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Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:42 PM

Does anyone have any tips about learning a new language?

Iíve been studying German for 6 months now and itís just not clicking. I used the Rocket language app as well as reading the website, YourDailyGerman. Iíve also tried reading the German Harry Potter side by side with the English version.

I learned Spanish very well and quickly because I could practice daily with friends who spoke Spanish. No such opportunity arises with German.

Any tips or advice on how to get a language to ďclickĒ faster?

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Arrow 48 replies Author Time Post
Reply Does anyone have any tips about learning a new language? (Original post)
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 OP
Glamrock Oct 2018 #1
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #4
Glamrock Oct 2018 #9
snowybirdie Oct 2018 #2
DFW Oct 2018 #19
Aristus Oct 2018 #22
hlthe2b Oct 2018 #3
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #5
hlthe2b Oct 2018 #6
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #7
Corvo Bianco Oct 2018 #29
HeartachesNhangovers Oct 2018 #8
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #13
bikebloke Oct 2018 #17
RobinA Oct 2018 #42
SKKY Oct 2018 #10
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #15
Maine-i-acs Oct 2018 #11
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #12
Dave Starsky Oct 2018 #14
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #16
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #18
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #20
bobbieinok Oct 2018 #23
bobbieinok Oct 2018 #25
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #27
fierywoman Oct 2018 #32
bobbieinok Oct 2018 #35
fierywoman Oct 2018 #39
3catwoman3 Oct 2018 #40
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #41
3catwoman3 Oct 2018 #43
fierywoman Oct 2018 #33
bobbieinok Oct 2018 #21
DFW Oct 2018 #24
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #44
DFW Oct 2018 #48
ret5hd Oct 2018 #26
underpants Oct 2018 #28
Iggo Oct 2018 #30
NCjack Oct 2018 #31
The Velveteen Ocelot Oct 2018 #37
California_Republic Oct 2018 #34
Buzz cook Oct 2018 #36
Hotler Oct 2018 #38
Turin_C3PO Oct 2018 #45
Leith Oct 2018 #46
TuxedoKat Oct 2018 #47

Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:46 PM

1. I've got a tip from my right wing mom....

SPEAK ENGLISH!

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Response to Glamrock (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:49 PM

4. Lol

Sounds like the right wing nut jobs around here. They hate when I speak Spanish around them. Itís quite pathetic, really.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #4)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:06 PM

9. It's crazy.

When I was a kid my dad, uncles and grandfather used to crack Polish and black jokes on the reg. Mom used to bitch at all of em. She didn't wanna raise racsists. Now? She'd yell at you (or mutter under her breath) for speaking Spanish.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:46 PM

2. Best way

is immersion. Live in a place for a time,where only that language is spoken.

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Response to snowybirdie (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:19 PM

19. I agree. I even went one further

I married a German woman and we live near DŁsseldorf.

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Response to snowybirdie (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:32 PM

22. I agree. Immersion.

I learned German in school, but I picked it up a lot faster when I was stationed there in the Army.

The German people have a reputation (unfair, I think) of being cold, reserved, and standoffish. But when I was making an attempt to speak the language with them, they were very warm and helpful.

No matter how badly I was stumbling and fumbling through a German sentence, they would invariably say something like: "You speak German so well. Please continue." and offer helpful tips for improvement.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:49 PM

3. Immersion sans English is the fastest way...

Even if that means 1-2 weeks at home with NOTHING in English around.. German movies, German audiotapes, German radio, German computer interactive "lessons"... Send your English-speaking family/friends away.

I know, impractical, but it does work. Obviously better if you can go to a German community and Immerse.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #3)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:52 PM

5. That idea

about spending a couple of weeks just around German actually could work for me. Iím disabled, so Iím home all the time. Thanks for the tip, hlthe2b!

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:54 PM

6. You know you are making progress when you realize you dreamed in German...

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #6)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:59 PM

7. Ah yes.

I remember my first dream in Spanish. I was so excited when I woke up and realized it lol.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:23 PM

29. And you can read German papers from the 30s

To get your daily fascism fix! Sry..

