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How Did You Learn English? (Non-native Speakers)  
User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7560 posts, RR: 18
Posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3489 times:

Given that posting in English is a rule for this website, and seeing that the majority of the members are from nations other than the US or UK, I'm curious: how did you all learn to write such perfect english?


You see, at ASU, I volunteer at the AECP program- American English and Culture Program, which teaches foreign students English.....usually, though, their English doesn't improve much due to the flaws that the program has.


SO I am curious: how did all of you from a non-English country learn? Have you studied in an English speaking country before?

Pardon my curiosity  

-Z


次は、渋谷、渋谷。出口は、右側です。電車とホームの間は広く開いておりますので、足元に注意下さい。
42 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinebwest From Belgium, joined Jul 2006, 1370 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3476 times:

TV and movies... the advantage of not dubbing, you pick up a language easier.

Oh, and having an English speaking partner for the last 10yrs or so also helped  



I love my Airport Job! :)
User currently offlineautothrust From Switzerland, joined Jun 2006, 1596 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3459 times:

School, Chatting, Internet, Work

However my english is very far from being perfect. The school was almost for nothing.



“Faliure is not an option.”
User currently offlineRara From Germany, joined Jan 2007, 2089 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3457 times:

In school. There's still much to learn though.. some people from non-English countries on this site are rather good rhetorically, and can hold their own against the English speaking masterdebators (   )... but I always feel I can make a point more elegantly in German.

Still, at least for us English isn't much of a challenge. Interestingly I've just read an article about why it is so damn hard to learn Chinese (http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html/), another second language of mine which I don't speak nearly as well.. It really is no comparison. English is pretty accessible, all in all.



Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7957 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3425 times:

I feel like I am still learning it.


I support the right to arm bears
User currently onlineCPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 6000 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3425 times:

School, movies, TV, books as I got older, 2 weeks of language school in the UK and 5 months studying in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

User currently offlineJJJ From Spain, joined May 2006, 1835 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3411 times:

Perfect? lol

Well, I got the foundations at school but it was watching films, talking to people and reading books in English what really did it for me.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14026 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3401 times:

First, thanks to Mrs. Graetschel, my first English teacher in grade 5, primary school in Berlin. While she was German, she grew up in a former British colony in Africa and went to school there. While she spoke German at home with her parents, her schoolfriends were all Englishspeakers and school was taught in English as well, so in fact she was a native Englishspeaker, not a German who just learned English through books and in school.
She made sure that all the typical German-accent misspronounciations were corrected right in the beginning (I remember how she had us repeat "Ruler, rubber, red" to get us pronounce the English "R" correctly. we also practised the correct pronounciation of the "th".).
Since she went to a British school she also could tell us kids firsthand how life in schools was over there, something which interested us kids a lot.

There were other factors: My father spoke English, Spanish, Catalan, French and Portugese. He also had a huge library of non-fiction and fiction. If he could speak the language, he liked to read the books in the original language. At the age of 14 I got interested in some English language novels, but couln´t get a translated copy. So I started reading them, at first using a dictionary (the first book was Isaac Asimov´s Fantastic Voyage). After the third book I didn´t need the dictionary anymore and today read English just like German.
My mother also speaks English, in the early 1960s she spent a year as a young nurse working in the UK.
Then, since my father was a scientist, we often had foreign scientists, guests of his university department, visiting us. Often they would get invited to sleep in our visitor´s room for their stay.
Another impact was the fact that I grew up about 500 metres away from an US Army barracks in West Berlin. In my late teens and early 20s I had a friend, who was a sergeant with the US Army Berlin brigade. We were usually talkung in English.
In secondary school I p'ssed off a stupid English teacher, a wannabe professor of literature by reading English language novels under my desk while he was droning on about interpreting boring poems.
Then almost all women I had relationships (including my current one) with were non-Germans. Usually we would talk in English (sometimes Spanish).
Finally, during the late 1990s I spent 2 1/2 years living in rural Ireland, working for an Irish company. There I picked up an Irish west coast accent (which I unfortunately lost for a big part, but when I came back other Englishspeakers usually thought that I was Irish).
Working in aviation helps as well, since English is our working language.

Jan


User currently offlineCXB77L From Australia, joined Feb 2009, 2614 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3392 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Watching films seems to be a common one, and that is true for me as well. When I first arrived in Australia in 1990, I spoke little to no English, and being the shy little person that I was, I didn't take time to socialise with native English speakers. Instead, I sat at home and watched James Bond movies  

Nowadays, many people tell me that I speak with a slight English accent. I've been asked several times if I've spent time studying in the UK. Apparently, I sound more English than Australian.

Watching native speakers speak is a very good way of learning, in my view. It gave me an understanding of grammar and pronunciation, and that spoken English is somewhat different to written English.



Boeing 777 fanboy
User currently offlinesebolino From France, joined May 2001, 3681 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3381 times:

First at school, very inefficient.

Then, by talking to my Danish cousin, his friends and other Danes, plus listening a lot to good music   -> much more efficient.

