Time to Learn a New language

  • #1
Stratosphere
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How long would it take someone to learn french? I had heard of people learning it in abought a year but I think I can do better.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
humanino
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Learning a language takes much more than a year, to begin with, it requires actually living in the country. Being able to communicate and manage with daily life is not knowing the language. You may be able to communicate in a few months, even maybe weeks if you are gifted, provided you study every day.
 
  • #3
Stratosphere
373
0
Learning a language takes much more than a year, to begin with, it requires actually living in the country. Being able to communicate and manage with daily life is not knowing the language. You may be able to communicate in a few months, even maybe weeks if you are gifted, provided you study every day.

I'm 15 so kids learn faster than adults right? Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time throughout the day cause I'm teaching myself calculus.
 
  • #4
TheStatutoryApe
260
4
From the people I have known that have learned a second language they were only capable of learning it over an extended period of time. A friend of mine learned japanese over a few years, married a japanese exchange student, lived in japan for a year or so, and still does not consider himself fluent.

French being more closely related to english you may have better luck though.


Edit: FYI Humanino is a frenchman by the way.
 
  • #5
humanino
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I'm 15 so kids learn faster than adults right?
Are you calling me an adult !?
Seriously, give yourself rigor in learning steadily, otherwise you will loose your vocabulary, better say loose efficiency in the learning process. If you manage to construct more and more complicated sentences, the extent of your vocabulary eventually "sticks to itself".
 
  • #6
TheStatutoryApe
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4
Are you calling me an adult !?

Don't fool yourself, he is calling you old.
 
  • #7
humanino
2,490
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Don't fool yourself, he is calling you old.
I may be old as long as I never grow up. :cry:
 
  • #8
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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I may be old as long as I never grow up. :cry:

Ah...it's ok, Humanino Pan :smile:.
 
  • #9
Astronuc
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How long would it take someone to learn french? I had heard of people learning it in abought a year but I think I can do better.
Only if one is immersed in a language on a daily basis could one learn it and be proficient in one year.

It would take maybe two years to get a basic ability to read, write and speak in a new language.

I learned Spanish from 4-9th grade, and German from 9-12th grade with another year in university. I can read, speak and write in German fairly well, but to be really proficient, I'd have to live and work in a German speaking country for a year or so. I can speak a little Spanish, but it would take an intensive course or living in a Spanish speaking environment for me to recover what I lost from disuse.

I was learning Russian and Bulgarian for a while, but I'm too busy at the moment to sustain my learning and keep it up.
 
  • #10
MissSilvy
300
1
Take it from someone who has learned 3 languages to fluency; being 15 gives you no major advantage. Linguistically you are an adult. 'Children' are from birth to about 9 years old if you're talking about relevance top language learning ability. Your commitment and discipline will get you much farther than 'Lookit me, I'm reading French grammar books!'

Try http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/default.asp
And http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/
And a classic AND VERY RELEVANT http://tesl-ej.org/ej45/tesl-ej.ej45.fr1.pdf [Broken]

Those are three of the best resources on language learning. Courses by themselves won't help you, memorizing verb tenses won't help you, workbooks won't help you. I learned German to advanced fluency in 9 months so it can be done. It helps greatly, however, if you have prior language experience (such as being bilingual as a child or studying another language to fluency, NOT high school Spanish classes). Good luck I suppose?

Edit: And people who tell you that you MUST live in a foreign country to gain proficiency are severely misguided. What matters is your personal environment, not what's outside of your window. If I listen to Russian, read Russian, write Russian, play Russian video games, and minimize my English interference, it's 99% the same as living in Russia in terms of language learning. The key is immersion.
 
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  • #11
exportedhuman
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Edit: And people who tell you that you MUST live in a foreign country to gain proficiency are severely misguided. What matters is your personal environment, not what's outside of your window. If I listen to Russian, read Russian, write Russian, play Russian video games, and minimize my English interference, it's 99% the same as living in Russia in terms of language learning. The key is immersion.
Is that an excuse ? an explanation ?

