General Question

anoop66's avatar

Need help about how to learn a new language?

Asked by anoop66 (899points) December 10th, 2009

I am 22 years old and know English, Hindi, Punjabi and Bangla. I want to learn a foreign language on my own. Courses etc are not an option for me right now because of the time factor. So the options are either to do it online or invest in a software like Rosetta Stone. As I am keen on this, I don’t mind spending for Rosetta. So is Rosetta the way to go or is there any other choice?

By the way, I chose French :)

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19 Answers

ChocolateReigns's avatar

I like livemocha. You can do it for free (though there is stuff you can buy to download, but you don’t need to). You get to teach people your language while they teach you theirs. You upload sound recordings of yourself speaking the new language (it’s easy, don’t worry), and they help you with the pronunciation and everything. I have learned some French (native language being english) using it. Good luck!

anoop66's avatar

@ChocolateReigns Thanks! how good is your french now?

ChocolateReigns's avatar

Not too good since I haven’t worked on it since August…That’s my fault, though. If I had stuck with it, I would probably be pretty good. I’m thinking I’ll start up again pretty soon.

anoop66's avatar

@ChocolateReigns Sounds encouraging, I have finished registering there

ChocolateReigns's avatar

Good. One thing – you can’t use IE to do it. I tried, and the mic software wouldn’t work. So I used Firefox. Not a huge deal, most people should be on Firefox anyway. IE is slow.

gailcalled's avatar

@anoop66: Are you in a position to find a native speaker of a language that interests you? That’s the best way to learn both to speak and understand. Being able to read and write are almost two different skills.

anoop66's avatar

@gailcalled I don’t have access to any french speaker :( Was thinking that I could listen to french music and watch french movies later maybe?

gailcalled's avatar

That’s great for understanding but no help at all in being able to speak. But anything is better than nothing. The trouble with the French movies is that usually everyone speaks really fast.

My French is very good, but I have to keep peeping at the subtitles at the movies.

When I was learning, I used French music a lot, but in those days, the accompagniments were subdued and the singers loud and clear.

JLeslie's avatar

I vote for three months in Quebec or Paris.

anoop66's avatar

@gailcalled Sigh! That tough huh! I don’t care about writing in French. My priorities:
1. Read French (Imp)
2. Understand spoken french (very imp)
3. Speaking French (Would love to speak atleast basic)
4. Writing (Not reqd)

anoop66's avatar

@JLeslie I wish I could!!

JLeslie's avatar

Have you looked to see if there is a school nearby that teaches conversational language? Many times corporations use these to bring employees up to speed with the basics. I find interacting with someone is much more effective than just repeating after a tape, although I think the tape can be helpful also. Generally, I am better at learning everything face-to-face with someone, so I guess I am biased.

Watching movies can help get the rhythm of a language, but it is very hard when learning a new language to understand anything by observing someone elses conversation. It is when someone is directly speaking to you, and you can stop them when you don’t quite understand, and they make the effort to reword the sentence, or use gestures as well, that we really start to be able to understand a new language generally. At least that has been my experience. I theorize that this is why children learn language so easily, at least part of the reason, because we take more time with children, we expect them not to get it right off the bat. We will say, “this is a ball,” and then point to it, “do you want to throw the ball, kick the ball? Motioning with our hands and then our foot, and on and on. With adults we just give them a list and tell them to memorize. You are multi-lingual so I am sure you know all of this.

anoop66's avatar

@JLeslie Just don’t have the time for classes, although I know that it’s the right way. Thanks for the reply, helped me. You are awesome!

andrew's avatar

@anoop66 If reading french is your first priority, Rosetta might be a good match for you.

If you want to learn conversational French quickly, the Pimsleur technique is better.

I did both before I lived in Paris this summer.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I would suggest advertising in your local craigslist/gumtree-style site for a language exchange partner.

Language is a social phenomenon, so while I don’t dismiss Rosetta Stone and the like completely, they really do, I feel, miss much of great importance to language learning – meaning (communication) is constructed, it doesn’t just fall out of the sky in little pre-packaged chunks. Courses like those will help build grammatical and lexical competence, but they will be very limited resources for building other aspects of communicative competence – discourse & interaction patterns, control of the phonological aspects of the language, etc…

In conjunction with grammatical and lexical study, find a real person to do a language exchange with, and meet up with them once a week for coffee or something. That way, it won’t take up too much time, and will also be a social interaction that you’re sure to benefit from.

I’d also be inclined to reconsider my attitude to the written language, were I in your position – its importance is not to be underestimated, and will give you a great many more opportunities to practice – and therefore remember – the language you learn elsewhere.

LostInParadise's avatar

This is a technique that I used to pick up some very basic Italian for a trip to Italy. Just get a standard language textbook and devote about 20 minutes a day to gettting down basic vocabulary and grammar. I did this for about 3 months and found it rather effective. I think that even if you plan on using some other method, this provides a fairly good introduction. I found that there was not much benefit to going putting in much more than about 20 minutes.

Zen_Again's avatar

Three months in Quebec and his English will become incomprehensible while his French, if you can call it that, will become indecipherable.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Just don’t ever learn a second language. Ever. It’s easier that way.

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