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(69 Posts)
bluegran Thu 05-May-11 21:06:37

Is anyone learning a new language. I love Italian but would like to speak it fluently.

GrannyTunnocks Fri 06-May-11 09:06:39

My daughter moved to Germany so I went to classes to learn German. I am far from fluent but can understand a lot and I can get by in cafes, shops etc. She has now moved to the French speaking part of Switzerland so I am back to square 1 although I remember some words from school.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 06-May-11 09:08:38

I am learning Mandarin, hoping to take a GCSE in the next year or so.

fedar Sun 08-May-11 19:29:13

I'm a 55 Italian physics teacher. Nowadays I'm studying English because this summer I'm taking my daughter to London for an English course. If you want, we could contact us via skype and talking each other some minutes in Italian and some minutes in English...
This is a good idea, isn't it?
fedar (from Italy)

here Sun 08-May-11 21:29:09

hi, i'm a new member from italy

actually i'm not learning any new language but i'm trying not to forget the ones i knew: english, a bit of german and french without forgetting spanish.

what i'm learning is a new technique to express better my professional skills: nobody here where i live seems to care but i'm going on harder

Joan Sun 08-May-11 23:34:12

It is a fantastic thing to learn a new language - does wonders for your brain power! The secret is not be be embarrassed just dive in and learn from your mistakes. The most important aspect is to get the sound right, because if you manage that, you can get away with a lot.

Listen to the italian news on the telly if you can get it - listen to the 'music' of the language and try to reproduce it.

I also find that learning songs and poems is a great help - they stick in your brain easier.

nanafrancis Thu 12-May-11 11:36:02

I'm also new on here!
We moved to the Canary Islands some years ago. I'd love to speak spanish fluently but have learnt enough to get by on a daily basis.
I think, as you get older, it gets harder to learn a new language. Well, that's my excuse anyway!!

BurgundyGran Fri 13-May-11 20:51:16

I am English but have lived in France for 7 years.

My husband and I live with our daughter, her French partner and three children. The two older children are English but after 4 years here are bilingual and the baby at 15 months understands both languages.

Husband and I? We are getting there. I have joined the village club where they play Lotto so I can practice my number skills! I have even won a prize!!

Swedenana Sat 14-May-11 10:20:53

I moved to Sweden nearly 3 years ago and I find the language quite a challenge. Though my grandfather was Swedish, my brother and I were only taught a very few words when we were children. I really wish we'd been able to learn more when we were young and our brains a bit more flexible! The Govt here offers a free basic langage course for immigrants (there are a LOT) which I did but because my husband is disabled I don't get out that much in order to practise. My husband speaks Swedish to me about 70% of the time, I just answer in English - self-defeating I know, but it works for me wink, so my understanding level far outweighs my ability to use the language. The biggest drawback for me is lack of confidence as I just cannot bring myself to speak Swedish with DH, though speaking it to someone else in front of him is much less of a problem.....very odd. I also blame my old lady brain for my lack of progress.

PatM Sat 14-May-11 22:18:39

nanafrancis, I don't think it's so much as 'being older' as the problem to learning a language, but more 'if you don't use it, you lose it' problem! I'm not learning a new language, but I have learnt BSL and, although I am not fluent, (I got as far as half way through Level 3 before giving up!) I do use it often, as I have a few D/deaf friends, so I am able to 'practice' it often enough. I know a lot of people who went to the classes with me, but didn't know anyone who was D/deaf, and therefore weren't able to continue using it, and therefore, found it difficult to continue.
I think it is the same with any language.

Joan Sun 15-May-11 04:24:04

The embarrassment factor is stronger as we get older, I think. I'm absolutely certain that with good teaching we can all learn a new language. However, we all realise we might sound a bit daft to native speakers, and this puts us off. If we can rise above the embarrassment we'll do well.

Somehow, a new language gives you a new way of thinking. Well, that's how it seems to me anyway.

marriana Mon 16-May-11 09:58:15

I live in England. I have just finished the first year in Italian too, and i loved it. I concider doing level 2 in the next term.

