Learning a language

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Holeyfraggaroley
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Learning a language

Post by Holeyfraggaroley » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:59 pm

Any one used Rosetta Stone, Fluenz, or Plimsleur to learn a language? I searched around and didn't find anything, even though it seemed like a topic of discussion at one time around here.

I understand that immersion into a language is the best, but I don't have that luxury. I talked with my head shrinker cousin about the way people learn and she said that Rosetta Stone is how kids learn. Once you get so old your learning process changes and Rosetta Stone is not the optimal choice.

Anyone taught themselves another language? How did you do it? If Plimsleur and Fluenz suck and Rosetta Stone is the only good option thats fine. Or is there another system of learning a language out there?

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Re: Learning a language

Post by seeahill » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:34 pm

I am a big fan of Pimsleur. You listen to a 20 minute lesson. Once a day, every day. (Language learning will not proceed if you "cram," it's slow and accretive.) Once you have 85% of the words, go on to the next lesson. No books, no vocabulary memorization. I did all 3 volumes of Spanish. You don't get street Spanish. But your accent will be pretty good and as someone said to me, even though my Spanish is still halting, "you sound like an educated man."

Do not think you will become fluent. That still takes immersion. But you will be able to get around very easily.

You might use this in conjunction with Michel Thomas. Mostly he works with the 8000 words or so that are cognates. I don't like his accent. But he encourages you to just wing it, and that's valuable.
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Re: Learning a language

Post by Turdacious » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:47 pm

Timmah is right IMO-- you have to take the time on almost a daily basis to pick a language up.

Rosetta stone is good, but expensive. There are a lot of phone apps out there for learning basics too. If you look around on the interwebz, or on your local cable menu, you can find a lot of foreign language channels to listen to that will help.

Practicing with a native speaker is good too.
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Re: Learning a language

Post by Andy83 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:07 pm

I did Pimsleur for Spanish 1,2,3,4. It was very non threatening and I think I'm fluent enough to travel and get around OK. That's what all the conversations in the courses are about. But when I listen to the soaps and programs on TeleMundo I realize I'm far from fluent in those conversations. But Pimsleur's ad that says you learn the language in 10 days is bullshit. What you learn in 10 days are a couple basic sentences like a 2 year old baby would struggle with.
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Re: Learning a language

Post by Polo Tomasi » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:27 am

I found that living with a French woman for 20-some years, and all the arguments and bitching that that entails is the best approach. Now that I don't live with her I keep up with French TV. And I try not to read any subtitles.

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Re: Learning a language

Post by tzg » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:30 am

Assimil!

Go to how-to-learn-any-language.com and look on the forums for advice on using it.

Universal opinion is that Rosetta Stone is overpriced and sucks. Except maybe for Spanish. People who say it's good are generally people who dicked around with it any never attained any real competence in their target language. Rosetta Stone is NOT NOT NOT how children learn. It's not how anybody learns.

Pimsleur is okay, it will get you started, essentially, to the point where you can do real work. Haters point out that it's not very dense, in terms of amount of language per unit of time or unit of money, but most of us are probably the sort that increased efficiency is counterproductive.

The most important thing is that you won't get anywhere if you don't use it, use it regularly, and use it in conversation with native speakers.

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Re: Learning a language

Post by vern » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:44 am

That crook Ferriss had a good post a while back about learning the most common 100 English words in your language of choice.

Then learn plural, possessive, past, and future tense and start talking. The locals will correct you as you go.

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/20 ... -language/

I posted this link here a few years back, more good info...

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2011/ ... ng-a-cent/
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Re: Learning a language

Post by seeahill » Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:41 am

Andy80 wrote:But Pimsleur's ad that says you learn the language in 10 days is bullshit. What you learn in 10 days are a couple basic sentences like a 2 year old baby would struggle with.
As usual, Andy is correct.
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Re: Learning a language

Post by Damien » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:05 am

Holey, for 30.000 dollars you can move in with me and immerse yourself in the beauty of the German language. I will also train you for a year.
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Re: Learning a language

Post by Protobuilder » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:18 am

Any of them will work sometimes and none of them will work all the time.

Some of the huge, commercial programmes are nicely designed but as much slick marketing as anything. I have beautiful coursebooks that have never left my home because they are too unwieldy to take out when you leave each morning. You need to spend 20 minutes or so each day, in a fairly progressive manner though need to decide what that would be for you. If you ride the subway to work, flashcards and MP3 files on your iPhone would be easy enough. If you are at a computer the entire day, some nice software programme could do the job.

If you share what language you want to learn and for what purpose, it could be useful. I haven't used Rosetta Stone extensively but from what I have seen, it is fairly unbalanced in terms of quality across languages. Spanish looked nice enough - Asian languages were fairly uninspired and unhelpful.

The link above to the Ferris post, if you apply the 80/20 principle and weed out all the bullshit, is fairly good if you are traveling to a country for a short period and don't need a good deal of depth. If you are in the US, stop by your area community college and enroll in an elementary course - they have a good deal of bang for your buck from decent teachers for a low price, especially as a lot of people drop after a few sessions.
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Re: Learning a language

Post by tzg » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:23 am

To bounce off of what Terry said about Rosetta Stone, at least historically, they would basically model every course on Spanish. Sometimes by doing translation of the other course. Well, if the language you're learning has very different linguistic constructs (I'm looking at you, Russian or Arabic), this can be a recipe for a shitty course.

Closer to English = probably a better course. Further from English: severe pedagogical difficulties.

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Re: Learning a language

Post by Holeyfraggaroley » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:44 am

Being a glutton for punishment I am going to learn Mandarin. My son taking it in middle school so I figure we can learn together. I spend alot of time in the car so I should be able to get some time in that way. I will look around for some classes to add some back and forth conversations.

Thanks everyone for the input.

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Re: Learning a language

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:50 pm

Ferriss is a lie-man on the subject, and most "courses" are poop compared to getting some form of daily practice speaking with natives, which has gotten very easy these days.

If I were picking up a new language, I would have a two-pronged approach.

1. I'd try Duolingo since it's free, can be done anywhere via smartphone/tablet, and appears to be effective: http://static.duolingo.com/s3/DuolingoReport_Final.pdf

2. I'd almost immediately seek out native speakers and talk to them in the target language.

The idea of coursework is just generally kind of scammy. People who get a tiny head start and then get immersed (e.g., Euro students who travel for a summer) tend to get pretty fluent in 10-16 weeks. The key is to practice actually speaking and focus on the "practice."
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Re: Learning a language

Post by Grandpa's Spells » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:06 pm

Started playing with duolingo this morning. Pretty fun, check it out.
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