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Drummer Boy

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How many languages are you fluent in?
« on: November 02, 2014, 02:15 »
Like too many Americans, my language skills are pathetic. Growing up I was exposed to a rather mundane six or seven years of Spanish, but my suspicions of these classes being sorely lacking in useful information were confirmed when, in high school, one of my good friends who was Cuban (born there, fluent in Spanish) failed the class.  :S

At the time, French classes were considered to be more exotic and refined, but these were only available to a small minority of students IIRC. Russian was also a distant option, but this was looked upon with suspicion in the 1980s, and I'd be surprised if more than a dozen kids were ever a part of that program (spies all of them, I'm sure).    :-x



So what are your language skills?
I'm curious to know a few things regarding this issue.

How many languages do you understand?
To what extent (spoken, written, formal, casual)?
How did you acquire these skills (native language-upbringing, academic study, self-study, cultural immersion, etc)?

Also:
Any preferences for one language over another, and why?
Any thoughts or observations on language education in different parts of the world?

Feel free to add any other sub-topics to this discussion.

Gracias.  :P
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  • Havetts

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #1 on: November 02, 2014, 03:36 »
    Seeing I study International Business and Languages I am studying the English language, the German language and Spanish. I'd say im fluent in Dutch, obviously, English and German. I have spent 6 months abroad speaking German when I worked in Düsseldorf, which I enjoyed a lot and I miss the people there and working in Germany.

    For my study abroad I spent 5,5 months in Winnipeg, Canada. I would say Im fluent in English, but after that period there is no doubt in my mind I speak fluent English, very specific terms that'd be hard to translate are sometimes an issue, but generally its easy to speak English. We Dutch people have the luxury of learning English since the 7th grade of elementary school and having none of the kids shows translated or dubbed but rather subtitled.

    German isnt very hard to learn as Dutch shares a lot of grammatical rules as German and the words are very alike, some people always exaggerate how hard German is to speak and then they always refer to the grammatical rules of the Dativ, Akkusativ and Genetiv, but its very easy if you ask me. You'll just have to learn it once properly and then its rather easy. Although some ( a lot :P) disagree with me.

    Spanish on the other hand.. Its a language thats tough if you ask me. Especially seeing the other languages I've learnt are based on the Germanic way of grammar etc. So to learn a latin based language is pretty hard. I'd say I'd be able to understand some of conversations, and I'd be able to translate a lot when I am reading the text slowly and analyzing it. But speaking Spanish is hard, all the grammatical rules are tough. When to use the Subjuntivo or not and when to use either the Indefenido or Imperfecto is hard.



    I've taken two electives of Russian for my studies. And all the other languages in difficulty are nothing compared to the Russian language and its grammatical rules. I can read cyrillic, I know some sentences that I've remembered from two years ago, but that language is hard as hell. It is a very beautiful language, but sounds harsh on the ears. I'd love to learn more Russian, but damn if it isnt hard as hell.




    Por favor. :)
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  • just some guy

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #2 on: November 02, 2014, 06:35 »
    Fluent read, write and speak = 0  :lol

    but English mother tongue,  and as I am not really a language person, when I moved to Sweden I focused on spoken, so can converse in Swedish, written and reading not great.

    but I can listen to flemish cycling comms and get a lot of what is going on,
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  • « Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 08:42 by just some guy »
    Of course, if this turns out someday to be the industry standard integrated handlebar-computer-braking solution then I'll eat my kevlar-reinforced aerodynamic hat.

    Larri Nov 12, 2014

    L'arri

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #3 on: November 02, 2014, 08:17 »
    English native
    French fluent (has suffered this year)
    Dutch very basic

    Having studied Latin at school, I can read and roughly understand most languages based on it.

    This is the twenty first century, so I also count these, in all of which I am fluent ;)

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #4 on: November 02, 2014, 08:18 »
    Fluent Dutch English French
    I can understand and read German just fine but I'm not fluent in it when speaking but I could hold a conversation with a native German speaker
    Same for Italian and Spanish but I'd say my speaking skills are no more than just casual. I can say some lines and if I got the time to think and construct sentences I think I'd get a bit further, but there's no time for that in a conversation
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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #5 on: November 02, 2014, 08:20 »
    Unlike, say, riding a bike, one may rapidly lose the skill of languages, the mastery of which is therefore a cruel business that demands fastidious commitment, continued investment and slavish attention.

    Like certain other things in life, I suppose. ;)
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  • L'arri

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #6 on: November 02, 2014, 08:25 »
    Yes, like love. Although those of you who have already had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful Romanian film California Dreamin' / Nesfârșit (2007) will doubtless agree that language is not always the essential ingredient of seduction.

