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  #41  
Old 16.03.2012, 19:54
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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The most difficult thing for me was when I went back to German classes after I'd been in the UK for 5 years. I'd learnt German in school from French, so knew all my vocab and grammar rules from French, so it took me a while to break the triangle translation in my head.
Not to derail but the exact thing happens to me- all the concepts of "language learning" i have in French even though English is my mother tongue. So now that I am learning German, i am more comfortable with a reference grammar of German in French, a German "Bescherelle" and just to maintain consistency, my class dictionary is French-German. That was the only way I was able to "break" the triangle

I feel so not alone!
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  #42  
Old 16.03.2012, 19:55
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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absolutely! teaching english to little ones for a long time has shown me one reason they learn so quickly- often they have no shame or at least less of making mistakes. i'll never forget when my husband called me (sweetly) a divine beauty and i asked why he was calling me a bottle of wine? i thought it was just french weirdness....
OK, it took me a few minutes, but I just got it. Hilarious.

P.S. For the other people reading this thread, she is, indeed, une belle devine.
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  #43  
Old 16.03.2012, 19:58
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

I have a 16 year old French student who comes for English once a week, and German once a week. We now do German from English - and use a German English dictionary (I do not have a French-German one). He's been coming to me for a couple of years now and very comfortable in English, so it's great fun.
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  #44  
Old 16.03.2012, 19:58
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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absolutely! teaching english to little ones for a long time has shown me one reason they learn so quickly- often they have no shame or at least less of making mistakes. i'll never forget when my husband called me (sweetly) a divine beauty and i asked why he was calling me a bottle of wine? i thought it was just french weirdness....
embarassing French story: when i was learning French in Canada, I wasn't too good with listening comprehension. In immersion class one day we had a debate on the death penalty (peine de mort). Which in my little brain turned into "pain d'amour"- I couldn't figure out why people were fighting about "love bread", I didn't even know what "love bread" was.
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  #45  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:00
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

When you have to learn a language that belongs to the same linguistic family as your native tongue it does get a lot easier...What it bothers me is the fact that I know enough German to get by, but I'm still blocked when people insist speaking Swiss German, I don't understand much. I sometimes ask them to talk in standard German, ok, a few words they do, and after that they start blahh blahh-ing in a dialect. Very helpful.
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  #46  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:00
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

Took me years to realise that on New Year's eve the song was not about 'old enzymes'
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  #47  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:00
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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embarassing French story: when i was learning French in Canada, I wasn't too good with listening comprehension. In immersion class one day we had a debate on the death penalty (peine de mort). Which in my little brain turned into "pain d'amour"- I couldn't figure out why people were fighting about "love bread", I didn't even know what "love bread" was.
Well, if you get your hands on some love bread, send a loaf my way. Great story!
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  #48  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:15
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

haha, having a french husband (who is a bit crazy) didn't help when asked in class words to describe people and i said "une canon". my teacher laughed and asked what it meant and where i heard it... cut to not speaking in french to my hubby for a spell.

but it goes both ways, my husband once told us there was an octopus outside the apartment- he meant a hedgehog!
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  #49  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:33
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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haha, having a french husband (who is a bit crazy) didn't help when asked in class words to describe people and i said "une canon". my teacher laughed and asked what it meant and where i heard it... cut to not speaking in french to my hubby for a spell.

but it goes both ways, my husband once told us there was an octopus outside the apartment- he meant a hedgehog!
My ex boyfriend was lacking lots of manners especially with his mother tongue which is English. And in that time I had zero English, I was just trying to learn it while being with his friends who didn't speak French.

So breast was tits and so and so...

These were the words I was learning. So one day we were in our friends baby shower with the whole family and friends. The mom to be told us how painful her breast was and I didn't get it completely so I repeated it:

-You have pain in your tits? (with strong french accent)

But at that moment I said that, it was at the exact same moment when people took a break in their conversation, so EVERYBODY heard me from young kids to granny!

Humiliation! I was so angry that my then boyfriend didn't care to teach me proper words...