Ah, and I forgot to add : a lot of web browsing on English written sites helped a lot (like this one).

Seb

[Edited 2012-06-29 05:17:45]

User currently offlineAF1624 From France, joined Jul 2006, 659 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3358 times:

French schools are as inefficient as can be when it comes to teaching languages.

So I've learned with movies, tv shows, music (lots of it).

As my English level got better I even ended up choosing an accent (I speak some kind mixed UK English).

I'm now totally fluent in English and most of my UK colleagues didn't realise I wasn't a native English speaker before I told them or before the conversation got long enough for me to have to look for words.

But I must admit I feel like I've had it easy, because I was born in Brazil from French parents I learned two mother tongues right away. I feel as if this has given me some kind of help with languages, making me learn them quicker. Maybe someone in the same situation here (two mother tongues) could tell me if they feel the same?

Also, it should be noted that we non-native English speakers most of the times didn't have a choice. Native speakers can NOT learn another language because English is spoken virtually anywhere else in the world. But the rest of us do speak at least some English because it's necessary in this day and age. You'll rarely find a job offer here in France that doesn't state you need good English...



Cheers
User currently offlineeinsteinboricua From Puerto Rico, joined Apr 2010, 3103 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3340 times:

TV and movies from Disney. Mother always bought them in English and even though I never understood what they said, it made learning English easier. I have come to prefer English programming as opposed to Spanish...and I HATE translated movies. There's also school, but you have to put up with those that don't pick up the language easily so school isn't an effective way to learn (unless you're in an all English school). Pretty much it.


"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
User currently offlineCharles79 From Puerto Rico, joined Mar 2007, 1331 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3320 times:

I had the advantage of growing up in Puerto Rico (a US territory) where you have to at least take basic English classes in school. Moreover, due to the close relationship with the US, the island has a lot of influence from the mainland in terms of films, music, books/magazines, TV shows, musicals, and retail/stores, meaning that English is always around you in some form (often as the charmingly called “Spanglish”). When I ended up transferring to a college in CT, the total immersion in the language was the final piece in the puzzle to make me confident in my language skills.

Now one particular thing that really made a difference for me was my interest in cars - I would read most of the regular US car magazines constantly, always referring to my dictionary whenever I encountered a new word. I’m now following the same strategy with German, to the point that currently I only read German car magazines.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21463 posts, RR: 53
Reply 13, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3307 times:

• school (I knew I would get into IT, so understanding english was an obvious necessity)
• books (translations usually suck)
• movies (see above, plus most dubbing nowadays is atrocious)
• music lyrics
TV (US late shows with Leno & Letterman, fictional series, news)
• internet fora (this one has been a major practicing arena)

Online dictionaries still remain helpful (sometimes including Urban Dictionary ).


User currently offlinebjorn14 From Norway, joined Feb 2010, 3456 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3283 times:

watching The Simpsons and other Fox cartoons   


"I want to know the voice of God the rest is just details" --A. Einstein
User currently offlineGrahamHill From France, joined Mar 2007, 2825 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3276 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Thread starter):
how did you all learn to write such perfect english?

I learnt in school, and since languages were the only stuff I was interested in (with geography), I decided to do translation studies. I studied English to French and Spanish to French translations for 4 years at university and got my diploma for both.

I also watch a lot of movies and TV series in English.

And I spent 7 years in Ireland, which helped a lot.



"A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one" - Moliere
User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 3008 posts, RR: 26
Reply 16, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3224 times:

Started learning it when I lived in Copenhagen for a few years. Then moved to attend school in San Francisco. The rest was history.  

Aeroflot777


User currently offlineMortyman From Norway, joined Aug 2006, 3940 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3223 times:

At school

English is a compulsory and pervasive subjects in Norwegian primary and secondary schools. The training provide knowledge of English language oral and written, as well as knowledge about culture and society in English speaking countries.

Quoting bwest (Reply 1):
TV and movies... the advantage of not dubbing, you pick up a language easier.

Indeed. Here in Norway it is only typical childrens stuff like Disney etc, that is being dubbed. Most foreign language films / TV has subtitle option though. I don't think that alot of Norwegians really need subtitles, other than perhaps elderly people, however it basically comes as standard.

[Edited 2012-06-29 09:38:44]

User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7560 posts, RR: 18
Reply 18, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3163 times:

Quoting Rara (Reply 3):
There's still much to learn though..
Quoting autothrust (Reply 2):
However my english is very far from being perfect.
Quoting JJJ (Reply 6):
Perfect? lol

Well I haven't heard any speaking but your writing and grammar seems good  
Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 7):
There were other factors: My father spoke English, Spanish, Catalan, French and Portugese.

   WOW! that's impressive!

Quoting CXB77L (Reply 8):

Where are you from originally?

Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 16):
Started learning it when I lived in Copenhagen for a few years.

Do they speak a lot of English in Denmark? Seriously, one of my friends whom I met in Japan is from there and she speaks like an American.



