which languages do you speak apart from English?

I have just been thinking about how rubbish we are at languages as a nation and how, were I in charge, I would expect everyone to speak at least three and there would be funding and incentives for so doing.

 

(no, I cannot personally speak three languages apart from English although my French is passable and Gaelic getting on for - I would like to know German but can't be bothered with the process of learning it)

I used to have half decent french from A - level but it was OK, that has all but disappeared

Trying to do a bit of mandarin every day. 

 

I have been looking for funding, free classes etc - not had much luck so far

 

 

Pretty much all of them.  Apart from that clicky one.

There's this little trick I learned from Welly called TALKING TO THEM LOUDLY IN ENGLISH that works like a babelfish.

archibald I am curious about mandarin! do you find it worthwhile despite all the dialects? I mean, do they speak standard mandarin in some places (unlike Arabic)?

I can see the appeal of knowing how to read it but the speaking stuff just seems exhaustingly difficult to pin down.

Used to speak Italian and German, but if you don't use it, you lose it

I was fluent in french and had strong conversational spanish and italian. 

Can still manage in french but my accent is now terrible.  Can just about get by in italian and spanish

I gave up german after gsce aged 14 but keep it on my cv.

French, German, Spanish and an Eastern European one which I will not disclose (given that it's where Ex-Badlady is from).  Oh, and a smattering of Russian.

French, German and a hint of Spanish.  Bit rusty when it comes to speaking them and takes me while to put a sentence together but with French and German can still understand the majority of what is being said to me.

I always worried about that, which is the best way to learn, what would be more valuable. Then I realised all those thoughts were getting in the way of doing something. So now I just downloaded a few apps.

 

Aim is to open 1 chinese App once a day, no need to actually do any. But with that being the aim I inevitably do at least 5 minutes a day, sometimes 20 mins

 

I am taking it slowly but my aim is not to "learn chinese" as that is a HUGE thing. I am just aiming to form the habit of using the apps.

 

I am super enjoying it to be honest 

I can also sing Helan Går (a Swedish drinking song, which I learned at my first year at university and have never forgotten).

Badders presumably you only learned the last of those to know when your children were calling you a willy head?

that is important tbh

(I thought he had previously posted that it was Bulgarian btw)

but it's possible I jsut associate that country with particularly mean people (bit cyrillic and embittered to be in Russia's shadow)

Wang - more to know what other people are saying, and to be able to learn the phrase "your mother blows donkeys".

True enough - animal husbandry takes on a whole new meaning in Somerset, my luvver!

Yes indeed.  Tuya madre ha pasado la majoy parte de la vido contra los muros con marineros.

And Voy a hacerte el chocho Coca Cola.

 

And De me una mamada.

I thought my Spanish was ok but I think it mustn't be

Errrr, in order:

 

1. Your mother spent most of her life up against walls with sailors.

2. I am going to give you oral sex (literally "I'm going to make your frou-frou feel like Coca Cola")

3. Give me a blowjob.

 

Blame a misspent youth (and a year at university living with a couple of Spanish deviants).

it's quite hard to learn how to swear in Gaelic. They are a very polite people (although I am sure there must be a book somewhere).

Bod Falbh a ghabhail do ghnúis aison cac, clag deireadh.

 

You're welcome.

Yes, it should but I can't do that on here.

 

Falbh dáirich fhéin, górach píos de cac  (but with the accents the other way round).

How many of these are you fluent in or at least very good ?

How many of these are you fluent in or at least very good?

Good enough to draft contracts in one of them...

German. The grammar has gone a bit rusty but the vocab is still there. And, like Badders, Swedish but only to the extent it is the words to Helan Går

English, German, Swedish, a little Polish, can read Latin

can recognise a lot of dutch, danish etc from phonetic similarities 

Fluent in French and Bulgarian.  Passable in German (certainly enough for conversations).  Spanish a bit rusty but conversational level.  Used to be fairly fluent but just haven't used it.  Russian - can understand it well enough and speak a few phrases, but wouldn't call it "conversational". 

I think we beat ourselves up about languages too much.  Compared to other small nations surrounded by others, e.g. Holland and Belgium, we are poor, but then we are an island.  Compared to most major nations I think we compare fairly well.  How many Chinese, Russians, Indians or Americans have a good command of another language (aside from English which doesn't count as it is the international language now)?

