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Wanting to learn a new language, but, which one?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by FrogCAT, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. FrogCAT

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    So I really want to be able to speak something other than English, the problem is, I don't really know which language I want to learn. I do have three main candidates though, Swedish, German, and Japanese. What, if anything, should I consider before choosing one? Also, where can I learn these languages for free? I know Duolingo is free, I checked and German and Swedish were on there but Japanese isn't, so if I choose that I'd have to go somewhere else.
     
  2. HuskyLover

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    I'd say that you should go with a relatively easy language if it's the first foreign language you want to learn.

    Swedish grammar is really easy, and compared to English it's actually very similar. Pronunciation however can be a bit tricky and sometimes it doesn't even make sense at all, but with enough practice you'll master it.

    Oh and as a side note, master Swedish and you pretty much learn Norweigan and Danish automatically as well... at least in written form :slight_smile:
     
  3. Quantumreality

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    Hey AlmightyFrogCAT,

    In part it depends on your current ability to absorb a new language (i.e. the younger you are, the easier it is, in general), but there are also other factors to consider. With the three languages that you listed, Swedish and German both use the same English written alphabet that we use, with a few additional letters, even though the pronunciation of specific letters varies. With Japanese, you would also have to learn a whole new written language in addition to the spoken language. Just something to consider.

    In terms of how to learn, the very best way is immersion - i.e. living in the country that speaks the language you choose or at least in an area of the world where a lot of people speak that language. Second would be to go to a learning institution (university, college, or language institute) that teaches the language. Third would be to buy a program that teaches the language - such as Rosetta Stone. Fourth, would probably be to find free online language programs like Duolingo, but you will probably need additional, outside resources such as language grammar books and possibly the assistance of a native speaker to assist you.

    Learning the basics of a language is one thing. But familiarizing yourself with it's everyday use is another. As I said above, the best way it to live in a country that uses that language and interact with the people on a daily basis. However, if you learn the grammar, pronunciation and written language online, you can also find websites in those languages and broadcasts from most countries online which can help you.

    Just some thoughts.:slight_smile:
     
  4. Daydreamer1

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    I haven't been on Duolingo in a while, but Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin have similar grammar rules. If you have experience with one of them, learning the other isn't as challenging. I know I had a slightly easier time adapting to Latin because I took two years of French previously.

    Languages like Danish, Swedish, and Finnish have a ridiculous amount of rules, and can be really challenging though.
     
  5. Quantumreality

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    I didn't address the Romantic languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian) because you didn't any of them among your three choices. But they are definitely MUCH easier for an English speaker to learn than many others.

    German and Swedish (or even Danish, as Daydreamer1, mentioned) are Germanic languages and are a bit harder for English speakers to learn.

    Finnish is actually on the Turkish portion of the language tree and is completely separate from all other European languages, so it has a ton of unique challenges for an English speaker who wishes to learn it.

    Just some more thought.:slight_smile:
     
  6. Astrocyte

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    I am a massive fan of language learning, so I'm really happy someone out there is considering learning a language! :grin:

    Ultimately, which language you select depends on what you'd like to get out of the process. The fact you've narrowed it down to three options is a great start - there's something about those languages that have drawn you to them. Even if your goal is just to learn the language, there's no point learning a language if the countries or cultures are of no interest to you.

    I highly recommend duolingo as the basis of your language learning. It contains grammar notes prior to most sets and helps build up your vocabulary as you go. Most of all, it's made into a game, helping keep motivation up after the initial buzz goes down. As you get through it though, you'll realise that duolingo strengthens translation skills which is great for reading and writing, but the speaking and listening exercises are not great in terms of learning how to converse in the language. This is because duolingo encourages users to put their skills into action through their immersion applet, which rewards users for translating real-life sentences on websites. By the way, this is why duolingo is free - it sells those translations to the website owners. Hence, duolingo is an amazing start, but if you're serious you're going to want to have some additional resources. The best would be another person to converse with. Ideally this should be in person but their are websites which can help match you with a native speaker if you're having trouble. The problem is that it's still difficult if you pick a rarer language. It can also be a good idea to listen to the local radio or watch local television programs to immerse in the culture and develop your aural skills.

    Anyway, as you would have seen, a Japanese course for English speakers is not available on duolingo (and there probably won't be one any time soon - it's very difficult for the program to implement languages vastly different from English). It'd definitely be the most difficult option to pursue anyway, but it's especially difficult if you're trying to self-study. German is difficult but much easier than Japanese, although it still might be a bit much for a first-time learner despite its relatedness to English. Linguistically, the languages most closely related to English are the Germanic languages Swedish, Norwegian, Danish (by the way, many linguists regard these three 'languages' as dialects of each other) Dutch and Afrikaans, or the Romance languages Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and Romanian. If you've already learnt a language and it falls into one of those language families, you'll find learning another in the same family to be very easy.

