Time to Learn a New language

  • #26
918
16
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
Mentor
23,202
3,013
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
20
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 lets 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 Im 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
459
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
128
0
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
Gold Member
3,767
136
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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