Plonymous, I hate to state the fucking obvious, but if English is not your native language it "counts" as a foreign language.

Oh and a not-insignificant number of Americans are bilingual in English and Spanish.

I can follow Dora The Explorer well enough.  And the Spanish version of Sesame Street.

I fucking hate Dora the Explorer. Fucking gobshite.

My friends are amazed when you introduce them to X from X European country who is fluent at its in 3 or sometimes more languages .

it is nothing special in Europe they learn languages from early school age say 3 or 4. It is perhaps bizarre that foreign languages here are given so little attention. Equally when a Brit can speak another language perfectly , fellow brits gawp in amazement.

half my team English is not their native tongue and so many of them are trilingual.its just no big deal in Europe. Doesn’t Mourinho speak 6 languages fluently and federer 5?

I always find it amusing how much intellectual capital people think learning a language gives them, he it , quite literally,  something that a  one year old child can do.

I always find it amusing how much intellectual capital people think learning a language gives them, he it , quite literally,  something that a  one year old child can do.

Bert:  "Ernie, vas a fuyarme en el culo esta noche?"

Ernie:  "No esta noche, Ernie, estoy muy cansado."

Bert:  "Pues, puedes pegar el pato de goma en mi culo?"

Ernie: "Si, si, Bert.  No probleo."

I always find it amusing how much intellectual capital people think learning a language gives them, he it , quite literally,  something that a  one year old child can do.

Not sure where to begin with this really, but here are some of my thoughts.

1) If it's so easy, why don't more people do it?

2) Some of the gammons insisting that they are superior to Europeans in every way can barely speak English, let alone any other language. Must be galling when foreigners come over here and take your jobs because they speak your own mother tongue better than you do.

3) I hate to state the obvious, but acquisition of a mother tongue in infancy is a completely different process to actually learning a foreign language.

I have a friend who has a German husband and her kids speak German but she makes him speak English around her with his German friends

JUST LEARN GERMAN FGS

It's not difficult.. As ever, once you've cracked the grammar, the vocab is pretty easy (aside from the horrendously long compound words).  Then it's just a matter of practice.

My friends are amazed when you introduce them to X from X European country

tbf it would be pretty amazing to be introduced to Great Uncle Bulgaria*

 

*I can't think of anyone else named after an European country who it could be

I just can't fathom it - I think she's literally too proud to try because she won't be very good until she's good. It's possible he's also kind of a dick about it.

"I hate to state the obvious, but acquisition of a mother tongue in infancy is a completely different process to actually learning a foreign language"

 

it really isn;t . It's the same thing and it is very very easy

It's totally the same thing, if you pick it up organically (as I did with German and Bulgarian).  You pick up what you need to know and figure out the grammar incrementally as your vocab and knowledge expands. 

 

It's studied languages that are an unnatural way to learn.

the CIA says it takes 4,000 hours to learn a language from scratch as an adult

That's niche.  Will you have occasion to use it?  That's what did for my Spanish - lack of utilisation.

I sort of get where Peloton is coming from

Its "easy" in the sense that it is just a process you follow. Obviously you can undertake the process in more or less efficient ways. But there is not really much in the way of concept grafting that is necessary. Yes you could learn how the language "works" but you dont need to...e.g. everyone manages to learn there own mother tongue with hugely vartying appreciation for the actual mechanics behind it.

I think the reality is it is more a reflection of:

1. Graft

2. AND/OR opportunity/circumstances

 

that determines how far you get with language learning 

I think Stephen Pinker agrees with Clergs on this point - human nippers are pretty much programmed to be language and grammar hoovers.  They even turn Pidgeon into creole automatically even with sign language (see the language instinct).

it comes up more than you might think

although perhaps Russian or sthg would be a better goal

The Council of Europe reckon it would take na English speaker 400 hours of study to reach CEFR level B2 in German (that is, 

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Wot Panda said. That honky muf' be messin' mah old lady... got to be runnin' cold upside down his head, 

I can also speak Somerset and a little bit of Smoggy (the latter courtesy of MJJ).

it really isn;t . It's the same thing and it is very very easy

If you moved to another country where you didn't speak the language and you completely immersed yourself in it for five years, speaking and writing exclusively in that language and not using English or speaking to your English speaking family and friends at all, then yes, you would acquire the language more or less as a child acquires their mother tongue.

