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2nd language - ever learned as an adult?

Wolvers

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Jan 13, 2015
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I'm curious if anyone has tried to learn a 2nd language as an adult before, and how far they got.

I'm sure many people here speak multiple languages and multilingualism is awesome, but growing up with another language is so different to trying to learn from carte blanche as an adult.

I majored in linguistics and it's still so hard. When I was a student I picked up Spanish and got to a conversational level but after my year studying abroad in Barcelona I've lost a lot of it.

At the start of this year I moved to Korea and it's been humbling. I couldn't even say 'hello' or read when I stepped off the plane and after 10 months of self-study, I'm much better but still can't manage a detailed conversation.

Sometimes I think back on all the time I've spent and wonder if I could have spent it more productively but then I'll go to a store and the clerk will compliment my Korean, so I feel I've accomplished something at least.

And I'll always remember the first time I went to Spain and asked for directions in Spanish, that thrill was crazy.

So did you ever try yourself? How far did you get? What was your motivation and what's your method?
 
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eddie4

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Sep 18, 2014
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English is my second language, but I learned it when I was about 8. It was easier than.
I tried learning Spanish in HS and College. Took some courses, and I was decent, but I pretty much forgot it all and now I don't even want to think about learning another language.
 

DrJohnGalt

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Trying to learn Spanish on and off, but always seem to lose motivation. I can read it relatively well (for a newb) but cannot figure it out quickly enough when hearing it to have a conversation. Tried using that rosetta stone program but it got boring after a while. Tried an online community college class and did well but I haven't used it in a while and would probably struggle now, even with low-level conversations.
 
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Wolvers

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Yes, after last year's transplant I had pretty severe memory loss and I had to re-learn English, took me about half month. I sadly cannot replicate accent which I had and instead I have pretty strong Slavic/Czech accent, which I hate. But yeah all of my post is basically my knowledge since last year. I am 31 now...
I'm sorry to hear that. But also there's nothing wrong with having a strong accent! Particularly with English, it's the world's language and its diversity is its beauty.

Did the transplant only affect your English or other language abilities, too?
 
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M1chl

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I'm sorry to hear that. But also there's nothing wrong with having a strong accent! Particularly with English, it's the world's language and its diversity is its beauty.

Did the transplant only affect your English or other language abilities, too?
Thinking in general, it was really rough ride. But all in all I am very lucky, even with this situation. We have thread for that, if you are interested:
 

eot

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I started learning German three years ago, I think I'm alright at it now, but still not perfectly fluent of course.
 
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DadEggs

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my sister in law is from vietnam so i have done extensive traveling there. every time i go a feel like i pick it up a little more and yet i forget most of it when i'm home in the states. all the basic conversational phrases come back to me when I go back though and am immersed. I can read a handful words to know what some of the signs say. I really wish I could learn it to a deeper level, but I just dont practice it enough. it does feel like i plateau though, and that in order to take it to the next level I really need to dedicate time to lessons and daily in person interaction with it. and neither me, nor my SIL, nor my extended family there, have the time for that at this point in our lives...
 

DogofWar

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Learning to understand languages is a lot easier than talking them.

I speak Swedish and English fluently and also understand most everything in German. I can read most any German news article without difficulty. But when I speak German I sound like Tarzan, the grammar just doesn't stick.

I also understand a lot of Polish but there I have the opposite problem, I know most all grammar but I just don't get the words because they are so different than the Germanic languages.
 
