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What are your reasons to learn a new language?
Old 07-05-2014, 10:05 PM   #1
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What are your reasons to learn a new language?

I would love to learn a new language.Maybe French or German.However,and I mean this with all respect,French is hard to pronounce.German a lot of the words are the same as English,but the word order is much different than English and while the pronounciation doesn't appear to be too difficult a lot of the words are long and when German is spoken, like French it doesn't sound like English,even though English is related to both languages.Of course there is Spanish,Russian,Japanese,Chinese,but those I feel are too hard,atleast for me.It would ,if one could learn a new language ,open up a whole new World.Movies and newspapers would suddenly become available to you .However,unless one is moving to France,Germany,China,etc,what would be your reason for trying to learn a new language?Everyone here in the United States is expected to speak English,and where would you use another language unless outside of the United States?Or am I missing something?Would appreciate some thoughts from others?
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:17 PM   #2
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My wife is the "language person" in our relationship. She has chosen to learn Russian as her most recent language because several friends have adopted children from the Ukraine. It seems to help then make the transition when someone understands their language and English. This had made very VERY popular with the kids.

In observing my wife the key to learning a language is to keep using it. For example she and several friends learned Chinese in college, but many years later only she can still speak and understand it because the others stopped using it. DW participates in many language social organizations where folks get together and discuss things or attend a cultural event in that language. In our area (East Coast) there are many opportunities for that. She has even been "hired" by friends who have relatives visiting from overseas who want to tour Washington, DC but do not speak English. So DW will help show them around.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:30 PM   #3
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Unless you have a specific purpose, I think it is mainly a mental exercise, like doing crossword puzzles. And w/o a specific purpose, I think you need to enjoy the journey, the challenge. I don't think I could do it w/o specific motivation, but everyone is different.

IME, working with business people from Germany, they thought it was silly for us to learn any German. They said "English is the language of business", and their English was very good - even working level engineers, not just management types.

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Old 07-05-2014, 10:40 PM   #4
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Not everyone on the forum lives in the US. Canada is an officially bilingual country where, in general, children learn both English and French in school. Being bilingual is required for certain positions and is advantageous for many others. I can speak and write some French and did have occasion to use it professionally. I attended Alliance Francaise for several years at the niveau avance. In addition, many Canadian cities and provinces are very multicultural. For example, the commonest languages spoken in Richmond, BC are Cantonese and Mandarin and the second most commonly spoken language in Manitoba is German (high or low).

I would think that an American living in Texas or Southern California might find it very helpful to have a working knowledge so Spanish. Both French and Spanish are Romance languages with many words in common with English. Spanish pronunciation is easier and more obvious based on the written word. If you are comfortable in one of these, the other will be easier than if you were starting from scratch. Which reminds me that I should get back to my Spanish lessons in case I take another break in Mexico next winter.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:47 PM   #5
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Yes, being able to converse in Spanish in many parts of Texas can be helpful. But even in the border towns along the Rio Grande, English works just fine.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:52 PM   #6
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In Louisiana, like in Texas and California, there are quite a few who speak Spanish. Even though I don't need Spanish for everyday life here, I would still like to learn it some day so that I could understand and converse. If/when I finally decide to learn Spanish, I think I would choose Mexican Spanish because that would be most useful.

I already know some French. Even though the French I learned in school was Parisian French, I can still understand Cajun French. I don't need it for everyday life, but it sure is nice to know once in a while. Even though they understand and can speak English, the fact that I understand and can speak French too provides another dimension of friendship with my Cajun friends.

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Originally Posted by UnrealizedPotential View Post
Of course there is Spanish,Russian,Japanese,Chinese,but those I feel are too hard,at least for me.
I can't imagine a language that would be easier for an American to learn than Spanish. At least, that is what people say.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:17 AM   #7
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In Louisiana, like in Texas and California, there are quite a few who speak Spanish. Even though I don't need Spanish for everyday life here, I would still like to learn it some day so that I could understand and converse. If/when I finally decide to learn Spanish, I think I would choose Mexican Spanish because that would be most useful.