But I guess the OP doesn't mean it is his purpose to go abroad. Period!
 
  • #12
MissSilvy
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An excuse for what, exactly? Your English is a bit hard to understand, based on your other posts. It's a statement, by the way.
 
  • #13
humanino
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The key is immersion.
Sure, I certainly agree, and in fact I did the same as a teenager with english (american) culture. However, it is quite a challenge to immerse yourself in the french culture while in the US, at least much more challenging than immersing yourself in the american culture while in France.

Well, honestly, take a couple years abroad as a foreign student, and then you'll tell me whether it was worth :biggrin:
 
  • #14
rootX
465
4
Edit: And people who tell you that you MUST live in a foreign country to gain proficiency are severely misguided. What matters is your personal environment, not what's outside of your window. If I listen to Russian, read Russian, write Russian, play Russian video games, and minimize my English interference, it's 99% the same as living in Russia in terms of language learning.

What about speaking?
 
  • #15
MissSilvy
300
1
Humanino: I lived abroad in Austria for 11 months during junior year of high school. It WAS worth it, but I came in with zippo German and came out the msot fluent out of 100 exchange students. Someone barely learned anything because they didn't put any effort in at all. They just hung out, made smalltalk in German, and thought that they would absorb it by osmosis. Didn't happen! So it helps and it makes immersion easier for the lazy person, but it's not a magic key.

What about speaking?

Yes, speaking as well. It's almost midnight where I am, so I apologize if I forget some things :)
 
  • #16
Stratosphere
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0
Sure, I certainly agree, and in fact I did the same as a teenager with english (american) culture. However, it is quite a challenge to immerse yourself in the french culture while in the US, at least much more challenging than immersing yourself in the american culture while in France.

Well, honestly, take a couple years abroad as a foreign student, and then you'll tell me whether it was worth :biggrin:

Well since you lived in France I might as well ask you how it is there compared to the U.S. I was considering living (in Paris) there for a few summers after I turn 18. And as for learning french, is it possible to learn it without formal classes? I really don't have the time to go to french class and the french teacher is a b*%#&.
 
  • #17
humanino
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how it is there compared to the U.S.
This is quite a difficult question, partly because I know virtually nothing about you. I do believe that there are cultural and behavioral differences between Europe in general and the US, but I believe the are not so relevant as the differences between just people and places (anywhere, inside the US or inside Europe). Countryside versus big cities, Paris is actually neither of them and has people coming from both. I believe the people at first will appear less friendly, at least less open and harder to get in touch with. But if you just follow your instinct and manage to make friends, I also believe they might become lifelong. In any case, I would definitely advise to go study abroad, be it France or somewhere else, as I would advise traveling and discovering other cultures in general ! Discovering somewhere else usually takes time, and is best done with a local friend, so going abroad for study is perfect.

Learning (anything) without formal classes is possible, if you are serious about it, and for languages there is excellent material (reading and audio) available readily in any bookstore. In addition you may be able to find movies in french when you completed the highest level typically available, and that helps tremendously not only to learn the actual language but most importantly to become familiar with a different way of thinking, culture, and most difficult : jokes.
 
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  • #18
Stratosphere
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0
This is quite a difficult question, partly because I know virtually nothing about you. I do believe that there are cultural and behavioral differences between Europe in general and the US, but I believe the are not so relevant as the differences between just people and places (anywhere, inside the US or inside Europe). Countryside versus big cities, Paris is actually neither of them and has people coming from both. I believe the people at first will appear less friendly, at least less open and harder to get in touch with. But if you just follow your instinct and manage to make friends, I also believe they might become lifelong. In any case, I would definitely advise to go study abroad, be it France or somewhere else, as I would advise traveling and discovering other cultures in general ! Discovering somewhere else usually takes time, and is best done with a local friend, so going abroad for study is perfect.

Learning (anything) without formal classes is possible, if you are serious about it, and for languages there is excellent material (reading and audio) available readily in any bookstore. In addition you may be able to find movies in french when you completed the highest level typically available, and that helps tremendously not only to learn the actual language but most importantly to become familiar with a different way of thinking, culture, and most difficult : jokes.