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whitesugar

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i started learning Japanese about 18 months back. it;s a very difficult language for English speakers, and it's also difficult because most of my study time is at night when I'm already tired after a full day of work. i enjoy it for the most part though, slowly working my way through kanji and vocab and a bit of reading each day. i think i will stick with it and am optimistic about eventually becoming reasonably fluent - my accent, however, i fear will laways be shit
 
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MaestroMike

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Sep 25, 2011
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spent years studying spanish I feel like I can be really good at it but I need to move to and work in a spanish speaking country where I can use it every day. i wanna learn russian/mandarin so I can troll their internet users and also work for the CIA, but alas not enough time/too lazy
 

kruis

Exposing the sinister cartel of retailers who allow companies to pay for advertising space.
Dec 11, 2008
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I've been learning Russian for the past 2 1/2 years. Started out by reading the New Penguin Russian Course and by using DuoLingo for a number of months. I then signed up for a Russian course. I was able to skip the first two courses because I'd already garnered enough basic knowledge to continue with course 3. Two years later I had completed six courses and finished three course books. So now I'm supposed to be at B2 level (advanced intermediate level), but to be honest I'm not really at that level. TI still have quite a way to go before I am at a level where I can comfortably read books and articles without needing a dictionary every couple of sentences. Colloquial spoken Russian is also a challenge (i.e. I hardly understand anything)

I'm fine with my current level though. The important thing is that I'm still making progress. I'm reminded of how I learned English. I started learning English at school when I was 12 more than forty years ago. I bought my first English language books four years later because I wanted to read novels by my favorite authors that hadn't been translated to Dutch yet. Those first books were slow going because I had to consult an English-Dutch dictionary many times per page. I stuck with it though and after a while reading books in English became easier and easier till I reached a point where reading in English was as natural as reading books in my mother tongue.

I'm sure that I can manage to do the same in Russian as well. I just need to give it time, more time than English since Russian is quite different from any other language I know (Dutch, English, German, French) I'll just continue listening to podcasts in intermediate Russian, watching Youtube videos for Russian learners, listening to Russian pop/rock music and studying the lyrics, spelling out newspaper articles and marking all the unknown words and phrases to expand my vocabulary, etc. The important thing is that I'm still enjoying the challenge of learning Russian. I've been to Russia once (in 2019) and I'm planning to go again once this Corona madness is over.
 

GymWolf

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Jun 11, 2019
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I learned english, it's not perfect but i'm working on it.

I hate watching any type of stuff with italian dub and i travel a lot so i was kinda forced.

Also now i can write stuff on gaf instead of being a lurker.

Unfortunately i can only train on forums, watching\playing stuff and during travels because where i live nobody talk english.
 
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IDKFA

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Jan 15, 2017
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Yes.

My wife is Polish, so I had to learn Polish to speak to her family. Polish is an incredibly hard language to learn for an English speaker, but the way I learned was the same way I learned with French and German, which was to immerse myself in the Polish language for as long as possible per day.

As well as using language learning software (back when I started this was a Teach Yourself CD and book. Way before we had language apps), I also watched Polish TV, listened to Polish radio and tried my hardest to read Polish text, even if I didn't understand hardly anything when I first started. It was far harder than French and German, but now after 14 years I can say I am fluent in Polish.

During lockdown I started to learn Italian, which is thankfully a lot easier than Polish, but the same methods apply. I use an app (Rosetta Stone), plus watch Italian language TV (Suburra on Netflix was amazing) and listen to Italian Radio.

Learning languages as an adult is hard because we have so many more distractions, but if you stick at it then you'll pick it up. It just takes a long time. Some languages take longer than others. French is easy to learn for an English speaker, but something like Arabic or Japanese is going to take a lot longer to learn.

If you're starting out, pick an easy language to learn first and just spend at least 30 mins a day minimum. That sounds like a lot, but a lot of us probably spend more than that on GAF or social media.
 

lock2k

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Totally possible. I learned English when I was 13 to 16 and I learned Spanish after 30 (though I had knowledge about It for many years but never truly spoke It before). The fact that I coordinate a South American team helps because I have to use It weekly.
 

jufonuk

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Jan 1, 2009
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Jim.
French on and off. I try to fly before I even crawl. The 30 mins a day idea sounds nice. Will work on adding this to my routine.
 

Happosai

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I'm curious if anyone has tried to learn a 2nd language as an adult before, and how far they got.

