How do you study languages?

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Itikar
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How do you study languages?

Postby Itikar » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:37 pm

I was curious to know what other forum members think about the method used to learn Italian, English or any other language in general.

Personally after studying various languages in the course of several years I came to the conviction tha one needs to learn the language at first, trying not to focus on grammar as much as possible, and then, after one starts to feel how the language clicks, deepen one's own grammar knowledge in order to speak and express better.

I think anyway that there is not a best method to learn languages, but that everyone can have a method that works for him/her while others do not. Let's read your comments. :)
Last edited by Itikar on Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I would be very grateful, if you could please correct my English.

Ron Weasley

Re: How do you study languages

Postby Ron Weasley » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:58 pm

I know a bit English and Spanish. I know English because I studied it at the school. When I start to study it I felt curiosity, and so I have decided to deepen it. I don't use a particular method to learn it, simply when I read a new word, that I don't know it's mean, I go to read it, and I try to remember it forever. I have learned a lot of new words watching Doremi's episodies (a Japanise Anime, my avatar) subtitled in English. I think it's good to see subtitled movies or anime for learning a language. A big problem is LISTEN English, seeing dubbed movies for this. I don't understand one word, probably only solution is to write a word on google translator and listen it.
Spanish language I have studied at the school, too. At the middle school. But I know it better than English, because is a Romance language, similar to mine in terms of grammar, syntax, words etc.

Ron Weasley

Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Ron Weasley » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:02 pm

This morning I learned a bit Japanise, only simple syntax and some words, without their alphabet, cause I watched video on youtube. If the teacher is good, you learn very easily in this way ^^

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Itikar
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Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Itikar » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:58 pm

Well done Luigi! :D
Yesterday morning, before starting the thread, I found a nice Japanese handbook in a bookshop at the supermarket.
I thought to you when I saw it. It is based on a method that tries to teach Japanese through mangas. :)
For example I saw that in one of the first lessons it shows a cartoon with two characters who laugh and say:
ははははははは(hahahahahaha)
へへへへへへへ(hehehehehehe)
It is nice although for now I am still too busy with exams and I cannot devote myself to more than a very soft Spanish course. :(

I think that what you said is definitely true and important. The teacher is a very important part of learning, including language learning, and, provided that you can be your own teacher, this can really make the difference between being able to learn something or not.
I would be very grateful, if you could please correct my English.

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Peter
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Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Peter » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:59 pm

It depends very much on the type of person you are. Some people are perfectly happy learning by themselves - autodidactic. Others, like myself, prefer a class environment with a good tutor and where there were other people with whom I could communicate. Personally I think that helps more with learning to speak the language, conversation skills that I have lost to a good degree because since I finished with the evening courses, I have not had much opportunity to practice. I also believe that you need to learn the grammar as you go along, particularly where there are differences in the grammar of one language to that of another. I don't think I've done too badly learning in this way! Not great, but not too bad! :)
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Itikar
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Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Itikar » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:09 pm

Peter wrote:I also believe that you need to learn the grammar as you go along, particularly where there are differences in the grammar of one language to that of another.

Well, of course you have to learn some grammar with the language, otherwise it can get problematic.
For example present indicative conjugation or simple plural formation are things which would be pointless if ignored.
But I have had experience with some courses or even at school when too much emphasis was put on the grammar.
Take for example any/some opposition of English. I studied the rules several times while I was in junior high but that was almost useless, because I did so many errors with that. Afterwards I started to read English regularly and so I assimilated their usage unconsciously and now I use some and any without even thinking about the rules.
I would be very grateful, if you could please correct my English.

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Quintus
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Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Quintus » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:12 pm

The only living language I studied at school was French. The language learning in all the schools that I attended, both for French and dead languages, was always exclusively based on grammar during the first two years and on grammar plus syntax for the next ones. The same method was also used for the Italian language itself: we were given a very great deal of grammar and syntax notions. For French, we were taught the pronunciation of words we were using daily while studying the grammar, so our language comprehension kept up with theoretical learning and was progressive. Things haven't happened to me this way with English. My situation evolved, and at times regressed, with various vicissitudes. But, given the type of education I was given at school for years, at the time when I decided to study English the first thing I did was to desperately seek out a good grammar book. Without a grammar book, I am dead. Besides, it's not easy for me to find a good grammar book. To me, the ideal grammar book is one written in a way that I want it to be written, that is, in the same way as my grammar books were written. This is just what occurred to me the other day while attempting an approach to modern Greek, although I did it mostly for curiosity and mainly to refresh a bit of the ancient one. I couldn't find anything I liked. Moreover, the effective information from the net is zilch. I'm afraid though that my search for the ideal one will last a long time, sooo long.

That said, I think you are right, Alessandro. If you could practice a language you would learn it quicker than just approaching it by the grammar. I'm pretty sure about that, as I have living examples all around me. Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons, I can't practice, or at least I can't do it in a way that would make me definitely improve my knowledge or help me to maintain it over time. On the other hand, as I have fun in writing and reading English, my goal is to "send the sense of my words" beyond the language barrier even though limitedly to a written text, which is a tough and fascinating challenge given the height of the barrier. Every time I am able to manage this, I feel pretty satisfied with myself.

