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Languages (Advice?)
SunFlash 2 months ago
Manchester United, USA 16 3016

I know that many of you speak at least two languages, I seem to recall us having a polygot or two here as well.

I'm a born American and raised for ten years stateside and now slightly more than that in Canada. Both of these are basically exclusively English societies, although because my mother grew in as an Anglophone in Quebec, she speaks fluent French, some of which I have picked up here and there, but I would never consider myself competent in the language, and I've certainly never studied it.

However, as I've mentioned in Emre's thread, I am leaving the English-speaking comfort zone that is North America for Belgium in September, and will be there for 5 months at least and potentially a lot longer, depending on certain circumstances. Belgium speaks both French and Flemish Dutch, and the language I've been working to learn for the past 4 1/2 months is Dutch. It's...not going well. I do a little bit every day (thanks Duolingo) and when I have time use more structured course material. While I've certainly come a long way since I have started, my goal was to create a base of understanding that I could tap into when I arrived, so that I could hit the ground walking, so to speak. It's just not happening for me though, I can't turn off the English crap in my head whenever I study, and I need to hear/read it really slowly to translate/understand it. I tried to turn my FIFA into Dutch for example, and was just instantly lost, the only words I understood were the ones with a high degree of similarity to English (of which there are a bunch tbf). TV Shows are just as bad. It doesn't help that not only is English my native language, I have a degree of competence in the language that is significantly higher than most native English speakers, and it seems unlikely that even immersion for the rest of my life in another language would net me the same fluency (which is really disheartening).

So my questions to you all are: how many languages do you speak? When did you learn them? How did you learn them? How did you adjust to a new culture/language? Is it easy to pick up when immersed? Is it really this hard or am I just a lemon? Can you "turn off" your native language in your head? Are European societies more forgiving of poor language skills, given that there are so many? (e.g. you would get made fun of for bad English in the US).

I kind of feel like I missed out not learning a second one when I was very young, as by all accounts it is easier to do so as a child. Still, it is important to me to do well on this, so if you guys have any advice I would really appreciate it.

Sorry for the read. Thanks in advance!

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Comments
tuan_jinn 2 months ago
Manchester United, Netherlands 185 6466

You will probably end up speaking English the whole time, unless you are in the French part.

Dutch is not worth learning, its a tad ugly language. Go for Spanish or complete your French. In the Netherlands for example, your chance is send to none, unless you really thrive for it. :D

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Ledley 2 months ago
Celtic, Australia 29 1019

Personally language although at the risk of sounding Cliche, is about practice. Easiest way is to keep listening even if you don’t understand. I that means using it everyday. Start by listening to Dutch radio and you’ll pick up.

This is how migrants used to do it when they came to Australia to learn English.

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SunFlash 2 months ago
Manchester United, USA 16 3016

You will probably end up speaking English the whole time, unless you are in the French part.

I'll be in the Flemish part. I'm going there for two reasons, a test run for my Master's (not sure if I want to do it over in Europe or here in Canada yet and I've only got a year to figure that out), and because I'm decently involved with a Flemish girl atm, and although she speaks fluent English it feels weird to not know her native language...idk.

@Ledley

That's my problem though, I'm not picking it up. I'm hardly immersed or anything, but when I try I understand so little that it is impossible to even figure out a general message. And that's with visuals, I honestly have no idea how they did it with radio...I feel like once I know enough I can just fill in the blanks but since I feel so stupid in the language it's all basically a blank that's impossible to fill in because I don't understand enough to begin with.

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Dynastian98 2 months ago
Real Madrid 482 7117

Fluently I can only really speak English, but I understand and can speak in several others. Languages have always come easy to me, but I think the best advice I can give you if you're struggling is to force yourself to THINK in the language. Just everyday things as you walk around the house or go about your daily activities. You can also change your phone/computer settings to Dutch to assist you. But the best advice I can give is to simply force yourself to think in Dutch, and it should come more naturally. Don't fall into the trap of thinking in English and then translating to Dutch in your head.

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SunFlash 2 months ago
Manchester United, USA 16 3016

But the best advice I can give is to simply force yourself to think in Dutch, and it should come more naturally. Don't fall into the trap of thinking in English and then translating to Dutch in your head.

That's good advice, the kind of thing I was hoping to get out of this thread. My issue is that if, say, I walk into my house after work I may think like "het is donker" or "mijn huis is donker" - but then my piece of shit brain will go THAT MEANS ITS DARK IN HERE IN ENGLISH and I can't seem to turn that off. Makes me want to put my head through a wall!

Basically, I cannot think independent thoughts that aren't English :/

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iHEARTfootball 2 months ago
Manchester United 35 773

I heard that Dutch is quite a tough language to get use to. Your gf this speaks Flemish dutch, which is already a plus because you can practice it with her. But surely there has to be a weekly meetup somewhere nearby where you can practice with each other? The Netherlands is a multicultural nation too..