Of course, you wouldn't be able to work or anything like that, and if after five years you only spoke and wrote as well as the average five year old speaks and writes in their mother tongue, you would be doing quite poorly.

In the real world, of course, learning a foreign language as an adult (or even at school as a child) is very different from acquiring a mother tongue as an infant.

If you moved to another country where you didn't speak the language and you completely immersed yourself in it, speaking and writing exclusively in that language and not using English or speaking to your English speaking family and friends at all, then you should be fluent within five months even on Clergham's CIA measure of 4000 hours...

Would you sound like a native speaker? No. Mainly because your vocal chords became fully developed when you were a small child and stopped being able to accurately produce sounds that don't occur in languages you didn't already speak by that point.

The Alliance Francias thinks you can reach CEFR level  c2 with a 1000 hours of study. 

 

C2 means

  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
  • Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
  • Can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

Learning a language really is innately very easy,

Six months' immersion in a forrin place sounds about right to get a fair degree of fluency.

Lady p , I am not sure that is right . The barman /cleaner at my then snooker club could speak no more then than ten words when he came here from Portugal.

a year later he was fluent in every sense , and  stayed to do a phd at LSE. I know others who have learnt to speak English fluently in similar time scales . English is easy to learn according to those I have spoken to about learning it from scratch 

ebitda: You can be fluent (even totally bilingual) and still unable to sound like a native speaker. (You can also be very good at accents and sound like a native speaker when you read something a native speaker has written without actually having a great grasp of the grammar and vocabulary. I have heard someone do this too.)

bikeman: I know what C2 is ffs, I passed that threshold years ago.

The age thing is right. My ex-in laws moved from the Czech Republic to America some forty years ago, speaking no English. They are now in their seventies.

They can get most of the words right but not the accent or some word orders / intonation. Largely because they always spoke Czech at home and had mainly Czech friends there.

So I picked up some basic Czech.

My personal experience with English is that often native speakers have worse grammar than excellent foreign speakers....indeed, this depends on the type of schools they have attended or the specific social background they come from...

 

 

Some French, some German, a teeny bit of Japanese and working on Dutch now.

So RoF can speak in tongues.  Great.  But the Great Washed as they now are cannot.  We need to change that.  The other European countries all get anyyone in the top half of the eudcational distribution to do 4+ languages and hardly notice the effort.  

English only,

 

My welsh and french are all but forgotten now 

German.

It's fairly pointless unless I go to Germany. Or Austria. And I rarely do. 

Wish I knew a useful language like C++

I speak French and used to work and publish in it.  Its pretty rusty now, but I find if I spend a little bit of time in a francophone country it comes back fairly well.

 

I speak a little bit of Italian.  It's not that hard to learn if you speak French already.

Used to be pretty good in French and Spanish (Latin American style) but pretty rusty now. Some German, Arabic and Russian. Plus I can swear brilliantly in Cantonese

Not read thread but when the rest of the world speaks English it's not exactly surprising we don't choose to learn languages that are a massive gamble on being even remotely relevant to our lives.

"All Norwegians speak PERFECT English.  I've NO IDEA why us Brits don't all learn Norwegian from the age of 5 like they do"

Spanish and some Portuguese, but right now I'm more interested in learning languages which may have greater future utility: CSS, HTML, JavaScript and Ruby on Rails.

"All Norwegians speak PERFECT English.  I've NO IDEA why us Brits don't all learn Norwegian from the age of 5 like they do"

Mate, judging by the dregs of society who seem to be dictating our economic and trade policy right now, half the country don't even seem to learn English from the age of 5 like the Norwegians do.

German and French.

I did joint hons languages for my 1st degree (albeit neither German nor French).

Lived and worked in Germany for a couple of years.

Is there anyone in this lovely discussion who would want to learn Italian?

just that you know apparently ‘The results of a survey state that the British are officially the worst language learners in Europe! ... 62% of peoplesurveyed can't speak any other language apart from English. 38% of Britons speak at least one foreign language, 18% speak two and only 6% of the population speak three or more.’