Those of you who speak more than one language

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by nickspohn, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. nickspohn macrumors 68040


    Jun 9, 2007
    I live in America. Both my grand parents were born here, but i think a generation further back, they were born in Germany, or it might be a few back. Anyways, i'm 100% German. I want to learn German. Those of you who speak German and learned English first, is it a easy language to learn? What is the best way to learn it? In College? On the Computer?

    I also want to learn how to speak Chinese eventually. I look at that and think it's possible, and then i think German would be better to learn first. Advice please :)

    Btw, i want to learn German because i plan on going there quite often.
    Same with Chinese. Close family friends own a huge corp out there, and at some point, i'll be making frequent trips there too, but not yet.
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
  3. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    My missus picked up German quite quickly back in high school. Doesn't remember a thing now since she never used it again. :(
  4. angelneo macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2004
    German is definitely easier than Chinese since you know English.

    I know a little German, but I speak Chinese and English quite fluently, and some Chinese dialects as well.
  5. nickspohn thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jun 9, 2007
    I saw that Rosetta Stone on TV. I wonder if it works good for people?
  6. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
    :D Maybe this ad can help you with the Chinese.

    Attached Files:

  7. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    You only have two grandparents?:D

    Rosetta Stone is supposed to be good. However, don't think that it's going to be sufficient for you to become fluent. Learning a language is mostly a matter of being exposed to it on a daily basis.

    The great thing about the internet and services like Netflix is that there is plenty of German language programming available. Deutsche Welle, similar to the BBC or Acadamie Francaise, offers plenty of audio and video geared to beginners.

    The best way of course is simply to go there and enroll in a language course. You'll learn it faster and more thoroughly and be exposed to dialects, slang and everyday interactions. Something that simply listening to a lesson isn't going to give you.
  8. Surely Guest


    Oct 27, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    English first. ;)

    I've heard great things about Rosetta Stone as well.
  9. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    I picked up a lot of German simply following those old 'learn practically' ideas: I put the German-word labels for all the stuff in my room, wrote simple phrases and such to practice them with, and went from there.

    It helps that I moderate a German-speaking forum... They post in German all the time and I have to translate via Google or Babel fish.. Grammar sucks with those things though..
  10. yojitani macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    An octopus's garden
    Anything you start with at home - software, books, etc. - will only get you started. If you want to learn German, then you need to get a tutor at the very least. If you live near a university, you might be able to find a German student (NOT student of German) willing to teach you. With the exception of having to learn all the damn declensions, one of the hardest parts about learning German is the accent. You won't learn that without either a tutor to correct you or a girlfriend/boyfriend to tease to you. When I was learning German, I found that the worst people to learn from were those who were non-native speakers.

    Also, you might want to reconsider your claims to German ethnicity. There isn't anything you've said that would lead most people to believe that you are "100% German".
  11. it5five macrumors 65816


    May 31, 2006
    New York
    Thank you.

    I see this sort of thing all the time, and it's pretty annoying. I see it more often with people claiming to be "Irish". When you ask them if they, their parents, or grand parents were born in Ireland, it's almost always no. Most of these people don't even know when their families immigrated. These sorts of people have almost always never been to whatever country from which they are claiming ethnicity.

    To the OP: You are 0% German. You are 100% American whose family had left Germany many generations back.
  12. Motley macrumors 6502

    Dec 11, 2005
  13. ClassicMac247 macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    Hahaha, I taught myself chinese starting when i was around four, i convinced my parents to buy me books and tapes, i was fascinated by their culture, I speak very little and it's very hard. German is great, I think it's the easiest foreign language to learn, and although having German teachers in HS I taught myself everything because they are horrible teachers. I have found german to be very similar to english, but thats just my opinion, I plan on moving there someday, or at least living there for a few months, I'm big when it comes to Greman history, specifically Nazi era germany, it's fascinating.
  14. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    german is similar to english in a lot of ways, mainly because english is in some ways a derivative of german. at least an older form of the language that split when the anglo-saxons took over the Isle, but english was further formed and shaped by the norman invasion and thats why there is a lot of french/latin and other influences as well.
  15. anti-microsoft macrumors 68000

    Dec 15, 2006
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I'm Tri-lingual. I speak fluent English, Catalan and Spanish.
    I was brought up in Scotland and brought to Catalonia, Spain at 9 years of age.
    I've been speaking Catalan and English since I learned to speak. But Spanish about 5 years ago.
    My Dad is English and my Mum is Catalan (Spanish).

