How to learn another language.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Abstract, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm interested in learning another language, and I'm trying to figure out how. I've never been successful at French, can't do Mandarin (although I really could have if I tried), and now I want to learn Japanese, and I want to learn it well. The reason why is because I want to work in Japan after I graduate from my PhD in 16 months. If you must know, I wish to be either working in a University, or at a hospital (cancer centre) when I graduate. The websites seem to be in English

    Here's the scenario: I'm a PhD student, and I want to work in Japan, likely Tokyo, after I graduate. I know that living in Japan full time and immersing myself in Japanese is the best way to learn, but I can't. I can't just go to a university in Japan for a year or something because of my PhD, so living in "home-stay" in Japan isn't an option.

    I don't know much Japanese now, but I'm working hard at it by reading a book and listening to the accompanying CD dialogues. :eek: I have learnt a lot in my 1st month, but that's not much. :eek:

    Other than my Japanese tapes, is there a good way to learn Japanese without moving to Japan? My girlfriend is Japanese, so the 2nd best method to learn Japanese has already been done. ;) However, she's not good at teaching me because we're just too close, and she just thinks it's cute when I make a mistake. :p

    What else can I do, o wise people of MacRumours??


    PS: I'm going to Japan in December for 2 weeks, but my gf will be with me, so it's not like I'm going to be speaking much (if at all, since it all sounds the same to me right now :eek: ).
     
  2. Queso macrumors G4

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    Mar 4, 2006
    #2
    Although with Japanese it's harder because of the alphabet difference, I learned basic Spanish and Italian with the Transparent Language CDs and using dictionaries to fill in the blanks, then once I had that in my head just used the Internet as much as possible until I felt confident to use the language itself. Get a basics course that gets you reading as well as listening to the words. Then try and find a Japanese radio station that broadcasts across the 'Net and read a Japanese news site at least once a day, looking up the words you don't understand. Your big advantage is that you can practice speaking Japanese with your girlfriend too. Don't worry if she laughs at first, I bet she will really appreciate it. :)

    And of course, visit Japan as much as possible. Read the newspapers, listen to the conversations of people around, and making sure that they correct you when you make mistakes.
     
  3. Dr.Gargoyle macrumors 65816

    Dr.Gargoyle

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    #3
    Have you tried Rosetta?
    It is suppose to be very good in getting you to a certain basic level of knowledge fast, wherefrom you can improve your skills in various ways by e.g. interacting with japanese speaking people.
     
  4. jamesmcd macrumors 6502a

    jamesmcd

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    #4
    Honestly, to get started, I would use Pimsleur Japanese 1, 2 and 3. The Pimsleur courses are very good for making you able to answer things natrually without thinking about it. After that, sure, use whatever you can find, such as Rosetta.
     
  5. Temujin macrumors 6502a

    Temujin

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    #5
    second
     
  6. YS2003 macrumors 68020

    YS2003

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    #7
    If you already have a Japanese girl friend, I think she would be a good help for your learning Japanese. I think she would be able to point out a mistake in your Japanese if you tell her you are serious about learning the language.

    The best method of learning a foreign languages is the immersion method, i think. Once you get the basics like sentence structures and grammar, you can just jump into the easy books (go for a children's books for starters with the dictionary in hand). Catching a flick or tv show in Japanese would also help you with getting accustomed to the tones of the language.

    I would be skeptic about any language program which touts easy learning. Learning languages would need some elbow grease.

     
  7. CubaTBird macrumors 68020

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    #8
    If you want to learn how to pronounce the words correctly, listen to some music in the language you want to learn. :)
     
  8. Reaver macrumors 6502

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    #9
    I have been wanting to learn another language, I took spanish in high school and french in college and I have been wanting to learn latin and greek and maybe even german. I looked into the rosetta stone stuff but holy cow those things are expensive.
     
  9. Temujin macrumors 6502a

    Temujin

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    #10
    Yeah, I was surprised of that too.
     
  10. Dr.Gargoyle macrumors 65816

    Dr.Gargoyle

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    #11
    ...and still they sell like crazy.
    I havent tried Rosetta myself, but I have heard it is the fastest way to learn the basics in a new language.
     
  11. YS2003 macrumors 68020

    YS2003

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    #12
    Is there anyone on this forum who has a successful outcome with Rosseta Stone language program? The outcome should be good command of language at the daily conversation level & basic business level.
     
  12. rtharper macrumors regular

    rtharper

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    #13
    The best way to learn any language is to use it. My Spanish fluency was at its best when I had a girlfriend from Argentina, because I was using it everyday. I have taught myself both Armenian and Irish (with very different results). I used several different books/tapes and I found that having someone else to speak it with is the only true way to really feel comfortable with a language.

