Ways to learn a language: I'm a professional interpreter, and fluent in 6 languages.

Nice informative post and I agree with it for the most part. I would definitely recommend Pimsleur for anyone who’s new to learning a language. I’ve finished it in various languages already and I would say overall it’s good for what it is. Does it make you fluent? No, of course not. No course does. However, it does give you a good solid foundation in grammar that you can build up upon. The vocabulary is lacking of course, but then you can easily learn vocabulary outside of the app, so that’s not a problem. Most importantly though, is that it’s all audio, which I love because I can multitask. Time is precious and it’s hard to find the time to sit down and learn because we’re all busy.
 

Salinger

Kingfisher
I'm trying to learn Russian right now and started off by hiring an online tutor. Am I wasting my money here? Should I just be using Duolingo in the beginning or is it worth the cost to have a combo of both?
 

kel

Ostrich
IMO you can get away for a while with just independent study (books, apps, childrens songs for native children, etc). You do want to speak as quickly as possible, but I'd save the paid tutor for a bit. If paid is your only option for speaking, then I'd say save it until you've got the base you can get for free. If there's a Russian or multi-lingual meetup in your town go there ASAP though.
 

LoveBug

Kingfisher
Good stuff.

I literally just watch things that I’m interested in, with the most dialogue, in subtitles

Seems to take 2-5 years each to get conversational. Has to be a more efficient way

Nice tips
 

Chester

Pigeon
These are interesting tips, thanks. I know several languages and I'm looking for a way to make my English better. I also speak French and German. In my school, all children were bilingual, so I speak fluent French and German. English is the third language I use every day, but unfortunately I know it worse. Sometimes, when I need to translate term or phrase, I use free online translator, for example translate dot com. I also sometimes work on this site for extra money when I receive task to translate some simple text into French or German. By the way, I often meet people who need translation into rare languages such as Vietnamese, Thai, or Japanese, so those who are fluent in these languages can also try to make money translating text if registers on this site.
 
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El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
I'm learning Russian, approx 6 weeks in to 4-5 classes per week on Italki.

As a total beginner it's tough, but i'm focused on acquiring core language, and attempting speaking ASAP. As an English teacher i wrote down a lexicon of approx 400 words that i believe is the basic fundamental core that you need to achieve basic conversational level of any language. I applied this when i learnt Spanish, and kept referring to it and reviewing.

I'm doing this again now, but with the clear difference in difficulty it's relatively slow going, but as the OP points out the most important thing is consistency.

One thing i would love to add is a way to download film in Russian, but with English subtitles. If anyone knows of a site that has a resource or list for this, that'd be great.
 

LeBeau

Ostrich
Gold Member
As an English teacher i wrote down a lexicon of approx 400 words that i believe is the basic fundamental core that you need to achieve basic conversational level of any language. I applied this when i learnt Spanish, and kept referring to it and reviewing.

This is definitely a helpful post, but would it be possible to get that list posted here or linked somewhere?
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Are you watching any media (news, movies, tv programs) on a consistent basis? This was really helpful to me when I was learning other languages. I'm also semi-curious about Russian and would appreciate any content recs.

Living in Ukraine, it's a pain in the backside, but half the programs are in Russian and Ukrainian. All news is Ukrainian, films and some shows are Russian. The flitting between the two does my head in, so in conclusion, not really.

I want to find a resource where can watch Russian films with English subs, but cant find one. I guess just downloading Rus films and then looking for subtitle files would suffice.

On that score,if anyone can recommend any good Russian films (preferably classics or from Soviet era) that'd be great.
 

Solitarius

Sparrow
Living in Ukraine, it's a pain in the backside, but half the programs are in Russian and Ukrainian. All news is Ukrainian, films and some shows are Russian. The flitting between the two does my head in, so in conclusion, not really.

I want to find a resource where can watch Russian films with English subs, but cant find one. I guess just downloading Rus films and then looking for subtitle files would suffice.

