I just had few days ago some important language exams (in English and Spanish), and since then I’ve been thinking about the possibility of learning a new language at home on my own (probably German, Chinese would be too hard I think).

I’d like to know about you guys; what’s your relation with languages? I’ll throw some questions, feel free to answer the ones you want.


  • Did/Do you learn languages other than your mother tongue? If so, was it in school or by yourself?
  • Which one do you speak? How long have you been learning/practicing them?
  • Do you enjoy learning languages or does that bother you?
  • Is/Was your language knowledge useful for your job/studies/other?
  • Do you think that we should teach more languages in school?

Views: 991

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I think languages come easier to some people and not so much to others. I think everyone should try to learn at least a second language. If you're good at it then you should run with it. learn as many as you can. I would if I was any good. I grew up speaking Spanish and English. I am considered fluent in both but because I was educated in the States my brain is dominated by english. When I read in spanish I find my brain wants to translate the words to english before it downloads the information. 

I could probably learn other latin languages like French, Italian, and Portuguese because they are similar to spanish and I can half understand them already. Other languages are just too difficult for me. I would need to practice regularly for the rest of my life to learn anything outside of english or latin based. It's like playing the guitar if I practice everyday for a month I can learn a single song really well but barely be able to play it if I go more than a year without playing it. I have a friend who never even bothered to learn to read music and he can pick up a guitar not having played in years and play any song by ear. It's the same for languages I have a friend who was raised speaking only english but was able to pick up Spanish from his Peruvian wife within a few months of dating her. This guy would be courted by the CIA if he applied himself to learning other languages.

My favorite language sounds better than it looks.

Nin o Chithaenglir, lasto beth daer, Rimmo nin Bruinen dan in Ulaer!

I studied French in high school and at university (total of 6 years of coursework).  I also spent a year abroad in France.  I do not feel that I really spoke it well until I went to France and had to use it and understand it every day, but with all of the coursework this didn't take long once I was in France.

I loved learning French, and languages in general really interest me.  I've also spent a lot of time studying linguistics, as well as language processing and production in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

French is pretty useless here in Southern California :).  Spanish or Mandarin (or with my current caseload Tagalog or Vietnamese) would have been much more practical.  I still highly value the skill and think the experience in general has been helpful.

As I said, I valued my experience learning another language, and maybe moreso learning about another culture in much greater depth than I would have been able to do otherwise.  I do believe languages should be taught in school, and hopefully from there a curiosity about the world and other ways of living will grow.

I live in germany and speak both german and english more or less fluently, but I do have some problems with german, even though I have been speaking it for 12 years now. I'm 17 and went through german school and everything. I didn't really know how to speak german when I went to school but I picked it up along the way. It's really not as simple as english or spanish. But I don't know for sure about spanish, I've only looked into it a little, but overall it looks much easier.
There is a lot to german. Like in english it is just "the" for everything. In german you have to assign a gender to things. You have to learn to differentiate between der, die and das. Then there is ein, einer, eines, einem, einen, eine. Then also dem, den, denen and so much more. I still don't know how to correctly use all that.
And the words are a bit harder, I guess. But I'll just get to answering your questions

-My tongue language is english and like I said, I learned german around first grade kinda through school and through friends, family and a little myself, I guess. But school was not where I mainly learned it.
-I speak both. It depends on who I am talking to or if I am just walking around the house then maybe I get bored and talk german a bit, but I mainly think and talk english. Every once in a while I do randomly think in german.
-I would love to learn more languages like you plan on doing. I plan on learning tagalog next for my girlfriend, that is what they speak in the Philippines.
-Since I live in germany, yes, it is useful and knowing two languages does help a lot with random things. It helped me sometimes figure out certain latin words or origins of words or if I didn't understand an english word, sometimes there would be a little latin in there, that resembled german and I could connect it then.
-I think that schools should definitely offer many languages to learn. I would like to say for america at least spanish and then chinese and french maybe, too. The rest of the world should be learning english, since it is one of the most spoken languages and it does help for jobs everywhere. Here there are a ton of jobs that could use people that understand english. They shouldn't necessarily force it, but definitely give the option, at least.

I would like to ask some questions, too, if I may.
Has knowing two languages helped you, too? Kinda like how it helps me? I would imagine spanish is more useful since it is much more similar to latin.
Why do you want to learn another language?
Why german from all the other more useful languages that would help more around the world?
Will you be using german somehow in your everyday life?

  • Did/Do you learn languages other than your mother tongue? If so, was it in school or by yourself?

Here we are required to take two other languages in addition to Dutch, typically some combination of German / English / French, mine were English and German. After loosing my hearing I learnt NGT - Nederlandse Gebarentaal - Dutch sign langauge. I went to evening classes for this. Later I did self teach myself BSL - British Sign Language. I also learnt to lip read Dutch, and later a little English, but lip reading is very hit and miss.