I studied 3 other languages since retiring and I can say, i can speak 7 languages, 2 of them fluently

BurgundyGran Mon 16-May-11 11:24:18

I took my GCSE in French after suffering my second stroke but passed with a B. I was so proud as I had to work really hard.

After moving here 7 seven years ago I have found that if you try to speak the language people will help you it is when it is expected they will speak English they get annoyed. Where we live it is very rare to find anyone who speaks any English at all even hello and goodbye.

I have nurses come every week, none of whom speak English, but we get by really well and they correct my pronunciation and vocab. Treatment and a class in French too! My husband finds it more difficult but gets by and makes himself understood.

I get to do the technical bits like writing letters, speaking to the bank etc. Luckily our daughter is engaged to a French man who speaks English so if we have real difficulty he will help out and so will she as after 4 years here and having a French partner she is fluent.

I would say go for it and learn a language but what you learn in class is not always what you get in real life. Not long after moving we went to a huge super-store. We asked where the disabled checkout was. Vingt-et-une the woman said very quickly and clipped. I just heard it but husband didn't. In class the numbers are taught as vingt-et-un, but I explained caisse (checkout) is feminine so it is vingt-et-une. Sneaky eh?!

delilah Mon 30-May-11 20:04:15

Mandarin is a real challenge. You must be extremely brave to take this on.

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 01-Jun-11 18:15:09

.... or foolish, delilah!

seraphicDigitalis Sun 12-Jun-11 18:25:38

I don't think we need to be embarrassed now! Surely we've got past the Self Image stage? No need to look in the mirror, no need to measure our words, no need for the "What will people think?" syndrome. Of course, after a lifetime of good behaviour(?) we've probably got into the habit of behaving respectably, but, let's face it, it doesn't actually matter if we don't! So I'm happy to burble in a required language and hope to be understood. After watching "Wallander" I wanted to learn Swedish, and downloaded a deal of very helpful material - but where does the time go? I find I can understand some of the easier everyday phrases, but is this because of their relation to German, to English, or have I actually learnt something?!
I vowed I wouldn't post immediately on a new site, but would lurk for a while, and here I go, barging in again as usual. I'll keep quite now for a while, until I know you better.


Joan Mon 13-Jun-11 03:34:01

I'm from Yorkshire and I love to hear the Scandinavian languages on TV, especially Danish as they have a lot of elements of Yorkshire dialect in them, and I have a strong interest in dialect and linguistics. For instance, in Yorkshire dialect, the phrase 'children playing' is 'bairns laiking', which I'm told is very similar to the modern Danish.

So I watch films and series when I get the chance, read the subtitles and follow the spoken words. I know German, which is a big help in this. My husband can't understand why I find this fun. I don't really understand it myself, come to think of it....

seraphicDigitalis Mon 13-Jun-11 18:18:36

I'm from Yorkshire, too. You could be right about the language/dialect relationship. I understand why it's fun! It's the same attitude to the crossword mindset. We regard another language as a puzzle, and, as Northerners(!) we're not going to be beaten. I'm interested in your comment about "bairns" as the Swedish word for children is exercising my mind at the moment. I got as far as realising that it begins with B, but I fear that I'm going to have to look it up, which I regard as failure, so I'll leave it a bit longer!
Did I say I planned to lurk? Oh dear.

seraphicDigitalis Tue 14-Jun-11 20:51:17

I found it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Swedish for "child" is "Barn". I'm not sure how to pronounce it yet, as they spoke rather faster than my brain(!) and the A seems to be somewhat versatile. It sounded a bit like "Born", but I wouldn't dare try it yet! Bears out the Yorkshire/Danish relationship. I suppose the further North one goes in this country, the more similar words could be found? grin

JessM Sun 31-Jul-11 21:21:08

Sounds like Bairn as well... Perfectly good English word in some areas?
There is an article in this week's New Scientist that reports research that it is not more difficult to learn a new language when you are older.

