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Old 23-06-2020, 03:07   #1
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Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

I guess this will be my first substantial post. I'm still going to be asking intimate questions about physics, but I want to deal with another issue first. I understand that most people here are not linguists and that – in the European Union – most helpful people would understand English. At the same time, a lot of you have experienced a multitude of foreign languages, and studying foreign languages has helped me with my mental illnesses. I also do not like to create too many accounts to deal with a myriad of forums.

It has been several years ago since I have seriously practiced both French and Spanish. Perhaps indicative of my real skills, I am rusty in both languages to a degree beyond what I considered acceptable for intermediate speakers. Now at the university level, I am very much interested in German but need to make sure that I become more proficient in my preceding foreign languages.

1. French and Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine. However, despite talking about the exact same objects, a noun that is masculine in one Romance language can be feminine in another. I know that I must remember the words separately, but I just cannot visualize the same object as being both ‘manly’ and ‘a chick’ at the same time. Are there any qualified tips you can give out?

2. Say that I do take up German (and I feel that I must). Is there anyone here who has most effectively studied 3 languages at the same time? I understand that nothing beats serious immersion but, as I work on a computer throughout the day, I cannot imagine switching between 3 different languages every couple hours.

In case anybody is wondering, I suffer from borderline personality disorder. If I feel that I must understand something at the intuitive level, I need to understand it at that level. I have probably heard all the advice given out by great educators, and I am sure that a part of my problem has been created because I have not genuinely applied the most important ones. Still, the problem mostly lies in a few questions that were never satisfactorily answered.
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Old 23-06-2020, 03:08   #2
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

Some more background information to help you understand what I have gone through, but please answer the main questions. Thank you.
………………………………………………………………………………….
Spanish is my first foreign language experience, having learned it from a good high school. My grades were one A and the rest were mostly mid-to-low Bs (I have learned up to Spanish 3).

At a junior college, I took Spanish 4 and earned a grade of a C. Embarrassed and knowing that foreign languages should not be that difficult - and by then staying more than 3 years at the junior college level - I decided to start afresh and try French 1. The journey with French was exhilarating and I earned consistent As on all my classes (with different styles and professors) up to French 4. I simply did not have the time to invest on French 5 and above. While learning French, I also took one more Spanish class: a conversational Spanish class. Unfortunately, there weren't too many people in that class and meetup was not really intensive. I earned a high B (and a couple of other students apparently earned Cs).
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Old 23-06-2020, 09:00   #3
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

The "immersion" concept works best. Get a job or take an extended vacation in the region with the language you are trying to learn and don't skip out and fall back on your English. This was how I learned German. 3 months you will learn a hell of a lot. Visiting my new german in-laws for the first time...


Later I went to launch a new production line and was over there by myself with a bunch of german and Bavarian contractors and customer employees... Learned even more. Still later took a job in Germany in the wine production area on the French border and had almost weekly meetings with customers in Germany and had to have presentations in German. I would have someone check the grammar on the slides, the customers were nice enough about my speech, they knew I was trying.

It all depends on what you are trying to achieve, if you are trying to learn jargon from specific fields? One also needs to realize there are regional dialects that one will not learn in any school, but usually not too important because the locals will know you are not from around there and speak "high german" as it is called to help you out. Unless they don't like you....

Today with the internet, youtube etc, you can probably watch german TV and news on a daily basis, just listening to it constantly sharpens the mind. If you don't use it you lose it. Also listening is about 5% the effort of responding in real time. Putting your thoughts together and getting past formulating an English answer and then trying to translate it into german takes a long period of immersion, until you start thinking in german and even dreaming in it.

Cant comment on the other languages, but my native language is English, second is Afrikaans and 3rd is German... Enough for me for now... Maybe Spanish in future...
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Old 23-06-2020, 09:08   #4
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

Quote:
Originally Posted by No Bias FTW View Post
1. French and Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine. However, despite talking about the exact same objects, a noun that is masculine in one Romance language can be feminine in another. I know that I must remember the words separately, but I just cannot visualize the same object as being both ‘manly’ and ‘a chick’ at the same time. Are there any qualified tips you can give out?
Though there is a relationship with the masculinity and femininity of what a noun refers to, the thing that helped me get past this confusion was when someone explained to me that it has much more to do with how a word is spelled (especially the ending) than it does with male or female. This is less true in Spanish, more true in French, and even more true in German.

Quote:
Originally Posted by No Bias FTW View Post
2. Say that I do take up German (and I feel that I must). Is there anyone here who has most effectively studied 3 languages at the same time? I understand that nothing beats serious immersion but, as I work on a computer throughout the day, I cannot imagine switching between 3 different languages every couple hours.
I can't either. I think immersion is absolutely the best way to learn a language. So, especially when learning another new language, I would forget about the others for a while.


I learned French first, and really found that I had to completely leave it behind when I started studying Spanish. Once I felt confident in Spanish, it was pretty easy to go back and brush up my French. Since they are both Latin-based, though, it is still pretty easy to get confused between the two.


Good luck.
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Old 23-06-2020, 11:24   #5
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

In high school I had classes (ie I didn't study!) in swedish, english and germany (besides my native finnish). As I said I didn't study but I've allways been a good to get the spoken word and I can pretty well those languages.

Later in my life had also japanese in college for two years (not much use but I can allways introduce myself in japanese).

Moved north by the Norwegian border some 35yrs ago and now living and working in Norway so fluent in norwegian.

French in evening classes one year, enough to do shopping and such in french.

Was married with a Cubanita so domestic and street spain ok. Spain is actually the only language I've ever studied some grammar for as I studied alone a while to get started.

Did I mention some Sámi language? Enough to say the price when they sell me
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Old 23-06-2020, 12:22   #6
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

Depends on what your actual goals are.



I'd recommend focusing on one at a time. Whichever one is important to you now, I'd focus on that.


So if you want to focus on German, I'd let go of the French and Spanish for now. It's a lot easier to get a language back than to learn it the first time. If you study two romance languages at the same time, they do tend to get mixed up.
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Old 23-06-2020, 17:06   #7
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

Thank you for all the advice, guys. The grandest immersion my learning experiences shall be (and also one language at a time).
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Old 23-06-2020, 20:04   #8
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Re: Need help with learning multiple foreign languages

My late father had a lengthy career teaching Spanish and spoke several other languages fluently as well. As he neared retirement I remember him looking back on many "fads" in language instruction and allowing as how there was no silver bullet.


His general advice to people in your situation was "brief, intense, frequent" -- to conduct multiple short, intensive study sessions each day.
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