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View Poll Results: How fast did you learn the local language?
Within a year 4 36.36%
After 1 year 0 0%
After 2 years 2 18.18%
After 3 years onwards 3 27.27%
After 5 years 1 9.09%
Didnt find it necessary to learn it 1 9.09%
Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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  #21  
Old 16.11.2008, 21:04
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Also I would add listen to heck a lot of news, watch movies, listen to the music, read the book and papers in language you would like to learn asap. The TV programs will help you to memorize manner of speaking and expressions. Soon you will start using them not even realizing it!
This is excellent advice, although don't go too overboard with it as it's also very tiring and you don't want to get disheartened and stop altogether.

A good half-way house is to get DVDs with (in my case) French/ English soundtracks and subtitles options, and mix and match the two to improve listening/ reading skills. I went to see the new Bond movie the other day, which was in English with French subtitles, and was gratified to discover that I could read and understand ALL the subtitles!

But don't listen to French soundtrack with French subtitles - I tried that, and found it really confusing that they were often completely different sentences.

Good luck.

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Old 16.11.2008, 21:21
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Re: A new foreign language in a different country

It would be great to merge this thread with the other language thread: How long does it take to learn a new language? What do you think?

There is no doubt about it that you can learn the foreign language in its non-mother tongue land. However a main disadvantage is that you will miss on accent and certain expressions that are pertaining to the region where this particular language with its jargon and dialect is spoken.

However in era of globalization where media, internet, movies, DVD's and modern llearning methodologies are available it is easier to learn a new language better and faster as it was in olden days.

Saying that I would still recommend to go to the country where the language under consideretion is being spoken!
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  #23  
Old 16.11.2008, 21:29
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Thanks for all the good advice everybody! I guess I'm really lucky because in this area people really don't speak English at all so I'm really forced to speak Italian everywhere I go.

When we got to Zürich, or other parts of CH where everyone speaks English, I realize how much more difficult it would be to learn a new language there when I can speak to just about anyone in English. So I guess I'm fortunate in that sense.
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  #24  
Old 16.11.2008, 21:45
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I go to A2 level German classes twice a week preparing for B1 level next year. There are always ups and downs on the long road to fluency. However I must admit that the only way for me is to learn fast under pressure of environment. All my co-workers are natives or have been here long enough to speak fluently, the greater is onus on me to catch up! Persevere and don't give up my only advise

Last edited by jacek; 16.11.2008 at 22:06.
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Old 16.11.2008, 23:18
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Definitely not dreaming in Italian yet! Yes, very true. We all learn at different rates. I just really hope that at my age (close to 40) it's not too late to learn a new language fluently.
I've read of a women who learned french fluently at 80, and one and 95, so I think you definately should still be able to do it. And from the sounds of it your half way there.
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Old 16.11.2008, 23:27
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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I've read of a women who learned french fluently at 80, and one and 95, so I think you definately should still be able to do it. And from the sounds of it your half way there.
Thanks Sabs. That is certainly encouraging.

I think it also matters what language(s) you spoke prior to learning the new one. For example, it's probably easier to learn Italian if you already speak Spanish or French.

The grammar in Italian is so different from anything I've seen before. It really takes a while to get my head around it. But.. I shall prevail!

What I would love to hear from you guys is something like this:

I've been here for 2 years and now speak German really well. It took about a year......

or

I've been here for five years and still struggling with French because of .....

All your tips are really helpful but I'd love to know how you are doing with the new language and how long it has taken you to get to where you are.
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  #27  
Old 17.11.2008, 00:51
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Lynn88 and other language learners, please don't compare yourselves to your children. They basically cheat. Little dwarvish language learning cheats! The stuff just goes into their heads. If it were the Olympics, they'd be disqualified.

Also, people almost never know how much they are improving. I'm often baffled when my students tell me how depressed they are that they aren't improving. "But you're so much better!"

Lynn88, what is your teacher like? And what does he/she say about your progress?
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Old 17.11.2008, 01:47
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Lynn and other language learners, please don't compare yourselves to your children. They basically cheat. Little dwarfish language learning cheats! The stuff just goes into their heads. If it were the Olympics, they'd be disqualified.

