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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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  #61  
Old 17.11.2008, 19:15
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Oh Dodger don't groan me. It was them, the couple themselves who made fun of themselves and said it was their age and all that made it impossible to learn a foreign language and believe me, after a great, great effort and having spent some time in Africa they've learnt French quite well
Done. Making fun of anyone who makes the effort to learn the local language sickens me, that's all. But since this now clearly isn't the case...
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  #62  
Old 17.11.2008, 19:21
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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You learn, you plateau and then you progress again
I personally experienced even moments of regression.. and sometimes all of a sudden a big progress apparently coming from nowhere.. like watching a film and suddenly understanding all what they were saying!!
Otherwise, I agree: you learn, you plateau and then you progress again.

I think confidence is the most important part of it. And thus being outspoken helps a lot. The more you practice, the more you become confident, the more you learn.. (I did not follow that route.. I am pretty shy..)
I am now learning also German, and the fact that I am eight years older than when I started learning English (and about 13 years separate me from the last vague memory of my French), seems an advantage rather than a drawback. I think the more languages you learn the easier is to approach a new one because you might be more trained and also find some similarities.
You'll find that many words are similar not only between French and Italian, but also between English and Italian. Someone mentioned the word important.. well in Italian just add a final "e". And to the word final.. add an "e" too! (I used to do the other way around and subtract the final vowel! I am Italian by the way..
The grammar is pretty complicate in Italian, but don't worry about it, you'll eventually pick it up. It is far better to say something in a wrong way than don't say anything at all.
Italians are usually very nice, enthusiastic and supportive to foreigners speaking their language.. I don't know about Swiss Italians, but you should definitely look for an Italian friend, or an Italian speaking friend.
Enjoy it
Ciao
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  #63  
Old 17.11.2008, 19:27
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Done. Making fun of anyone who makes the effort to learn the local language sickens me, that's all. But since this now clearly isn't the case...
Thank you Dodger! Now play nice!
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  #64  
Old 17.11.2008, 19:32
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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I personally experienced even moments of regression.. and sometimes all of a sudden a big progress apparently coming from nowhere.. like watching a film and suddenly understanding all what they were saying!!
Otherwise, I agree: you learn, you plateau and then you progress again.

I think confidence is the most important part of it. And thus being outspoken helps a lot. The more you practice, the more you become confident, the more you learn.. (I did not follow that route.. I am pretty shy..)
I am now learning also German, and the fact that I am eight years older than when I started learning English (and about 13 years separate me from the last vague memory of my French), seems an advantage rather than a drawback. I think the more languages you learn the easier is to approach a new one because you might be more trained and also find some similarities.
You'll find that many words are similar not only between French and Italian, but also between English and Italian. Someone mentioned the word important.. well in Italian just add a final "e". And to the word final.. add an "e" too! (I used to do the other way around and subtract the final vowel! I am Italian by the way..
The grammar is pretty complicate in Italian, but don't worry about it, you'll eventually pick it up. It is far better to say something in a wrong way than don't say anything at all.
Italians are usually very nice, enthusiastic and supportive to foreigners speaking their language.. I don't know about Swiss Italians, but you should definitely look for an Italian friend, or an Italian speaking friend.
Enjoy it
Ciao
Ciao Annas! You are so right! When I don't know a word in Italian, I will just sometimes add an "e" or "o" at the end and try to pronounce it with an Italian accent and sometimes I'm right on the money!

The grammar is pretty complicated. I think that's the hardest part. The good thing is that I'm not shy and don't care if I'm making mistakes. I guess it helps that I also speak English because when I don't know certain words, I just say them in English. You can get away with this but if I were substituting Hungarian instead, I'd look really silly.
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  #65  
Old 17.11.2008, 19:41
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

In my mind a couple of the major issues of learning a language as an adult are the following:

First:

By now you have a strong preference for one of the main communications groups that can be loosely called; visual and auditory A visual person has to see something written to understand and absorb it or sketch something to effectively communicate a concept to another person. An auditory person prefers information in a verbal way (these people tend to pick up languages the quickest because they hear it once and it is captured). There is also a minority of people who prefer to touch things. Not sure how this works with learning a language.

So, if you are more of a visual person, focus more of your time on reading, watching TV etc. If you can see something (and see the words/sentences) it might help on building a base in the language. What about writing something out ten or twenty times?