Well I'm quite accustomed to European culture since 90% of my relatives live in Italy (I'm 50% Italian).
 
  • #19
JaredJames
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Well I'm quite accustomed to European culture since 90% of my relatives live in Italy (I'm 50% Italian).

Surely you'd be better off going for Italian then? Seeing as you could use your relatives to practice on and if you visit you could have experience minus some of the cost.
 
  • #20
Stratosphere
373
0
Surely you'd be better off going for Italian then? Seeing as you could use your relatives to practice on and if you visit you could have experience minus some of the cost.

I had though abought that a little bit but I have always really felt like I had to go to France for some reason, never really cared much abought Italy. Paris seems so much nicer, a french accent sounds better than an Italian one to. Plus Italy is right next door to France.

Oh and a side note, what music do french people listen to?
 
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  • #21
JaredJames
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Yeah it's pretty much one of the only ways you will learn a language rapidly. Use the resources you have (given 90% of your family is Italian).

I prefer Germany to be honest, can't see anything attractive about France at all. Although I really am too lazy to learn another language at a push I'd say that Australian would be my language of choice. :biggrin:
 
  • #22
humanino
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  • #23
ranger
Gold Member
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Learning the basics of a language (rules/grammar, script, and basic compositions) took me about 6 months of part time studies without any sort of direct immersion. If you are committed you can certainly do this in about 3 months.

Going from basic to intermediate is very easy. But the most difficult for me is going from intermediate to advanced. I've been stuck here in intermediate for almost a year now! I guess this is mostly due to my lack of time, but making that transition is certainly not an easy one.
 
  • #24
Stratosphere
373
0
Yeah it's pretty much one of the only ways you will learn a language rapidly. Use the resources you have (given 90% of your family is Italian).

I prefer Germany to be honest, can't see anything attractive about France at all. Although I really am too lazy to learn another language at a push I'd say that Australian would be my language of choice. :biggrin:
Have you ever been to France though?
 
  • #25
JaredJames
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  • #26
Jimmy Snyder
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Based on my experience in trying to learn English, I would guess it takes 59 years to learn a language. I'm taking the family (which means the family is taking me) to France for two weeks in August/September. It will be my second time there. It's a waste of time learning to speak French though. I found it difficult getting them to understand their own language. You might want to brush up on simple phrases like "Ecoute-moi bien!" and "Fais-le comme je le dis!". But the best thing is just to speak English slowly and loudly.
 
  • #27
Evo
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My Italian ex-fiance learned English well enough in 3 weeks that we could hold normal conversations and he had only a slight accent. He didn't know English when we first met, and since I'm no good with foreign languages, he had to learn, but he already spoke 5 languages fluently before learning English. And being Sicilian he also knew Sicilian and Palermitan, both very different from true Italian.
 
  • #28
chem123
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0
I moved to Spain when I was 25. Id never studied spanish in my life and knew 'hola' and 'gracias' when I stepped off the plane. I was totally immersed upon arrival and extremely motivated. I was speaking fluently in about 6 months...which many had told me how long it would take. By fluently let's say I had about 60 to 70 percent of the language down well and speaking was still difficult but I could communicate well. Now after almost 6 years here Id say I am only around a 90-95 percent level and speaking spanish kind of flows out of my mouth like english...just not quite as eloquently. Once you hit that 75 percent mark or so in the first year, the rest of the way to 100 percent is like making jumps toward a wall but only jumping half way each time...you'll make progress but the progress will be less and less likely visible.

So I like the figure of six months based on; a native english speaker (the language you are coming from and which you are going into is a huge variable) being totally immersed in a latin language (i think the same result would hold true for French or Italian) and being highly motivated. I guess age will be a fairly important factor as well. As far as the intangibles of 'you are good with languages' go...I have no idea to be honest. I never thought of myself as a 'language person'. Thought it might be fun to learn some more though.