    Whatever way you choose to learn (computer, tapes, book, combo), just speak it endlessly if you can, no matter how small your starting vocab is. Learning a language is always embarassing at first when you really start using it, because you'll be shy, unsure, etc. Don't worry, everyone goes through it =)

    For Irish, the speaker availability is very limited in the States. I never run into anyone and have a community on the 'net. I try and get as much media exposure as possible with online radio, reading websites in the language, etc. This is all VERY hard at first, don't be discourage when it all looks and sounds the same. The more exposure you have, the easier it will be to pick out words and become familiar with idioms in spoken versus written. At first, just try and pick out a few of the basic words you know; that's an accomplishment, and it WILL get easier.

    Good luck! =)
     
  13. xsedrinam macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

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    #14
    This addresses what I was going to post, earlier, but got sidetracked. You certainly have a good mentoring opportunity with your friend. She may not be all that didactic minded, but your questions and interaction should be a great help.

    All that said, I'd listed three things in reverse order of importance for one who seriously wants to be proficient (conversationally and phonetically) in another language.
    3 - Commit to memory as much vocabulary and conjugation of verbs as you can.
    2 - Tighten up your skeletal understanding of English grammar and function.
    1 - If at all possible, take an extended stay in the host country and immerse yourself in the culture, while intentionally studying the language. Presence will help assimilate all the nuances, train the ear, even teach you about their thinking (what's funny?, why?, their customs, etc.) This engaging or integration with the people in their setting will raise your proficiency bar.

    My 2¢. Congrats on your admirable goal and mission. Good night, and good luck. :p
     
  14. thewhitehart macrumors 6502a

    thewhitehart

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    #15
    Rosetta Stone is excellent. I have used it for Japanese, subscribing to the online lessons. The method invokes a method similar to that used by children's tv shows like Sesame Street. I strongly believe that you must learn a new language as a child does (at an adult's pace, of course). Typical language courses in high school fail to recognize how the brain actually processes language recognition.
     
  15. OnceUGoMac macrumors 6502a

    OnceUGoMac

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  16. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #17
    You can read Traditional Chinese, right? I suppose you speak Cantonese, too.

    That will save you with many signs although some Japanese names are in kana, though some are a mixture of kanji and kana.

    Aren't there Japanese groceries available like Yaohan or Mitsuwa? I'm not sure where you are now, but you can always search the internet. Yaohan used to be in many, many countries, though I believe that they're out of business, even in Asia. Still, a Japanese grocery like that with mini-restaurants would help a lot since there is very little English.

    While Japanese music is an interesting way to learn Japanese, pronunciation is sometimes a bit unusual to fit the music. Movies with subtitles are probably a better idea. Dramas/soap operas are also good. The problem is getting the correct region and avoiding expensive Japanese versions.

    It seems a bit too much but you might consider using sticky notes to label things at home.

    Good luck!
     
  17. jamesmcd macrumors 6502a

    jamesmcd

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    #18
    I have used Rosetta, Pimsleur and several of the other less heard-of alternatives. When I was learning Russian I found Pimsleur to be very good, and Rosetta to be less effective because of my Cyrillic reading back then.

    Bear in mind though, that I was born with two languages and picked up another while I was young. I am proficient in 4 now, but I don't plan on learning any more.
     
  18. maxterpiece macrumors 6502a

    maxterpiece

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    #19
    Yep, I used pimsleur to help me learn some basic mandarin. It is very repetitive and has a strong emphasis on pronunciation and the spoken side of the language. I spent about 2 weeks practicing a couple hours a day. I had to listen through each lesson at least twice. I only made it through half of the mandarin I tapes - there's mandarin II and III, and I was able to ask for directions, order a few things at restaurants, negotiate prices (essential skill in china), say where i was from, ask if people spoke english, ask about hostel vacancy...

    It wasn't easy in that it took patience and was frustrating how slowly I learned, but as long as you listen to each tape and follow their requests for you to repeat things like 10 billion times in different contexts, and are willing to repeat each lesson until you get it right, things move along.
     
  19. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #20
    I concur! Knowing some traditional chinese helps to find things in Japan, even though I've only spent 3 days there, it was great being able to tell where the men's room was and to find a restaurant or bookstore.

    My wife made it a habit of communicating with former Japanese roomates (living with us while taking ESL classes) by writing things down in traditional chinese and them responding by writing in kanji.