Second:


Most language courses put way too much focus on grammar. "It has to be perfect". As others have mentioned, kids just go with the flow and the grammar catches up as "big people" correct them. Communicate first and learn the grammar later.

Since I don't speak Italian, I will use a French example. The verb "to do/to make" is Faire. You can use the future tense "je ferai" or you can "cheat" and use the easy future tense which is "je vais faire". The easy way can be used with many verbs to transform them into the future. The concept of leveraging your limited verb knowledge.

All of that to say, focus on getting to a level of communication so the idea gets across. Don't spend time/get frustrated with grammar that is too academic. There is more than one way to say things in any language. Look for and insist with your teacher that you go for the most simple. You can get the higher level stuff once you have a base.

Third:


You have to find someone who you can "torture" with your oral attempts for 30 minutes per day. It should be outside of the home as there is typically too much other stuff going on.

Good luck in any event.
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  #66  
Old 17.11.2008, 19:53
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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In my mind a couple of the major issues of learning a language as an adult are the following:

First:

By now you have a strong preference for one of the main communications groups that can be loosely called; visual and auditory A visual person has to see something written to understand and absorb it or sketch something to effectively communicate a concept to another person. An auditory person prefers information in a verbal way (these people tend to pick up languages the quickest because they hear it once and it is captured). There is also a minority of people who prefer to touch things. Not sure how this works with learning a language.

So, if you are more of a visual person, focus more of your time on reading, watching TV etc. If you can see something (and see the words/sentences) it might help on building a base in the language. What about writing something out ten or twenty times?

Second:

Most language courses put way too much focus on grammar. "It has to be perfect". As others have mentioned, kids just go with the flow and the grammar catches up as "big people" correct them. Communicate first and learn the grammar later.

Since I don't speak Italian, I will use a French example. The verb "to do/to make" is Faire. You can use the future tense "je ferai" or you can "cheat" and use the easy future tense which is "je vais faire". The easy way can be used with many verbs to transform them into the future. The concept of leveraging your limited verb knowledge.

All of that to say, focus on getting to a level of communication so the idea gets across. Don't spend time/get frustrated with grammar that is too academic. There is more than one way to say things in any language. Look for and insist with your teacher that you go for the most simple. You can get the higher level stuff once you have a base.

Third:

You have to find someone who you can "torture" with your oral attempts for 30 minutes per day. It should be outside of the home as there is typically too much other stuff going on.

Good luck in any event.
Thanks Verbier! Those are all fantastic tips! I think this thread will be very helpful for any new person moving here and struggling to learn a new language.

I do have a couple of people with whom I practice regularly. These are people who would like to learn English so it's a win-win situation.

My son is very mean though because he won't let me speak to his friends in Italian because he doesn't want me to embarrass him. Which is quite a shame because we car-pool with the neighbors and I have two great kids sitting in the backseat every day and I'm not allowed to talk to them. Oh, well!
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  #67  
Old 17.11.2008, 20:27
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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There is also a minority of people who prefer to touch things. Not sure how this works with learning a language.
I think they may have to write the letters. feel letter/word shapes, touch objects...just guessing though
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  #68  
Old 17.11.2008, 20:30
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Ciao Lynne,

I've been here in Lugano for 2.5 years and was an absolute beginner when I first started learning Italian shortly after arriving. It's been tough at times and hardly a linear progression but I'm now pretty competent and preparing for the CILs Level C1 exam next June which by then will be just over 3 years since moving here.

I don't have the opportunity to speak Italian at home - the marito only speaks English after quickly realising that he's better sticking to all things technological - so it's been important for me to continue with classes including a conversation group plus use my Italian as often as possible even when I know the person speaks English.

The main thing I've learnt is that it takes patience, perseverance and a whole lot more patience. But when you can look back on where you were say 6 or 12 months earlier, it's pretty cool to see how far you've come.

So give yourself a break, pat said-self on the back and just relax as you learn what is undoubtedly a beautiful, complex and at times, incredibly frustrating language - especially for a native English speaker! German is a bit easier for we English speakers but unfortunately, we're in the wrong part of Switzerland.

You can always PM me if you want to talk more and exchange some ideas.

Auguri!

SS
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Old 17.11.2008, 20:37
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Ciao Lynne,

I've been here in Lugano for 2.5 years and was an absolute beginner when I first started learning Italian shortly after arriving. It's been tough at times and hardly a linear progression but I'm now pretty competent and preparing for the CILs Level C1 exam next June which by then will be just over 3 years since moving here.

