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Learning A Second Language  
User currently offline777-300 FAN From Australia, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 1958 times:


I really want to learn a second language, mainly German or French.
I'm Australian and the only other language i've ever attampted to speak other than English was a tiny bit of French about 7 years ago in Primary School.
What i was wondering, do you think it would be possible to learn German/French from just reading books or listening to tapes or do u think i would be better off taking classes??
I'm not really fussed about learning to write it, i just want to speak the language!



25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offline174thfwff From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 1950 times:

If you have the money, the best bet is to get a 1 on 1 teacher. You will learn faster, listen to how to pronounce the words (a tape can do this too, but not my first choice). Plus a teacher would help you focus and can help you where you don't excel.

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1938 times:

Dear Tom -
Go for it... but my advice is neither tapes, nor classes - at least the regular type of "classes"... asks yourself this... how did YOU learn to speak your own language..? Did you as a baby used books and tapes, or go to classes, no...
You learn by practice conversation, you first word was maybe "Mommy" or "Daddy", then "cookie"... who knows... Fact is you were not concerned about (1) spelling of words (2) grammar (3) conjugation... etc... when you were 2 or 3 years of age and saying your first words and sentences...
Learning a language is maximum "exposure" (some people call it "immersion")...
Suggestion is to watch TV programs if you can get some in French, I guess you can in Melbourne, watch the news in English first, then watch same news in French (so you will guess what they talk about)... read magazines in the language, go to a language club where you can meet people who speak that language, and please do it with "fun" things, does not need to be boring, just to keep you interest level high... Read cartoon books in that language... and if you have DVD, often there is language options to watch a movie... If you walk in town and hear people speaking that language, make friends with them for a chance to practice... and dont be ASHAMED of your own mistakes or mispronunciation... they may laugh at you the first 2 minutes, but once the ice is melted, language errors do not matter...
And maybe not possible, but travel to a place where French is spoken, why not spend a couple of weeks in Noumea, French Caledonia, not that far... and force yourself to speak the few words you learned... meet kids of your age, maybe try to make an exchange for 2 weeks there with them, then in turn do invite them for 2 weeks to practice English in Melbourne... If you use tapes, use tapes to correct yourself... listen to what you sound like versus the language tape...
I am lucky to speak many languages, 3 full fluently, 1 other quite well, and the basics of 2 more... plus the fact that I can somewhat understand other languages related to these... I was very lucky when a kid, American father but raised in France, French schools, then Belgium... I moved to Argentina nearly 10 years ago, had to master Spanish (I did that in 6 months time) even though I was nearly 50 of age then... and now at 58... guess what, I study Portuguese because I often go to Brazil and plan to retire on the beach there.
Good luck to you Tom... If you travel a lot in your life, or maybe in your future job, you will be happy you learned another language, maybe two of them, why not... and... keep on practicing them once you know them well... not to forget...
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineRai From Canada, joined Feb 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1934 times:

Skipper has the right idea, Tom. But I will take it a step further. Get a girlfriend who is fluent in the language you want to learn. I'm serious! They'll be really excited when you show interest in their language (and culture) and will be more than happy to teach you. It's probably the fastest, cheapest (well, depending on what you spend your money on...lol) and most direct way to learn a new language.

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1935 times:

Rai has the RIGHT IDEA -
I did not want to say this - it is private - but my "teacher" was my girlfriend, who became my wife a year later... It was "speaking her language" from the first minute until the last, she does not speak a word of English - yet we are now married since nearly 8 years... sorry, she can say "OK" in English  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineFlyboy36y From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3039 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1908 times:

I've allways wanted to learn Spanish... but as I started getting more and more Latin girlfreinds I began getting really trying to learn. I now can speak sudamentary travel Spansh. Still horrible but better than when I couls say nothing.

User currently offlineBlink182 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 5499 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 1903 times:

Go with German. I take it, Der,Die,Das, and a few other words will haunt you though.


Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
User currently offlineFritzi From United Arab Emirates, joined Jun 2001, 2763 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 1894 times:

Freud said that it takes:

3 months to be 100% fluent in English

3 years to be 100% fluent in French
3 lifetimes to be 100% fluent in German.

If you choose to learn German you should know that it is very hard (if not impossible) to learn all the rules, endings and prefixes. German is my third language and I have been speaking it daily for the last 12 years and I am still having trouble getting all the endings and prefixes correct.

User currently offlineTurbolet From Cape Verde, joined Nov 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 1883 times:

Hi there Tom,
my best advice would be to find a German girlfriend. Believe me, the learning would come automatically  Laugh out loud
Regards from Malta,

User currently offline777-300 FAN From Australia, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 1864 times:

Thanks for all the info guys,

The funny thing is the main reason why i want to learn German/French is because i want to travel Europe next year, but another incentive is we have a German friend staying here for a week and she said i can go stay with her next year, so maybe i will try and get to know her and i'll be speaking German in no time!!! Maybe even end up living there!!!