次は、渋谷、渋谷。出口は、右側です。電車とホームの間は広く開いておりますので、足元に注意下さい。
User currently offlineScooter01 From Norway, joined Nov 2006, 1204 posts, RR: 8
Reply 19, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3132 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

From reading the instructions of how to build aircraft plastic-model kits, -Airfix etc.
Reading MAD Magazine and other English written cartoons.
School (Our teacher was an English lady married to a Norwegian man.)

Living in Canada for 24 years also helped a lot.
-working for Germans (BMW and VW/Audi) in Canada also helped me to keep up with another language they taught us in school, but I regret to say that my French has suffered.

I believe that a language must be used frequently to keep current. -A.net has helped a lot in the last few years.....

Scooter01



"We all have a girl and her name is nostalgia" - Hemingway
User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7957 posts, RR: 12
Reply 20, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3117 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 18):
Do they speak a lot of English in Denmark?

First and foremost they speak Danish.  
But it is true that many of them speak fluent English. It is partly due to the fact that they don't dub American movies.



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 3008 posts, RR: 26
Reply 21, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3104 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 18):
Do they speak a lot of English in Denmark? Seriously, one of my friends whom I met in Japan is from there and she speaks like an American.

Mostly everyone there that I have encountered has very good English. I go back every once in a while (just came back about a month ago from my most recent visit) and I'm just dumbfounded by how big of a melting pot CPH really is.


User currently offlineiakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3313 posts, RR: 34
Reply 22, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3097 times:

In chronological order
- primary school
- secondary school
- Playboy, Mayfair and Hustler
- electronics & radiocommunications school
- regular holidays at auntie's place in Surrey
- a nice blond Irish girlfriend
- hobbies (ham radio, aviation)
- books and magazines
- jobs and business (aviation, radiocom, satellites)
- internet
- more books


User currently offlineEddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 7582 posts, RR: 42
Reply 23, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3065 times:

When I was a very young kid, my Dad, who lived and went to school in England, would speak to me in English. Later on, I would watch U.S. TV shows on cable TV (non-dubbed but rather captioned). Then, my best friend from middle school had an American Mom, and whenever I went to their house, everybody would speak English, including to me. I guess those things pretty much did it for me.


Next flights: MEX-GRU (AM 77E), GRU-GIG (JJ A320), SDU-CGH (G3 73H), GRU-MEX (JJ A332).
User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7560 posts, RR: 18
Reply 24, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3058 times:

Quoting iakobos (Reply 22):
- Playboy, Mayfair and Hustler

LOL!!!!!

Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 21):
Mostly everyone there that I have encountered has very good English. I go back every once in a while (just came back about a month ago from my most recent visit) and I'm just dumbfounded by how big of a melting pot CPH really is.

Yeah it's one of those lesser-known global cities, isn't it?



次は、渋谷、渋谷。出口は、右側です。電車とホームの間は広く開いておりますので、足元に注意下さい。
25 prebennorholm : Global city, sure yes! "lesser-known"? What are you talking about? It's the center of the universe! I learned English at school - couldn't avoid it.
26 Rara : Not bad, would have expected you to have lived abroad for some time.
27 Post contains images FRAspotter : So I guess the age old excuse of "I only read it for the articles" is actually true!
28 Post contains images iakobos : In all honesty, mainly for the eye-opening editorials...
29 Revelation : That sounds like a good idea. I suppose I could start with the web instead of tracking down paper magazines. Which German car magazines are good? Wha
30 CXB77L : Hong Kong.
31 HELyes : Started English studies in the third grade, like most Finnish kids. Studing English supported other Germanic languages Swedish (the 2nd official, comp
32 PHX787 : I thought HK was bilingual?
33 CXB77L : Yes, English was a compulsory subject in both primary school and high school (back then when Hong Kong was under British rule - not sure what it's li
34 nipoel123 : The very basic things I learned in primary school. The majority of my vocabulary comes from games, films, books and websites. I'm currently doing bili
35 Post contains images sturmovik : School, and my mother who is an English lecturer. She used to be able to speak/read/write around 8 or 9 languages (English, our native Malayalam, Hind
36 sebolino : Actually, nearly everybody speaks good english in Denmark, but of course some of them have a strong Danish accent. I guess I must have also a Danish
37 Post contains images flyingturtle : At school. I began learning it during my 10th year, and I made lots of progress by reading in English as often as I could.
38 Post contains images HAWK21M : Out here there are way too many languages....but most popular in school is ENGLISH/HINDI and a regional language. Thats where it all started
39 Post contains images dcaviation : When I moved to US I could only speak very limited English. I enrolled into two local high school ESL programs. Two nights a week at each school. What
40 AM744 : Nope. Private Elementary and High School. Let's say 2 hrs a day of more or less formal lectures, activities, etc. Then, on to the the Anglo Mexican I
41 Maverick623 : Well, it is a Germanic language (by structure), with a bunch of silly French words thrown in. I know a few Dutch people from my travels, and when the
42 Post contains links mad99 : this guy http://www.funnyordie.com/pictures/4...e-greatest-ad-for-an-english-tutor
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