I'm sure many people here speak multiple languages and multilingualism is awesome, but growing up with another language is so different to trying to learn from carte blanche as an adult.

I majored in linguistics and it's still so hard. When I was a student I picked up Spanish and got to a conversational level but after my year studying abroad in Barcelona I've lost a lot of it.

At the start of this year I moved to Korea and it's been humbling. I couldn't even say 'hello' or read when I stepped off the plane and after 10 months of self-study, I'm much better but still can't manage a detailed conversation.

Sometimes I think back on all the time I've spent and wonder if I could have spent it more productively but then I'll go to a store and the clerk will compliment my Korean, so I feel I've accomplished something at least.

And I'll always remember the first time I went to Spain and asked for directions in Spanish, that thrill was crazy.

So did you ever try yourself? How far did you get? What was your motivation and what's your method?
Moved to Mexico from the U.S. 5-years ago. I didn't speak a word of Spanish coming off the plane. I got married her (my wife is Mexican) and had more living/work opportunities than I had from growing up 28-years in Illinois. So, I decided to make my stay permanent. My Spanish was awful at first and laughable. I just learned from books, the people around me, and by isolating myself from English speakers. It worked - but it did take awhile. I've heard some say they learn a new language in like 3-months after spending time in another country. It took me about 3-years to become lower intermediate in Spanish. I'm like a B2 level Spanish speaker but I understand at a more advanced level. People say my accent sounds local and they can't distinguish much of my Midwestern U.S. English accent in my Spanish. So, I guess from the majority feedback I get from people here...I'm not doing that poorly in dialect. It's good to learn a second language if you're relocating somewhere that doesn't have English as their primary. Otherwise, it's not really necessary to learn another language if you don't have to. For example - Most Dutch in Netherlands speak English; so why learn Dutch?
 
S

SLoWMoTIoN

Unconfirmed Member
I already know another language and I'm never leaving the states so I don't need to.
spent years studying spanish I feel like I can be really good at it but I need to move to and work in a spanish speaking country where I can use it every day. i wanna learn russian/mandarin so I can troll their internet users and also work for the CIA, but alas not enough time/too lazy
Hi Jim.
 
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King of Foxes

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I've been learning Danish for work the last few years, its pretty fucking hard i have to admit.

I was raised with Latvian as primary and learned Russian in conjunction and then started to learn English around highschool time, all with no real issue. But fuck me i struggle so hard with Danish now.
 
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TTOOLL

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I learned most of my English during college, teaching. I'm now studying French by myself, been doing it for about 1.5 years.
 

Hoppa

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I learnt German for about a year and a half. At first it was kinda interesting..then I realized I haven't actually met anyone that speaks German and I'm not too interested in traveling to Germany. Plus I think most Germans my age speak English anyway so its been a complete waste of time and energy, but I can understand German YouTube comments which is nice I guess. The language was kinda fun to learn, except pronouns and how they affect verbs/sentence structure are a massive pain in the arse and I don't know how someone could possibly get their head around it without being completely immersed. I heard it was a lot more difficult in Spanish and French though.
 
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T8SC

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I speak one... One Zero One Zero Zero. With that I could steal your money, your secrets, your sexual fantasies, your whole life. Any country, any place, any time I want. We multitask like you breathe. I couldn't think as slow as you if I tried.
 
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King of Foxes

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Actually for the native English speakers, can you please confirm or shoot this down for me? When i was at university i had an English professor who basically said (paraphrasing) "Whenever you send a work email never start with Dear....,always try and start with Good morning, Afternoon,evening depending on where the person is located, English speakers prefer casual correspondence" I have generally kept to that rule and noticed it tends to spark general "chit chat" more.

Is this true or im a retard and people have been having pity conversations with me
 
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Happosai

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Actually for the native English speakers, can you please confirm or shoot this down for me? When i was at university i had an English professor who basically said (paraphrasing) "Whenever you send a work email never start with Dear....,always try and start with Good morning, Afternoon,evening depending on where the person is located, English speakers prefer casual correspondence" I have generally kept to that rule and noticed it tends to spark general "chit chat" more.

