Sunday, 13 May 2012
First of all, I'm working through the post-beginners' French course Ma France. There are also complete beginners' materials available, but I don't need that for French, although I might play the videos for the lower level stuff through later on as well. This course has 3 short video clips per unit, 2 of which have listening comprehension questions in English and you can select to have English and/or French subtitles running on the clips too. I have both going at once and usually only refer to the English for one or two words per clip. There are also other games and activities and, as long as you're signed up, you get a 'BBC Certificate' on completion. Actually, you can get this for a number of the on-line courses, so I expect to have amassed a few over the coming months...
With German, I've just started watching the comedy clips in the What's So Funny About German section. As someone with a fairly decent level (well, for a Brit, anyway!), these short vids are just a good giggle for me, esp. as they comment on German culture as well. I'm sure my German hubby would enjoy the humour on some of them too. I'm going to have a look at their other material later on as well, as there are some videos for post-beginners and, although the level will probably be too low, it's never a bad thing to 'exercise' that part of my brain!
Spanish I have played with over the last 20-odd years, on and off. The most intensive time was during my last year at uni when I did a beginners' course to level CEFR A1 (half GCSE) and got an A+. That was 12 years ago though, so I've got 'Talk Spanish', the course they use at the local colleges for beginners out of the library and am watching the on-line video clips etc for that alongside working through the book and CD. I'm also enjoying the interactive video course for beginners called Mi Vida Loca, which is a mystery story in which you, as the learner, take an active part. There's a similar type of thing on the Italian page, although I'm resisting the temptation to start that one as I really can't manage two such similar languages from scratch as well as revising and building up my knowledge of 3 other languages. French, German, Chinese and re-starting Spanish is enough for the time being! I'll add in Italian and Dutch a little later on.=)
So, do take a few minutes to explore the BBC Learning Site's Languages section. There are many more than just the few I've mentioned here, including beginners materials and support videos in Greek, Portuguese and Mandarin as well as the 'Steps' course in the 'Big Four' (French, German, Spanish & Italian). There's much to learn and plenty of fun to be had in the process.
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Never say 'I speak X fluently'Now, I have to agree that modesty is always the best policy. There's nothing worse than someone showing off and, frankly, half the things people say aren't true, so I can also see why he would be concerned that someone would try to prove you wrong. I think my issue here is with the assumption that someone 'fluent' in a language speaks it perfectly, or at native speaker level. Is this reasonable?Unless X is your mother tongue, it is not smart to say that you speak a language 'fluently'. Nobody speaks a language he learned perfectly. 'Fluently' in that context sounds very terminal - you can't know it better. What will happen if the guy sitting next to you is a native speaker of that language and he, too, is pumped with testosterone and wishes to teach you a lesson? Will you be able to have perfect pronunciation, to know every idiom? Chances are you will look like a moron. People might feel that you exagerated your command of that language, and that maybe everything else about you is fraudulent.
The prudent polyglot will say 'I speak X quite well'. Nobody will ever try to expose the gaps in your command of a language if you say that. And people will esteem you for your modesty. They will think perhaps there is more to you than meets the eye.
Actually, this is a very bad idea. Unless you are a seasoned polyglot, you will waste your energy, study time and will power over several languages and never reach an advanced level in any. It is much better to focus on one and only language until you become fluent, then move on to the next one.
Finish the language you are doing before moving on. This also applies to closely related languages such as Spanish/Portuguese or Italian/French. It’s much easier to build from a strong background in one language rather than trying to build concurrently the foundations of two languages.
Once you reach an advanced level in your target language, you can start a new language, and still work on perfecting the first one.
- You have a good aptitude for languages and/or are very keen and/or highly motivated.
- You start two very different languages at the same time. Having said that, I can see how learning two very closely related could help, albeit only for someone with the right kind of learning style and abilities, but generally, leave learning another related language until you've got a decent level of the first.
- You have a decent amount of time and energy to devote to the pursuit.
Monday, 13 June 2011
I enjoy Victor Mair's Language Log posts as he does some good stuff on Chinese and I've learned some interesting stuff from his expertise - as well as had a good laugh at times!
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
You'd think that, if you were to publish a book in any given language, especially English - the world's number one business and commerce tongue, that you wouldn't need to provide translations, but....
<-This is from a delightful book by the well-known Australian stumpwork embroiderer, Jane Nicholas. Some of these, of course, are the brand names used by leading manufacturers of these items, but some are the name of the item itself. There's a similar list in a New Zealand embroidery book I own.
I once saw a blog entry written by a British lady living in the States in which she'd drawn up a list of the different names given to clothes on either side of the Atlantic. The number of differences actually surprised me when I saw them listed. Now, I understand most of them no problem, ('jumper' for 'jumpsuit' was a new one on me), but it was by no means the first time I've felt sorry for anyone coming to English as a non-native speaker, especially in the earlier stages, who wants to be able to get a grip on global English. There are just SO many options and, whilst American English is dominating the world scene to some extent (a fact that always puzzles me given that the USA is about the only English speaking country that uses it, all the others use British English or local adaptations thereof), other words proliferate!!
Monday, 24 January 2011
Yeah, RIGHT! You can learn a whole, complex language in just 7 days! And since when is learning any language effortless?? OK, so you may not have to sit and work through a text with this sort of course (although you're probably going to have to do that sooner or later), but it will still require effort. These marketing gimmicks annoy me as they a) make language learning look like something you could do in your sleep, it's so easy; and b) they foster a false sense of security so that when folk come up against the real work, they may be even more likely to back away from it.
This one cracked me up. It's from the out of print Hugo French for Business and I was quite startled to find English referred to as 'Anglo-Saxon'. I was flicking through another French course book, this time one published in France, and saw again that British things, people and language seem to be commonly referred to as Anglo-Saxon. I can understand wanting to avoid using the French for British as it's very close to words used to describe Brittany, but, really! We haven't used Anglo-Saxon in these isles for close on a thousand years and we're so mixed up race wise that referring to the Brits as Anglo-Saxons is also somewhat out of date! We're part Ancient Briton, part Celt, part Pict, part Roman, part French and, yes, part Angle, part Saxon, part Jute and a number of other invading nationalities from the last couple of millenia!!