On that score,if anyone can recommend any good Russian films (preferably classics or from Soviet era) that'd be great.
There is a channel on youtube called StarMediaEN which has a great many Russian television series with English subtitles. I've only watched a few that have to do with the Second World War so I don't much about what the others are about. You can also find on youtube with English subtitles the Russian film Admiral about Admiral Alexander Kolchak who fought for the Whites, it was uploaded by the channel unrelatedrocktwins. These are however all newer films. There is another channel called Soviet Union films, they have only nine films, Ivan The Terrible from 1944 looked interesting, it's subtitled.
 
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LeBeau

Ostrich
Gold Member
I have it as a Word file. If you know of a way i can upload that somewhere and have it linked, without needing to email it, then let me know

Yeah no need to email it, you could copy+paste the list to something like PasteBin, then post the link here:

 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Yeah no need to email it, you could copy+paste the list to something like PasteBin, then post the link here:


Thanks, i'll give it a quick spruce up this weekend and do so.

It's not exhaustive, and there's probably a few ommissions, but as a general lexicon to learn and then regularly review it's pretty good IMHO
 
Okay guys, so I've been seeing a lot of posts on here talking about language learning.

Before I start, I need to make something clear:
There's no wrong way to learn a language; there are simply some ways that are more (or less) efficient and/or effective than others.

I've witnessed time and time again that you can get to a B2 level, (what most Americans would consider "really fluent,") in an infinite number of ways. However, some methods will take you a 100x longer; we all know that time is precious.

The first thing you need to do is consider the language you want to learn. Is it an "easy" language? (French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, etc.) a slightly harder language? (German.) A "hard" language? (Slavic languages, Hungarian, Finnish, Turkish, Persian, Indonesian, Swahili, etc.) or is it a "holy shit" language like Arabic Korean Japanese or Chinese?

Easy languages aren't actually "easier" they simply take less time to progress in. Likewise, "Holy Shit" languages aren't necessarily more complex, there's (generally speaking,) just a lot more to learn, and thus it takes much longer to progress. (Roughly 4 to 5 times as long.)


Today I'm going to write about European languages.

When learning these languages I like to break it down into three "phases."

There's the "Information Acquisition" stage.

For this, I recommend apps like Babbel, or Pimsleur (especially if you've never learned a new language.)
For self-learning books, I recommend Assimil or the Teach Yourself series.

I personally recommend to people who come to me for advice to start with Babbel, then move on to Assimil. If they don't like Assimil, then move to Teach Yourself.

But what about DuoLingo!?!?!?! It's so fun!
Response: Duolingo will not teach you to speak a language. At best, it is a great supplement that can be used to learn vocabulary. It's not a stand-alone product, and I've never met anyone who learned enough exclusively through Duolingo to hold even the most basic conversations.

Your goal during this stage is the acquire as much knowledge as you can. You want to get used to the SOUNDS of the language. You want to memorize sentences, learn words, learn the way this language works in order to express ideas.

This stage can be very short, (if you're a Spanish speaker learning Portuguese for example) or it can be very long, (if you're an American learning Russian or Polish for example.)

CONSISTENCY IS KEY. IT'S BETTER TO HAVE A BAD STUDY SESSION FOR 10 MINUTES THAN TO SKIP A DAY. If you don't use it (review it lol) you lose it.

Tips
- If you're running low on motivation or getting lazy, join a night class. This is a great way to keep yourself exposed to the language when you're going through a rut.
- If you stop learning at this stage, most people will forget nearly everything within 6-18 months.
- Just keep swimming.

Then there's the "Turning that knowledge into skills phase"

Here's where it gets fun. You are now able to watch simple TV shows, read easy articles, and talk to native speakers (with difficulty.)
This stage is all about putting all of that theory into practice by engaging with native media and speaking with patient native speakers.

iTalki is great for this. Find yourself a teacher who will correct you.

