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Thread: In which order should you learn languages?

  1. #1 In which order should you learn languages? 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    I talked to a guy that speaks spanish, english and french and he says:

    If you only want to learn one language you should go with spanish.

    If you can learn more you should start with french then spanish.

    If youve learned french and spanish you could easily learn Italian.

    I didnt ask him why (its a guy i play with online, he spoke french with someone on skype once so i assume he isnt lying :P) so i was wondering if someone could enlighten me as to why he said this.

    I assume its regarding grammar and similarity in the languages and such.

    If you speak several languages which would you reccomend practically, which are the easiest and hardest? ( ive heared russian and greek is truly a pain due to their own alphabet)


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  3. #2  
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    You see, Italian, Spanish and French all go from the same language. They are all Roman languages. The first sentence:

    If you only want to learn one language you should go with spanish.

    He said that because Spanish is incredibly simple. I speak spanish and I can tell you that is very easy to learn, specially to speak.

    If you can learn more you should start with french then spanish.

    He said this because french is quite complicated, and you can easily confuse words of those two languages. Plus, French grammar is quite hard, but once you learn it, you don't need much to learn spanish grammar

    And the third

    If youve learned french and spanish you could easily learn Italian.

    As I already said, these three languages are very much alike, although they have many differences too. So, if you know two of them, the third one isn't hard to learn. By the way, if you are into studying Italian or Spanish, really, go for it, they are really not hard, I speak both....

    P.S. Considering Greek, I agree, but I study Russian and it wasn't really hard for me considering I already knew their alphabet. (I live in Montenegro, Balcanic peninsula, we learn both latinic and cyrillic at school )

    P.P.S. I hope I was helpfull :-D


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  4. #3  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    P.P.S. I hope I was helpfull :-D
    Yes, very! Thanks for your answer
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  5. #4  
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    Sure, if you need any help about spanish or italian, just let me know =) (I'd help with french too, but i never liked it so i never learned it =))
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  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Sure, if you need any help about spanish or italian, just let me know =) (I'd help with french too, but i never liked it so i never learned it =))
    Well on a very basic level, how is the sentence structure in spanish and italian?

    Example:

    English: I went to school to read a book

    Norwegian(My first language): Jeg(I) gikk(Went) til (to) skolen (School) for å (to) lese (read) en(a) bok (book)

    Spanish: ?

    Italian:?

    I feel the easiest way to quickly understand a new language is understanding the structure of a sentence as to where you place the words, and to see movies in those languages with english text. Ive allready decided to sign on for french next year as i want to learn the hardest first.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    Spanish: Yo fui a la escuela a leer un libro

    Italian: Sono andato a scuola a leggere un libro
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  8. #7 Re: In which order should you learn languages? 
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    It depends on person. For example, my grandma always tell me than french is very easy. She never had any problems with learning it. I tried to learn it, but i just hate it (i can't explain why) so it came to nothing. Spanish is my passion(again, i dont't know why), that's why it is the easiest language for me(and not only for me). Also i think that spanish and italian(i tried to learn it but i had no time for it) have more in common than spanish and french.
    Spanish and italian grammar seems very easy to me. English grammar is much harder(i'm russian so English is foreign language for me).
    So, i think you should learn language that you like most of all.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Spanish: Yo fui a la escuela a leer un libro

    Italian: Sono andato a scuola a leggere un libro
    I may be wrong, but i think in Spanish it is:
    Fui a la escuela a leer un libro (without pronoun)
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  10. #9  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    ... I feel the easiest way to quickly understand a new language is ... to see movies in those languages with english text. ...
    I have studied several languages, but am not very proficient with any of them. The one big tip I can offer is to begin learning any second language as early as possible -- in grammar/elementary school or junior high school. As a person ages, I believe the mind becomes less flexible to learning languages, and your comprehension and usage of languages will suffer. Learning something early on will at least give your brain some flexibility to learn new languages which will come in handy later in life.

    I use variations of Raziell's idea to maintain/increase the language proficiencies that I do have -- I sometimes re-watch movies on DVDs with the subtitles in the foreign languages, and sometimes in the spoken foreign language with either foreign or English text. As always, you will notice both shortened text and alternative words and phrases used in foreign languages as does happen in English.