    I think the best way you could possibly learn a language is learning it from an early age...

    It's a shame you didn't know about your ancestors earlier...

    Good luck at learning the new language! Have fun!

  16. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    Yes. Irish seems to be a popular one for St. Patricks Day here. There wasn't a single Irish descendant on my course at college, yet did it stop them donning the usual attire and "traditions"? ;) I find that behavior slightly racist for a couple of reasons, why isn't diwali celebrated by these people?

    Though on the legal side of things you can get citizenship if 1 of your grandparents were born there, this is something I'm looking into (my grandfather is Polish and they'll only let you buy property there if you're a citizen).
  17. nickspohn thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jun 9, 2007

    Ah, don't you love people who tell you what you are and what you aren't?

    My entire family tree goes back to Germany within 200 years. I not only look German (blue eyes / blonde hair, but im sure you can argue with that since you know it all. That's why Chinese people are really Americans because they have Chinese traits). I also sound German and can say German words correctly. Something else you could argue with, but oh well. I've had so many people ask me if im German because of the way i talk. My last name also couldn't get anymore German than it is. Both my Dads and my mothers maiden name. My Dad's last name means woodworker in German.

    That's just a few things, but seriously, "i see this sort of thing all the time". What, people say they're irish, and then because some people say that, it means everyone lies. Please...
  18. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    anyone who learns how to, can speak german or any other language just about perfectly and correctly. yeah my family history goes back to germany too. my last name is a german word actually. that doesn't mean anything.

    your parents weren't born in germany and neither were you. so, yeah, semantically you're an american first. your ancestors were german and you have a german heritage. you, in fact, are not.
  19. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    If all his ancestors came from Germany, then he is ethnically German. If he has American citizenship, then his nationality is American.

    Ethnicity and nationality are two entirely separate issues.

    Being able to pronounce a few words correctly doesn't mean much. Parrots can pronounce words correctly too, it doesn't mean they can speak a language though, much less give an indication of their ethnic origin.

    If that's all that nick has picked up over the years, then it's likely that the connection to his ethnicity is tenuous. If he were to travel to Germany, I'm sure he'd find out very quickly that he's a lot less "German" than he thinks he is.
  20. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    thank you Ugg, for some reason 'ethnic' kept slipping off my tongue. i couldn't put it as eloquently.
  21. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
    Leaving ethnicity and nationality aside, I think learning German would be good to start with, followed by Mandarin. German will be an awful lot easier, and will get you accustomed to translation, grammar, looking things up and paraphrasing, all skills you need to acquire when learning any foreign language. Once you are familiar with these, then you will be better equipped to tackle Mandarin, which is a far greater challenge, including as it does a radically different symbol set and syntax.
  22. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    To the OP- as someone else with German heritage, I can tell you that you'll LOVE Germany. I went and it felt like I'd come home. The thing is- in larger cities, you won't need to know German at all as everyone speaks English. Good luck trying to get them to speak German! They're all too anxious to practice their English! :) However, in the smaller towns, it's very helpful to at least know a bit of German.
  23. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    Oh yes, indeed. :D

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  24. a456 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 5, 2005
  25. dwcasey macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2006
    good, practical approach

    I echo this. Postit notes and 3x5 cards with words and/or phrases. Put them where you will see them before you leave for work, when you get home, before bed. Words for every day items and how to use them in the a sentence. Same may work at 'work', depends on co-workers, work env, etc. But this will put the language in front of you for everyday use.

    I tried German tapes because of german heritage in family ( yes tapes, it was a while back ) and listened on my commute. Problem was, when I got to work or go home, the conversation was not about what the tapes were teaching. Not principly...I still remember how to count and greet folks, basic stuff.

    Plus, by writing it down, you are learning more than just speaking and making that hand/brain connection. Good luck!

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