    I chose to self-study Swedish because linguistically speaking it is English's closest relative, and I found it very manageable (I also know Italian but I studied this at school and university). The duolingo course is also managed very well. However, I found it difficult to apply my language skills and unfortunately they have waned without me being able to find a person to converse with. With that in mind, I'm not sure whether to recommend German or Swedish to you. German is harder, but you won't have trouble finding someone, and it's arguably a more useful language to know. I know both courses are looked after well, so perhaps select one of those two.

    This turned out to be a bit of a long reply but I hope it's helped you out. In any case, please feel free to ask me any more questions or let me know how you're going! :icon_bigg
     
  7. kibou97

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    It depends, even though I love learning Japanese, I wouldn't recommend learning the language compared to German or Swedish if you don't want to spend an incredibly large amount of time learning it along with the incredible amount of dedication that comes with learning Japanese. No matter what, it'll take a while for one to learn a language and even longer to be or at least sound fluent in said language and it'll also require lots of dedication for any language. However, while I don't know about Swedish, German has similar grammar to English as opposed to Japanese where the grammar can sometimes be completely different. (ex: A good translation for something like "Toushoukan ni ikimasendeshita" is "I didn't go to the library" but if you were to translate that sentence and not switch the grammar around at all, it'd literally translate out to something like "Library go not in the past" because changing masu to masen would switch it from being positive to negative and "deshita" is what changes the tense to past.)

    Basically, you'd have to get used to having the grammar switched around. Beyond that though, learning Kanji is practically a lifelong time-sink with the shear amount of them. I find it fun and rewarding to learn them but it can be an incredible annoyance and turn off to learning the language for others. If you're wanting to learn a new language though more for the challenge it provides as well as feeling good as you learn how to express certain things in that language, as well as learn how to be able to write in another alphabet, Japanese would be a fairly good fit.
     
    #7 kibou97, Dec 9, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  8. FrogCAT

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    Thanks for all the replies! I noticed a few basic trends in all of your responses so I wont quote them all just give responses to the basic ideas.

    I am only 18 so learning a language shouldn't be the hardest thing ever! Also I figure if I do it now my brain will have an easier time if I decide to learn another when I'm older. Though I think I read that the prime age for learning another language was seven or something close to that.

    As for how I narrowed down my list to three languages, one is that I did actually know that English is a Germanic based language (even though it seems to have more in common with the romantic ones) and so that's why I was considering German, Swedish being another a closely related language as well as being one I am particularly drawn to for reasons beyond me, and it just so happens a good portion of my lineage is Swedish, as for Japanese, it managed to get on my list due to the fact that I am quite into anime/manga, and I also want to attend the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

    After thinking about it for a while(a few months now), German doesn't interest me that much and I can always wait for animes/mangas to be dubbed/translated... So I guess that leaves me with Swedish! Yes! Swedish! Also because whatever dark an mysterious force has gripped my subconscious and taken over my mind desires with all of it's being to learn Swedish! Also I figure it'd be the easiest(though not easy) to learn, and your comments here have only emphasized that point. And I'll be learning it on Duolingo, in fact, I already started a bit before making this post. As for how I might learn it outside of Duolingo, I figure books(perhaps children's), as well as watching Swedish movies/shows with subtitles and such, also maybe Swedish YouTubers. I do want to live in Sweden for a time eventually, I just feel a very odd connection to the place, not permanently though as my heart belongs to San Diego.
     
  9. Box

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    Lycka till! ( = Good luck) :slight_smile:
     
  10. FrogCAT

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    Thanks!
     
  11. Astrocyte

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    Grattis! Jag hoppas upplevelsen är bra. :slight_smile:
     
  12. jaska

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    I know that Japanese is one of the hardest yo learn, so choose that if you want more of a challenge I guess. I think german is pretty easy and also a lot of Germans speak English too so that could help. Good luck :slight_smile:
     
  13. HappyGirlLucky

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    Finno-Ugric and Turkic are actually not related, it is a (somewhat common) misconception. Here is a good and short thing about it if you are interested. :slight_smile: I know AlmightyFrogCAT didn't even ask about Finnish, but this misconception is one of my linguistic pet peeves lol! Sorry!

    Anyway, I use Memrise and Duolingo together when learning new languages because both are free and have their own advantages and disadvantages and they make up for each others shortcomings a bit. I also immerse myself as much as I can without actually moving by changing the language on my phone, reading news in the language I am trying to learn and watching their TV and YouTube things.

    I speak four languages well (three of which at a native level), speak a few more not-so-well and I am about to get started on a fifth language (Spanish) I hope to become fluent in. My biggest advice would be not to worry too much about grammar and rules, especially so when it comes to messing up the gender of nouns (e.g. en/ett in Swedish), people will understand you anyway.

    Learning the way humans naturally do is the best way, just subject yourself to the language as much as possible and you will eventually realize that you just magically know how to construct grammatically sound sentences. It is much less headache-inducing than just reading books and you will sound much more natural too. :slight_smile: Working on your vocabulary and immersing yourself in the language is the quickest and least painful way to learn a new language.