Is this true or im a retard and people have been having pity conversations with me
This is true. If I write -- "Dear Mr. Lubbach, blah-blah..." My boss might think I'm writing in a condescending manner or misinterpret it as informal. I also recommend closing business letter with "Respectfully" rather than "Sincerely." You can write good morning/afternoon/evening...or simple write the person's name. American's are also touchy about using first names; so it's (suffix...e.g. Mr.) then last name (comma)...
 
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King of Foxes

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This is true. If I write -- "Dear Mr. Lubbach, blah-blah..." My boss might think I'm writing in a condescending manner or misinterpret it as informal. I also recommend closing business letter with "Respectfully" rather than "Sincerely." You can write good morning/afternoon/evening...or simple write the person's name. American's are also touchy about using first names; so it's (suffix...e.g. Mr.) then last name (comma)...

Kind regards or Best Regards? thats often discussed at my work, native speakers tend to use kind while everyone else uses best
 

Bombolone

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I learned a bit of Spanish when I was 25. Went to a night school.
Now @ 35, I have tried to learn Spanish, Japanese... always comes down to this. I dont ever use it. In my daily life, news, entertainment.
Its a neat idea to think it would be so cool to know another language (just to know it), but thats not good enough to become fluent.
My day to day interactions just dont lend itself to language sticking for the long run.

Surprisingly I can still hear spanish, and with context, piece together what is going on. Still think of trying again.
 

Sakura

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I learned Japanese as an adult. I don't think you will ever get to a native level in a second language as an adult, like you would if you were learning a second language from a very young age, but fluency is definitely possible. Just gotta put in the time.
 

Hudo

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Japanese as third language as an adult. It's a matter of regularly practicing and just keeping at it.
 

Majmun

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I speak Albanian, Dutch, English, and German

Albanian is my mother tongue. Learned the other languages when my family moved to The Netherlands.

But when it comes to mastering the languages:

1. Dutch (perfect)
2. English (perfect)
3. Albanian (good)
4. German (good)

I can also understand Turkish and a little bit of French. But I can’t speak them.

As an adult, I would like to learn Arabic or Spanish. But have no time. Heard Spanish isn’t that hard. Arabic on the other hand...
 
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billyxci

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been trying to learn french. if i were to read some french text i might get a decent idea of what it is saying but definitely not understand it completely word by word. if i were in france i reckon i could get about fine reading signs. that's about it. i find that french speakers talk way too fast so couldn't make a conversation in french. the whole masculine/feminine thing messes me up. i'm crap at nouns/plurals etc. basically shit at it but it's the only language i can somewhat understand other than english. i can sing the alphabet and count to 100 lol.

my spanish is in 3rd place but i can only really say hola, adios, gracias, and count to 6 :)

4th would be japanese but as you can imagine it's basically non existent. i can say hello, goodbye, and yes. lol
 
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Orpheum

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Aside from English I'm also capable of speaking french and i tried to learn finnish for 3 years.

Finnish is the devil, it's way too hard man..
 

Susurrus

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Been trying to learn Japanese for years and am around it constantly at home because they speak it, and I study it nightly. I can understand a bit and get around and even read quite a bit, but I still won't get far in a conversation. I'm probably just dumb, though.
 

T8SC

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I speak one... One Zero One Zero Zero. With that I could steal your money, your secrets, your sexual fantasies, your whole life. Any country, any place, any time I want.