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Dynastian98 2 months ago
Real Madrid 482 7117

How about alternating between English and Dutch in your head as you go about your day? I used to do that with French, and it turns into a really good habit. Think in English if you're unsure how to say something in Dutch, but if you can express something in Dutch then do it. Afterwards, find out how to say in Dutch what you didn't know previously. This way you can progressively build knowledge of the language.

Also, I find it far more helpful to understand grammatical structures + conjugation BEFORE learning a mass of words. It's nice to be able to have a large vocabulary in a non-primary language, but your communication becomes more confusing if you don't master the grammatical structure + conjugation first. Your verbs get all tangled and you end up using the incorrect tenses.

I would expect Dutch grammar to be considerably easier to learn since it's a West Germanic language like English (compared to something like Japanese, for example), but I haven't personally learnt any Dutch whatsoever so I'm unable to say with certainty.

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tiki_taka 2 months ago
Barcelona, France 353 9459

Yeah translating from your mother language to the another is a habit when you start to learn a language.
But then with time like dynast said, once you get some experience with the language you should start learning to think in that language, mastering expressions and specificities... also agree with you, with being older the passion to learn tend to disappear.
Dutch is complicated, went there many times and never understood a word. Well it’s complicated for Anglophone because most of people talk English. But yeah it’s a mark of respect to try to speak the native language and I appreciate people who do it.

Many ways to master a language, movies with subtitles, forums, language travel. But for me, a language needs to be studied. Grammar etc....

I speak French and Arabic fluently, my mother is Moroccan and my father is Catalan French, I went often to see family in Morocco and I lived in Cataluna until 7 yo. So yeah I found myself speaking 3 languages since my childhood. Then started studying English at 13 yo but songs movies and FR helped me a lot.

I started learning Chinese 5 years ago, but I gave up easily.symbols are too complicated to remember and my brain got old, plus I didn’t found the language interesting. Italian looks like to SPanish so I understand most of it. In fact Latin languages are easy to learn if you master one of them. Yeah it’s never late but it’s not as easy as Childhood. My only achievement is learning English, the rest has been done naturally, but when I hear an Irish speaking I feel I’m still a noob lol.

Good luck mate.

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raimondo90 2 months ago
Valencia, Argentina 89 2485

I speak Spanish and English. Both at the same level I'd say. I was born in Argentina and at around 10 years old moved to the US and lived there for 10 years. I think when you are fully immersed in a culture/language it's so much easier to learn.

I've tried Duolingo lessons to learn German and Portuguese but it's hard to stay motivated lol.

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Ledley 2 months ago
Celtic, Australia 29 1019

I feel so stupid in the language it's all basically a blank that's impossible to fill in because I don't understand enough to begin with.

Anyone can learn a language, even you learnt a language as a baby once? Don't count yourself out.

This resource is how i learnt how to speak Welsh. It is mainly a welsh speaking site, but I noticed they have a section for Dutch.

https://www.saysomethingin.com/welsh#

I was able to put sentences together in Welsh the first day. In your case Dutch.

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Emrecan_58 2 months ago
Besiktas, Portugal 141 3206

and because I'm decently involved with a Flemish girl atm

Well well well :D

I'll comment here when I have time.

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SunFlash 2 months ago
Manchester United, USA 16 3016

I heard that Dutch is quite a tough language to get use to. Your gf this speaks Flemish dutch, which is already a plus because you can practice it with her. But surely there has to be a weekly meetup somewhere nearby where you can practice with each other?

She's been back in Belgium for a few months now (hard enough on its own), and it will be a few more before I rejoin her there. As for now, I'm still in Canada, where literally no one speaks the language, so meetups are out. I suppose I could dig around for online ones though?

@Dynastian

Oh my god, bane of my existence, the word orders and such are so annoying. I have the basic stuff down, big change from english is that (e.g. to write - schrijf) personal = schrijf, singular other = schrifjt, more than one = schrijven. But in English that all directly translates to "write." So I've got some, but a lot more to go on that. The thinking stuff I try to do, but cannot turn off the English monologue in my head.

@tiki

Yeah, if I want to do school there some of the classes (eventually) would probably have a Dutch component, and if I end up living/working there even more so. As a result, there's some motivation - but basically I want to be understood as best as possible, and if that means knowing a different language, that's what it means. Appreciate your comment though, some helpful context in there.

@rain

Nothing like a deadline of when you'll be thrown into the fire lmao

@Ledley

I'm pretty sure I was smarter as a baby :P

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

Well well well :D

Shut up Emre lol

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raimondo90 2 months ago
Valencia, Argentina 89 2485

@Sun the thinking in a different language takes time. When I moved back to Argentina I noticed that my thoughts were exclusively in English but as time went on it was like a bilingual thought. So now I catch my self thinking in Spanish. Just keep practicing and making the effort. Women are great motivators. Lol

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Marcus2011 2 months ago Edited
Chelsea FC, England 271 6076

I have friends from Belgium and they all speak californian English lol. You will be fine with English but I would suggest learning French because they are neighboring country and if you don't speak thejr language they for some reason feel offended.
And people in Belgium know French in the south.