I already know some French. Even though the French I learned in school was Parisian French, I can still understand Cajun French. I don't need it for everyday life, but it sure is nice to know once in a while. Even though they understand and can speak English, the fact that I understand and can speak French too provides another dimension of friendship with my Cajun friends.


I can't imagine a language that would be easier for an American to learn than Spanish. At least, that is what people say.
I am not sure why but your post reminds me when Billy Joel decided he would sing a song in French to a French audience.Billy thought it would be great.After the song there was a dead silence.Confused ,Billy asked after the concert what happened.He was told they thought you were singing in Polish. Billy never did like the song after that.That pretty much killed the song for him.I can't remember what song that was off the top of my head.That must have been an embarrassing moment for him and the band.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:20 AM   #8
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I am not sure why but your post reminds me when Billy Joel decided he would sing a song in French to a French audience.Billy thought it would be great.After the song there was a dead silence.Confused ,Billy asked after the concert what happened.He was told they thought you were singing in Polish. Billy never did like the song after that.That pretty much killed the song for him.I can't remember what song that was off the top of my head.That must have been an embarrassing moment for him and the band.
I think it's a little different when you are dealing with friends, than when you are putting yourself up on a stage and performing for an audience of strangers. Don't you think? My Cajun friends think it's great that they can speak French around me without leaving me out of the conversation.

I think that if I was singing English in front of an American audience, they might think I was singing in Polish too.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:31 AM   #9
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I think it's a little different when you are dealing with friends, than when you are putting yourself up on a stage and performing for an audience of strangers. Don't you think? My Cajun friends think it's great that they can speak French around me without leaving me out of the conversation.
I think it's a lot different.But at the time from what I read he thought he had a good command of the song in French.When you speak to your friends in French over time you will get more and more fluent.It wasn't until I tried to learn a new language how hard I found out it was.Then to sing a song in another language,forget it.
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What are your reasons to learn a new language?
Old 07-06-2014, 12:37 AM   #10
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What are your reasons to learn a new language?

I speak English, French, and German. I use all three languages regularly (conversing, watching movies, reading news, playing word games, etc...). This allows me to remain fluent. My motivation is simply to be able to communicate with our friends and family who live in the US, France, Switzerland, and Germany.

I started learning Spanish because I think it could be useful in many parts of the US. But this is slow going, probably because I have no personal stake in it.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:41 AM   #11
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I think it's a lot different.But at the time from what I read he thought he had a good command of the song in French.When you speak to your friends in French over time you will get more and more fluent.It wasn't until I tried to learn a new language how hard I found out it was.Then to sing a song in another language,forget it.
Well, French isn't really a new language for me. Now Cajun French is pretty strange, and although I can understand it I wouldn't speak French like that. So, I just speak Parisian French to them and let them deal with it, or else English even though they are speaking French. They don't mind. Salt of the earth. They just like it that they can converse in French without having to translate everything for me.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:40 AM   #12
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I just enjoy studying languages. I always have. I studied German in high school and college and when my you-know-what sent me to Germany for a year, I was thrilled, but it was a failure. I think I managed to engage in two German conversations the whole time. Everyone else just responded to me in English. Oh well. On the other hand French, Spanish and Italian speakers are much more likely to respond in their own language and are far more rewarding to study. I work on all three languages at least a little bit every week.
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Old 07-06-2014, 10:04 AM   #13
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Duolingo is a free app that you can use to begin learning French, Spanish, Italian...I am not sure what other languages. After using it for a while I decided I liked learning a new language, so I also took a local class.

I am working on Italian, which in some ways is easy (a lot of words are similar to English) and other ways crazy hard (verb tenses)... I am doing it because I am fascinated by languages, it is a good brain workout and I love Italian films, food and culture in general.