    It entertains as well as educates (which helps you to learn); however, you might want to watch alone because occasionally replaying scenes can bother others who are not enthusiastic learners. If you are very familiar with the movie, you may find yourself reading or listening to the foreign language and hardly aware of the English. Some movies, perhaps older [B&W] classics, tend to have more language choices for text, and I have seen Chinese, German, Portuguese, Russian, etc in addition to the typical French and/or Spanish. Maybe it depends on the intended market for the DVD itself.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yuliana
    Quote Originally Posted by JennLonhon
    Spanish: Yo fui a la escuela a leer un libro

    Italian: Sono andato a scuola a leggere un libro
    I may be wrong, but i think in Spanish it is:
    Fui a la escuela a leer un libro (without pronoun)
    As fare as I know, both are possible. But true, in every day speaking they don't always use it....
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    Forum Sophomore LunchBox's Avatar
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    French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian and Romanian are latin derivatives. Learn one, and the rest are a bit easier...and French is probably the best to learn first due to its prevalence, and "difficulty".

    I also agree that starting a child on multiple languages early is a huge boost. My son is 2.5 y/o, and knows English (obviously), sign language, and some is learning Spanish.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    I decided to go with japanese

    Its a really nice language imo. Chinese sounds so "Whiny". When men speak japanese it sounds tough and badass, and when women speak it - it sounds so feminine and sensual.

    Anyone else on these forums speak or is learning japanese atm?
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  14. #13  
    Forum Junior JennLonhon's Avatar
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    Try Jamaican, its hilarious, i love it Such an awesome language, as far as I understood its a mixture of a bunch of languages and its kinda tough.... Pronunciation is a bit hmmm hard....
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    If you plan on dedicating time and effort to learn a new language, a factor of consideration I would add is the likelyhood you will get to use the language, depending on your preferences, travel plans for the future and interest in culture and litterature.
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  16. #15 Re: In which order should you learn languages? 
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    I also want to know the language order but im learning korean now an i speak a little french which language should i got to next after ive mastered korean and so forth?
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  17. #16  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    You generally start with your mother tongue...
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  18. #17  
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    also want to know the language order but im learning korean now an i speak a little french which language should i got to next after ive mastered korean and so forth?
    The most important thing is to maintain your language skill once you've acquired it. Reading and writing and speaking. Having once been fluent in French, proficient in Latin (!) and halfway competent with German and Italian I violated the "use it or lose it" rule. I'm hard-pressed to manage more than a few words of any of them now.

    Learn it, maintain it, develop it further if you can. Don't let your acquired skills slip when you move to gain further skills. The better you know a handful of languages, the easier it is to pick up grammatical patterns in others.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  19. #18  
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    Doesn't it depend on what you want to do with it?

    I'm going to be a WA State school teacher soon. I'll probably learn Spanish. If I was back in Maine, where I was raised, French would be the choice language.
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  20. #19  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    I decided to go with japanese
    Japanese is a good choice: easy pronunciation, regular and realtively straightforward grammar. The writing system is hard work but I recommend learning the phonetic scripts (kana) straight away as it helps avoid pronunciation errors based on misinterpreting transcriptions in roman letters. It is useful but not as useful as Chinese would be.
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  21. #20  
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    Doesn't it depend on what you want to do with it?
    yesbut. I've simply found that having left the languages, calculus, physics and a few other things alone for 30+ years, it's a whole heap easier to pick up a calculus text and plod through it than language stuff. Might be just me.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  22. #21  
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    You're not kidding. I was raised with French, but it's completely gone other than picking up a few words if someone's speaking it. A learned quite a bit of Arabic two years ago by being emersed in it while training an Iraqi Brigade, and that is already fading. As in your case, decades later I can still do calculus though, or at least recognize enough to look it up, which "trick to use."
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  23. #22  
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    I think if you want retention, you've got to read the language a lot. Remembering conversations I've had with people in Spanish doesn't help me remember how to speak Spanish. My mind just puts the conversation into English for me. I couldn't remember how they worded the things they said to save my life.

    However, whenever I remember reading a book in Spanish, I kind of see the words on the page.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  24. #23  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    On the other hand, i think it is almost impossible to become fluent in a language without using it; i.e. creating sentences in the language. Preferably speaking. But writing might work.

    Only remembering what someone said, not how they said it (or, even, what language they said it in) is a good sign of fluency.

