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Topic: Americans' language learning abilities
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Dec 19, 2006 08:08AM)
How would you all define the language learning abilities of the standard American (USA)? Do they find learning other languages easy or difficult?

I saw a funny episode of the Simpsons, when they were in Italy, and Marge heard an Italian word she didn't understand. The word was "vendetta", pronounced between 90% and 100% the same as the american word "vendetta". She had to look it up, and said: "Aha, [b]vendetta![/b]"

I'm just curious if it hinted on a real condition or not.


Posted: Dec 19, 2006 9:18am
-----------------------------------------------
I ask partly because I've seen and heard both. I thought asking here was the best way, since most here are Americans or know Americans.
Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (Dec 19, 2006 08:18AM)
I say this as a man who has traveld the world (when I was younger) and met many people, some of whom did not speak English. I think that all people, when tryibng to speak an unknown language or a little known language, do their best to hit the right pronounciation of the words. However, when confronted with a very unknown, we all fall back on what we know becasue it is the best we can do.

My mother once went to the airport ot pick up a Polich cousin who was to visit the U.S. He spoke very little English and she spoke no Polish. When they could not make each other understand something by pointing or gestures she would fall into speaking French. He understood less French than he did English, but this is what we do.

as for the Simpsons they are simply a satirical parody of reality. You should realize that everythng they do, while humorous, is based in reality.
Message: Posted by: Margarette (Dec 19, 2006 08:39AM)
It was once told to me that in order to learn a foreign language well, start at an early age. I took high school Spanish (learning from a native speaker), and at one time, was quite fluent. Of course, over the years, I've slowly forgotten, but can still carry on a polite converstation in Spanish. During my college days, I learned American Sign Language. Say what you will about this language, but it does classify as a foreign language. Again, I became quite fluent. I actually had one instructor ask me who in my family was hearing impaired because she rarely saw that "fluidity" in signing in someone who hadn't already had practice with it. Had I continued my education along those lines(meaning one more year of college), I would have had a degree in interpreting. About eight years ago, I wanted to learn Japanese. I found it a lot more difficult to learn Japanese than the Spanish or the ASL. I am still learning, but can only carry on a "hi, how are you...I speak little japanese...do you speak english" conversation. I'm still learning the Japanese, and next I either want to try my hand at Russian or German.

Margarette
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Dec 19, 2006 09:05AM)
Try this:

1. Marge Simpson is not a real person, the Simpsons is a cartoon.
2. There is no such thing as a "Standard" American.
3. Nobody here speaks for all Americans (standard or otherwise) so it's a bit hard for anyone here to say what "they" (meaning all Americans, I guess) are, or are not, capable of with regards to learning a second language.

In other words, you are speaking in generalities. If you are just looking for reinforcement of stereotypes, fine.


Posted: Dec 19, 2006 10:18am
-----------------------------------------------
I did not write that post above. It's close, but it's not what I wrote. Please delete this post and the post above if my words were unacceptable.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Dec 19, 2006 10:07AM)
I took German in high school and lived within a concentrated German population in central Ohio. The immersion in the culture and availability of native speakers made it fairly simple for me to learn the accents, slang and common usage. The same was true when I lived in Athens, Greece and Pordenone, Italy on USAF assignments. Even though I went through extensive Greek and Italian language courses in California before going to each assignment, it wasn't until I was totally immersed in each culture that I became conversationally fluent.

Total immersion among the cultures makes learning any language immensely easier. As an example, the two years I spent in Cagliari, Sardinia were the most difficult as the common dialect (Sardo) is a combination of Italian, Spanish and French that I never could seem to figure out. I believe it was because Italian and English were so common that I never had the true immersion into Sardo that I experienced elsewhere. The cute girls in the clubs simply resorted to Sardo when they wanted to figure out how to dump me...how annoying!

I don't believe that it's any more difficult for an "American" to learn a new language than our European counterparts. I do believe that the European nations, being more closely surrounded by a greater range of cultures and languages, focus more on multilingual skills than we do. Throughout Europe, dependency upon different languages is taught from early childhood. In Europe, being multilingual is often seen as a matter of economic survival and personal success. In the U.S., it is a luxury...unless you eat at a McDonald's or Golden Corral in North Carolina. Hablas Espanol?