I did Spanish GCSE a few years ago having done bits and bobs on my own for a few years. i thought it was less demanding than o level French (if memory serves).
I used to listen to language tapes in the car in my commuting days and learned quite a lot. But there is nothing quite like plucking up your courage and giving it a go.

Joan Mon 01-Aug-11 01:38:16

The secret to being fluent in a new language without pain, is to live amongst it before puberty!!! As this is a little bit too late for us lot, we have to learn it the hard way.

I agree we can do this however old we are, but if we can immerse ourselves in it by living among native speakers it is much much easier. Failing that, it is just the same as for kids at school - understand how it is structured, learn the grammar, increase your vocabulary, learn as many phrases rather than individual words as you can, and just practise it.

For German, there is a lot of grammar, and I used to put charts on the inside of the toilet door, to entrench them in my mind while sitting there! I did the same with Latin. I can still remember my first chart, the 'the' chart for German, as there were 16 possibilities for the word 'the':

der die das
den die das
des der des
den der den

However, it was my Latin verb charts that really put my old Dad off his morning constitutional, as they were longer and more complicated and rather peculiar, to monolingual English sensibilities.

Anyway, with the help of my charts I got there in the end. You see, I love languages, but am very bad at learning by rote, so I needed all the help I could get, including the bog door.

Baggy Mon 01-Aug-11 05:56:10

dig, a lot of northern words are from Old Norse — not surprising since some of them settled in Yorkshire wink. DD2 did Swedish at Hull and spent some time working in Sweden. She said local vowel pronunciation in Hull is often very close to that in Sweden. In particular 'snow' is pronounced in exactly the same way in Hull and Sweden.

expatmaggie Mon 01-Aug-11 11:19:24

JessM. As a language teacher I think that the later years are not optimal for learning a new language. The link between the ears and the brain and the tongue are no longer as active as in the years from 2 to 11 years of age. Children learn grammar easier. Not by being taught it but by hearing it.
I came to Germany with a 3 year old English speaking child. First she spoke German in the present, then in the past tense, then in the future and finally in the conditional form which is the stage most leaners never achieve. Just like in the grammar book. After 6 months no one knew she was English.
As the comment states, the article it has little to do with the real world. A child doesn't need to correct a word, when it hears the word correctly spoken it will absorb it.

It is far better and more rewarding to re-learn a language you did at school where the vocabulary is fixed - and is still there- in the long term memory.
On the other hand, if your aim is to do a bit of shopping on holiday and get
around it is good to use what you have learned but you have to understand the answers which come in fast Spanish or whatever, and that is not so easy and a child would do better.

German prisoners of war found it easier to understand the people in Scotland speaking English as it was nearer to most German dialects. German dialects are very widespread and loved by people here. They are proud of them and some are hard to understand. In my time here I now understand 2 dialects very well indeed and although I might prefer to live nearer the French border I couldn't cope with another dialect! For those precise reasons. My hearing is also over 70.

Joan Mon 01-Aug-11 22:41:33

The mention about Scottish reminded me of my Scottish brother-in-law's problem in Belgium. He has lived with my sister in France for decades - they are both fluent. Once he went to Belgium on business, to the Flemish speaking part, and had to go to a bank. He spoke to the teller in French, and the teller refused to speak back. Confused, my BIL spoke English next. Still no answer. Back to French, still mucky looks but no answer. He banged his passport and paperwork on the counter and was about to give the teller a mouthful of abuse, when the teller saw that he was British. All smiles then - turned out his Scottish accent made him sound Flemish, which meant that speaking French was somehow insulting.

Accents and dialects - murky waters in some parts of the world!!

jessieros Wed 03-Aug-11 16:51:04

As a late learner of German, Spanish and Hebrew, I certainly agree that it gets harder as you get older but still do-able and can be a lot of fun. I think Joan is absolutely right that confidence is a problem. The thing to remember is that people can still understand you even if you make mistakes and nearly everyone appreciates you making the effort to speak their language even if your efforts are far from perfect!