Also, people almost never know how much they are improving. I'm often baffled when my students tell me how depressed they are that they aren't improving. "But you're so much better!"

Lynn, what is your teacher like? And what does he/she say about your progress?
Beardsy, I'm really not comparing my learning process to that of a child. Just mentioned how much easier it was when I was younger and how easy it is for my son. Not fair!

My teacher is really good. She makes me talk a lot and really challenges me at each lesson. I get a lot of homework and I think she's happy with my progress.

I'm understanding more and more each day and I know I'll get there. Six months ago, I knew nothing in Italian. Now I can get by more or less with the every-day stuff. Making calls and taking care of official business is, of course, a lot more difficult but will also come with time, I'm sure. (Or, I can just use my son as a translator.)
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  #29  
Old 17.11.2008, 01:58
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Speak Italian in English and you will be fine.
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Old 17.11.2008, 09:43
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Speak Italian in English and you will be fine.
Yet if it doesn't work you still can speak English language as a lingua franca

It is usually easier to learn one of the European languages defined in groups:

Latin - French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Romanian, Retro-Romansch and Latin
Saxon - English, German and other germanic languages.
(not including here Slovak and Sloven languages)

If you are a native speaker of one of the above then you already have basics for learning the new one within the same group.

That's at least how my mum explained to me when I was a kid and she studied Roman languages at the varsity
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  #31  
Old 17.11.2008, 10:02
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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I've been living in Ticino for six months now. I really want to learn Italian and I'm taking private lessons twice a week, I listen to my Italian tapes in the car and even in my sleep. I also have some computer software that I use for learning. After six months, I know a bit more than I did when I got here. I can pretty much get by in a restaurant and with some basic general words and phrases but I feel like I have a really long way to go.

I'd be curious to hear how long it took for others before they felt comfortable conversing in a new language. I can see how much easier it is for my son. As an adult, learning a new language is a more difficult process. I'm wondering how much easier things will be in a year? In five years?
Interesting question , and as some have said its different for everyone. I was rubbish at languages at school, but found once i had visited a country i picked up the language fairly quickly. ( 3 months) I suppose im lucky that i seem to have an ear for it . However that said, im cra* in classes and have never learned a language in a school. My usual technique is that I listen carefully to the spoken word, i read the paper every day , and every word, even though i dont understand it i still read it, after a few weeks of doing this i start to look up certain key words i come accross regularly in a dictionary and increase this as i go on . I speak Dutch fluently, a little german and french and Italian. I have learned all of these languages simply by living in the countries. I know it get harder as you get older , i learned German as a second language in my 20's then Dutch when i was 25. I havent spoken German for almost 20 years, and am now finding it more difficult to pick up, especially the swiss german.
My advice keep trying , relax and dont be afraid of making mistakes. Practise makes perfect. Good Luck
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  #32  
Old 17.11.2008, 10:07
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Thanks Sabs. That is certainly encouraging.

I think it also matters what language(s) you spoke prior to learning the new one. For example, it's probably easier to learn Italian if you already speak Spanish or French.

The grammar in Italian is so different from anything I've seen before. It really takes a while to get my head around it. But.. I shall prevail!

What I would love to hear from you guys is something like this:

I've been here for 2 years and now speak German really well. It took about a year......

or

I've been here for five years and still struggling with French because of .....

All your tips are really helpful but I'd love to know how you are doing with the new language and how long it has taken you to get to where you are.
Well the first time I lived in Zurich I started speaking and understanding german and the zuri- dialect with in 6months. After a year I was speaking very fluently.
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Old 17.11.2008, 10:17
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Dear Lynn 88

You think this is bad, try learning German for your company meetings, when everyone speaks English to you and then you go out in Basel and everyone speaks Swiss German to you. Now that is even tougher. I now only reply to my colleagues in my Bad Grammer German and hope they correct my mistakes, although some of them look at me blank faced. )
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Old 17.11.2008, 10:34
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Hi Lynn

TV is a good way to pick up the language and grammar etc, even if you are listening to it as a background noise.Also, if you listen to the tapes while you sleep, it will also help you learn faster, as your concious mind won't be blocking the learning process.