Skip
Message: Posted by: airship (Dec 19, 2006 10:23AM)
I think it all depends on motivation. When I was back in college I learned to ask "Will you go to bed with me?" in THIRTEEN different languages. :)
Message: Posted by: Steven Steele (Dec 19, 2006 10:37AM)
I saw a language development program on some educational channel a few years ago. I don't remember the particulars, but they examined the brain activities of children and noted where different vowel sounds were stored. One group of languages had about 6 or 7 sounds while another group on languages had almost 25. Some of the sounds were similar to each group, yet others were not even close. They found that people from the language group that had the most vowel sounds could learn the other languages significantly quicker than going the other way.

And the older you become the more entrenched you are in your language skills, making the transition more difficult. It was a fascinating program, wish I had taped it.
Message: Posted by: ed rhodes (Dec 19, 2006 11:49AM)
[quote]
On 2006-12-19 09:08, Mikael Eriksson wrote:
How would you all define the language learning abilities of the standard American (USA)? Do they find learning other languages easy or difficult?

I saw a funny episode of the Simpsons, when they were in Italy, and Marge heard an Italian word she didn't understand. The word was "vendetta", pronounced between 90% and 100% the same as the american word "vendetta". She had to look it up, and said: "Aha, [b]vendetta![/b]"

I'm just curious if it hinted on a real condition or not.


Posted: Dec 19, 2006 9:18am
-----------------------------------------------
I ask partly because I've seen and heard both. I thought asking here was the best way, since most here are Americans or know Americans.
[/quote]

I think that was more a Simpsons thing. I remember when Homer tried to learn about the Internet. He picked up a book, turned to the first page and said; "Oh! They have the Internet for computers now!"
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Dec 19, 2006 12:23PM)
Airship, one of my younger NCOs in Sardegna asked me how to say "I want to make love to you" in Italian. I told him and he explained that he was going to hit the local clubs. If the girl slapped him, he'd react with surprise and explain that his friend told him the phrase meant "You are very beautiful. Clearly it was a bad joke! I'm so sorry!" The girl would, theoretically, feel sorry for slapping him and drop her defenses...so to speak. If the girl didn't slap him...well. I never had the cojones to try it myself...but it seemed to work wonders for him!

Skip
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Dec 19, 2006 01:35PM)
If I was really sarcastic (or if the Café wasn't allowing me to delete my post) I would have said:

Most of the Americans I know are very stupid. I can only assume the ones I don't know are stupid as well. I believe it is due to genetics. Being genetically inferior would have an effect on learning. The mix of skin pigments in America is probably also a factor.
Message: Posted by: Suppo (Dec 19, 2006 02:58PM)
Skip,

You had one smart NCO. Mine couldn't figure out to look for an Adam's Apple. We just had very interesting mishaps from mine.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Dec 19, 2006 03:00PM)
There is really no incentive for most Americans to bother to learn a foreign language. Our neighbors to the north speak a relatively similar form of English save for a small segment that speaks a strange form of French. To the south is a large Spanish speaking nation but we really don't want to talk to those people and are doing everything we can think of to keep than out of our country. Less than a third of our population owns passports which means than the majority of Americans have never been off the continent. The closest most of us get to a exotic locale is trying to order off the menu at a Chinese restaurant. The majority of Americans refuse to even go to a foreign film unless it's been dubbed or remade with American actors. As a whole we are a very insular nation with xenophobic tendancies thus most of us have little interest in bothering to learn a second language that we will never use.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Dec 19, 2006 03:40PM)
That may all be true Payne.

But Mikael didn't ask about the standard Americans desire to learn a second language. Mikael is asking if the standard American has the ABILITY to learn a second language.

It's a perfectly honsest question. See, Marge Simpson had to look up the word "vendetta". And since Marge Simpson is pretty much representative of the "standard" American, Mikael thought this might hint at a real condition. The condition of stupidity.

Since my other comments (where I directly insulted Mikael, in reply to his insult) have been removed and/or modified. It may be easier to just say "yes" all Americans are stupid. We think with one mind and all have the exact same capabilities and the exact same shortcomings. Pretty much every bad sterotype you wish to believe is true. And if you see something on the Simpsons, you can certainly believe that you are seeing a true representation of each and every single American.

Does that feel better? Now, I don't believe this is a serious inquiry. And I'm surprised that some people are answering it as if it was. I think I have a few questions about Sweden and the Swedish people. Just honest, innocent questions. So stand by.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Dec 19, 2006 03:51PM)
Oh and Mikael, if I am completely off base here, and you are being just as sincere as can be... Do us a favor and try to come correct. Don't bring this "I saw Marge Simpson doing something and it made me wonder if all Americans are this way." It's kind of a silly way to begin a conversation.