    One of the challenges of learning a non-Indo-European language is that you can't build on your current vocabulary. If you learn another European language you will recognize the roots of some words, which helps them stick in the mind. With something like Chinese or Japanese you are starting pretty much from scratch with building vocabulary.
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  25. #24  
    Forum Freshman Andrei's Avatar
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    As someone said before me it depends on the person. I for one speak Romanian a romance language (mostly) as native language. I also speak Italian because they are very similar. However although I had French in school for almost 7 years even today I have big problems speaking it. That is due to the fact that I never really liked romance languages. I always prefered more powerful languages like the germanic ones. That's way I learned English very easy from TV and computer games. And this is also the reason why I don't find German to be as difficult as some say. Plus English and German are quite similar.

    1. I went to school to read a book.
    2. Ich war zur Schule um ein Buch zu lesen.
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  26. #25  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Decided to post here again instead of starting another thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    I decided to go with japanese
    Japanese is a good choice: easy pronunciation, regular and realtively straightforward grammar. The writing system is hard work but I recommend learning the phonetic scripts (kana) straight away as it helps avoid pronunciation errors based on misinterpreting transcriptions in roman letters. It is useful but not as useful as Chinese would be.
    You were spot on so far Strange. The proununciation is easy.And it is pretty straight forward grammar.

    I am having difficulties atm though. Memory related. I've learned Hiragana and Katakana, but memorizing the kanji is really hard work. I spent so much time trying to memorize kanji now that I even forgot a few kata/hiragana and had to backtrack. I'm also having a hard time seperating the NI and HE particles. If someone could give me some advice here I'd be happy to hear it.

    Edit: A problem I am also having is remembering the words themselves. You spend so much time memorizing kana that it gets in the way of also remembering all the words.
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  27. #26  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    And it is pretty straight forward grammar.
    You haven't got very far then <evil grin>

    I've learned Hiragana and Katakana, but memorizing the kanji is really hard work. I spent so much time trying to memorize kanji now that I even forgot a few kata/hiragana and had to backtrack.
    I'm afraid there is no substitute for hard work: lots of practice reading and writing (the latter is probably more important). I was lucky to be living in Japan so I was surrounded by things to practice reading continuosly (adverts, warning signs, street and shop names - would try and read everything I saw).

    Opinions are divided, but I don't think that learning kanji early is essential. There are some good text books which are hiragana only. It is easier to learn the kanji when you have a good grasp of the language. And there are some ways in which learning kanji can be a bit of a crutch - there are still quite a lot of words I know when I see them written down but don't know how to pronounce.

    I'm also having a hard time seperating the NI and HE particles. If someone could give me some advice here I'd be happy to hear it.
    They are pretty much interchangeable when used in the sense of "towards" (e.g. toukyou ni iku = toukyou he iku = [I am] going to Tokyo). Although my grammar book says "ni emphasises arrival while he emphasizes the action of going" (1).

    That is pretty much it for he.

    Ni also specifies where something is (toukyou ni iru = [I am] in Tokyo). But not where something happens (resutoran de tabeta = we ate in/at a restaurant). It has a very wide range of other uses many of which are related to "direction" (e.g. to give to someone).

    Edit: A problem I am also having is remembering the words themselves.
    This is always a problem with non indo-european languages - you don't have any "hooks" to hang your understanding on (apart from a few loan words). Again, I'm afraid, no substitute for practice - speaking especially. There has been research that shows that you need to use a language to learn it.

    I would concentrate on developing vocabulary first, kanji second. Kanji can help develop vocabulary because you see relationships that wouldn't be obvious otherwise so it maybe worth picking a few easy ones up, as you go. Then make a big effort on kanji later.

    gambatte kudasai!

    (1) Handbook of Modern Japanese Grammar, Yoko Matsuoka McClain, Hokuseido Press
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  28. #27  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Thanks alot Strange!

    I fear you may be right that my memory isnt the problem but rather lack of good old hard work.

    Out of curiosity, did you study Japanese yourself or did you learn it as a hobby or such?
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  29. #28  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I learned it (not as well as I should have) when I was working in Japan. Which, as I say, makes it much easier. And provides a great motivator: just going to the supermarket can be baffling; wanting to chat to people; ordering from a menu; etc. I have forgotten nearly everything now though
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  30. #29  
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    I have lived in many countries accross Europe and found it quite difficult to really practice languages other than english, this is because, everybody I came into contact with spoke english. I think that english is the most important language as it is the world's most common second laungage.
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  31. #30  
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    Hi,

    Learning new language can be a good experience, especially for those who want to make a career in media and communication field. However, i consider English to be the most important language. Once you are comfortable with this subject , other languages can be learnt easily.
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