I'm slowly getting there. Duolingo turns the process of learning a language into a video game, so it's quite fun, though I haven't really learned much practical use of the language yet. There's a Polish lady working in the cafeteria at work, so I exchange a few words with her most days, and that probably helps. The reason I'm learning this language is because my brother married a Polish lady, and she speaks Polish with their children. My goal is to become fluent enogh that I can take part in those conversations. I don't have many tips yet, other than to give Duolingo a try, mostly because it's a more productive way to spend those short periods of waiting where you'd usually check your Facebook notifications.

    10 votes
  3. [3]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    Unlike most people here I actually learned English via watching way too much YouTube when I was a toddler and because my mother actually somewhat encouraged me to. My native language is...

    Unlike most people here I actually learned English via watching way too much YouTube when I was a toddler and because my mother actually somewhat encouraged me to. My native language is (Brazilian) Portuguese. Sorry for lacking any advice though.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      AnthonyB
      Link Parent
      Ah, today's "Holy shit, I feel old" moment comes from tildes, were I was eagerly anticipating advice from someone who watched youtube as a toddler.

      Ah, today's "Holy shit, I feel old" moment comes from tildes, were I was eagerly anticipating advice from someone who watched youtube as a toddler.

      16 votes
  4. JeanBaptisteDuToitIV
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm not fluent yet, but for Latin I have found the book Lingua Latina Per See Illustrata to be a very good text. The entire book is written in Latin, including the grammar notes, and it tells the...

    I'm not fluent yet, but for Latin I have found the book Lingua Latina Per See Illustrata to be a very good text. The entire book is written in Latin, including the grammar notes, and it tells the story of a Roman family in the 1st century CE. It is actually quite entertaining.

    9 votes
  5. [3]
    myk
    (edited )
    Link
    Not fluent in German, but getting there after a year. The only secret is practice. I stumped up the cash for Duolingo and Memrise and just powered through them to get a basic grasp of vocab and...

    Not fluent in German, but getting there after a year.

    The only secret is practice. I stumped up the cash for Duolingo and Memrise and just powered through them to get a basic grasp of vocab and grammar, then started watching German TV with (German) subtitles to get an ear for the language as it’s spoken (Look for the ARD app in the App Store, it’s great!). I listen out for and keep repeating phrases that I think will be useful in everyday situations, turning them into questions, changing the tense, thinking about how I’d use them in different situations, what the responses might be.

    I also started talking to my dog in German! All the normal nonsense conversations actually cover a lot of good ground, and your dog is a good listener who never laughs at your mistakes.

    One tip for German is to realise that many words are made of small cores with prefixes and suffixes added to expand their range, so once you learn a core word like say fahren, check out what effect er-, be-, ein-, aus-, an- etc have on that verb — you can often learn a handful of related verbs very quickly.

    I moved to Germany a few weeks ago, and it’s tough, but I can make myself understood, and can understand about 10% of what people say to me, so there’s a long way to go, but it’s really satisfying to see the progress I have made in a year.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      Soptik
      Link Parent
      Thanks for the tips, they are really useful. I’ve been trying to learn German for such a long time, this helps a lot. Especially the ARD app, it looks really awesome.

      Thanks for the tips, they are really useful. I’ve been trying to learn German for such a long time, this helps a lot. Especially the ARD app, it looks really awesome.

      4 votes
      1. cwagner
        Link Parent
        Deutsche Welle has a lot of great online courses for German. And my favorite fun fact: All types of alcohol are "Der" except beer which is "Das" ;) Learned that from a US room-mate ;)

        Deutsche Welle has a lot of great online courses for German.

        And my favorite fun fact: All types of alcohol are "Der" except beer which is "Das" ;) Learned that from a US room-mate ;)

        1 vote
  6. aymm
    Link
    I'd say I'm fluent in English. My native language is German. I've never been good at learning languages and even really disliked doing it. Had a couple years of French in school, and even two...

    I'd say I'm fluent in English. My native language is German. I've never been good at learning languages and even really disliked doing it. Had a couple years of French in school, and even two years of Spanish. I can still understand some French, but not much, and I'm hopeless with Spanish. Nevertheless, I've never had troubles with English. In school I was always okay-ish, and then I spent my sophomore year in the US. When I came back I was better than most of my peers (with some exceptions of course) and I try to keep it up as much as possible by consuming media in English (Netflix, books, audiobooks, and so on) and generally hanging out in English speaking corners on the internet

    3 votes
  7. cwagner
    Link
    Native German, fluent in English. I got the basics from school (5th - 13th grade), a hugely expanded vocabulary from being laughed at for being a 10-year-old with German MtG cards (obviously those...

    Native German, fluent in English. I got the basics from school (5th - 13th grade), a hugely expanded vocabulary from being laughed at for being a 10-year-old with German MtG cards (obviously those were the last German cards I bought :D), improved understanding from reading English books and watching English movies since age 16, better pronunciation when I started university and hung out (read: partied) with international students. Nowadays minor improvements in pronunciation come via my wife who is essentially a native English speaker ;)

    My wife got Sesotho as native language and English as well (taught from 1st grade, lingua franca in South Africa), her Afrikaans and German are not up there though ;) German she got to A1 with Duo Lingo and started an intensive course to get to B1.

    Regarding tips: Immersion and making friends with people who speak the language. Netflix has a bunch of original shows/movies that might include your target language.

    2 votes
  8. NeonHippy
    Link
    I am still trying to learn German years after getting into such German bands as Das Ich, Illuminate, and Stillste Stund. I think my age has something to do with the fact that it's nearly...

    I am still trying to learn German years after getting into such German bands as Das Ich, Illuminate, and Stillste Stund. I think my age has something to do with the fact that it's nearly impossible for me.

    1 vote
  9. vivaria
    Link
    Hi, I'm fluent in 1 language... English. I got there by growing up in an English-speaking country and continuing to exist. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. Please 'Noise' this comment. ;)

    "1+" ...

    Hi, I'm fluent in 1 language... English. I got there by growing up in an English-speaking country and continuing to exist. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

    Please 'Noise' this comment. ;)

    10 votes
  10. Capn_HAXX
    Link
    French Canadian family that grew up in an English-speaking town

    French Canadian family that grew up in an English-speaking town

    4 votes
  11. Dobbie03
    Link
    I am fluent in English and shit talking. Seriously though I have been practicing German though I am far from fluent.

    I am fluent in English and shit talking.

    Seriously though I have been practicing German though I am far from fluent.