I don't think you are stupid. I think you understand that peoples capacity to learn is individual, and is probably not based on what flag they happen to live under.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Dec 19, 2006 04:57PM)
Since I have many Swedish customers and a slew of relatives who were from that land I can safely say that The Swedish Chef on the Muppets was dead on when trying unsuccessfully to turn his Swedish in to an American accent.
So there.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Dec 19, 2006 06:19PM)
[quote]
On 2006-12-19 16:51, Vandy Grift wrote:

I don't think you are stupid. I think you understand that peoples capacity to learn is individual, and is probably not based on what flag they happen to live under.

[/quote]

Or perhaps since, being Swedish, English is a second language for him he possibly meant to ask his question a little differently. I took from his statement that he was asking if many American bothered to learn a second language and thus possibly had an idea of the origins of some of the words they use on a day to day basis derive from.
I don't think he was asking if we had a more difficult time learning a second language (which we do as we are not as exposed to other languages on a day to day basis as hey are in Europe), but if many of us actually spoke a second language.
Message: Posted by: sparks (Dec 19, 2006 07:59PM)
Just to lighten it up… from 1987 through 1995 I did a lot of computer work in Germany. It was one of the most amazing times of my life… I loved being there… had a lot of fun. One of my German customers was a Doctor of Mathematics and quite a character. He once told me a riddle of sorts… it went like this… “A person whom speaks two languages is called bilingual. A person whom speaks three languages is called trilingual. What do you call a person whom speaks only one language?” He paused and said, “An American of course”. He also told me NATO stood for “No Action, Talk Only” but I suppose that would be a subject for another thread.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Dec 20, 2006 04:50AM)
[quote]
On 2006-12-19 16:51, Vandy Grift wrote:

Oh and Mikael, if I am completely off base here...
[/quote]
Yes, you are pretty much completely off base :) I'm sorry that you took my question as an insult.



[quote]
On 2006-12-19 16:40, Vandy Grift wrote:

I think I have a few questions about Sweden and the Swedish people. Just honest, innocent questions. So stand by.
[/quote]
Bring it on! :) I promise to answer your questions. No problem.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Dec 20, 2006 06:42AM)
R reazzin and our wrissle
are second to shizzle

since we rhyme to the time
cause we rizzle.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Dec 20, 2006 09:30AM)
I just watched South Park. Do all American children talk to poop?

BTW My photo studio is connected to a furniture store. In our store 7 languages are spoken by the sales people as well as ASL. Why are immigrants unable to learn a simple language like english? My 4 year old can even do it.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Dec 20, 2006 01:10PM)
Allright Mikael, I apologize. You honestly saw an eposide of the Simpsons and that's what came to mind. I take you at your word.

Myself, I took three years of Russian in High School and lived in Japan for two years. I never really took the time to become proficent in either language. I still remember quite a bit of the Russian and can sound out words in cyrillic even if I don't know what they mean. I remember almost none of the Japanese that I picked up.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Dec 20, 2006 07:12PM)
Oh, c'mon, you must have remembered at least one of them :)



Jack Shalom
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Dec 21, 2006 07:54AM)
Ok, thanks for all the replies.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, see you in a few days!
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Dec 21, 2006 08:20AM)
[quote]
On 2006-12-20 20:12, landmark wrote:
Oh, c'mon, you must have remembered at least one of them :)

Jack Shalom
[/quote]

LOL!

Well, there was this one gal Junko. She was pretty memorable.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Feb 13, 2007 03:30AM)
I just have to tell about a funny incident. My boss´s wife visited the US a month ago. She asked for water. Nobody understood her, because she pronounced it with a "t", and they pronounced it with a "d".
Message: Posted by: Chessmann (Feb 13, 2007 08:08AM)
You know....you're right! Never noticed it till I tried it just now. Guess we all get casual with some aspects of our languages.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Feb 13, 2007 08:26AM)
Could it have been that she also pronounced the "W" like an english "V"?
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Feb 13, 2007 09:59AM)
Mikael is onto something: most people born and raised in geopgraphically large unilingual countries have little opportunity to learn languages other than their own. The vast majority of Americans and Australians, just to pick easy examples, speak only their own language, not because they are stupid, but because there is no reason or occasion to pick up another language. I live in Western Canada where the situation is the same: most people around here speak English and only enough French to note who [i]la première étoile[/i] is after the hockey game. Go to Montréal, however, and nearly everyone you meet is fluent in both English and French.