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:02 PM

8. I use an online program called Duolingo everyday

for Spanish and French (there are many languages available and most are free). It's set up as short tests (maybe 10 minutes each). There are dozens of different topics on Level 1 (numbers, adjectives, etc), and each topic has multiple tests (from 2 to 20). Also you can take an intro test to get out of the easier stuff and you always have the option to test out of any topic (do 1 test to skip 2 to 20 individual tests). Also, you can read an explanatory lesson before trying most of the tests and topics. You can speak your answers or type them, and you can listen to the questions or read them. And there is a "practice" test that you can do any time that covers all the material you have already done.

I would say that if you do a couple of tests everyday and were conscientious, it would take at least 3 months to get through Level 1.

Spanish was my first language although I've never lived in a Spanish-speaking place and I studied French in high school, so I haven't tried it on a language that I have no experience with, but I think this program is probably at least as effective as a typical high school course.

I hope to start Italian just for fun next year. I'm working on Spanish because I want to apply for permanent residency in Mexico and want to nail the required interview. I'm only doing French because my wife decided she wants to go to Paris for her 50th birthday, and I don't like travelling places where I have no idea what is being said.

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Response to HeartachesNhangovers (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:19 PM

13. Duolingo!

I see that advertised all the time, i donít know why I havenít tried it yet. Iíll have to give it a go.

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Response to HeartachesNhangovers (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:00 PM

17. Memrise is another.

I used it in tandem with Duolingo. Free as well.

Busuu is free to a point. Though I quit. Then they sent a survey with a drawing for free premium for responding. Despite saying I wasn't learning much they gave me a premium membership.

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Response to HeartachesNhangovers (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 09:53 PM

42. I'm Currently

using Duolingo to learn French because Iím going to be going to Paris in the spring. I really like it and itís the best non-classroom language instruction Iíve done. Usually I just give up, but this is set up like a game so you those periodic dopamine bursts that keep you coming back. Iím going to add some other materials to it just to mix it up. I expect to not be very good at French, since I donít have anyone to talk to, but I do think I will know enough by that time to get by. Thatís the plan, anyway.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:13 PM

10. Unless you're a freak of nature...

....speaking it with natives is probably the only way. I've worked with linguists in the Navy who were absolute aliens when it came to languages. One guy I know went to a 3 month Serbo-Croatian course, called "Turbo Serbo", in Germany and was able to, in addition to Serbo-Croatian, become fluent in German. He said, "They were much easier than Arabic." Of which he was also fluent in. Freak show that guy was.

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Response to SKKY (Reply #10)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:20 PM

15. Yea,

My cousin is fluent in eight languages. She can learn them thoroughly in, like, six months. Crazy smart, she is.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:16 PM

11. Pimsleur series forces you to speak it

If you're just reading, and not listening/repeating, you've missed out on wiring in the information.
Worked for my Portuguese.

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Response to Maine-i-acs (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:18 PM

12. Thank you for the tip.

Iíll definitely look into Pimsleur.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:19 PM

14. Call the old folks' homes in your area...

And ask them if they have any German residents who wouldn't mind participating in a few hours of German conversation every week.

They will be thrilled to have you, and they will be enormously patient and helpful.

I knew a couple of people in my language classes who did that, and it helped them tremendously. I wish I'd thought of it.

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Response to Dave Starsky (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:21 PM

16. Wow, great idea!

Thanks!

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:08 PM

18. Try this: If you have a Netflix account,

watch German movies and TV shows - and if the option is available (it is for some shows), turn off subtitles and instead turn on closed captions, which, of course, will be in German. That way you can read what's being said and you won't get lost because they are speaking too fast for you to understand easily. But if the particular movie doesn't have that option you can still get a lot out of watching with subtitles because it will help you with your pronunciation and some vocabulary.