From that day, I refuse to learn bad words from a language until I get a good base and know what it really means.
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  #50  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:44
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

Ahahah yes a real danger when your learn as you go along- it takes a long time to realise the proper register of words or expressions. At a very very posh dinner at the Grand Hotel, black tie- somebody asked me how my Degree course was doing. It was hard work with 2 little ones, so I gave an honest reply 'fine thank you. But I am knackered'. The looks on people's faces - then somebody broke the ice 'she is foreign you know, from Switzerland'. OH explained later the difference between being exhausted and 'knackered'. Wouldn't be so bad nowadays I suppose, but in 1975, it was a definite 'faux-pas'.
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  #51  
Old 16.03.2012, 20:49
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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Ahahah yes a real danger when your learn as you go along- it takes a long time to realise the proper register of words or expressions. At a very very posh dinner at the Grand Hotel, black tie- somebody asked me how my Degree course was doing. It was hard work with 2 little ones, so I gave an honest reply 'fine thank you. But I am knackered'. The looks on people's faces - then somebody broke the ice 'she is foreign you know, from Switzerland'. OH explained later the difference between being exhausted and 'knackered'. Wouldn't be so bad nowadays I suppose, but in 1975, it was a definite 'faux-pas'.
Lol

In Turkish you have a word with only the pronunciation which is different.

Sikildim and sikildim (but the i don't have the dot on top of it.

Sikildim without dots on I means: I am bored
Sikildim with the dots means: I am f**ked.

I said the second one to my in laws...
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  #52  
Old 17.03.2012, 00:11
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

How I know my French is improving:

I've got to the stage now where I dream in French as well as English, and when sometimes I'll be thinking about something, and then suddenly stop and ask myself 'What language was I just thinking in?'.

I have a whole set of vocabulary that is unique to my French language skills - words, concepts etc. that I struggle to express in English.

I probably spend at least 50% of my time communicating in French.

How I got to that stage:

3 extended hospital stays. If I wanted to talk, I had to talk in French. Follow that up with CBT and occupational therapy in French... it's one way of learning!

I had an assessment of my French the other day, with the goal of sending me to some classes to polish my language skills, particularly my grammatical skills and my writing. I did an assessment at the same language school almost two years ago. We started out the same way: I talked to the teacher about myself, what I wanted from the classes, etc. I thought that we covered fairly similar ground this time to the previous assessment.

However I was then given some written exercises. I assume that they select the level of difficulty of the exercises based on how fluent your spoken French is. I was encouraged to see that my spoken French has clearly improved dramatically, as the exercises I was given were much more complex and challenging than the ones I completed two years ago!

The downside is that when your foreign language skills reach a certain level, your mother tongue seems to start to go downhill. The number of times I say or write something in English and then realise that my sentence construction was very French, or even that I've used 'franglais' in reverse - a French word given an English twist...
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  #53  
Old 17.03.2012, 09:43
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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Jealous! My husband speaks no French. Our TV is a Slingbox, i.e., English only. The only time I can practice is at the shops/restaurants and in my own car when I listen to the radio. It's a hindrance, really. I'm thinking of getting myself a little Swiss boy toy on the side...to help with my language skills only, people! Jeez, get your minds out of the gutter!
Don't get yourself a little Swiss toy boy, get yourself a Swiss child ... I learnt French by being an aupair in France when 19. A 3 year old will repeat ad nauseum things you don't understand without ever getting tired or uncomfortable, she will get her picture books and endlessly point at things and name them (usually with the correct gender ..grrrr..) and will use basic and clear sentance structure and grammar meaning you get an excellent groundings in the basics.

Seriously - I never studied French beyond school and here I am, 20 years later, having decided to get my C2 French certificate so as to prove my level should I want to apply for jobs and finding it very straightforward (well the French bit - not the exam technique bit!)

Contrast with my German .. which I have learnt in night school since we came here and which has atrophied at intermediate level because it is enough to get by on and to be any better will need full immersion (and a lot of off rote learing).

Oh and age. Definitely age. I think it is no coincidence that Odile too learnt English like I learnt French - but when we were both in our late teens.
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  #54  
Old 17.03.2012, 11:40
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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Having only been in French class six months now, I know that my skills are improving slowly, but I have a long, long way to go. I am frustrated b/c I do better trying to express myself rather than understanding other people who are speaking.

I wondered if those of you who have mastered a second language could tell me at what point you finally stopped "translating" what you read or heard into your mother tongue as you attempted to understand it? I cannot seem to move toward reading or hearing French and understanding without doing this translation thing in my head.