I suspect that the impact of the geography of large countries such as the US, Australia and Canada is difficult to see for those who can change countries and linguistic surroundings in a matter of an hour or two. Correct me if I'm misinformed, but I believe that in Sweden, a television broadcast is equally likely to be in Swedish as it is to be in another language.

John
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Feb 13, 2007 10:21AM)
Wow John,
I think you're right. That explains a lot. All this time I thought I failed 'Intro to Spanish' three times, because I didn't do the homework. Now I realize I'm geographicly impaired. :)
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Feb 13, 2007 10:57AM)
Josh, you were probably right the first time ;) OTOH geography will make it much harder for you to become fluent :)

John
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Feb 13, 2007 09:46PM)
[quote]
On 2006-12-19 16:00, Payne wrote:
To the south is a large Spanish speaking nation but we really don't want to talk to those people and are doing everything we can think of to keep than out of our country. [/quote]


What country do you live in, Payne? Here in the United States, we have a large Spanish-speaking nation to the south, too, but we're doing everything we can think of to incentive its residents to come here illegally.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Feb 13, 2007 11:17PM)
Americans have the same capability to learn a foriegn language as any European the question is of neccesity. I use to speak Spanish farely well but only because I lived in a Spanish speaking part of the world. My father, on the other hand, is from NYC. He spoke English at home but lived in an area where most were Germans so prior to WW2 he learned German so he could play with the kids. After WW2 started, amazingly, all the German kids could not only speak English but they lost their accents completely...in a matter of hours. He also speaks Japanese (learned in the service), Manderin, Spanish, and French. He learned Manderin while working in Taiwan, moved to Spain and the only class in Spanish was for French speakers so he took French and learned it then took the Spanish classes to learn that one. He speaks all very well but with a Bronx accent. I do want to point out that my father was and is a brilliant man, which was hard to live up to let me tell ya.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Feb 14, 2007 04:06AM)
[quote]
On 2007-02-13 10:59, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:

Correct me if I'm misinformed, but I believe that in Sweden, a television broadcast is equally likely to be in Swedish as it is to be in another language.

John
[/quote]

Well, most programs are in swedish, but we also have a lot of english speaking movies, but they have swedish text. We also have news broadcasted in Finnish and Laplandish.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Feb 14, 2007 10:04AM)
A person's abililty to learn a second or third language depends a lot on his or her ability to understand their own language. How well did you do in your English classes? Did you learn parts of speech? Did you learn sentence structure? Did you learn how to outline and complete a five-paragraph essay? Did you even manage to stay awake?

I know a man whom I consider very intelligent. Ask him questions about just about anything, from physics to electronics to political science to whatever, and he'll be able to answer you and be correct at the same time.

However, if you ask him what an adjective clause or a prepositional phrase is, he'll look at you the same way a dog looks at you when you show them card tricks.
He doesn't know. And that's why he had to drop out of his Introductory German class. He didn't understand his own language well enough to be able to learn how to work a different one.

Besides having to know how one's own language works so as to be able to apply that knowledge via comparision and contrast to another language, one also has to understand that there is a great deal of personal investment involved in learning a second language. That means that a person has to be able to put a certain amount of themselves at risk to be able to be successful.

It's the difference between just knowing how a magic trick works and stepping up in front of a live audience and making the magic trick work. It takes courage. It takes stamina. It requires a solid backbone and nerves of steel.

Most people, while they know how their own language works, lack the courage to put themselves at risk of ridicule. They are afraid of not understanding, or not being understood. They're afraid of making a mistake. They're afraid of people laughing at them when they do make a mistake.

The ability to learn a second language is therefore two-fold; having enough understanding of how the first one works, and having the schmaltz to venture into an unknown and unfamiliar culture. Ask me if Americans have these abilities, and I'll answer that most have one, but not the other.

You will have to decide for yourselves which is lacking in you, because it can't be done for somebody else.

I speak two languages myself. I started learning my second language when I was 31 years old. I live in Guadalajara. I've made more mistakes than I have hairs growing out of my head. And, quite frankly, I fear nothing regarding my second language or the people that speak it.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Feb 15, 2007 03:15AM)
[quote]
On 2007-02-14 11:04, Patrick Differ wrote:

However, if you ask him what an adjective clause or a prepositional phrase is...
[/quote]

I have to disagree. It's not necessary to understand grammar or to know what for example an adjective clause or a prepositional phrase is to be able to learn other languages. But I agree most foreign language courses are built around teaching grammar that way. And it's so wrong. It stops people from learning, making them learn slower.