User currently offlineVirginLover From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 958 posts, RR: 13
Reply 10, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 1858 times:


I'm working on my third language...I've taken German for the past 4 years and for my senior year I've decided to start up in a French 1 class (w/freshmen- hehe) along with my German class. (I'm about the only senior who's attempting another language- tri-lingual HS senior in America? The horror...) I'm a fan of German, I like the whole "what you see is what your pronounce and spell" rule.  Smile Good luck!

User currently offlineShawn Patrick From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2610 posts, RR: 15
Reply 11, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 1837 times:

That's awesome, VirginLover. Not too many trillingual Americans! But get this - I'm taking French all the way to French 4 and then German 1 in senior year. I'm also learning Japanese now. That's quadrilingual!  Nuts I hope I can do it

Tom, and all the other people, definetly get a g/f/ b/f who speaks the language. That's the best way to go!

I'm still trying to meet up the Japanese foreign exchange student that goes to my school. Her English isn't great and my Japanese isn't great. Can I get any more obvious.

 Laugh out loud


User currently offline777-300 FAN From Australia, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 1833 times:

WOW ! wish i was trillingual, my Mum is, but in French, English and Spanish and i have my heart set on German.
How long has it taken all u guys to learn your second language up to the point where u can have a decent conversation or understand what most people are saying.

User currently offlineGlobemaster From Germany, joined Sep 2001, 102 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 1822 times:

Well, being a German I should suggest german, but I think french is way easier.

And although I agree that it is the best thing to have learning-by-doing-chance (friends, travelling etc.), I don't think that you can learn german in this way in a reasonable time.
Actually if your potential girlfriend lives somewhere in the south of our little country you probably would learn a language completely different from german  Big grin
You do need some basics, so go and take some classes.

I'm quite sure that not even 50% of the Germans (and I don't talk about immigrants) are able to speak or write a good german.

Start with lesson #1:
Try to pronounce the german word for squirrel:

Then #2 get use to the fact that the german word for "window" is neutral (it), but for "windscreen" it is female (she) and for "mirror" it is male (he).
This is the less confusing stuff  Big grin

User currently offlineLH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 52
Reply 14, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 1807 times:

I've taken four years oh high school French and am nearly fluent. But that's only because along with my classes, I've read magazines and books (I love to buy ParisMatch every week  Smile), watched movies (Amélie is one of, if not my favourite movie), and now have French (and Swiss) friends with whom I can practice, and if I make a mistake, they simply correct me. They say I have a good vocabulary and accent. Now, I'm trying to learn slang ("Ça coûte la peau du cul", translation-"That's fucking expensive"  Smile/happy/getting dizzy). So, depending on how much you time you take to practise, read, speak, as well as your natural ability to learn a language (some can pick languages up very easily, others can't and could spend the rest of their life just mastering the basics) that will determine how well you learn. However, I've found that that ability tends to run in the family. My dad speaks 3 foreign languages nearly perfectly and is decent in another, and I think that I've gained that trait as well. So, good luck in your endeavours.


« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
User currently offlineSwissgabe From Switzerland, joined Jan 2000, 5266 posts, RR: 31
Reply 15, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 1806 times:

777-300 FAN, it is always good to be able to speak other languages as well.
Over here in Switzerland we grow up speaking one of four languages, Swiss German, French, Italian and Roman. I'm living in the Swiss German part where you talk Swiss German and when you go to school you are learning German first. Around 10-12 years children have to learn another national language, here normally French. There was a big discussion going on and children will now learn English earlier than I did or maybe even before French.

I would love to learn another language, something Asian would be great, or should I go for "Australian"  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Smooth as silk - Royal Orchid Service /// Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens - Springbok
User currently offlineFlyboy36y From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3039 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 1796 times:

I speak:

Polish (used to be VERY Fluent, now I can get by)
Russian (can't read the letters, though)
Hebrew (used to be VERY Fluent, now I can get by)
Spanish (I can get by if I try)

That's 5 languages. Trust me... they start to mix up on one another.

User currently offlineAOMlover From Singapore, joined Jul 2001, 1333 posts, RR: 11
Reply 17, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 1795 times:

OK 777-300 FAN, let's begin ! Big grin

-Hello, my name is Bill.
Bonjour, mon nom est Bill.

-I'm seventeen years old.
J'ai dix sept ans.

-Where is the cat ?
Où est le chat ?

-The cat is in the kitchen.
Le chat est dans la cuisine.

-The umbrella is black.
Le parapluie est noir.

 Laugh out loud

User currently offlineKolobokman From Russia, joined Oct 2000, 1180 posts, RR: 6
Reply 18, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 1790 times:

Go for Mongolian...just for the hell of it.