(Apologies to OP as I am not trying to derail; this seemed like a good thread within which to ask this question .)
At first I had big difficulties to focus and to understand when somebody was talking in English with me. After hours (every day speaking 6-8 hours together) of focusing to understand, to translate in my mother tongue and to try to answer as coherent as possible with my poor English vocabulary I had headaches. Is not a joke! But after few months it start to come alone every sentence without thinking if I used the right verb, the right time of the verb, the proper noun etc. It started by conversation and after a while I opened the grammar book. I still make a lot of mistakes, I have some doubts about using the comma between some sentences (I didn't found any book/ link about using the coma in English language; I know that there are some different situations than in my mother tongue) but I can say that after 1 year my skills are improved as I never thought it's possible. Even so, I have a long way in front.
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Old 17.03.2012, 12:33
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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Having only been in French class six months now, I know that my skills are improving slowly, but I have a long, long way to go. I am frustrated b/c I do better trying to express myself rather than understanding other people who are speaking.

I wondered if those of you who have mastered a second language could tell me at what point you finally stopped "translating" what you read or heard into your mother tongue as you attempted to understand it? I cannot seem to move toward reading or hearing French and understanding without doing this translation thing in my head.

(Apologies to OP as I am not trying to derail; this seemed like a good thread within which to ask this question .)
The exact moment I realized it worked without translation I cannot determine but probably the steps toward the feeling or consciousness that you're not translating anymore comprehends exposure to hearing, listening and practising conversation and the method that worked for me was full immersion into the language and culture. Oh, and you should accept that you'll need to be humble in a certain way: not expect that the others will translate the discourse in your mothertongue - you should have genuine interest in not receiving any translation from others and when not understanding a discourse well, to rephrase the bits you understood with vocabulary you have available in your second language. As long as you have the consciousness of translating into your mothertongue you could also focus on perception of the syntactic differencies (sentence structures). Studying these will bring out the patterns and understanding these is a big step forward to master a language well. This implies you have already understood and apply the grammatical rules of the second language.
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  #56  
Old 17.03.2012, 12:53
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

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The downside is that when your foreign language skills reach a certain level, your mother tongue seems to start to go downhill. The number of times I say or write something in English and then realise that my sentence construction was very French, or even that I've used 'franglais' in reverse - a French word given an English twist...
I agree and sadly people forget while aiming to learn the 'new' language that the language level in their mothertongue is closely linked to how 'good' they are doing in their second language.
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  #57  
Old 17.03.2012, 13:23
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

For my German progress, the other night I had a dream about going around to people on the street and asking them in French how to say certain words in Switzerdütsch and them replying in English.

Once they start replying in Switzerdütsch I think I will be seeing some improvement .
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  #58  
Old 17.03.2012, 13:31
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

In the short term it is not a problem, especially when young(ish).

However, once MT does need practising in the long-term. When we moved here we met an older lady from Kent- she'd been here, married to a Swiss, for 45 years but had very little contact with family back home as her parents had died. I spoke to her in French, but as it was quite laboured I switched to English - as I thought she might enjoy it, but she struggled to put words together and sounded quite stilted. I think she was quite shocked by this- as she'd probably not noticed before, as nobody would dream of speaking English up here in t'mountains.

This experience made me determined to keep up my English (although it is not my MT). Fairly easy as we have many British friends here, watch UK TV, speak regularly to family, grand-children and friends in the UK (Skype is the best thing ever) and the US, and via the Forum. Our life is totally bilingual on a daily basis, and this is how I like it. We also go back to UK every couple of months- as I need my 'fix'. (+ shopping, a good curry or two, etc).
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Old 17.03.2012, 13:39
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

Many (30) years ago, I was at a fest in Zurich with a friend from Lausanne, and we met some girls from Geneva. After a while, one asked my friend why I spoke French with a fake American accent!

I also had a Parisian girlfriend a few years ago who thought that my accent was on purpose to annoy her, as she didn't think it was possible for someone to speak grammatically perfect French with such an abominable accent!

(I can conjugate pretty much any verb in any tense, and use it correctly)

Tom
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Old 17.03.2012, 14:04
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Re: How do YOU measure if your language skills are improving?

In the UK I am usually asked if I am Welsh, or South African Why as my MT is French, but there you go. In the US though they always 'luuurve' my English accent, lol. And here they normally ask me how I, a Brit, speaks such perfect French, hihi.
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