I'm not saying it's totally worthless, but the energy put into teaching people grammar could be used in better ways.
Message: Posted by: Hideo Kato (Feb 15, 2007 04:30AM)
Right on.

I think Grammer should be used to sort out one's knowledge to expand capacity for more knowledge. Learning grammer too early is like to read Maskelyne's "Our Magic" soon after starting magic.

Japanese learns grammer too early. It is the main reason Japanese are not good at speaking in English.

Hideo Kato
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Feb 15, 2007 08:11PM)
If I may respectfully ask a couple of questions, please.

How could knowing one language's grammar stop one from learning another language? This is confusing me because my knowledge of English grammar has helped me numerous times to understand Spanish's sometimes different grammar. Not once has it hindered me. I'm saying that, for me, because I know and understand how my own language works, I can use that knowledge to better understand the similarities and differences between it and Spanish, or any other language.

Also, if knowing too much grammar is as much a hinderance as I believe you've said, what other method(s) would you recommend?
Message: Posted by: Hideo Kato (Feb 15, 2007 08:56PM)
If Differ-san's question is to me :

Learnign Grammer is very much important.
I said Learning grammer too early is no good.

As grammer of Japanese and grammer of English is very different, beginners will be confused if they learn grammer from the beginning. Maybe this problem is not between English and Spanish, I don't know.

Beginners would better learn to use simple and practical expressions before learning logical things.

If you give Ascanio's second book to a beginner, he will give up Card Magic.
For beginners, learning practical things is better than learning logical things. So I recommend RRTCM more than Card College for real beginners.

Hideo Kato
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Feb 15, 2007 09:48PM)
My father found Japanese easy to learn. He told me that when he would start he would think of words that reminded him of the Japanese word. He just built upon that, just as you suggested. He worked in Japan for a few years and that helped cement it. I want to learn Japanese because I just love the country and the people.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Feb 16, 2007 06:45AM)
[quote]
On 2007-02-15 21:11, Patrick Differ wrote:

How could knowing one language's grammar stop one from learning another language?[/quote]

The biggest problem is if you don't know even your own language's grammar that well. Then it's a big obstacle to hear strange names (of grammatical terms). The second problem is that if you learn for example spanish through an english source, you are constantly fed strange names (of grammatical terms) that you don't understand, and it makes you so confused that you don't learn as good.

[quote]
On 2007-02-15 21:11, Patrick Differ wrote:

Also, if knowing too much grammar is as much a hinderance as I believe you've said, what other method(s) would you recommend?
[/quote]

Tell people what the direct translations are and explain what kind of word this is. For example: If I wanted to learn you swedish, I would tell you that your words "Go, Went, Gone" would be "Gå, Gick, Gått" in swedish, and that the words change depending on when they happen, and that the words are words that describe happenings. I don't have to tell you they are called verbs, or that what we are doing is conjugating verbs. What's most difficult with grammar is actually (for me at least) remembering those difficult names and what they mean (I have no problem understanding the principle), like "Uninflected adjective", "Infinitive", Past Perfect Continous" and so on. I have no idea what they mean, and I only get frustrated and it makes me hate learning languages. However, when I learn without grammar, I love learning languages, and I learn easily and actually learn the grammar automatically without even trying. After all, think about a child. He or she learns whatever language without studying grammar.
Message: Posted by: Hideo Kato (Feb 16, 2007 07:02AM)
Speaking a language relying on grammer is like to know the position of a card by Si Stebbins. Knowing the position by Memorised Stack system is like speaking the language without relying on grammer.

Hideo Kato
Message: Posted by: Magix (Feb 16, 2007 07:03PM)
I find languages fascinating. I've studied Spanish, ASL, Hawaiian, and I'm currently studying French. But I have never managed to become fluent in any of them. For me, it's a matter of not having occassion to practice what I've learned.

For example, at one point in my career I was in daily contact with people who spoke only Spanish, and occassional contact with deaf people. This was the point at which I came closest to what I would call fluent. Those skills have since deteriorated as my career has changed.

And I've never had the opportunity to even attempt to hold a conversation in Hawaiian, so the best I can do is translate names of places and song lyrics on vacation.

