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Techniques In Learning Foreign Languages

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chenchow Male
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  #1 Old 26-09-2004 Default Techniques In Learning Foreign Languages

As we all know, learning foreign language is an art and many of us in ReCom has had the opportunity to be learning one or many foreign languages in their life, especially those who are studying in countries where courses are taught in those foreign language.

Hence, I would hope that this could be an opportunity to for those who have gone through the process to share with us your experience. This is also an opportunity for those who are learning foreign language to share your difficulty.

May be I can start first. I am currently learning French, and I am finding the process really difficult. Often, I find that most of my time is being taken up in learning this language. I love the language very much. I have even gone to cinema to watch 4 French movies in the past few weeks, and although I only understand a small percentage of the movie, I am trying to learn the language and assimilate myself.

However, I am finding that I have serious difficulty in remembering and learning how to utilize those new words/grammar/structures that I am learning.

Thanks in advance and hopefully this will get more to share, be it your problems/experience or anything.

I would like to thank iQing for sending me an ebook on "How to Learn a Language". If anyone would like to read it. Email me and I will forward it to you.
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  #2 Old 26-09-2004 Default

Good move chenchow!

The foreign language I'm learning is, well perhaps most of you guys know , Japanese!

There are many tips on how to learn a foreign language out there, but one that I strongly believe in is learn from the view of a native speaker. Learn the grammars and vocabularies of the language like how a native speaker learns them. Don't translate words into other languages. Try to see the original connotations of the words and only from there you mold the connotations into the context.

For example, it's okay to think "ohayou gozaimasu" as a greeting that corresponds to "good morning" in Japanese. but never ever think that "ohayou gozaimasu" really means "good morning". "Ohayou" doesn't mean "morning" and "gozaimasu" doesn't mean "good".

The second thing, when learning a foreign language, it'll be certainly helpful to learn the culture of the native speakers. that way we will understand better the idiosyncrasies behind the grammars.

I have a couple more tips but I think I'll save it for later ;)
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  #3 Old 26-09-2004 Default

Luke or anyone else, could you share more on how Not to translate words from English, as in if I have something I would like to say in French, how do I go about knowing how to say it, without translating it. I am facing that difficulty right now. I am still thinking mostly in English and when I construct essays in French for my class, I am doing more or less translation job, rather than thinking from a French people view point...

Sorry for using French as example of my question, but I guess I am trying to ask it generally, so that others could benefits from it~!
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  #4 Old 26-09-2004 Default

Opps sorry I forgot to put some disclaimer

What I said about "don't translate words" thingy might not apply to beginners. Of course when one just starts learning a foreign language, translating words can't be helped. But as we learn stuff in the new language, try to 'think like a native speaker'. For example, when you learn about a phrase or word being used in particular occassion, don't take the quick escape of translating the phrase to our own language. But learn why that phrase is used in that context. Don't translate "bon appetit" as "jemput makan" or "bonjour" as "selamat jalan", but look at what those phrases really mean, then connect the literal meaning to the context. That's what I mean by "don't translate words".

Here's an example in Japanese: "itadakimasu". This word is said before having a meal. It might be tempting to translate "itadakimasu" as "bon appetit" or even "selamat makan" ... but the literal meaning of "itadakimasu" is "I am going to accept/receive it" .. and when used before meal, you are implying that you are going to accept the meal (from the host or from the God) .. if you learn "itadakimasu" means "jemput makan", how are you going to understand it when you find "itadakimasu" is used where no food is involved ...
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  #5 Old 26-09-2004 Default

Learning languages....mm..I think the most essential is to have interest in it. When you have the interest, you'll definitely put in the effort to study it and you'll enjoy learning the language. Hence, you'll pick it up faster automatically. Besides that, you have to practise the language always, so that you know how to apply it and not merely just know how to read and write. Languages are meant to be used for communication, so it's vital to use the languages to converse with others.
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  #6 Old 26-09-2004 Default

Personally, I believe the fastest and most efficient way of learning a language, is simply to visit the country. This is especially so if most of the locals do not speak a language you are familiar with, and thus you are forced to pick up the language just to communicate with them. So, study abroad for a semester (if that option is available), visit a rural area in France... and I bet you will be quite proficient.

Else... try to get a conversation partner... and tell him or her to only express herself in the language you are learning. Discipline will naturally have to be maintained. Use cards if necessary. A little annoying and inconvenient at first.. but circumstances will push you to learn the language.

Good luck in your pursuit.
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phantom
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  #7 Old 26-09-2004 Default

take a class in american uni.u have midterms every other week.a great boost to study hard.
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  #8 Old 26-09-2004 Default

I'm learning French now, in France, so I guess I'm getting a healthy dose of the culture. What luke said is right; at the beginning, you've got to translate to understand. When using a dictionary, DO NOT STOP at the first meaning. Read through all the meanings and find the one that best fits the context. Later on, when you know more words in the language, you can look back at the words and phrases that you already know, and see how it's formulated. But at the beginning, don't be lazy about using a dictionary, it's essential.

ps. Chenchow, if you're looking for French movies, do check out "les Choristes", it's really good.
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  #9 Old 26-09-2004 Default

Thanks Luke, wyeoh, peiwen, wpyeoh for the insights. Hopefully that other ReCommers and me would get the benefits from any of your sharings~! Thanks~! I would try my best to learn and share more opinions here~!
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  #10 Old 27-09-2004 Default

I would say that learning a foreign language really takes time. Last time when we first reached Korea, really got the problems to communicate with the local (both in speaking or listening), even we did learn Korean for around 3 months in PPP, Shah Alam before come to Korea.
We followed the Korean Language course for one and half years. During that period, we only notised that our Korean Language was improved a lot after we learnt for it everyday around one year ( by that time, we finished our level 4 lesson ).
For now, to be frankly, we still only can understand around 85% what the professors talking up there, especially for those with direct speech. But, we all already "immuned" with such situation.
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