I learned Spanish on my own and I did that by using doulingo and watching movies, news and reading small stories. Even if you don't understand do it. Also, people underestimate power of writing. I would take 15min out of my day to copy off of the stories and it would help me to memorize words even when if I didn't know their meaning, I would remember it so later when I see I would slowly get more and more familiar with them. Copying texts by hand also helps with grammar.

I speak 5 languages and 3 of them Iearned by simple techniques. Of course try to be brave and always talk with natives. I would always have girlfriend or friend speaking language I am learning. It helps a lot, so you are doing great already by having flaminish girlfriend but mines didn't even speak any of my languages.

Make language learning fun activity, so don't burn yourself out because your head starts to think too much with different voices in different languages haha

Here is also weird trick. Talk or think to yourself in that language, but more talking. It is a weird way but I promise when you for example try to describe yourself something, you start to see what words you need to work on.

Ps I speak English because I lived in London, Spanish because of my girlfriend, Russian because where I was born in Russia , Turkish because of ethnic heritage but I still had to learn Turkish, and Italian because of my girlfriend again and I stayed in Italy back forth often and I havd many Italians friends.

Honestly, learn language like a child, don't be afraid to make a mistake and be laughed at.

I remember my teacher asked me what I am planing to do during summer and I said " I don't know, most likely get laid before summer". I thought getting laid was expression of resting or having vacation.. Yea she was shocked a little but she never corrected me.. She said that is good lol.. I found out getting laid isn't right expression for resting when I used it again with my english friends haha

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  • History
Showing previous versions of this text.

I have friends from Belgium and they all speak californian English lol. You will be fine with English but I would suggest learning French because they are neighboring country and if you don't speak thejr language they for some reason feel offended.

I learned Spanish on my own and I did that by using doulingo and watching movies, news and reading small stories. Even if you don't understand do it. Also, people underestimate power of writing. I would take 15min out of my day to copy off of the stories and it would help me to memorize words even when if I didn't know their meaning, I would remember it so later when I see I would slowly get more and more familiar with them. Copying texts by hand also helps with grammar.

I speak 5 languages and 3 of them Iearned by simple techniques. Of course try to be brave and always talk with natives. I would always have girlfriend or friend speaking language I am learning. It helps a lot, so you are doing great already by having flaminish girlfriend but mines didn't even speak any of my languages.

Make language learning fun activity, so don't burn yourself out because your head starts to think too much with different voices in different languages haha

Here is also weird trick. Talk or think to yourself in that language, but more talking. It is a weird way but I promise when you for example try to describe yourself something, you start to see what words you need to work on.

Ps I speak English because I lived in London, Spanish because of my girlfriend, Russian because where I was born in Russia , Turkish because of ethnic heritage but I still had to learn Turkish, and Italian because of my girlfriend again and I stayed in Italy back forth often and I havd many Italians friends.

Honestly, learn language like a child, don't be afraid to make a mistake and be laughed at.

I remember my teacher asked me what I am planing to do during summer and I said " I don't know, most likely get laid before summer". I thought getting laid was expression of resting or having vacation.. Yea she was shocked a little but she never corrected me.. She said that is good lol.. I found out getting laid isn't right expression for resting when I used it again with my english friends haha

Marcus2011 2 months ago
Chelsea FC, England 271 6076

Sorry for grammar I am typing this on the phone. But one more thing there are so many free materials and books to download online if you want to learn it academicaly

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iHEARTfootball 2 months ago
Manchester United 35 773

English because I lived in London, Spanish because of my girlfriend, Russian because where I was born in Russia , Turkish because of ethnic heritage but I still had to learn Turkish, and Italian because of my girlfriend again and I stayed in Italy back forth often and I havd many Italians friends.

Just knowing how to say "hello" in all those different languages don't count.

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Marcus2011 2 months ago
Chelsea FC, England 271 6076

It isn't "hello" that gets me recognition as the one knowing those languages, but how I say it. With splendid elegance and flawless pronunciation without glimpse of an accent, that it takes by complete surprise.

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tuan_jinn 2 months ago
Manchester United, Netherlands 185 6466

:D:D:D

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Dynastian98 2 months ago
Real Madrid 482 7117

Too bad it isn't a romantic language, eh? You already know some French, so it'd be so much easier to learn. I find Spanish very easy to pick up on since I already know some French. Dutch and German look like they're rough, though.

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Ledley 2 months ago
Celtic, Australia 29 1019

It isn't "hello" that gets me recognition as the one knowing those languages, but how I say it. With splendid elegance and flawless pronunciation without glimpse of an accent, that it takes by complete surprise.

@Marcus Please re-read this statement. I can't tell if you are joking.

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