I have been studying Norwegian for a couple of years and I've found TV shows and movies to be very helpful, especially for correct pronunciation. I studied German in high school and college, but in school you have regular assignments, language lab drills, tests and grades, so under those circumstances learning a language comes a lot faster. But if you are doing it on your own or in a once-a-week class, the learning is a lot slower and you have to figure out other ways to do it efficiently. Finding a source where you can listen to the language is really helpful, which is why I like going to a class. We are reading a book in the class and we are slogging through it, slowly but surely. The instructor makes us read out loud and corrects our pronunciation (you will need to find ways to be sure your pronunciation is correct if you are not in a class - Duolingo is useful for that). Norwegian looks like it should be pronounced like German but it isn't - it's very different (and the grammar is much simpler), so having learned German just added another layer of confusion for me.

The way I memorized the German dative prepositions is by singing them to "The Blue Danube": Aus, ausser, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu. That's the only helpful hint I can remember. Fortunately for me, Norwegian does not have dative prepositions. It doesn't even have a dative case.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #18)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:20 PM

20. The cases are killing me.

As well as which gender article goes with each noun. The Netflix idea is a good one, thank you! I live in a small town but am always on the lookout for German classes. I think a structured environment would help a lot.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #20)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:33 PM

23. For correct gender, memorise gender as you learn noun--DER Mann, DAS Kind, DIE Frau

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #20)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:07 PM

25. For case, memorize simple sentence for each case for a sample noun, eg---

DER Mann ist hier.
Ich sehe DEN Mann.
Ich gehe mit DEM Mann.
Der Schuh DES Mannes ist alt.

DAS Kind ist hier.
Ich sehe DAS Kind.
Ich gehe mit DEM Kind.
Der Schuh DES Kindes ist alt.

DIE Frau ist hier.
Ich sehe DIE Frau.
Ich gehe mit DER Frau.
Der Schuh DER Frau ist alt.

And then yoou can see a pattern--

SUBJECT DER DAS DIE
DIRECT
OBJECT* DEN DAS DIE
INDIRECT
OBJECT** DEM DEM DER
POSSESSION*** DES DES DER

*and USED AFTER durch, fuer, gegen, ohne, um
**and USED AFTER aus, ausser, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu
***and USED AFTER trotz, statt

Plus ** are used after an, auf, hinter, in, neben, ueber, unter, vor, zwischen if subject of sentence is at rest at that object.
And * are used after these 9 if subject is moving to that object

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Response to bobbieinok (Reply #25)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:14 PM

27. Aaurghh! Reminds me of college.

Compare Norwegian, which has gendered nouns, but nothing else changes. The State Department says Norwegian and very similar Swedish are the easiest languages for English speakers to learn, and you can see why here:

Mannen er her.
Jeg ser mannen.
Jeg gŚr med mannen.
Mannens sko er gammel.

Barnet er her.
Jeg ser barnet.
Jeg gŚr med barnet.
Barnets sko er gammel.

Kvinnen er her.
Jeg ser kvinnen.
Jeg gŚr med kvinnen.
Kvinnens sko er gammel.

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Response to bobbieinok (Reply #25)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 05:44 PM

32. I wish you'd been able to give me this great advice when I studied German in high schoool 50 yrs ago

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #32)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 06:36 PM

35. Consider verbs. And compare to English

English--I want to buy the book.

English--I have bought the book.

The verb expression has 2 parts--want to buy and have bought

German puts the 1st part in the verb 2nd position and the 2nd part at the end of the sentence.

Eg, I WANT the book TO BUY
and I HAVE the book BOUGHT

German sentences

Ich WILL das Buch KAUFEN.
and Ich HABE das Buch GEKAUFT.

This verb arrangement means you have to pay attention all the way to the end of the sentence.

Eg, I WANT the book TO BUY.
Or I WANT the book TO SELL
Or I WANT the book TO READ

One student suggested this sentence structure trains Germans to be thorough; they don't stop paying attention part way through a job. He said maybe this helps explain why 'made in Germany' is considered to be a mark of excellence.