Having studied several languages, I think it's helpful to learn the basics of grammar. It makes it easier to construct your own sentences as you progress.

Poor grammar irritates me, and if I'm going to learn another language I want to do it justice. But that's just me.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Feb 16, 2007 08:17PM)
[quote]
On 2007-02-16 20:03, Magix wrote:
I find languages fascinating. I've studied Spanish, ASL, Hawaiian, and I'm currently studying French.



Poor grammar irritates me, and if I'm going to learn another language I want to do it justice. But that's just me.
[/quote]

If that's the case, I'm surprised you studied ASL instead of SEE.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Feb 16, 2007 08:52PM)
I understand the concept of starting with conversations and with phrases that work. It is much akin to starting with RRTCM instead of other, more advanced (ergo complex) books on the same subject.

Once a student has acquired familiarity with the work, then it is a good idea to continue with the more advanced work. I like this analogy a lot. It works very well.

Magix has gotten me thinking about something else, and I think it has been touched upon a little by earlier posters. And, I think that it applies well to this topic of Americans' Language Learning Abilities.

Magix wrote:
[quote]For me, it's a matter of not having occassion to practice what I've learned.[/quote]

When people emigrate and find themselves completely submerged in a culture that speaks a different language than their own, these people are forced to learn the language. If they want to eat, they learn to ask for food. If they want to sleep, they learn to ask for a bed. If they want to use the WC, they learn to ask where the WC is. It progresses from there.

Most of the Americans I've ever known have little or no desire whatsoever to leave their country and be forced to learn another language. They're quite comfortable right where they are. When they do leave their country, they do so on vacations. With tour groups. In other words, they travel in packs. Only the brave venture out on their own in foreign territories. And that gets back to one of my earlier statements.
Message: Posted by: Magix (Feb 16, 2007 09:49PM)
[quote]
On 2007-02-16 21:17, LobowolfXXX wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-02-16 20:03, Magix wrote:
I find languages fascinating. I've studied Spanish, ASL, Hawaiian, and I'm currently studying French.



Poor grammar irritates me, and if I'm going to learn another language I want to do it justice. But that's just me.
[/quote]

If that's the case, I'm surprised you studied ASL instead of SEE.
[/quote]

Interesting point. I never really gave that any thought, I guess because what is considered poor grammar in English is considered proper in ASL. Languages can vary greatly in sentence structure, so I just see ASL as having it's own style, if you will. Also, ASL is much more common than SEE, at least where I live. I've never even seen courses in SEE offered anywhere.
Message: Posted by: gfdiamond (Apr 2, 2007 07:47AM)
Hej guys,

try learning SWEDISH! arrghhhh. I have been here two years and am just starting to get it...

its rated as one of the top 5 most difficult languages in the world. it has three extra vowels, ä - pronounced air - å - pronounced oar and ö pronounced ooer....

also, we have some very strange looking swedish words if you read them in english.

ie: f*ckkonto - union office

and k*nt - edge. so if a swedish girl invites you to come over and sleep on the k*nt, its definately not an invitation to get friendly.

ah well, lykka till (good luck)

and yes, we do have the best looking girls in the world...

regards,
geoff diamond
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 2, 2007 08:39AM)
Learn and practice pronunciation by learning a few easy sentences such as What is your name? my name is >>>> I like >>>> I want >>>>,
Then learn grammar. If you study once or twice a week you should start learning basic grammar within 2 to 3 months.
I am happy as opposed to I happy (without the "be") is learning grammar. You can learn that right from the beginning. Asian people battle with English because they move through grammar to quickly and have badly designed tests to test their English. People want to learn "I kicked the ball" today and "The ball was kicked by me" tommorow and it is just too fast.
Message: Posted by: kregg (Apr 2, 2007 09:12AM)
My son has spoken English & Spanish, for years and he can speak some French, German, Arabic and Japanese.
In high school I chose to study Shakespeare and Beowulf, instead of a learning a second language. Yet, with most languages, it's easy enough to pick up on the intent, as well as, hear common or similar root words. After all, modern English is a mixed word bag.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Apr 2, 2007 09:25AM)
I just heard a radio DJ that was having trouble geeting a job in the US. He moved to Sweden, learned the language, and got a radio show. I heard tape of it and he was rappin' away in Swedish like he had been speaking it his whole life.
Message: Posted by: elmago (Apr 2, 2007 12:35PM)
Pronunciation is also a big deal. I remenber a car comercial for the new "Tiberon". It sounds cool with an American accent. I had no idea what the word ment. As soon a I pronounced it with a Spanish accent, it made sense. Tiberon means shark. Funny how I could not tell earlier.