Anyway, watching movies in English with subtitles in English has been a huge help to me in the last ten years. My skills in understanding English speaking people improved dramatically. At one point in time, I became so good at it that if I came across a member of this forum today and s/he said me "How do you do?" I wouldn't need to think about this sentence for more than thirty/forty seconds, instead of the former four hundred, which constitutes a neat improvement by a factor of ten ( :wink: )

Per Ron:

Hai provato a guardare un film in inglese con i sottotitoli in inglese? Se metti i sottotitoli in inglese invece che in italiano piano piano ti abitui ad associare i suoni alle parole scritte. Ascoltare subito i discorsi in inglese è molto difficile. Può funzionare anche così ma allora dovresti, secondo me, rivedere sempre lo stesso film fino a che non cominci a sentire le parole staccate ed a decifrarne il significato, prima un piccolo pezzo qua e uno là e poi sempre più estesamente. E naturalmente quando non capisci le parole dei sottotitoli dovresti fermarti, tradurle, risentirle e poi ripartire. Ci vuole costanza, resistenza, pazienza e molto tempo. Comunque il metodo dei film funziona. A volte riesco a capire una buona parte delle canzoni. Moltissimo dipende anche dalla persona che parla (o canta).

Quintus

Ron Weasley

Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Ron Weasley » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:33 pm

Itikar wrote:Well done Luigi! :D
Yesterday morning, before starting the thread, I found a nice Japanese handbook in a bookshop at the supermarket.
I thought to you when I saw it. It is based on a method that tries to teach Japanese through mangas. :)
For example I saw that in one of the first lessons it shows a cartoon with two characters who laugh and say:
ははははははは(hahahahahaha)
へへへへへへへ(hehehehehehe)
It is nice although for now I am still too busy with exams and I cannot devote myself to more than a very soft Spanish course. :(

I think that what you said is definitely true and important. The teacher is a very important part of learning, including language learning, and, provided that you can be your own teacher, this can really make the difference between being able to learn something or not.


I don't like to read mangas, because I have never read, I don't know their write mode. Is much better watching animes ^^.
Peter wrote:It depends very much on the type of person you are. Some people are perfectly happy learning by themselves - autodidactic. Others, like myself, prefer a class environment with a good tutor and where there were other people with whom I could communicate. Personally I think that helps more with learning to speak the language, conversation skills that I have lost to a good degree because since I finished with the evening courses, I have not had much opportunity to practice. I also believe that you need to learn the grammar as you go along, particularly where there are differences in the grammar of one language to that of another. I don't think I've done too badly learning in this way! Not great, but not too bad! :)

For example, I started to learn Japanise, without no one knows, obviously with autodidactic way. It isn't teach in normal schools, unfortunately. But, independently if the teacher is good, I think learning by themselves is a little better, because YOU decide the study method: the things that you want to learn already, the things that you want to learn late etc... Is more easy to follow you will.
Last edited by Ron Weasley on Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ron Weasley

Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Ron Weasley » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:40 pm

Quintus wrote:Hai provato a guardare un film in inglese con i sottotitoli in inglese? Se metti i sottotitoli in inglese invece che in italiano piano piano ti abitui ad associare i suoni alle parole scritte. Ascoltare subito i discorsi in inglese è molto difficile. Può funzionare anche così ma allora dovresti, secondo me, rivedere sempre lo stesso film fino a che non cominci a sentire le parole staccate ed a decifrarne il significato, prima un piccolo pezzo qua e uno là e poi sempre più estesamente. E naturalmente quando non capisci le parole dei sottotitoli dovresti fermarti, tradurle, risentirle e poi ripartire. Ci vuole costanza, resistenza, pazienza e molto tempo. Comunque il metodo dei film funziona. A volte riesco a capire una buona parte delle canzoni. Moltissimo dipende anche dalla persona che parla (o canta).
Quintus


Sì, però non mi sono mai trovato, perchè seguire un intero film in una lingua che non è la tua è mooolto difficile, mi perdo la trama per cercare di ascoltare le parole. Di solito preferisco seguirli in ITA - SUB ENG quando mi esercito con lo scritto, perchè riesco anche a seguire la trama. Quando devo fare esercizi di pronuncia prendo qualche pagina di wikipedia in inglese, la copio su google traduttore e la ascolto, stoppandomi ad ogni parola. Così mi esercito senza perdermi niente : P

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Itikar
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Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Itikar » Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:13 pm

Quintus wrote:The only living language I studied at school was French. The language learning in all the schools that I attended, both for French and dead languages, was always exclusively based on grammar during the first two years and on grammar plus syntax for the next ones. The same method was also used for the Italian language itself: we were given a very great deal of grammar and syntax notions. For French, we were taught the pronunciation of words we were using daily while studying the grammar, so our language comprehension kept up with theoretical learning and was progressive. Things haven't happened to me this way with English. My situation evolved, and at times regressed, with various vicissitudes. But, given the type of education I was given at school for years, at the time when I decided to study English the first thing I did was to desperately seek out a good grammar book. Without a grammar book, I am dead. Besides, it's not easy for me to find a good grammar book. To me, the ideal grammar book is one written in a way that I want it to be written, that is, in the same way as my grammar books were written. This is just what occurred to me the other day while attempting an approach to modern Greek, although I did it mostly for curiosity and mainly to refresh a bit of the ancient one. I couldn't find anything I liked. Moreover, the effective information from the net is zilch. I'm afraid though that my search for the ideal one will last a long time, sooo long.