 

dave_d

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I tried to learn french as an adult and boy was that an utter train wreck. I only did it because because my college had foreign language requirement.(4 semesters of torment.) Admittedly I didn't really appreciate how onerous that would become when I started it but by the end I truly despised those courses.(I did not do well.) I'd rather take far easier and more interesting courses like physics and organic chemistry. Turns out shoving this bilge down my figurative throat is not a particular good way to engender an appreciation for it. Of course it didn't help that the school would claim how important it was to gain fluency but then do everything to belie that assertion. (Let's see, you claim it's important but funny how the full blown professors don't teach these super import courses. Should I point out that they had so few sessions of the 4th semester that it was actually difficult to get into a class to complete the requirement?) Anyway I managed to complete the requirement only because they let us take a version where you only had to be able to read it.(That I could do, speaking it I was hopeless. The Stranger still sucks, Maigret mysteries were ok though.) Once I was done of course I did the most sensible thing and never have anything ever to do with it again to help it be full erased from my mind. I am happy to report I've forgotten everything from those complete wastes of time. Oh and of course I've made it a point in my life to never under any circumstance take another foreign language class.(Thank you scumbags at my school.) But hey other can learn from my mistakes, I make it a point to tell all my friends and family if you go to college avoid foreign languages and requirements at all costs, nothing good will come of it. I wish I still had the books from those classes so I could burn them.
 
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Fugitive Sex

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I've learned Spanish and Japanese to a conversational level, though with certain topics I can use more sophisticated vocabulary.

Age is nothing but an excuse. Sit down and study daily.
 

Porcile

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I tried to learn french as an adult and boy was that an utter train wreck. I only did it because because my college had foreign language requirement.(4 semesters of torment.) Admittedly I didn't really appreciate how onerous that would become when I started it but by the end I truly despised those courses.(I did not do well.) I'd rather take far easier and more interesting courses like physics and organic chemistry. Turns out shoving this bilge down my figurative throat is not a particular good way to engender an appreciation for it. Of course it didn't help that the school would claim how important it was to gain fluency but then do everything to belie that assertion. (Let's see, you claim it's important but funny how the full blown professors don't teach these super import courses. Should I point out that they had so few sessions of the 4th semester that it was actually difficult to get into a class to complete the requirement?) Anyway I managed to complete the requirement only because they let us take a version where you only had to be able to read it.(That I could do, speaking it I was hopeless. The Stranger still sucks, Maigret mysteries were ok though.) Once I was done of course I did the most sensible thing and never have anything ever to do with it again to help it be full erased from my mind. I am happy to report I've forgotten everything from those complete wastes of time. Oh and of course I've made it a point in my life to never under any circumstance take another foreign language class.(Thanks you scumbags at my school.) But hey other can learn from my mistakes, I make it a point to tell all my friends and family if you go to college avoid foreign languages and requirements at all costs, nothing good will come of it. I wish I still had the books from those classes so I could burn them.

I don't think language courses are such a bad thing in concept, but they go at such a snail's pace and never ever cover enough content for them to be useful.
 

dave_d

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I don't think language courses are such a bad thing in concept, but they go at such a snail's pace and never ever cover enough content for them to be useful.
I'd be a bit more understanding that they used grad students and adjucts if they had so many that they could keep class size down to say 4-6 students. Unfortunately classes were 15-20 students which is far too many. (Especially after making the excuse it's so important that they had to force you to take it.)
 

Ar¢tos

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I don't think language courses are such a bad thing in concept, but they go at such a snail's pace and never ever cover enough content for them to be useful.
You learn faster learning slow, than when you rush it. If you rush it you don't give your brain time to really memorize things.
I can read most French texts but I rushed most of the course, I'm not comfortable at all speaking it. I plan to redo the course when I finish the German course I'm doing at the moment.
This time I'm not rushing it at all, I'm taking 5 days per unit, limiting myself to 3-5 lessons per day, and it's much easier than when I did the French course. the language difficulty is about the same, much of my knowledge of Portuguese helped with French, and my knowledge of English is helping with German (it's basically rearranged English with different vocabulary).
It will take over one year to complete the course, but I'll get there.
 

sliceypete

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Learning a new language for me has been hell haha.

Been living in germany for the past 5 years and my german is trash lol. I would say my level is A2 at the moment. Lovely country, but what a hard language to learn, plus I work exclusively in english. (IT project management)

I’m hopefully that it clicks someday.🤞🏼