  • Which one do you speak? How long have you been learning/practicing them?

At home and with relatives we use spoken Dutch and NGT a great deal with my oldest son and I both being profoundly deaf. I LOVE watching our hearing children and my wife as they speak because now even between themselves they use a great deal of sign (it is extremely expressive). I have been using sign 12 yrs. Here in the Netherlands both German and English are used on a daily basis as we trade so much across borders. Aside from sign my langauge learning days are over.

  • Do you enjoy learning languages or does that bother you?

Languages other than Dutch are just essential to living here and getting along, you NEED two additional languages minimum. In addition to Dutch and NGT my wife speaks German, French and English fluently and gets by in Polish and italian.

  • Is/Was your language knowledge useful for your job/studies/other?

Essental in the Netherlands.

  • Do you think that we should teach more languages in school?

I think languages give you an appreciation of other cultures and make you more open and understanding of other places and peoples. To willfully ignore language is to be arrogant and dismisive of other cultures. I also think you miss out a lot  on the depth and breadth of human communication. I think the English speaking world need stop being lazy, it is like it is being deliberately deaf to much of the rest of the world.

Please never take language, any language, for granted. I spent 18 months mute and to be without a voice is worse than being deaf so take every chance you are given to expand your range of language and enjoy it.

Langauges are fascinating and on this I want to leave One final thought for you. While I am deaf now I did not loose my hearing until after I had acquired language, my inner voice speaks in the Dutch I learnt as a child but my oldest son was born deaf so for a long time his inner voice with which he cogitated with was shape and colour - how many of you would think of those as a language ? (He now thinks in NGT in case you are wondering).


Judith vd R.

My first language is English.  Being Canadian, I have been exposed to French all my life - was usually able to read it well enough to get the gist of simple passages.  Three years ago I moved to French Canada (Québec) and I've been learning to speak the language fluently.  I mostly speak French now, although I still do most of my reading and writing in English.

I think that teaching other languages in school is pretty much useless unless the child is in an environment that affords opportunities to practice that language - such as Spanish in L.A., French in eastern Canada, or English for almost any non-English-speaking country.

When I was in school I was fluent in Gaelic, the native Irish language. However English is my first language. I can also speak French to get by with as I worked in Paris occasionally and studied it in school. I am trying to learn basic Arabic as I think it sounds great. I remember someone once saying that you know you are fluent in a language when it’s spoken in your dreams or the sound of your own thoughts.

I taught myself one programming language, and a little botany.

In school I learned part of the language' of philosophical inquire, mathematics, chemistry, and biology.

When married, I learned part of the 'language of relationships', and 'playing fair'.

As an 'employed person', I learned part of the 'language of power, control, manipulation, posturing, production, etc'.

We might use 'English', but the meanings are not always the same... 

I'm fascinated by language. Like why aren't Chinese food dishes pronounced the way they are spelled? It seems to me that at some point someone had the option of spelling the names phonetically. So why is Kung Pao pronounced Gung Bo (assuming, indeed, that even that is correct).

I heard the new Australian Prime Minister talking about the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370 and learned that "Australia," spoken by an Australian (who should know) is NOT pronounced aw-STRAY-lee-uh, the way we Americans would say it, but aw-STRAY-lee-ur. Who knew?

In fact that first vowel in "Australia" is generally an "uh" sound, at least to my ears.  And "Aussie" is apparently "Ozzy"

Chinese is generally tricky because before the 1970s we generally used an old system, Wade-Giles, to transliterate the words.  Which is how we had "Mao Tse-Tung" and "Tian-An-Man" (I could be remembering that one wrong, but I do know that the LA Times still used Wade Giles in the late eighties, when everyone else was referring to "Tiananmen Square.")  Starting in the late 70s we started seeing a move to Pinyin, which is the system the Chinese government itself uses, and Mao became "Mao Zedong"

I have to admit that Pinyin seems to render a lot of sounds counter-intuitively to my English-speaking ears (and English-reading eyes).  But what's worse is that many of the sounds don't exist in English at all, for example the sound signified by X.  That probably accounts for the sounds not making sense to you (or to me).

Place names in China used to follow yet a third system, the Postal Map Spellings, set up by the postal service there.  The old Szechuan hence became Sichuan, Sinkiang Xinjiang, Peking Beijing.  Unfortunately I am still used to the old names in many instances; I think I only figured out that Guangzhou is the old city of Canton a couple of years ago.  (The province of "Canton" is now rendered "Guangdong.")  Apparently Shanghai is the same in both systems.  (Tientsin->Tianjin, Chungking->Chongqing, also.)

The new system is more consistent, but again, rather counter-intuitive to us Anglophones.


© 2023   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service