I too learn languages as a hobby and make a strong effort to sound as close to real thing as possible. When I meet native speakers, they comment on how well I pronounce things and cant believe I am still learning. Well, until my limited vocabulary runs out.

A big part of it is that I was born in the U.S.A in a Spanish speaking household. I developed the American accent and the Spanish accent at the same time. I can roll my "Rs" like a drum roll and I can drop a Dipthonge like a news caster.

Having control over the vowel sounds in Spanish helps get the Italian, Japanese, and French sounds. The Frech "R" took some time. I learned a few word in Romainan and Czech and was able to pronounce them well.

The bad part is that no matter the amount of time I spend on these languanges, I cannot get fluent on my own. I need to be around the language with live speakers. I try learning songs, watch foreign movies, and reading, but I know I only get so far.

Actually as a fun thing, I try to translate the scripting of my magic tricks into these languages. I work a lot of restaunts in L.A. and I always run into people.
Im done and I never answered the original question.
MR.
Message: Posted by: gfdiamond (Apr 2, 2007 12:50PM)
Hej elmago,

yes, I agree, its great being a magician and at least saying hi, how are you, in a number of different languages. I worked at one of top restaurants in amsterdam for two years and at the end could hi, good evening, how are you in dutch, german, swedish, chinese, french, indian, japanese, russian and a number of óther languages.

a classic was when a guy bet me I could not speak gaelic (irish) ..i grew up in dublin with a fluent gaelic speaking father, so I could rattle off a number of things that only gaelic speakers would know...so the poor guy was just stunned.

its a great way to impress your audiences..

here is a good link

http://www.travlang.com

it has simple translations for virtually every language..

regards,

geoff diamond.
Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Apr 3, 2007 01:21AM)
[quote]I find languages fascinating. I've studied Spanish, ASL, Hawaiian, and I'm currently studying French. But I have never managed to become fluent in any of them. For me, it's a matter of not having occassion to practice what I've learned.[/quote]

I'm the same way. I know just enough Spanish, French and ASL to get me into trouble. Unfortunately, I, too, have little occasion to practice them. Guess the old saying is true: Use it or lose it!

At least with the romance languages, there is the fact that they are very similar to each other because they are all derived from Latin, a language my grandfather could read, write, and speak fluently. He taught me quite a bit about these languages, which has helped to foster my interest.

One acronym that I'm puzzled about is SEE. Is it meant to refer to "signed English"? If so, what, exactly, do the letters stand for?

As for foreigners coming to America and being forced to learn English in order to survive, that's not always true. While our country is supposed to be "the great melting pot", many groups tend to stick together rather than mingle. Thus the need and desire are not there to really learn. Only those who wish to become citizens and take the oath of allegiance have to study English as a prerequisite for citizenship.

One problem that I have encountered is the fact that many Americans, when I ask them if they would learn another language (especially if they work with foreigners or immigrants) will honestly say "No! I'm an American! I'm not going to learn to speak (insert other language here)! If they want to come here, let them learn OUR language!". Some melting pot!

Another problem is that there really is no "official" language in our country. It has been debated ad nauseum, but no law has ever been passed that makes English the official language of the U.S.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Apr 3, 2007 09:40AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-03 02:21, clynim wrote:

One acronym that I'm puzzled about is SEE. Is it meant to refer to "signed English"? If so, what, exactly, do the letters stand for?

[/quote]


SEE stands for "Signing Exact English," and is an alternative to ASL (American Sign Language). SEE represents precise words, grammar, etc., as they would be used in spoken English, while ASL is more of a holistic language that doesn't rely on the specific part-for-part components of sentences to get meaning across. ASL is the more prevalent language, but SEE has its advocates, and there are heated academic debates between the two camps. As with any language, either is much easier to acquire as a child. SEE advocates argue that children who grow up knowing ASL will be at a competitive disadvantage in society and the workplace for not learning the structural equivalent components of precise written language; ASL advocates take the position that ASL is and has been the language of the deaf, and there's nothing "wrong" with it or them, and they don't need to be more like the hearing world.