    I met an Englishwoman a few months ago who had been a French language translator. She had met a Walloon - a Belgian francophone - while on holiday some years before.

    Walloons tend not to be great English speakers, just as the English themselves are often poor linguists, and her spouse was no exception. He had not a word of English. So she depended on her skills to pick up the slack. Thus did they fall in love and marry, eventually settling in Belgium.

    Last year, while still in her forties, this Englishwoman had a stroke. She was paralysed only temporarily but the stroke left her completely without the French language that had been her life and love's work.

    It was a disturbing moment, to talk to her in English and her husband in French and for her not to understand a word of what I said to him. What was worse, she found that she couldn't retain whatever French she tried to relearn in the course of therapy and so her hapless husband was now desperately scrabbling to learn English from scratch.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #7 on: November 02, 2014, 08:44 »
    I lied about speaking French for my job here in Belgium. You see, two European languages were a minimum requirement.

    I had classroom French, which consisted mostly of ogling the conspicuously beautiful correspondantes sent to our school annually by the University of Grenoble's undergraduate programme. I was an accomplished reader and a decent writer of French but the dry, academic curriculum afforded few opportunities to develop spoken proficiency.

    So I lied about that and, to my amazement, nobody tested me. The ability to speak multiple languages in Brussels is so common as to be banal. There was simply an assumption that I wouldn't be there otherwise.

    I got the job. Day One, my new colleague welcomes me and rattles along full speed in French like a TGV. I am immediately on the backfoot. It took me three months of intense practice but I survived. And nobody ever picked me up on what my resumé had promised. ;)
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  • just some guy

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #8 on: November 02, 2014, 08:44 »
    Yes, like love. Although those of you who have already had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful Romanian film California Dreamin' / Nesfârșit (2007) will doubtless agree that language is not always the essential ingredient of seduction.

    I met an Englishwoman a few months ago who had been a French language translator. She had met a Walloon - a Belgian francophone - while on holiday some years before.

    Walloons tend not to be great English speakers, just as the English themselves are often poor linguists, and her spouse was no exception. He had not a word of English. So she depended on her skills to pick up the slack. Thus did they fall in love and marry, eventually settling in Belgium.

    Last year, while still in her forties, this Englishwoman had a stroke. She was paralysed only temporarily but the stroke left her completely without the French language that had been her life and love's work.

    It was a disturbing moment, to talk to her in English and her husband in French and for her not to understand a word of what I said to him. What was worse, she found that she couldn't retain whatever French she tried to relearn in the course of therapy and so her hapless husband was now desperately scrabbling to learn English from scratch.
    Wow, hope they work it out Laz
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #9 on: November 02, 2014, 09:36 »
    I'm fluent in *de German (native language), *dk Danish (learned from the age of 3) and *gb English (learned from the age of 11).

    I have no trouble reading and understanding *se Swedish, *no Norwegian and *nl Dutch - unless the Norwegians hail from Harstad, like one of my colleagues does. But Harstadians are virtually impossible to understand even for Norwegians. :D

    Due to four years of Latin in school, I can get the gist of *it Italian, *fr French, *es Spanish and *pt Portuguese texts, and understand some words of *ro Romanian.

    As my mother's family come from the Czech Republic, I can make myself understood on a basic level in *cz Czech (mostly spoken though, not at all written - and I mostly only understand the gist of Czech texts when I read it out loud). Enough to get by in cafés & restaurants or asking for directions (even giving directions sometimes). Even enough to get asked questions in quick-fire Czech sometimes, giving me a blank stare. :lol

    And due to the Slavic languages' close relatedness, I get a little of *pl Polish, *sk Slovakian and *ru Russian. When I hear people speak one of those languages, I can normally determine which country they're from - but not what they're actually talking about.

    Did I ever mention that I have a knack for languages? ;)
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  • « Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 10:00 by Fus87 »
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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #10 on: November 02, 2014, 09:40 »
    German isnt very hard to learn as Dutch shares a lot of grammatical rules as German and the words are very alike, some people always exaggerate how hard German is to speak and then they always refer to the grammatical rules of the Dativ, Akkusativ and Genetiv, but its very easy if you ask me. You'll just have to learn it once properly and then its rather easy. Although some ( a lot :P) disagree with me.
    Finally someone who tells the truth! German isn't hard at all, it's very logical.

