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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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Hideo Kato
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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
Magix
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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.
LobowolfXXX
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La Famiglia
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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.


If that's the case, I'm surprised you studied ASL instead of SEE.
"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."
Patrick Differ
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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.


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.
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.
Magix
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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.


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


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.
gfdiamond
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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 - ĺ - 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
Check me out on Google. Geoff Diamond Magician.
abc
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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.
kregg
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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.
POOF!
Vandy Grift
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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.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
elmago
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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.
"Excellence is not a single act; it's a habit" Shaq quoting Aristotle after winning NBA MVP.
gfdiamond
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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.
Check me out on Google. Geoff Diamond Magician.
MagiClyde
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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.


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.
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LobowolfXXX
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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?




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.
"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."
elmago
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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
"Excellence is not a single act; it's a habit" Shaq quoting Aristotle after winning NBA MVP.
MagiClyde
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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 Deaf Like Me. 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.
Magic! The quicker picker-upper!
Patrick Differ
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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.
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.
abc
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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.

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.
LobowolfXXX
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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.



Let's start by ensuring that students are fluent in English.
"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."
abc
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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.




Let's start by ensuring that students are fluent in English.

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.
Patrick Differ
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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.
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.
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