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

Edek

Robin
Orthodox Catechumen
There is a debate about whether it is better to learn grammar-less Tarzan speak in the early going, or get it right from the start. It depends on the language and your goals, but if you are really struggling to get talking, I recommend giving Tarzan a try. No English speaker in the world will fail to understand:

Yesterday, me go shop.
Today, me go shop.
Tomorrow, me go shop.

And the same is more or less true in other languages, as long as your pronunciation is clear enough, and a lot of pronunciation problems come from dithering and fumbling for which case/tense form to use.

You do need to learn a lot of words and phrases to communicate, but you do not need grammar to communicate when you are face to face with someone and can gesticulate, watch their face to see if they are following you, etc.

People say that this is a bad approach because you cement mistakes. I say those people can either give me free language lessons or jump off a bridge.

But yeah, I agree that apps and courses are a bit like vitamin supplements & snacks compared to the real food of teachers, live practice with sympathetic assistants, and reading books / watching shows for babies->children->high school age. Apps and courses have a place, but if they are where you put most of your time, it's really not ideal, unless you have no other option.

I think duolingo is ok for your very first steps, but clozemaster is well worth paying for if you want an app to use on the toilet / train / while waiting for your booster shot. It uses sentences that real people would say, instead of babbling on about how your leopard likes blue apples. My leopard doesn't even like the colour blue, dummy, so what good is that?

And a tip from Timothy Ferriss, I believe: write out your introductory biography, first for a 30 second speech, then gradually build up to five minutes about who you are, where you are from, what you do, something about your family, all that stuff. Work in all the high frequency words you can, and get a teacher to go over it and make it perfect. Memorise it, repeat it daily, and use chunks of it for all the small talk situations you can contrive (people usually ask the same questions, so you will learn those easily). Boom: instant confidence for getting talking.
 
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El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
100% agree on going Tarzan style. I simply dont care about my grammar in the basic vocabulary acquisition stage. I speak decent Spanish, and this was the method i employed.

Unless you're using it for work, no one who's not a douche cares if your grammar is poor, its not your first language, as long as people can understand you, then plough on.
 

Solitarius

Sparrow
100% agree on going Tarzan style. I simply dont care about my grammar in the basic vocabulary acquisition stage. I speak decent Spanish, and this was the method i employed.

Unless you're using it for work, no one who's not a douche cares if your grammar is poor, its not your first language, as long as people can understand you, then plough on.
If you don't mind answering I'd be curious to read about some of your experiences speaking Spanish. I can read it nearly as well as English but don't do so well as regards understanding it when spoken. I've talked to priests, one Catalan & one Mexican & could understand them as they spoke proper Castilian being educated men, but most of the others I've talked to might as well have been speaking Turkish. Mexicans especially tend to speak a patois of their own comprised of corrupt Castilian (d'maiao for demasiado for example) English (troca for camioneta) & words which must either be of Indian origin or else simply made up out of whole cloth. The difficulty is generally worsened by their insistence on speaking at MG42 machine gun speed. I don't know how they can do it without having to stop & get some air, but they manage quite admirably ha ha.
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
If you don't mind answering I'd be curious to read about some of your experiences speaking Spanish. I can read it nearly as well as English but don't do so well as regards understanding it when spoken. I've talked to priests, one Catalan & one Mexican & could understand them as they spoke proper Castilian being educated men, but most of the others I've talked to might as well have been speaking Turkish. Mexicans especially tend to speak a patois of their own comprised of corrupt Castilian (d'maiao for demasiado for example) English (troca for camioneta) & words which must either be of Indian origin or else simply made up out of whole cloth. The difficulty is generally worsened by their insistence on speaking at MG42 machine gun speed. I don't know how they can do it without having to stop & get some air, but they manage quite admirably ha ha.

That's the same everywhere really. You learn a language and get to around b2 or b3 (mid to upper int), and can converse well enough with any well spoken, or more importantly, someone who is educated enough to alter their language around a non-native.

A lot of Mexicans speak all kinds of stuff mixed in from local languages, regional stuff. You're always going to struggle there. But then as an American you would likely understand very little if you went into a Glasgow pub and sat at the bar, and that's the same language.
 

Solitarius

Sparrow
That's the same everywhere really. You learn a language and get to around b2 or b3 (mid to upper int), and can converse well enough with any well spoken, or more importantly, someone who is educated enough to alter their language around a non-native.

A lot of Mexicans speak all kinds of stuff mixed in from local languages, regional stuff. You're always going to struggle there. But then as an American you would likely understand very little if you went into a Glasgow pub and sat at the bar, and that's the same language.
I've read complaints in Spanish on forums where Spanish-speakers from other countries, Spain, Argentina, Chile & so on give out about the Mexican inability to speak Spanish rightly. It might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it seems that the Mexicans' Spanish is comparable to the Haitians' French. As for Scotland I remember watching a short documentary on the Scots language on youtube once; one of the commentators wrote something in the Doric dialect of northern Scotland with a translation into French underneath. I understood it for that reason alone, that is I could read the French but if I had had to go from the Scots alone it'd have been hopeless as it might as well have been Estonian for all that I could make of it. In a way it's too bad that not many Scots still speak their old dialects anymore due to the "schools" & the television/internet. It's the same in England & I suppose everywhere else as well, the world is taking on a drab sameness under the malign influence of globohomo. It's rather like seeing a magnificent painting by a master suddenly showered with stinking liquid ----.
 

El Draque

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Anyone use this site? https://sovietmoviesonline.com/get-membership

It has an extensive library of Russian & Soviet films, with English subtitles.

Bit pricey at 30usd pcm, or 100usd unlimited, but seems an excellent resource.

I've been watching some recently (not from there). It certainly helps chip away at learning, and there's some great cinema out there to discover. I hate messing around downloading sub-files & such forth, so reckon this will be worth the money.
 

Bamboozler

Pigeon
Is there an easy way to learn a language ? Nope. Sorry to disappoint all the lazy-bones, but there are no shortcuts. It takes years to master a language and achieve at least B2 level. Then it must be put into practice in order that it doesn't get rusty. Remember that your mother tongue's 'installed' in a different 'directory', which gets permanently blocked more or less at the age of 12. So learning a new language's a completely different ball game.

I should've started with the fundamental question: what does it mean to know a second language ? Speech fluency is the most common and obvious notion of language proficiency, but then you have also writing, listening and comprehension skills. The fact that you speak a language doesn't mean you speak it eloquently or clearly enough to be properly understood. It doesn't mean that you're able to nail the accent, either. And what about dialects, jargon, slang ? It's a never-ending journey, that's for sure. It's enough to realize that every branch of knowledge equals to assimilating hundreds of knew words, phrases, collocations etc. One has to stand in awe of what a vast field of information it is.

If we were looking for an analogy , we could compare human languages to operating systems , which demand further updates and fixes in order to cope with the constantly changing reality. Therefore you can't treat this ever-expanding system as a rigid set of skills, which is frustrating, because even after years of hard studies and picking up bits of the language here and there you can't exactly feel at home with it. There's always something you're going to miss - a word, a phrase, an idiom, to fully express yourself.

If you're serious enough to get to some serious work ,and for whatever it's worth, I've got two simple pieces of advice for you. Consistency and input. Lots of input on a daily basis. Without it, it's going to be just a hobby and you'll never reach any useful comprehension or communication skills.

BTW: Have you noticed any changes in your personality when you're speaking a foreign language ? It seems like it's impossible to fully separate the language you're communicating in from specific behavioural quirks.
 
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