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Response to bobbieinok (Reply #35)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 08:40 PM

39. Beautiful! (I come from German parents) -- thanks!

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #20)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 09:21 PM

40. The gender articles in German don't make any sense to me.

Why is dress a masculine noun - der Rock?

Why is table feminine - die Tafel, but book is neutral - das Buch?

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #40)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 09:49 PM

41. The reasons are probably lost in history. There is no obvious reason for any of it

except to the extent that the gender articles are appropriate to the genders of actual people - der Mann, etc. Other languages have different but equally obscure reasons for assigning a gender article to an inanimate object. Buch is neuter in German but bok is masculine in Norwegian, a somewhat related language. Tafel is feminine in German but bord is neuter in Norwegian. In Germany a cat is a girl (eine Katze) but in Norway a cat is a boy (en katt), but in both countries dogs are boys (Hund and hund). Who knows?

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #41)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 10:42 PM

43. Der, die, das...

...dem - DAMN!

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #18)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 05:49 PM

33. Donna Leon's Venetian murder mysteries were done by German tv. I got them

out of my local library but I bet you could find them on netflix. They're called "Commissario Brunetti."
Otherwise, try watching dumb and mindless stuff (even dubbed) in German -- stuff like soap operas. You'll quickly catch the way normal every day people speak.

Immersion is the easiest way to learn a language.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:27 PM

21. There are some excellent youtube videos for kids to learn German!

Wish they'd been available when I taught 1st and 2nd yr college German.

Also on youtube, common fairy tales in German for kids.

BBC used to have a program to learn German available on internet.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 03:34 PM

24. Ocelot's suggestion is best if you are somewhat immobile.

It how I learned Dutch to a large degree. For about 8 years, we got Dutch TV, and I watched all the English language shows with Dutch subtitles. Plus, when we opened an office in the Netherlands, I told our guy there, to speak only Dutch to me until I could converse freely. He is from the Netherlands, but his native language is not Dutch, so he speaks Dutch very clearly and distinctly.
Now, although I have never lived in the Netherlands, I can converse in Dutch to the point where the people there don't even hear I'm a foreigner until they listen closely, or I make some stupid mistake they never would.

There are LOTS of great films and TV series in German. "Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum)" and "Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others)" are two of the best German language films ever made.

If you can find it, the TV series "Liebling Kreuzberg" is about a low key lawyer in what was West Berlin. It was written by a screenwriter named JŁrek Becker for an actor friend of his, Manfred Krug. Krug was a witty, funny, extremely ordinary-looking guy who happened to be one of the best-loved actors in Germany. The series turned a bunch of mundane everyday situations am honest, but modest, smart (and a little lazy) lawyer would handle into hilarious episodes with PERFECTLY cast supporting roles.It turned craziness into believable everyday life. Most people who were around then (started in the mid-80s) agree it was the best German TV series ever.

"Wilsberg" is great, too. It's about a failed antique book store proprietor who tries to make a living as a private detective on the side. He's always getting into hot water with his former high school classmate, a woman who is now the police chief. He's always broke, and is always borrowing the car of a nerdy friend who works in the tax office. It's also really well-written and very funny.

If it's any consolation, I studied Swedish intensively before starting with German. Swedish is far easier for us to learn, as its grammar is very simple. German grammar is more arcane, but it is a very living language, and seen through the films and TV series mentioned above, it gives you a DESIRE to learn it better, which is really the key, along with the exposure.

