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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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  #1  
Old 16.11.2008, 16:22
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How long does it take to learn a new language?

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?
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Old 16.11.2008, 16:41
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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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 would imagine every individual's ability to learn is wired differently. plus, being outgoing helps one get out and practise.

what is also interesting are the telltale signs that the language is getting into you;are you dreaming in italian yet?
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Old 16.11.2008, 16:56
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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I would imagine every individual's ability to learn is wired differently. plus, being outgoing helps one get out and practise.

what is also interesting are the telltale signs that the language is getting into you;are you dreaming in italian yet?
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.
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Old 16.11.2008, 16:58
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

For some it is utterly hopeless to learn any another language !!!
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:00
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

That's almost another topic, at 40 you're writing yourself off and you're hardly half way through your alloted lifespan, a very common practice..
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:03
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

Exactly, I've met an Australian couple once, over 40 years of age. They came to Switzerland to learn French. It was the most hopeless thing they've ever done. We laughed so hard together


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That's almost another topic, at 40 you're writing yourself off and you're hardly half way through your alloted lifespan, a very common practice..
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:08
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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That's almost another topic, at 40 you're writing yourself off and you're hardly half way through your alloted lifespan, a very common practice..
No, not writing myself off at all! I am totally determined and I WILL speak Italian. I just realize that learning now is not as easy as it was when I was younger. I guess too much useless info stored in that tiny brain of mine, taking up storage space!

I was 11 when we moved to Canada and within 6 months I was fluent in English. It was totally effortless learning. Fast forward almost 30 years and now I realize that I have to hear a new word about 100 times before it sticks.

How are other adults dealing with this? Did you find that after six months you were able to carry a conversation or understand most of what was being said around you?

I suppose if I had a job where I had to speak Italian all day, things would progress more quickly. The good thing is that I'm not shy and will try to talk to anyone who will listen.

[Just the other day I asked for succo di cane (dog juice) instead of zucchero di canna (cane sugar)]
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:11
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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No, not writing myself off at all! I am totally determined and I WILL speak Italian. I just realize that learning now is not as easy as it was when I was younger. I guess too much useless info stored in that tiny brain of mine, taking up storage space!

I was 11 when we moved to Canada and within 6 months I was fluent in English. It was totally effortless learning. Fast forward almost 30 years and now I realize that I have to hear a new word about 100 times before it sticks.

How are other adults dealing with this? Did you find that after six months you were able to carry a conversation or understand most of what was being said around you?

I suppose if I had a job where I had to speak Italian all day, things would progress more quickly. The good thing is that I'm not shy and will try to talk to anyone who will listen.

[Just the other day I asked for succo di cane (dog juice) instead of zucchero di canna (cane sugar)]
heh, funny... i once had a female friend ask for potato juice at a cafe.
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:11
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Exactly, I've met an Australian couple once, over 40 years of age. They came to Switzerland to learn French. It was the most hopeless thing they've ever done. We laughed so hard together
Did they speak any languages other than English? I wonder if that makes a difference. Since I'm bilingual, I'm hoping a third language won't be as difficult.

My son speaks three languages and is picking up Italian and French so easily.

But you are right Sada, some people just don't learn. I knew so many Hungarians living in Canada who left during the revolution in 1956 and 30 years later still only spoke in broken English. I really don't want to end up like them, living here for decades and not speaking Italian properly.
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:16
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

It was their first foreign language. Once you get the over the first one, a second one catches on easier. Kids pick up in no time, this is well known.


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Did they speak any languages other than English? I wonder if that makes a difference. Since I'm bilingual, I'm hoping a third language won't be as difficult.

My son speaks three languages and is picking up Italian and French so easily.

But you are right Sada, some people just don't learn. I knew so many Hungarians living in Canada who left during the revolution in 1956 and 30 years later still only spoke in broken English. I really don't want to end up like them, living here for decades and not speaking Italian properly.
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:17
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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heh, funny... i once had a female friend ask for potato juice at a cafe.
Oh, I have a good one about "potato" but it might not be appropriate for the forum. In any case, here it goes. I'm sure the mods will just delete it if it's too much.

So, living in Malta for almost four years, the Maltese always call the buttocks "patata" or potato in English. Since Maltese is similar to Italian in some ways, I assumed this expression came from the Italian.

So, I go to the spa and talk about my big patata. In the clothing store, trying to squeeze into some tight jeans - no go, patata too big!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my Italian teacher told me how in Italian, many vegetables relate to different body parts. For example, patata - is means vagina!!!!!! I almost died!!!! You won't believe my reputation in Locarno now. The woman with the big patata!