    That doesn't mean that you should entirely avoid learning about grammar. Fortunately, unlike babies, you already understand one language so you don't need 6 years to become mostly fluent. :lol: Do look things up and go over the rules, just don't try to learn by cramming a bunch of them into your head and trying to remember and follow them, most people do not learn effectively that way. Our brains are (fortunately) not as rigid as our computers lol!

    Nåja, nog babblat! Lycka till! :slight_smile:
    (Ah well, enough rambling! Good luck!)

    P.S. Totally watch the TV series Welcome to Sweden if you are American. It is about this guy from New York who falls in love with a Swedish girl and moves to Sweden to be with her. Not knowing the language or anything really about the culture he experiences a bit of a culture shock. :lol: It is hilarious, and maybe it will prepare you for when you eventually move. :icon_wink They speak Swedish but I am sure there are English subtitles available for it, it might even be available on Netflix.
     
    #13 HappyGirlLucky, Dec 10, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  14. RainbowGreen

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    Seems like Swedish was the best choice for you. As a translation and language student, I wish you the best in your learning :slight_smile:

    Omg, you're SO wrong! Or maybe I'm bad, but I did two years and I STILL can't grasp the syntax! It's a nightmare to understand :l
     
  15. happydavid

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    French because a lot of people speak it
     
  16. pinkpanther

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    If I were you I'd go with French. It has easier pronunciation and much larger pool of people that you can speak with, not mentioning the culture and the huge amounts of self-study materials that you can use while you're mastering the language. Spanish would be my second choice.

    Swedish is fine but I find that most English speakers struggle a lot with the pronunciation and the syntax which is not really that different from German. Since my native language and my first foreign language (Russian) have mostly free word order it was a nightmare for me to even grasp the idea of a V2 language. I still struggle with its syntax sometimes. Even then you still have to deal with the pitch accent, the weird sj, tj, rs sounds, and the large number of dialects. Also Swedes aren't really used to hearing other people talk Swedish with a weird accent so your Swedish might not actually be that useful here, they'll just return to you in English.

    If you most definitely want to move to Sweden and spend some time here then go with Swedish. Otherwise just go with French or Spanish, they're easier and generally more useful. I'd also skip the exotic but overly complicated languages like Greek, Hungarian, Finnish, Japanese, Chinese, etc.
     
  17. HappyGirlLucky

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    She already settled on Swedish and did not even consider learning French to begin with, so I don't think she is likely to pick that. I also think she made the right decision. Personally I would have chosen German, but then again it is my favorite language to learn so far precisely because I have always felt the same pull towards Germany that AlmightyFrogCAT described feeling for Sweden. I felt right at home there when I visited and was very sad to leave, I still miss it and can't wait to go back. Maybe one day I will move there too. :slight_smile:

    The structure of German is nothing like Swedish by the way, it is actually one of the most structurally complex European languages. Swedish has a lot more in common with English than it does with German structure-wise. Random example:

    You could even leave out the "för" in the Swedish sentence while speaking and translate it 1:1 from English and no one would care, while if you did that in German it would sound as convoluted as the German - English example above does in English.

    You are totally right though that people are likely to switch over to English if OP's Swedish is not fluent or has an obvious American accent, as most people (especially the younger ones) in Sweden do speak fluent English and welcome a chance to practice their skills with a native speaker. OP, you will just have to explain that you want to do the same and then maybe you can take turns practicing English and Swedish with each other? :lol:
     
  18. pinkpanther

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    @HappyGirlLucky V2 languages are V2 languages. There is obviously a difference them but once you move beyond simple sentences the V2 syntax will bite you in the bum. And then it won't matter if you're speaking German or Swedish because a mistake is a mistake.

    I was just trying to be more realistic and offer the OP a different possibility, because it takes years to get proficient in any language regardless of how simple it appears at first sight. French and Spanish in that matter are perfect for someone who speaks English as a first language.
     
  19. FrogCAT

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    Aaaahhh! So many replies!

    I actually find that so far I don't really have problems with the pronunciation, I'm actually quite adept at making many sounds you don't hear in English, no idea why though. Also, yes, I most definitely plan on moving to Sweden for a time.

    When I first read "She already settled..." I had to back track and re read it a second time cause my brain didn't register that 'She' was referring to me, when i did finally realize it though i smiled the biggest goofiest smile ever, Thank you so much! Also that me and a native Swedish speaker practicing our skills on each other is a totally cool idea! It'll be sometime before I can do it though.

    Hm, I hadn't thought about changing my phones language, thanks for the tip! Good luck learning Español! After I post this I'm totally gonna check if Welcome to Sweden is on Netflix.

    Thanks!

    ---------- Post added 10th Dec 2016 at 03:29 PM ----------

    Ah sweet! 100 Posts!! Woot!
     
  20. davidfreckelton

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    I take Japanese and it's quite easy compared to French and even English. I also recommend ASL which I'm also learning