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Response to DFW (Reply #24)

Fri Oct 19, 2018, 12:11 PM

44. Thanks for the film and tv suggestions!

Lots of good ideas here.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Reply #44)

Fri Oct 19, 2018, 04:18 PM

48. These are films and TV series that captured the whole nation here in Germany

So you get a double bonus. Not only do you get language practice, but you also get an insight into what makes these people laugh, and once you know that about a nation, you 90% of everything there is to know about them.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:12 PM

26. Go hang out with DU'er DFW. Get lots of opportunity to practice!

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:21 PM

28. I guess Rosetta Stone is a thing of the past

I've tried DuoLingo a bit but got lazy. I still have Rosetta Stone but agin, lazy

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:40 PM

30. Speak it with people who speak it.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 04:41 PM

31. My experience. I was in casual conversation with three scientists. A Norwegian,

a Swede, and a Finn. I asked them to recommend a language for me to learn to improve my interactions with them. I got a very pointed response. "No -- don't do it! We like conversing in English. If you try to learn one of our languages, you will want to practice it with us. We are not going to do that. We did not learn English to give you practice in our language." Then they drifted off to discuss a friend of theirs who had just written a great chemistry book, but he published it in Norwegian. "He made a mistake" said one of them, "that made the book much too expensive. I like the scope of the book, but I'm not investing my time and money in a Norwegian science book." Another said "I talked with the author last week about that, and he said the English translation will be out in six months and at 50% the cost of the Norwegian version." All agreed that they would wait for the English version. We closed the discussion with them telling me (again): "We are not going to practice any language with you -- forget it." OK, not a practical idea, and I dropped it.

So, before you undertake this language study, be sure there is someone to help you practice.

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Response to NCjack (Reply #31)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 07:03 PM

37. On the other hand, I have also been told that if you are visiting one of those countries

the people really do appreciate it if you try to speak their language even though most Scandinavians speak at least passable English. The attitudes of these scientists might have had more to do with the fact that they were scientists.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 05:54 PM

34. Children's books

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 06:40 PM

36. Larger metropolitan areas have language clubs

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 08:29 PM

38. Right here.....

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Fri Oct 19, 2018, 12:12 PM

45. Thanks everyone for the replies!

Thatís why I like DU. People are always willing to help others out.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Fri Oct 19, 2018, 12:58 PM

46. These Are All Great Tips

But I'm going to offer some tips that are completely different. These come from my many years of learning foreign languages (now mostly gone through lack of practice) and teaching English to people who don't speak it.

First of all, relax. Yeah, really - relax. You are going to make mistakes in vocabulary, pronunciation, and sounds. Don't expect perfection.

Second, do not, do NOT pronounce sounds like their closest English equivalents. Sure, the "ts" sound at the beginning of a word it unnatural to a native English speaker so we want to just say the "s" sound. I cringe in embarrassment and irritation when I hear "sunami." That's a girl's name, not a natural disaster.

More on pronouncing unfamiliar sounds: one of my more frustrating memories of teaching sounds was trying to get a Japanese student to pronounce the English "th" sound. I was battling Japanese etiquette more than anything else because it is bad manners to show one's tongue. The best I could get her to do was place the tip of her tongue between her teeth. Then she took her tongue back into hiding and pronounced the "s" sound.

Lastly, it may feel to you like you are mocking native speakers, but try to imitate the accent as much as possible. This means:
- copying vowels: The Japanese "u" is more like in the English word pull than pool. Someone who pronounces "cot" like "coat" will always sound foreign and be more difficult to understand.
- stress on syllables: I once lost some important points because a speaker said a word with the accent on the wrong syllable. It sounded like "STADDidicts" and it was a good 20 seconds before I realized that he said "statisticts."
- rising and falling tones in sentences. Say these two sentences naturally:
"It's an icehouse."
"It's a nice house."
A native speaker will instantly know which one you are saying even without context.


Very sorry for being longwinded. But sometimes little things can mean the difference between sounding like you are having a conversation and just being a student whose turn it is to read from the textbook.

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Response to Turin_C3PO (Original post)

Fri Oct 19, 2018, 01:04 PM

47. Listen

to music with lyrics in German. This greatly helped my pronunciation and comprehension with French and Mandarin. Actually, you don't even have to actively listen to it, just play it in the background and you will benefit as well. It may take about six months but one day something will "click" and you will realize new connections in your brain.

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