Another thing that works, is to do crossword puzzles or similar in the language. Use your learning aids to figure it out, and it will sink in faster.
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Old 17.11.2008, 10:46
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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try learning German for your company meetings, when everyone speaks English to you and then you go out in Basel and everyone speaks Swiss German to you
When I came to Switzerland and started learning German, my boss kindly insisted the meetings were conducted in High German to help me learn. It stayed this way for a few months. Of course, during heated discussions everyone would forget the rule and argue in Swiss.

The very first time I participated in one of the heated discussions, everyone went silent and my boss said "Hey - he understands it when we speak Swiss. OK, that's the end of the High German rule." Doh!

To Lynn88 - I remember being in the same situation as you but you will get there. Just keep using what you know, try new things out and absorb as much as possible from the TV, 20min, etc. I took German lessons for two years (5-6 hours per week) and felt pretty confident when I stopped. Of course, I've learned a million other things since then. I think it mostly comes with experience and commitment.

Good luck!
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Old 17.11.2008, 10:50
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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I've been living in Ticino for six months now. I really want to learn Italian and I'm taking private lessons twice a week, I listen to my Italian tapes in the car and even in my sleep. I also have some computer software that I use for learning. After six months, I know a bit more than I did when I got here. I can pretty much get by in a restaurant and with some basic general words and phrases but I feel like I have a really long way to go.

I'd be curious to hear how long it took for others before they felt comfortable conversing in a new language. I can see how much easier it is for my son. As an adult, learning a new language is a more difficult process. I'm wondering how much easier things will be in a year? In five years?
I think you will only feel comfortable speaking Italian if you accept the fact that you are going to make mistakes, as you have already done with "patata" which I found a hilarious story, by the way, though I am sure the clerk in the jeans shop may have known that was not the reason the jeans were tight. The point is, you have to be able to laugh off these mistakes, otherwise you will never want to speak for fear of being humiliated.

I think native speakers are very understanding and tolerant of those who are learning a new language and making an effort to speak the local language. Just don't be afraid to speak, talk to everyone you can in order to practise speaking, the postal delivery person, your neighbours, the cashier at the grocery store, your son's friends. This may not help a great deal with building your vocabulary but you will gain confidence in speaking, everyone will think you are friendly and you may actually get to find out some local gossip. The neighbourhood children fill me in on all kinds of "intereresting" news. They all stop to talk to me as I have dogs.

As for kids, don't compare yourself to how they learn, they are like sponges. I speak several languages which I grew up with which in no way compares to my attempt to learn Japanese as an adult.

Just don't give up. In time you will feel comfortable just knowing you can make yourself understood.
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Old 17.11.2008, 11:05
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I haven't read all the replies so excuse me if I am repeating what has already been written. Find a good teacher and stick with it even if you feel you're getting nowhere and feel like stopping. There are times, when learning, you feel you are not getting anywhere but in fact you are probably making good progress.

And besides Lynn, you would learn Italian a lot quicker if you weren't so addicted to the Forum
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  #38  
Old 17.11.2008, 11:05
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I learnt a bit of german a few years ago (not much at all, and I was always crap), but then this year I moved to french-speaking Switz with my german-swiss husband. I've been learning french for 6 months or so now (which is coming along nicely - I'm at level B2 or so, having started from scratch) and I've found that in that time my understanding of swiss german (which I've never made a conscious effort to learn, and which I only hear when we visit my husband's family, every few weeks or so) has really improved too. I'm chalking it up to the "every language beyond the second one is easier and easier" theory.
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Old 17.11.2008, 11:19
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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It is usually easier to learn one of the European languages defined in groups:

Latin - French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Romanian, Retro-Romansch and Latin
Saxon - English, German and other germanic languages.
(not including here Slovak and Sloven languages)

If you are a native speaker of one of the above then you already have basics for learning the new one within the same group.

That's at least how my mum explained to me when I was a kid and she studied Roman languages at the varsity
I guess Hungarian doesn't help me. But we already have a thread about that.
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Old 17.11.2008, 11:19
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Language growth seems to come in spurts.

I seem to plateau for a while, and then I seem to start
seeing gains once again.

In German at least, I bought a book with the "10000 Most
Used Words in the German language". I studied this pretty
diligently, and it helped tremendously.

It took me about a year to be pretty fluent.
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