I can neither confirm, nor deny above post
User currently offlineTurbolet From Cape Verde, joined Nov 2007, 0 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 1788 times:

Learn Maltese! Around 360 000 of the world's population are native speakers...

My name is Michael.
Jien jisimni Michael.

I'm 16 years old.
Ghandi sittax il-sena.

I am a student of a f*****g school called Sir M. A. Refalo Centre for Further Studies.
Jien student ta' f**xx ta' skola jisimha Sir M. A. Refalo Centre for Further Studies..

Umm... lemme guess, I put you off, right??

User currently offlineGodbless From Sweden, joined Apr 2000, 2753 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (13 years 8 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 1762 times:

If you learn German keep in mind that it is a language that isn't so easy on whatever you say...
In English it is no problem to call somebody a liar but if you say "Lügner" do somebody in German you can be 100% sure that he will be very offended.

As soon as you want to give your German a try come to a FRA's Spottermeeting, da werden Sie geholfen  Wink/being sarcastic


User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (13 years 8 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1756 times:

I took three years of German in high school, and two quarters in college. I kept up with it for awhile by reading, but I quit doing that after a while. I still know bits and pieces, and can drag some of it up from way back in my mind, but I have really thought about getting my skills up to snuff again. I mean, I still remember some basic phrases, but would really like to get myself back into it. One good thing with German is that it is very similar to several other languages, and you can figure out to a point what's being said in those languages. When I decided to take German in high school, some of my friends were like "Why?" I took it because I had learned a little bit of it from my stepfather, who lived with his grandmother in Germany for a time after he got out of high school. I used to work at a place that had two employees that were from Germany, and they would speak to each other in German, and little did they know that I understood what they were saying. Another language I have given thought to learning is Gaelic or maybe Welsh.

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (13 years 8 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1767 times:

In history, each language had its own purpose or use, such as English for commerce, German for sciences, French for royal courts and diplomacy, Italian for arts, Latin for (catholic) church...
Nowadays, all that has changed a lot... admittedly, English is of much use, when travelling around, it will get you by many places... yet if someone does not speak it in Africa, I will try French... In South America, Spanish will get you by just anywhere, even Portuguese-speaking Brazilians can understand Spanish... People in Asia have told me that Japanese is alternative business language to English, and Japanese, although difficult is much easier than Mandarin-Chinese... Russian of course is still a usable language in Eastern Europe, and many nations of the former USSR... German can be understood in quite a few places of Central Europe...
When you select an language to study, I suggest you select one you can use and... practice often... academic knowledge, then... forget it later is wasted effort... Personal opinion, the three English-Spanish-French will get you around a lot in the world... I am fortunate to speak those three fully fluently, and it covers me in 90% of the places I go to...
Cultural reasons are totally different... I just look at the "practical side" of use of languages... and I have no reason to have preferences...
Thanks, merci, gracias, dank U, danke, spasiba, tak, grazie, efaestos, shukran, shukria, dhonobad... and the many others I forgot...
 Wink/being sarcastic
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineUkair From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 295 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (13 years 8 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1744 times:

I would advise French because it is easier, but more importantly I think you will find that French is spoken Globally in more countries by more people, so should be more useful.

Just my two Francs.

User currently offlineTeva From France, joined Jan 2001, 1881 posts, RR: 15
Reply 24, posted (13 years 8 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 1721 times:

A good tool to learn languages as people speak is the DVD.
To learn French, buy DVDs of French movies, with all the different possibilities: the subtitles in English and French; ENglish voices too.
First, look at the movie with the English voices. After, in French with English subtitles, then French with French subtitles.

(It works with german movies as well, however, Germany does not produce as many movies as France.)

If you have satellite TV, try TV5. The best of Belgian, French, Quebec and Swiss TV, with news, music, movies in French. SOme of the movies have the French subtitles, to help people like you all around the world.

And you can also fly to Noumea, Wallis or Tahiti, before coming to Europe.

And maybe l'Alliance Francaise is represented close to your location. They can give you a lot of informations and ideas to study French. (they also organize cultural events such as cinema or theater festivals)

Ecoute les orgues, Elles jouent pour toi...C'est le requiem pour un con
User currently offlineOH-LZA From Finland, joined Jun 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 4
Reply 25, posted (13 years 8 months 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1715 times:

I speak three languages fluently:

Finnish (mother tongue)
Swedish (official mother tongue)

I can get by in German and French too, I guess.

I had German in Elementary, but decided to quit as it was too hard, planning to give it a new try in Upper Secondary School (Finnish equivalent to High School).

I've studied French for a bit more than a year at school and really like it,
I'm actually planning to spend a year in Québecois High School to become fully fluent.

For some weird reason I want to learn Dutch too.
Wouldn't mind Spanish or Italian either.


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