    I've taken two electives of Russian for my studies. And all the other languages in difficulty are nothing compared to the Russian language and its grammatical rules. I can read cyrillic, I know some sentences that I've remembered from two years ago, but that language is hard as hell. It is a very beautiful language, but sounds harsh on the ears. I'd love to learn more Russian, but damn if it isnt hard as hell.
    I can confirm that. As far as I know, all Slavic languages have a complicated grammar - more complicated than Latin.
    Very melodic when spoken though, not harsh on the ears at all in my opinion.

    Fluent read, write and speak = 0  :lol
    I can confirm this as well! :D
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  • Flo

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #11 on: November 02, 2014, 10:09 »
    Finally someone who tells the truth! German isn't hard at all, it's very logical.
    Of course that depends on who you ask. People from Southern Europe will have a very hard time speaking and understanding German. I think it's a very difficult language too - it's easy to learn, hard to master (for me as a Dutch person). I could easily have a conversation in German, however, I'd make lots of mistakes. I'd make less mistakes in French, English and (written) Spanish and Italian, because I at least understand the most basic grammar rules :fp
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #12 on: November 02, 2014, 10:18 »
    Of course that depends on who you ask.
    That's true. :)
    All those kids in Prague speaking fluent *cz Czech, with its grammar and its č ř ž š sounds ... :o
    My uncle went to therapy as a child as he couldn't pronounce ř correctly. In any other country, nobody would ever have noticed - the sound is unique to Czech.

    Here's a Czech tongue-twister for you to practice on:
    Tři sta třicet tři stříbrných stříkaček stříkalo přes tři sta třicet tři stříbrných střech.
    (333 silver syringes splash [water] on 333 silver roofs)
     :P :lol
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  • Armchair Cyclist

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #13 on: November 02, 2014, 10:29 »
    Native English, once fluent but rapidly receding through lack of use Spanish, French very rusty, Sign Language (I teach in a school with a Hearing Impaired unit) not bad and improving, Latin and New Testament Greek atrophied in memory.
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  • Slow Rider

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #14 on: November 02, 2014, 11:17 »
    Dutch as a native language. English I speak well enough, though perhaps not as fluent as I'd like.

    I can understand spoken and written German to a degree, but when I speak it it's just Dutch with a German accent and a few actual German words thrown in. That seems to work pretty well though.

    French, well, enough to ask for the bill and order bread. Some basic directions perhaps, but that's it. I've wanted to improve my French for years now, but never got around to doing something with that.

    I can order a beer and say hello in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Swahili (though I regularly mix up between the first three of those), but that's all I can manage in those languages.

    So basically, just Dutch and English.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #15 on: November 02, 2014, 13:00 »
    Por favor. :)

    Did you mean to say, "De nada"?  :P


    I can understand spoken and written German to a degree, but when I speak it it's just Dutch with a German accent...
    That sounds like a good trick! That's how most Americans seem to interpret foreign languages anyway.  :D
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  • Havetts

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #16 on: November 02, 2014, 13:04 »
    Did you mean to say, "De nada"?  :P

    Yes, as for my excuse, I was not in a very sober state last night so I am pretty surprised such a coherent post came out. :-x :lol
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  • Flo

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #17 on: November 02, 2014, 13:05 »
    I can understand spoken and written German to a degree, but when I speak it it's just Dutch with a German accent and a few actual German words thrown in. That seems to work pretty well though.

    This is me  :D
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  • Flo

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #18 on: November 02, 2014, 13:06 »
    Did you mean to say, "De nada"?  :P

    That sounds like a good trick! That's how most Americans seem to interpret foreign languages anyway.  :D

    but americans must realize there are a god awful lot of languages that are in no way similar to English :D Dutch with a German accent sounds pretty good :P
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  • search

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #19 on: November 02, 2014, 13:11 »
    *nl vandaag is het zo warm, dus wil ik niet reizen met de tram
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    Drummer Boy

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #20 on: November 02, 2014, 13:17 »
    Yes, like love.
    A friend of mine (a piano player), who I used to perform with quite a bit, met a Spanish girl here who was working as an au pair. She didn't speak English, nor he Spanish. But they fell in love, and eventually got married. She would attend most of our concerts, and we all got along with her quite well, although her English improved only incrementally over the course of many months. But still, they had found their bond.