That's the oversimplified nutshell version.
Message: Posted by: elmago (Apr 3, 2007 01:17PM)
My sister knows sign language and she explained the differences between the two. A major part is attitude. The whole, "There is nothing wrong with being Deaf" is a culture that they have made themselves believe. To Sign SEE is admitting that there is something wrong with you in the first place and you are simply trying to play catch up to be understood to "normal"

My personal opinion is that communication is important. Never downplay your own culture, but also make an effort to understand how someone else speaks. Especially if you are in the minority. This goes both ways.

Besides, communication takes on many forms. When you read, it is all written using SEE, so why limit yourself?

Also, there is a prestige issue. SEE signers are seen as more academic and more educated. My sister said that if you want to impress college professors, also learn SEE.

Because of this stigma, ASL signers reject SEE. These are the same people that would turn down a "cure" for hearing impairment because it assumes that being hearing impaired is a handicap.

MR
Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Apr 3, 2007 11:57PM)
At least the SEE vs. ASL argument is a whole lot better than the ASL vs. pure oralism argument that really did more harm to deaf children in the 20th century. One of the best books I ever read that emphasized this point was [i]Deaf Like Me[/i]. It was not until the family in the book (a true story by the way) realized a need to use signs to communicate with their daughter that they finally realized how much they had been duped.

I can see the need for both ASL and SEE, but I would think that those who could hear and speak english before going deaf would be attracted to SEE. Those who could never hear or lost their hearing before acquiring speech would be more attracted to ASL. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Apr 4, 2007 02:08AM)
The people that say, "I'm not learning another language. I don't have to. This is America," make me nervous and embarrassed at the same time.

My first foreign language experience happened in 1973. I was 10 years old. My dad was stationed in Keflavik, Iceland. I watch the Icelanders speak Icelandic and I was awestruck. Once I figured out that they were sharing the same ideas, just using different words to do it, the world got smaller for me.

I think fluency in a second language should be required for a United States high school or prepatory graduation diploma.

That makes me a minority. But hey, I know what I'm talking about.
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 4, 2007 08:57AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-04 03:08, Patrick Differ wrote:
The people that say, "I'm not learning another language. I don't have to. This is America," make me nervous and embarrassed at the same time.

My first foreign language experience happened in 1973. I was 10 years old. My dad was stationed in Keflavik, Iceland. I watch the Icelanders speak Icelandic and I was awestruck. Once I figured out that they were sharing the same ideas, just using different words to do it, the world got smaller for me.

I think fluency in a second language should be required for a United States high school or prepatory graduation diploma.

That makes me a minority. But hey, I know what I'm talking about.
[/quote]
That should not only be applicable in the US but in many other countries. The irony is that the English speaking world is the worst when it comes to language ability. The majority of people who do not speak English as a native language can speak a lot more English that native speakers of English can speak another language. I find it humorous that in here in Taiwan I know people who have lived here for 4 or 5 years and they can not ask where the bathroom is in Chinese.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Apr 4, 2007 09:26AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-04 03:08, Patrick Differ wrote:


I think fluency in a second language should be required for a United States high school or prepatory graduation diploma.

[/quote]

Let's start by ensuring that students are fluent in English.
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 4, 2007 11:28AM)
[quote]
On 2007-04-04 10:26, LobowolfXXX wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-04-04 03:08, Patrick Differ wrote:


I think fluency in a second language should be required for a United States high school or prepatory graduation diploma.

[/quote]


Let's start by ensuring that students are fluent in English.
[/quote]
That is the funniest yet truest thing I have read this week. Goes for many countries that are "English Speaking" and I have to include South Africa too.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Apr 4, 2007 05:47PM)
I believe that being required to learn a different language other than English will ensure fluency in English. It's a bootstrap type of thing.
Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Apr 4, 2007 11:58PM)
Patrick, what makes you think that a person who speaks English poorly is going to do well in a foreign language? If anything, I would think that they would be prone to making more mistakes, not less.

As for requiring another language to graduate high school, forget it. Most of our children are having a hard time with the basics. It still amazes me that today, in order to graduate, one needs only an 8th or 9th grade proficiency as far as English goes. This is abyssmal.

One good thing, though, is that we don't push our children to extremes to succeed like they do in Japan. They actually have a high number of suicides over there because the pressure to succeed is so great.

One thing that may need to be done, much to the dislike of school children, is to make school a 12 month affair rather than 8 months. The original idea of only going to school for the shorter period of time was born out of an agricultural society when children were needed at home in the summer months to help with stuff around the farm.