Do you guys see why I need to learn Italian so badly?
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:20
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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Oh, I have a good one about "potato" but it might not be appropriate for the forum. In any case, here it goes. I'm sure the mods will just delete it if it's too much.

So, living in Malta for almost four years, the Maltese always call the buttocks "patata" or potato in English. Since Maltese is similar to Italian in some ways, I assumed this expression came from the Italian.

So, I go to the spa and talk about my big patata. In the clothing store, trying to squeeze into some tight jeans - no go, patata too big!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my Italian teacher told me how in Italian, many vegetables relate to different body parts. For example, patata - is means vagina!!!!!! I almost died!!!! You won't believe my reputation in Locarno now. The woman with the big patata!

Do you guys see why I need to learn Italian so badly?
that's so wrong as delphinium would say, a closed mouth gathers no feet...
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:23
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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that's so wrong as delphinium would say, a closed mouth gathers no feet...
Too late for that, I'm afraid! You started with the potato juice!
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Old 16.11.2008, 17:34
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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'm in a similar situation to you. I'm near Lausanne been here 7 months and trying to learn through pc cd thing and mp3s when possible. I'm getting very worried as my daughter who attends a garderie/nursery is starting to speak and pick up French far quicker than me. I can imagine in 6 months time she will be quite fluent, for her age and I'll still be struggling. I'm currently working but just use my native English. I have heard from other people that it will probably take at least 2 years to feel comfortable even in basic conversation. A bit depressing
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Old 16.11.2008, 19:17
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

  • Kids don't worry so much about making mistakes.
  • It DOES take longer as an adult
  • Some people learn quicker than others, but that doesn't mean the 'slower' ones cannot learn it at all.
  • When comparing your language fluency with that of a young child, don't forget that you are probably not measuring with the same 'tape-measure'. If a child says "I want biscuit" in English and then again in Hungarian, everyone says "wow, the child is bilingual". You are not going to be satisfied with such a limited vocabulary and are usually confronted, right from the word go, with far more words. This all makes it harder.
  • There are several useful tips, such as reading children's books etc. in another Thread somewhere.
  • Advice - Keep at it.
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Old 16.11.2008, 20:23
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

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!

"I had my friend learnt English from American films and she speaks and acts
like Holiwood star"
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Old 16.11.2008, 20:54
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I'd say, based on my own experience and stuff I've read, that you can assume it'll take around 300 hours of study to get to A2 level (European-wide language fluency classifications, see here: http://www.coe.int/T/DG4/Portfolio/?...es/levels.html).

I'm currently A2+ level in French, which means I understand around 3/4 of what people say, I understand about most of an average newspaper story, I can carry a conversation with individuals but struggle a little in groups, I sometimes have to phrase things differently to how I would in English because I can't recall how to use the correct tense in 0.5 seconds, etc. A lot of things are vocabulary dependent - I'm fabulous on kids, school and what we did at the weekend, but we went to the ski hire shop yesterday to get the whole family kitted out for the season, and it turns out I know almost no vocab for how boots fit, what sort of skiing we want to do, etc. Must fix that...

I did French at school, to UK O-level standard which apparently maps to a B1 level, but since it was 20 years ago I've slipped a little. I'm hoping that around 50-100 hours of further study will push me back up to B1. I also get moderate conversation practise as my kids are in local school, so I get to make conversation with the eternally-patient (thanks guys!) school gate crowd most days. I did a whole 45 minute parent-teacher conference in French a couple of weeks ago - I was so pleased.

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Old 16.11.2008, 20:54
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A new foreign language in a different country

Hello There
I wonder if or not possible to learn any foreign language in a country where its mother tonque is different from the learned language. Let's say, without going in a country where its mother tonque is not english, how is it possible to learn english fluently? In order to learn any possible language, does it need precisely to go that possible country?
what do you say about this issue?
Thanks in advance
bye
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Old 16.11.2008, 20:56
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Re: How long does it take to learn a new language?

I think you would be better off watching films, the news,etc. instead of learning phrases from a language course tape. The best of all is mixing with people who speak the language... even if you can only do a lot of head nodding and smiling... and come away with a headache from concentrating, it will pay off eventually. Sometimes studying can be great, but in real life situations you can get mental block or try so hard to get it perfect that you lose the chance of saying what you want when you need it. Learning takes time and lots of opportnities to practice at ease.
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Old 16.11.2008, 21:03
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Re: A new foreign language in a different country

I'd say the ideal is to go to a country where they speak the language you want to learn. However it is possible to learn a language if you are surrunded daily by people who speak that language.
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