    I believe the strain did take a toll on her, and after a couple of years they decided to relocate to Spain. That was well over a decade ago, and as far as know they are both still living there, and I can only presume that they are still together. Knowing this guy as I had, it is easy for me to imagine that his Spanish—even after all these years—is probably no better than her English ever was. So if he loses her, I would expect to see him back here with little more than the clothes on his back, speaking some form of barely recognizable Spanglish.
    :D
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  • Flo

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #21 on: November 02, 2014, 13:17 »
    *nl vandaag is het zo warm, dus wil ik niet reizen met de tram

    Het is fijner om met de fiets te gaan  ;)
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #22 on: November 02, 2014, 13:27 »
    In love and war...

    My Uncle, who is British, has a knack for languages and I believe is conversant in five or six, mostly European, languages. But I love the story of how he first learned German. At the end of WWII, he and his sisters (which obviously included my mom-to-be) were young children living in and around London. At the time, there were work camps for captured German soldiers awaiting return to their homeland. Many of these soldiers were quite young, and my uncle and his sisters befriended some of them through an apparent lack of security, and what must've been the most inadequate fencing imaginable. 
    :D

    One of my favorite stories was of the time they disguised one of these young German lads, and snuck him into a movie theater with them.  :P On occasion, my uncle would pull off the reverse of this subterfuge—he would disguise himself as a German prisoner and make his way into the camp for some of the more formal events that were taking place that he wanted to witness. This is true.

    These were all young people who were victims of a war that none of them obviously wanted. Through such open-heartedness, my uncle was able to forge friendships with some of these young Germans that would prove to last him, and them, a lifetime.


    As this thread has demonstrated, language need not be a barrier to love, or peace.  :)
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  • search

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #23 on: November 02, 2014, 13:27 »
    ...so, as you can see, I speak dutch fluently :p

    but no...basically the only language I do speak fluently is German. I can understand written English more or less perfectly, but I struggle a bit in actual conversations, with slang/dialect and so on involved, and my written English is far away from perfect as well - I can make myself understood though I think.

    I had french in school for four years, and reading it I can still understand what its about, but I forgot most of it and wouldn't say I can actually speak French. I can read Dutch and also understand most of it, but I have never learned that in any way, its basically due to the similarities to German and hearing experiences (on Sporza).
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  • Slow Rider

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #24 on: November 02, 2014, 13:29 »
    *de Ich spreche alle Sprachen, nur nicht so schnell, aber das kommt nog well!
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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #25 on: November 02, 2014, 13:33 »
    "My Englisch is not very good, but my German is better"

    Lothar Matthäus


     :shh
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #26 on: November 02, 2014, 15:02 »
    Danish/English

    For me it works in the worst kind of combination, my grammar is better in English. Vocabulary is about the same, maybe a bit better in English after all, but it is expanded in different areas, I know all kinds of sayings in Danish, but know more science and economics related words in English.

    Danish is my mother tongue and I originally learned English from tv/rap-music before going to an English languaged schools for four years. I like speaking English better than Danish, and does communicate with other Danish people in English at times. Either people that feel the same, or if I am ordering food or something.

    I can easily understand Norwegian, Swedish is a bit tougher. Other western European languages I can pick up a lot of information from, only had 3½ years of French, which I never learned, and one year of Spanish, where I somehow managed to pass despite not going to half the classes, and failing on almost every test, thank you curve.

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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #27 on: November 02, 2014, 15:11 »
    one year of Spanish, where I somehow managed to pass despite not going to half the classes, and failing on almost every test, thank you curve.
    The Danish school system ... *shakes head*
    That wouldn't have been possible in Germany.
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #28 on: November 02, 2014, 15:24 »
    The Danish school system ... *shakes head*
    That wouldn't have been possible in Germany.

    Well it wasn't meant to be either, we had one teacher for the first half of the year, at that point I only missed 13%, and was far below the 10% across all classes. Then after Christmas our classes was located at the same time as another class, so they hired a substitute. I showed up for less and less classes, but never got a warning and ended up on 4?% for the year missed Spanish classes. Also this year was a pre-year for the next two where you had to pick only 6 classes (I think we had like 10-12 at the time) Basically the school didn't care how you did in the classes that you A:could not pick a year later B:Didn't intend to pick. Hence Art, PE and Spanish was classes that you could basically slack in, they also did not count in the GPA. I still was pretty low in absence from classes over all, but I mean spending 4 hours on a bus to not learn anything in a Spanish class with a substitute teacher just seemed like a waste.

    Also I am still amazed that with zero effort I was still better than the classes average in that Spanish class.
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  • just some guy

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    Re: How many languages are you fluent in?
    « Reply #29 on: November 02, 2014, 16:11 »
    the key as an English speaker in a country where you do not know the local Tongue is to


     speak very slowly in english and ignore the blank stares and yell at the same time

    works everytime

     ;)
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