Start reading stuff online. Follow some webpage about something that interests you in that language. Download the chrome extension that translates a word when you highlight it. Keep a notebook. Get some graded readers. Try out Lingq.com instead. This stage takes a long time. Basically just keep chipping away at the language. Learning new stuff, fixing mistakes that you frequently make, and improving your skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing.)


Finally, there's the "polishing it" phase - which never, ever ends.
Basically, this stage is the continuation of the previous stage. You're now at a point where you can effortlessly enjoy using your new language. You can watch TV without much difficulty, you can read books, articles, etc. You can speak about all sorts of things etc. Your goal is to keep improving. Your goal should be to feel as "good" using your target language as you do in your native language. It's a nearly impossible goal to achieve unless you really dedicate years of your life to it, but getting even 90% of the way there is a humungous achievement.

For example, It's harder to flirt and be charming in Russian than it is in English? Work on it. It's harder to discuss politics and society in Portuguese than it is in English? Work on it. Do you make silly, easy to fix mistakes? (using the wrong prepositions etc.) work on it.


Please post any questions you have here. This is something I've dedicated the better part of my life to. There's so much more to add, and I feel I've said way too little.

Best of luck. Don't fool yourself into thinking Duolingo, by itself is going to get you speaking another language. Nothing is it's enough on its own. Languages are huge and complex systems. There's no course out there that could possibly teach you everything you need to know to speak fluently.
Good Luck! Please, if you have any questions at all, ASK AWAY!

I'm an American expat in the Philippines, but despite being here for several years, I am not absorbing the language, and those around me grow impatient. What would you recommend?

Oh, and what do you think about Rosetta Stone? I am under the impression they are the best at what they do.

Thank you!
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
I'm an American expat in the Philippines, but despite being here for several years, I am not absorbing the language, and those around me grow impatient. What would you recommend?

Oh, and what do you think about Rosetta Stone? I am under the impression they are the best at what they do.

Thank you!

You can't learn a language without regular, consistent lessons from a teacher. That is your bread and butter. Stuff like apps, audio etc are just bolt-ons that can speed things up.

I'm having an hour a day Russian via Skype, it's slow as hell progress, but that's because i am not as disciplined and focused as i could be re practising.

I suggest anyone trying to learn a langauge throw a couple of hundred bucks on Italki or similar, and find a low cost tutor and have daily classes.

Most of the other stuff you see advertised are essentially varying degrees of 'one weird trick' snakeoil.

My take anyway. I dont doubt if you're very disciplined and dedicated you could learn by yourself with these apps, sadly im not.
 

Solitarius

Sparrow
There's a youtube channel JANA1889 that has a good number of Russian songs, mostly sung by the Red Army Choir. There are Russian subtitles, both in the original Cyrillic & transliterated into Roman letters on most of them.
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Yeah no need to email it, you could copy+paste the list to something like PasteBin, then post the link here:



This is the basic vocabulary list i've been working with.

As i say, it's far from exhaustive, and some ommissions are taken for granted (basic pronouns, numbers etc), but i consider it a good basic vocabulary, from which to move towards intermediate.

I drill these with my teacher, and then try and form a sentence.

EG he might ask 'rural', i will try and form -

"i believe rural living is healthier than in cities."

I write everything down by pen in my notebook in class, this is another way of reinforcement. Repetition is key.

Always at start of a class review the previous class's vocab for 5-10 mins, ideally a short recap at the end too.

This works for me anyway.

 
I've always enjoyed learning new languages, and I think I have good natural skills for doing so. I'm fluent in two languages besides my mother language. But I haven't spent the time to learn a new one since I ended high school.

We have great possibilities today with the internet. For instance, I can learn English and listen to American, British, Australian, Irish or even Indian accents (the latter not being exactly beautiful). We have free resources (the FSI languages courses are slightly dated but are good!).

It's just a matter of putting some constant effort. And it's completely worth it!
 
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