I can't shake off the "foreign" feeling of English sound..Help

Paul M   Friday, April 09, 2004, 00:22 GMT
I've been wondering.. well more than just wondering. I've been pulling my hairs out on this .. problem I have.
The thing is, I can't make the English (or any other foriegn language) sound to be the meaning itself. umm what I mean by that is, if I say or hear the English word "apple", I know it's supposed to mean the red fruit with sour taste, but "apple" is not "the fruit itself" in my head like you do in your native language.

In short, My native language sound = semantics
But English sound =/ semantics
Rather, English sound = I know what it mean, but it's.. distant and foreign

So, even if I know all the words I hear, an english sentence has to be somehow takes a lot more time to digest in my brain than it does in my native language (which is instantaneous since what I hear is the meaning itself)

It's like my brain is going through some stages. First match the English sound I heard to the sound I already know, if they match then I ask myself.. what did that mean again? But it's not like I'm interpreting in my native language.

This means, if I don't listen really carefully, I'm bound to lose most of the content of what I hear. And strangely I can't hear words at all if I don't understand them. I just guess what the sentence mean..

I'm not sure if I've explained my problem well enough though.
Can anyone tell me what's wrong with me??
mjd   Friday, April 09, 2004, 01:05 GMT
How have you gone about studying English, Paul? In other words do you read books in English, watch tv, listen to the radio, talk with native speakers etc.?

What you need to do is get to the point where the phrase you're saying in English comes naturally. In the beginning there might only be a few phrases you feel this comfortable with. However, give it some time and immerse yourself in both the written and spoken word. Gradually the amount of phrases and sentences, i.e. vocabulary, will increase and your problem of "word association" will diminish gradually.
Paul M   Friday, April 09, 2004, 01:29 GMT
thanks mjd.
I've written, read, watched TV and listened to the radio in English quite a lot for years.
I just didn't have much chance to speak.

Do you think it would work if I listen to the English dictionary software (like colins cobuild) and read the meaning at the same time?

I think I see what you mean , I'm just not sure what exacly I'm supposed to do..

Can you please tell me in detail how I should go about immersing myself in those simple phrases...? Should I make the list of phrases and read aloud?
mjd   Friday, April 09, 2004, 01:44 GMT
Try writing in English too. When you write you feel like you have the language in your possession.
Ginny Weasley   Friday, April 09, 2004, 04:16 GMT
You can try saying random English phrases to your friends, even if they don't understand. I occasionally spout out French to my friends, who don't understand French and look at me as if I'm a moron, but nonetheless I increase my confidence and command in speaking French.

The first step towards mastering a foreign language is not being afraid to look like an idiot.
Jim   Friday, April 09, 2004, 06:46 GMT
Yeah, by practising speaking you'll develop your feeling for the language, that could be what you've been missing.
Tex   Saturday, April 10, 2004, 07:08 GMT
I agree that a lot of practice, both speaking and listening, is the most important thing.

I have noticed something interesting: I am learning Cantonese, and I have encountered a lot of foods that I never knew of before, so I never learned their English names. Now when someone says "Lor Mai Faan", a picture and taste of that wonderful sticky rice immediately pops into my head and I begin salivating! On the other hand "Suet Go" doesn't do a thing for me, because I already knew about ice cream.

So, maybe you should develop a taste for uniquely English (or American) foods, like "bangers and mash" (or "chicken-fried steak" if you come to visit me). j/k ;)

Good luck in your efforts!
Clicker   Saturday, April 10, 2004, 20:45 GMT
You are making my brain hurt!
Ginny Weasley   Saturday, April 10, 2004, 23:19 GMT
My friends, who are Mandarin, say "luo mi fan" and "bin qi lin" instead of "lor mai faan" and "suet go".
Ginny Weasley   Saturday, April 10, 2004, 23:22 GMT
You can't develop a taste for "bangers and mash". It's nothing near the deliciousness of "luo mi fan" ("lor mai faan" in Cantonese). Even Britons prefer curry and tandoori chicken to "bangers and mash".
Paul M   Sunday, April 11, 2004, 10:09 GMT
That's very interesting, something I've never knew existed..huh
Hang on.. does this mean, I need to forget what things are called in my language to learn in as different language?
Tex   Monday, April 12, 2004, 06:14 GMT
I recommend beer. After a few brews, my facility in foreign languages improves (or so it seems to me), and as a side benefit I start forgetting English words, like my name.

Or you could learn a language that has no concepts in common with yours. Like ... Cetacean ;)