I don't have the opportunity to speak Italian at home - the marito only speaks English after quickly realising that he's better sticking to all things technological - so it's been important for me to continue with classes including a conversation group plus use my Italian as often as possible even when I know the person speaks English.

The main thing I've learnt is that it takes patience, perseverance and a whole lot more patience. But when you can look back on where you were say 6 or 12 months earlier, it's pretty cool to see how far you've come.

So give yourself a break, pat said-self on the back and just relax as you learn what is undoubtedly a beautiful, complex and at times, incredibly frustrating language - especially for a native English speaker! German is a bit easier for we English speakers but unfortunately, we're in the wrong part of Switzerland.

You can always PM me if you want to talk more and exchange some ideas.

Auguri!

SS
This is fantastic and very encouraging! It's really great to hear from someone who is also learning Italian. It really sounds like you are very determined and progressing really nicely. Gives us all a bit of hope when glancing into the future.
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  #70  
Old 17.11.2008, 20:47
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Since I don't speak Italian, I will use a French example. The verb "to do/to make" is Faire. You can use the future tense "je ferai" or you can "cheat" and use the easy future tense which is "je vais faire". The easy way can be used with many verbs to transform them into the future. The concept of leveraging your limited verb knowledge.
Another quick and dirty way with verbs is to only learn the 'I' form, as I find that in conversation I use mostly 'I' rather than any other pronoun. So rather than spend 10 mins learning an irregular verb in one tense in all forms (I, you, they, etc), I instead spend those 10 mins learning just the 'I' form but across all the most useful tenses - 'I have had', 'I had', 'I have', 'I would have' and 'I will have'.

And then if I need another form, such as 'we', I can often cheat and say 'I went to Annecy... with my husband and children'.

Sure, I'll have to learn them all in the long run, but this gets me up and running conversationally, and even when I come to learn the other pronoun forms it's only a tiny leap from something I'm already used to using.

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Old 17.11.2008, 21:23
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

A link that might have some useful stuff.

http://carla1604.altervista.org/italiano/ita_links.htm
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Old 17.11.2008, 21:34
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

The key is to integrate as much as you can - socialise in Italian, shop in Italian,
visit Italian friends, immerse yourself as much as possible!
What you hear around you, you will quickly learn.

I've been here 15 years and I think I'm pretty fluent, but I'm still learning new things every day - subtle nuances, new expressions, etc.
Don't be shy, just try!

Apparently, children learn the most during the first 5 years of their lives.
Sadly, we have missed this point by now.........so slog on - at least you are open to it; that is equally important!!
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  #73  
Old 17.11.2008, 21:40
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

How are you guys doing with perfecting the various accents? Do you make an attempt to get the accent right or just kind of go with the flow.

The Italian accent is so unique, it's almost like you're singing. I don't think I could do it justice so I don't really try. I don't want it to sound too "forced" so I just try to speak naturally and hope that the rest will come with time.

(I know many Hungarians who try to do a British or American accent and it just sounds horrible! My father sounds so much better, as he just speaks with the strong Hungarian accent without trying to sound like a native English speaker.)

Hungarian is actually really helpful because we also roll our r's. This is really important in Italian and really difficult for some people learning the language.
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  #74  
Old 17.11.2008, 23:27
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I'm really enjoying the process of learning the language, learning its vocabulary, structure and flow. It is a long term process, but an absolutely wonderful one.

And I've found here in Zurich, people are -so- nice when you speak German (or attempt to, in my case). They're encouraging. One shopgirl confessed to me that while she was happy to practice her English most of the time, she wished there were more people who wanted to practice their English. And then she gave me a 120 SFR gutschein on my furniture purchase, on top of a substantial discount on the purchase and delivery. So yay me! Broken German to the rescue!

So yeah, its difficult, but also wonderful.
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Old 18.11.2008, 00:03
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

ahahah..ehm. sorry.