And like the previous poster mentioned about the person with 5 languages already, takes no time to get going with another one. Id hardly heard italian in my life but after about 5 hours in the country I was puking out phrases left right and center.
 
  • #29
Huckleberry
477
7
I was working and living in Mexico for about 3 months several years ago. The first few weeks I was studying a Spanish book but could hardly communicate at all. Understanding the words on the page didn't directly convert into understanding the words that were spoken to me. Only after hearing and identifying them did I understand what they mean. When the words are flowing in a conversation there really isn't time to pause in a sentence. So I picked up fragments of speech here and there and generally was pretty lost.

After a few weeks I could manage in simple situations, mostly out of necessity. Asking directions someplace or getting something from the supermarket, simple things like that had to be used on a daily basis. They were the first things I felt comfortable using and understanding.

After a few months I was just beginning to pick up some of the more complex concepts and structure of words. I could understand some of the jokes. I could sometimes distinguish which word was being used when the words sound similar. I could use some of the structures that aren't native to English. I could hear the difference between how the letters are formed when they are spoken. It was still pretty rough communication at that point, but it was passable for a young child perhaps.

The concepts really do stick to each other. When one thing is learned it opens up new understanding to other things. I was working with mostly Italians, and one of them spoke some basic English. We kind of created an amalgamation of English, Spanish and Italian that we used to communicate with each other. It was very interesting, but probably not the best thing for trying to learn Spanish while I was there. Though I did learn to communicate with him well enough.

They got a laugh when I tried to read one of their books in Italian with an American version of what Italian should sound like. Then I saw a book from a Hungarian guy we met downtown. I don't think there was a word with less than 12 letters in it. What a crazy language that is!
 
  • #30
Ian_Brooks
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fastest way to learn a language is to live in that country.You can read a books on proper grammer but learning and understanding colloquialism customs and variabilities of the language. Some things to consider are formal means of address & masculine and feminine forms of verbs.
 
  • #31
fluidistic
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When I was your age (to the OP), I was one of the worst Spanish (my average was 4/20) student in my class and a well below average student in English (average about 7/20). I'm a native French speaker, half Quebecer, half French.
I (re)moved to Canada when I was 15.5 years old and I learned some English at school, but I was the worst English student there. I left Canada when I was 17, for France once again. Since then I've been learning English thanks to Internet (so my pronunciation is bad). I'm 22 by the way.

At 18 years old I moved alone to Argentina (I still live there) and met my current girlfriend. I knew some Spanish before coming here but not that much. I learned it so fast that Argentine people couldn't recognize whether I was a foreigner or not (thanks to my girlfriend. I asked her so much), within less than 6 months. I see many orthographic errors almost everyday in newspapers, dictionary and books. I write generally better than the average freshman at university.
I'd say that if my ability with French is 10/10, my Spanish one is 8-9/10 while my English one is somewhere between 2 and 4/10, with the utmost sincerity.

That said you can see that if you can't grasp French at school, it really doesn't mean you can't grasp it. You have to learn some grammar with books, listen to French sentences subtitled in order to being able to think in French, little by little. Vocabulary is also very important, but to begin : GRAMMAR. Without grammar you won't be able to start to think in French.
About age : I don't think there's a big difference between being 15 and 35. It might not be true for all people and as I'm only 22 I can't confirm it but this is what I think.
About your question, 1 year... will be hard if you self study at home and has no contact with French people. Very hard to pronounce the many vowels. For instance if you read books that teach to learn French within a few time (like Assimil) you'll learn wrongly. They make errors such as "J'habite à Paris" instead of "J'habite Paris", though I agree most French people do the error. Another bad point, about the pronunciation : "eu" makes a vowel. In all introductory French books I've seen they say it is pronounced only one way. While it is false. It depends where the "eu" is in the word. For example the "eu" in "Europe" is not pronounced the same as in "peur". I guess only linguistic books talk about it. This apply for many other vowels. These are things you can't self teach. You need to listen and communicate to learn the language within a year.
Good luck.
 

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