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Old 07-06-2014, 10:42 AM   #14
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Moved to Mexico a little over a year ago. Started taking Spanish lessons from a tutor and got three months in when she decided to move back to the U.S. It was a shame because she was a really good teacher who could teach the locally used Spanish along with some of the local culture. I learned quite a bit but I have to make an effort to use it as most people here speak a good deal of English. I really need to find a new tutor and get serious about it again but have just been plain lazy.

Living in the U.S. I would also opt to learn Spanish as that is the language you will probably get the most use out of given the rapidly increasing Hispanic population all across the U.S. Fluency in Spanish will also provide many well paid job opportunities for that same reason. Both French and Spanish are derived from Latin and have many words have common roots. My wife knows both languages and believes Spanish was easier to learn because they pronounce every vowel and therefore pronunciation becomes very intuitive in short order.
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:31 PM   #15
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Spanish is definitely easier than French to learn. French does not stress syllables the way English and Spanish do, plus words are deliberately elided together, so separating a spoken French sentence into words takes a lot of practice. Resources for learning Spanish are much better too. Living in the US you have easy access to Spanish TV which is a great asset.

A class or tutor will move you along faster than self-study alone, for the most part. You need to speak sentences and be corrected.
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Old 07-06-2014, 10:50 PM   #16
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For expats, its good to know what the locals are saying about you.

But you may later regret learning the language and understanding what the locals really think of foreigners
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Old 07-06-2014, 11:35 PM   #17
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Here is a detailed listing of how difficult it is to learn a particular new language for native English speakers:

Language Learning Difficulty | About World Languages

These data are compiled from the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State and are for highly motivated language learners who generally already speak a foreign language and have an excellent aptitude for learning them. You will find that learning a foreign language is much more difficult than most people realize.
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:55 AM   #18
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I'd like to learn some languages so that I didn't have to rely on subtitles when watching foreign movies!
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:07 AM   #19
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I can't imagine a language that would be easier for an American to learn than Spanish. At least, that is what people say.
I took 3 years of Spanish in school and probably only remember a dozen or so words. Good thing I don't plan to leave the US so I have no reason to need to know Spanish or any other language.
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Old 07-07-2014, 09:12 AM   #20
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What are my reasons for learning other languages? You could ask this question about learning any subject. Love of learning is reason enough.

But learning other languages can have many rewards. I have several friends that I would never have gotten to know if I hadn't been able to speak French fluently--and some of these friends aren't native speakers of French themselves.

I love to travel and being able to converse in Spanish has made an entire hemisphere much more accessible than it would be otherwise. A lot of my travel throughout the world has been by bicycle, which means I am more likely to be in rural areas than urban areas. I just returned from a wonderful 3 week bike trip in France with a friend who speaks no French. He was grateful that I was able to easily converse with everyone we met, including a wonderful French cyclist who we stayed with one night. I've similarly gone on some very enjoyable cycling and non-cycling trips in Latin America with friends who spoke no Spanish. My Spanish isn't as good as my French, but it's good enough that I can converse with everyone we meet.

I was in Colombia this year and met a Colombian couple and a French tourist one day. We ended up spending the rest of the day together, speaking a jumble of Spanish, English, and French. One Colombian spoke no English but spoke some French. The other Colombian spoke no French but spoke fluent English. The French guy spoke decent English and OK Spanish. I speak fluent French, but mediocre Spanish. We had a wonderful time together!

I regularly read and post on a French-language forum. I also like to read foreign news sites. I sometimes read novels in French.

I once had an engineering job in the US for which I was interviewed in both English and French. I was hired, and my duties required knowledge of both languages.

I have a German friend who I speak French with, but he was very pleased that I was able to speak with his elderly parents in my limited German.

I don't speak any Thai, but I listened to some Thai language tapes to get a feel for the tones used in that language. I brought a phrase book with me to Thailand and used it a few times. Though I often got giggles, people could nonetheless understand my phrasebook Thai questions. It was very satisfying to be able to communicate, even in an extremely limited way.
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