*never* use fruits/vegetables words if unsure! (this actually reminds me Roberto Benigni..most of you know it as a great actor, but he's also a great comedian
(not to mention that he knows various parts of the Divina Commedia by heart))

Anyway here are my tips:
- Find yourself an hobby. Maybe you should look at "corsi per adulti" where you can go just to make new friends (and learn something too!). Beware of courses with many technical words ( I'd like to do a cooking course, but I know Zero words of foods in german ( I'm in ZH)
- When you have Italian-speaking friends, ask them to correct you *every* single error. After a few sentences you will probably ask them to correct one every three errors..but having friends correcting you is the key to learn. Unfortunately it's difficult to find this kind of people, because most of the people will find annoying being stopped for dumb errors, while people like me will find it perfect.
- Forget the grammar. Use the english one. As for female/male declinations..whatever. use a dice if you prefer. (your friend will correct you)
- If you really feel that italian is like singing, well...you'll learn grammar and declination soon, since the "music" will sound wrong if you say something wrong. (but you can always say something correct but in the wrong context. "a me piacciono i piselli" it is correct, but I will never say that..and I hope you too.
- ask for help from italians on this Forum. I'm Luganese but I work in Zurich. I usually come back to Ticino every weekend and I'd like to have a chat with people that need to improve their italian. I am the kind of person that correct you every single word if you wish..

Maurizio
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Old 18.11.2008, 00:24
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I think learning a language is like having a relationship with the language; the personalities of the learner and the language should get along. that is, some people are just more suitable for learning certain languages.

I picked up german, because i had to, and i can't say i really feel passionate about the language. somehow, of all my interests and hobbies, i cannot find a german counterpart, whether it's film, music or TV, all of which offer a lot of scope for picking up the language. well, ok, i have huge vocabulary for vegetables, cuts of meat and cooking methods...but that still makes for a very limited vocab. i mean, what am i gonna say when i have to attend a wedding? or a funeral for that matter?

finding something that really interests one, and which one can engage in in that language, would really go a long way.
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Old 18.11.2008, 05:35
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Well....2 years so far , and so much more work to do.But it,s great to have the chance to learn German.
There is an old woman(late 70.s) who,s place I walk past on my way to work .She started to learn English when she was 60 years old as her daughter had married an Australian man and moved to Australia. She is quite fluent in English......It depends on how much you want it.
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Old 18.11.2008, 09:03
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Oh Roberto Benigni is such a screem, I love his films, they are very touching !!! Have you ever seen any of them Lynn ?


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ahahah..ehm. sorry.

*never* use fruits/vegetables words if unsure! (this actually reminds me Roberto Benigni..most of you know it as a great actor, but he's also a great comedian
(not to mention that he knows various parts of the Divina Commedia by heart))

Anyway here are my tips:
- Find yourself an hobby. Maybe you should look at "corsi per adulti" where you can go just to make new friends (and learn something too!). Beware of courses with many technical words ( I'd like to do a cooking course, but I know Zero words of foods in german ( I'm in ZH)
- When you have Italian-speaking friends, ask them to correct you *every* single error. After a few sentences you will probably ask them to correct one every three errors..but having friends correcting you is the key to learn. Unfortunately it's difficult to find this kind of people, because most of the people will find annoying being stopped for dumb errors, while people like me will find it perfect.
- Forget the grammar. Use the english one. As for female/male declinations..whatever. use a dice if you prefer. (your friend will correct you)
- If you really feel that italian is like singing, well...you'll learn grammar and declination soon, since the "music" will sound wrong if you say something wrong. (but you can always say something correct but in the wrong context. "a me piacciono i piselli" it is correct, but I will never say that..and I hope you too.
- ask for help from italians on this Forum. I'm Luganese but I work in Zurich. I usually come back to Ticino every weekend and I'd like to have a chat with people that need to improve their italian. I am the kind of person that correct you every single word if you wish..

Maurizio
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Old 18.11.2008, 09:47
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Apparently, children learn the most during the first 5 years of their lives.
But languages are still very much a "use it or lose it" thing. I know of people who were born in Asia, could speak the local language as a young child, but then moved away at around the age of 5. Now, as an adult, they can't remember any of it.

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How are you guys doing with perfecting the various accents? Do you make an attempt to get the accent right or just kind of go with the flow.
Definitely "go with the flow". All my attempts to make up the right accent from the beginning sounded forced and completely wrong. When I first arrived in Germany, my attempts at including an accent when speaking German made people think that I was Russian. But if you listen to how things are said, it is rather easy to pick up the intonation and mimic it in a natural-sounding way. In many cases, this will make your communication a lot more understandable than getting the actual words right.
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Old 18.11.2008, 10:50
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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For some it is utterly hopeless to learn any another language !!!

This is absolutely correct. After 10 yrs living in my country, all what my husband could say is ordering a beer (probably because "beer" is pronounced exactly the same in my languague).
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