    Yaohan's dead? Too bad, I remember fondly going there every week with my parents while they were living in Costa Rica. :(

    B
     
  20. rtharper macrumors regular

    rtharper

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    #21
    Your statement fails to recognize a lot of research in adult language acquisition, and is somewhat contradictory. No language course reproduces how a child learns a new language, which is with complete immersion. Though we don't know precisely how, a child can infer language rules from interaction and observation with no teaching of grammar, and learn a fair amount of vocabulary similarly (not of just concrete nouns but abstract concepts as well).

    The brain of a human is almost completely unable to do this past adolescence (apologies for the lack of citation, contact me if you want the actual paper and I'll find it somewhere). High school language courses, as well as successful computer programs, etc., employ similar techniques in language education. They involve teaching through repitition and formal grammar education. Certain programs are more crafty about hiding their grammar lessons in more interactive ways, but the only way for an adult to learn a language is to know the grammar.

    Before people jump on my last post, using a language does increase acquisition. Using what you know will always make you more comfortable in your command of a language. It is not the case, however, that you will pick up more rules easily through this method. The best way to learn a language as an adult is to pick through grammar books and build up your vocab. If you want to skip the formal grammar of a language, I promise you with 100% certainty your command of the language will never be at the level of your native tongue, and you will always be handicapped in discourse of complex ideas.
     
  21. kasei macrumors 6502a

    kasei

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    #22
    I lived in Japan for 6 years and before that I studied Japanese for 3 years during my undergrad. Japanese is probably the hardest language I've ever studied. Mandarin was much easier to learn compared to Japanese. The best way in my opinion to learn Japanese is to actually pay someone who is trained to teach Japanese. There are so many complex structures to learn in Japanese that it is very hard to do so by reading a book. As I am quite sure you've already realized, Japanese is so different than English you may want to actually go to Japan and study while you are there. You will find it much easier to retain the language since you have to use it on a daily basis.

    You also have to be careful when learning Japanese from a girlfriend. You don't want to walk around speaking Japanese like a girl. It happened to a colleague of mine who learned from his girlfriend. It took us forever to change his intonations. If that is your only means of practicing make sure she is aware of the difference be men and women structures and teaches you standard Tokyo-ben.

    I've found the only way to learn Japanese and to be able to speak it well is to sleep, eat and breathe Japanese. From what I understand you can read kanji. For now stick to conversational Japanese and go back to the reading and writing it later. I know some people may freak because I suggest waiting on the reading part (I actually learned how to read and write Japanese during my undergrad), but if you consider how children learn to speak a language, they learn by word association. You will learn much faster this way rather than following the old method of translating the words from English into Japanese.

    Good luck with studying Japanese. There are some really good schools that specialize in teaching Japanese in Tokyo. You may want to also check some of the language departments at some of the Universities in your town. They may have a total immersion programs for people who want to learn Japanese. Total immersion programs can be brutal, but you will walk away being able to speak the language.
     
  22. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #23
    It's sad that Chinese has been simplified in a different way from Japanese. Had I not had some familiarity with the older way to write things in Japan, I might be more lost when dealing with Chinese friends in Malaysia and Singapore. I've been able to pick up more Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hokkien. They've learnt better English because of Chinese characters, too.

    You're familar with Mitsuwa, right? They replaced Yaohan in New Jersey as well as parts of SoCal, I believe. I at least saw them in San Diego near I-805 and in Little Tokyo in L.A.
     
  23. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #24
    I can't read traditional chinese at all. :eek: Grew up in Canada in a jewish neighbourhood, so it's not like I had a lot of exposure to the written part of the language. I can only speak Cantonese because of my mum. Actually, I understand perfectly, but can't speak at the same level.

    While I'm learning hiragana, I'm also learning the kanji. Some of it I already know, but some of it will be new (once I get past the very beginning stages).

    And the advice in here is absolutely fantastic. Thanks a lot. :) I want to try that "Rosetta Stone", but I wonder if I can find it while living in Australia. Maybe I'll check eBay later.


    I'm also looking for Japanese PodCasts, radio stations, etc. If any of you have any suggestions for those, I'll take them.

    EDIT TO ADD: Why is Rosetta Stone better than any other language book + CD combination? I mean, how much different is it from other programs?
     
  24. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603

    MacBoobsPro

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    #25
    I learnt basic spanish in about a month by using this:

    http://www.earwormslearning.com

    Its amazing how it sticks :eek: so quickly. In under a month I can now hold a basic conversation. I'm waiting for the second edition due in October.

    Its also available on ITMS. ;)
     

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