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Leaarning a new language for the unteachable

(9 Posts)
wahwahwah Tue 18-Oct-11 12:58:56

I would love to learn Italian. In fact, I NEED to learn Italian if I am to put my plan into action of A) winning the lottery, B) buying a huge villa in Italy with a vinyard, and C) dumping DH and running off with a gigolo.

I was always pretty crappy at languages at school. Reading and writing was passable but oral was terrible (I was very shy).

Are there any 'methods' or books, classes, etc for people trying to leanr a language who are not very good at it?

wahwahwah Tue 18-Oct-11 17:13:37

Oh come on, someone must be good at languages around here...

Twunk Tue 18-Oct-11 17:14:56

<lurks with interest as I need to learn Dutch, because I live in Holland blush)

HauntyMython Tue 18-Oct-11 17:32:14

Marking place on behalf of DH. I am one of those annoying duck-to-water types with language, but he isn't, he struggles enough with English grin I think a lot of it is down to rubbish teaching as a child/teen but he's convinced he can't do it. But... He's decided that as he's always wanted to learn Latin, we are going to give it a go together. I did it in yr7 (12 years ago!) and all I can remember is amo amas amat smile no idea how to learn a new language from scratch!

His DD is dyslexic but has been told she must do French at GCSE, we've told her we won't be angry or disappointed no matter what grade she gets, it's not her fault she struggles - but obviously she does want to pass it, so while we are here (sorry for hijack btw!) if anyone has any advice/resources I'd be grateful.

Twunk your post made me laugh smile

Twunk Wed 19-Oct-11 10:31:54

I do try! grin

Hopefully someone will have some ideas. I have a feeling it might involve hard work, when I want to learn by a process akin to osmosis... wink

GrendelsMum Wed 19-Oct-11 11:42:51

Quite a lot of it is sustained hard work, to be honest. Learning verbs, learning new vocabulary, listening and correcting your accent, and so on.

Someone (is it David Crystal?) points out that people in societies and situations where they NEED to learn a new language manage it, even if they don't necessarily progress beyond the point that they absolutely have to.

The two people I know who have picked up a new language 'effortlessly' have both been very friendly, chatty types, living in a country where it was as easy or easier to speak the language of the country than English. One of these people just loved chatting to people, didn't mind getting it wrong, laughed if what he said was corrected and then remembered the correction. He would go out to a bar with people and treat the whole evening as an language lesson. I used to sit there, listening to him in the bar, thinking 'but I want to have a proper conversation with someone, not struggle by in a language I can only half speak'. That's why he became fluent and I didn't. Interestingly, he's now a professional comedian and TV presenter.

MK1993 Fri 21-Oct-11 09:50:19

Michel Thomas's language courses are amazing:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Italian-Michel-Thomas-Complete-Course/dp/034078069X

cenicienta Sat 22-Oct-11 02:58:13

I can tell you about my experience. I was rubbish at French at school and was actually "discontinued" because the teacher thought there was no point in me wasting my time.

As an adult I moved into the area of international development and moved to a country (aged 23) where I needed to learn the language to be able to work. In that situation I lived in a community with Germans, Swiss and Swedes and realised that for them language learning is so easy because they already speak a number of languages and have gotten over the initial embarrassment and fear of speaking a new language, unlike we Brits.

Later I moved to Latin America so needed to learn Spanish. I did a 3 month "total immersion" course in a LA country, being surrounded by Spanish speakers 24 hours a day, I actually learned really quickly. I'd assumed I was rubbish at languages but actually now, a number of years later and still living in LA, I think my Spanish is actually very good.

A few things I would suggest:

~ You need to be motivated by something very compelling
~ Total immersion is definitely the easiest way to learn
~ Don't assume you're not good at languages. Believe you CAN learn. Nobody else will be laughing at you. I don't agree that adults can't learn a new language to a high level. I see it happening over and over.
~ Spend as much time as possible with Italian speakers who don't speak English
~ Try to get hold of children's TV programmes in Italian. Especially preschool. Even if they're English programmes dubbed into Italian. You'd be surprised just how much you can learn. Keep a note book and write down words you don't recognise.

Good luck, and well done for taking this step!

SDeuchars Sat 22-Oct-11 13:46:21

You can try out Rosetta Stone online. It is an immersion method and I thoroughly recommend it (not connected, just an enthusiastic user). We've used it for German, Russian and Spanish.

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