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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Americans' language learning abilities (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Vandy Grift
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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.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
landmark
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Oh, c'mon, you must have remembered at least one of them Smile



Jack Shalom
Mikael Eriksson
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Ok, thanks for all the replies.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, see you in a few days!
Vandy Grift
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Quote:
On 2006-12-20 20:12, landmark wrote:
Oh, c'mon, you must have remembered at least one of them Smile

Jack Shalom


LOL!

Well, there was this one gal Junko. She was pretty memorable.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
Mikael Eriksson
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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".
Chessmann
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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.
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
Josh the Superfluous
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Could it have been that she also pronounced the "W" like an english "V"?
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"I hate it, I hate my ironic lovechild. I didn't even have anything to do with it" Josh #2
Magnus Eisengrim
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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 la première étoile 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
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Josh the Superfluous
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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. Smile
What do you want in a site? "Honesty, integrity and decency." -Mike Doogan
"I hate it, I hate my ironic lovechild. I didn't even have anything to do with it" Josh #2
Magnus Eisengrim
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Josh, you were probably right the first time Smile OTOH geography will make it much harder for you to become fluent Smile

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
LobowolfXXX
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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.



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.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
MagicSanta
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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.
Mikael Eriksson
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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


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.
Patrick Differ
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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.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
Mikael Eriksson
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Quote:
On 2007-02-14 11:04, Patrick Differ wrote:

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


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.
Hideo Kato
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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
Patrick Differ
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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?
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
Hideo Kato
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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
MagicSanta
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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.
Mikael Eriksson
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Quote:
On 2007-02-15 21:11, Patrick Differ wrote:

How could knowing one language's grammar stop one from learning another language?


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?


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.
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