Oh, I remember how Latin was taught in high school. Yeah, I rember it with truly deep disgust. The teachers were not really responsible for it being disgusting. It was the ministerial program that mandated that worthless grammar based torture I was subjected to.
I am glad the teacher I had in the last year of high school for rebelling to this insanity and teaching us scientific Latin literature instead of those useless translations. :)
I have always promised myself to take a Latin book one of these days and to study it in all its glory, caring for vowel length and stress instead than for future imperatives.

I think anyway that a grammar approach to languages with a relatively reduced morphology, like English or also Italian or German, might be feasible, although still counterproductive at times. But what about languages like Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Slavic languages or Arabic? I think that, with those, focusing too much on grammar, in particular on morphology, at a too early stage would probably end up preventing you from learning the language, leaving you to stick with little more than a reading knowledge.
Now, if the language is dead, one can live up with it, although, If I studied them, I could not stand not being able to express myself and make sentences freely in those beautiful tongues of the olden days.

Reading my messages someone could think that I do not like grammar. On the contrary I love grammar and I find it the most interesting aspects of language learning. I like also to practise it with exercises, even those repetitive exercises people usually hate as "here are thirty nouns: write down their full declension for all numbers and cases".
What I question, instead, is the time in which some superfluous grammar notions are introduced in courses and handbooks, while other important ones are not given the attention they should deserve.
Then details can be taken into account at a later stage, possibly directly in the language one is studying.

Think for example to the other topic when you asked me about the conjugation of the verb to be in Russian. I could have told you that in that language if the copula is expressed the adjective introduced by it can have a short or a long form, and if you use the long form, this one is usually in the instrumental case instead of in the nominative (as in Latin for example). And that on top of that with the past tense you can use colloquially also nominative while with future you can use only instrumental. Would these unnecessary details have been helpful to you? I think not. :)

http://japaneseruleof7.com/why-are-japa ... 5-reasons/
Here is a nice article written by an English teacher who lives in Japan, whose way to tell stories and his general topaiolo tone I find quite funny and enjoyable.
In his article he both praises and critics English teaching in Japan, which is very deep and thorough concerning English grammar, but lacks completely any approach to the language as it is used.
Result? Few Japanese can speak English to a level proportionate to the time and effort they devoted to its study.

Ron Weasley wrote:I don't like to read mangas, because I have never read, I don't know their write mode. Is much better watching animes ^^.

Honestly I have read only a handful of them in my life. However I like some of them, especially those some classical animes are based upon. I think comic books are a good resource to learn a language, because with them you can often get the gist of sentences from pictures and context.

For the rest, there are several nice resources, as the blog I linked above, that can couple both your interest for Japan and its beautiful language with English practice. Another good resource is NHK world. It is Japan's international news channel in English. In addition to news they also broadcast many intersting documentaries on Japanese language, Japan's history, its culture and science in general. Tell me if you like it. :D
I would be very grateful, if you could please correct my English.

Ron Weasley

Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Ron Weasley » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:40 pm

Yes, Itikar, it is nice! Thank you for the hint ^^

Ilvia
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Re: How do you study languages?

Postby Ilvia » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:32 pm

In Italy often teach ONLY grammar..At the elementary school I studied french and I had just some optional english lessons - in which a very good teacher teach us to talk, with a very little grammar. When I was at the secondary school I always took 6 or 7 in english :p ..but in England or in Europe I was able to chat with other people - my friends no!

Anyway.. a few year later I discoverd english book (I started with Harry Potter, because in italian I had to wait almost a year :p) - and audiobook. Them make the difference.

I'm learning Japanese with Anime (Naruto, One Piece and Fairy Tail)... well, not really Japanese but some word :)

P.S.
Per Ron: i film sono difficili perchè ogni volta che inizia una frase hai bisogno di un attimo prima di cominciare veramente ad ascoltare e ti perdi un sacco di pezzi. Prova con gli audiobooks, parti da storie che già conosci e ascoltale mentre fai altro (viaggi, lavori, disegni).. col fatto che parlano senza pause ti fai l'orecchio molto velocemente, se poi conosci la storia bene o male tieni sempre il filo ed è più facile capire di cosa stanno parlando.
Ilvia
Per favore, correggete le mie frasi in inglese quando sono sbagliate :) Anche se si tratta di errori piccoli, non mi offenderò!!
Please, correct my English sentences when they are wrong :) Also if there are small errors, I will not take offence!!


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