Learning two languages

Easterner   Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:03 pm GMT
As I promised, here is a link with more information about Kató Lomb, for those interested. Note her emphasis on motivation, and the concepts of "autolexy", "autography" and "autology".

Mitch   Fri Sep 30, 2005 9:33 pm GMT

Thanks for your summary on Kato Lomb and the link with more information about her. From the article, it looks as if she did not refer to grammar books, or texts, or even dictionaries before attempting to learn directly from an original novel. My question is: How is that possible for a language that is unrelated to anything one knows?

I can understand this method if you know languages that are similar. I could probably try tackling Italian, from whatever French and Spanish I know. Antimoon's Michal Ryszard Wojcik studied Norwegian (see his "Norsk Experiment," (http://www.apronus.com/norsk/index.htm), but knew English and German well--and used Norwegian CDs, a beginner's book, and a pronunciation guide. Kato Lomb, however, studied languages basically unrelated to Hungarian, and without necessarily knowing how they sounded, or even the writing system!

The "Antimoon Method" agrees with Lomb on motivation and input, but also strongly emphasizes dictionaries, pronunciation, and no mistakes. Can the average learner really study as Lomb did, especially for an unrelated language?

P.S. Maybe you can contact the publisher about translating her book Így tanulok nyelveket into English--I'm sure that there would be an interested audience!
Steve K   Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:07 am GMT
I agree that the key is to learn from interesting content, content that matters to you. Even though language learning has been a sideline for me in my career as a businessman and diplomat. I am very fluent in English, French, Japanese, and Mandarin and with a little effort and exposure my Spanish and Swedish and German, which are natural but not fully fluent, would be at full fluency too. I do not think it would be difficult to learn more languages, but it has to be based on interesting content and an efficient way of accumulating vocabulary.
Geoff_One   Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:13 pm GMT
Jo, Thanks for your point. Many people in Australia do study
Bahasa Indonesian (very close to Malay). It can be a very useful
language for Australians to know. I should have included it in my earlier
Easterner   Sun Oct 02, 2005 8:12 pm GMT
Mitch: "The "Antimoon Method" agrees with Lomb on motivation and input, but also strongly emphasizes dictionaries, pronunciation, and no mistakes. Can the average learner really study as Lomb did, especially for an unrelated language?"

I guess her method was tailored to her own personal strengths, so there would be no point in copying it altogether. However, I have experienced that context-based input (mostly through reading or listening, using motivating content) works fine for languages which are similar to a previously known language (such as Italian or Spanish after having learnt French). I also could do quite well without a dictionary for quite a long time after I started learning English (true, I learned it with the help of teachers). As I understand Lomb's method, she was trying to build up a set of "usage patterns": going beyond mere words, concentrating instead on the appropriate phrase to express a given content. On the other hand, it is a mystery to me how she coped with languages such as Ivrit or Chinese. I guess I'll have to get her book, although there must still remain some element of mystery after reading it. In the final analysis, you will have to create your own method of learning, even if you can take over elements of methods that worked well for others. One should avoid being "prescriptivist" in this respect as well.
Steve K   Sun Oct 02, 2005 8:42 pm GMT

Lombs method works even better for languages like Chinese or Japanese since the grammatical explanations for these languages that you find in textbooks make no sense whatsoever, believe me. At least in learning in a European language we understand what the grammar terms mean. This is not the case with unrelated languages. So learning words, phrases and patterns and a lot of exposure is all you can rely on.

The more interesting the content the more likely you will continue. The availability of instant online dictionaries makes it possible to tackle any content in a new language if you are determined enough. It does help if any new content you choose can be automatically graded to your vocabulary level which is what we have done at The Linguist.

You can also read my book on this subject which is available at Amazon. The Linguist, A Pesonal Guide to Language Learning.

I do not agree with this emphasis on pronunciation, dictionaries and avoiding mistakes.

Yes you should work on pronunciation at the beginning and then not worry about it. However close you get to native is good enough as long as you are understood. The obsession with accents verges on the narcissistic.

Dictionaries should only be used online where they are instant. Otherwise it is too time consuming to look something up that you are going to immediately forget. In my day I relied on interesting readers with word lists. I avoided the dictionary. Efficiency and intensity is simply too important to language learning to allow yourself the luxury of dawdling over dictionaries. You have to see the word many times before it becomes a part of you. Spend your time listening and reading.

You will make mistakes. You will continue to make mistakes until you have had enough exposure. Spend the time on input instead of a vain attempt at early perfection. And never pass up an opportunity to use the language. But even if you have no opportunity to use it you can improve a lot through constant intense and interesting input.

But when you speak to someone in the language do not get uptight over your shortcomings. Just enjoy the experience. It should always be a joy to communicate in another language. It is like flying. It is something that you have taught yourself that many other people cannot do.
Adam   Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:06 pm GMT
I'm glad to see that you (or some of you) are interested in her books. I'd be very glad to translate them into English; I've already considered this option. The only question is financing (as I have to sustain myself). If you find a sponsor, I'd be more than willing to do it.

I'm Hungarian, 27, very much interested in languages, and I have all the four books of hers. Unfortunately I don't have contact with her family but I know where she lived (I visited her once about three or four years ago; she autographed her book for me as a friend). Feel free to contact me: adam-dot-78-at-uze-dot-net

Best regards,
greg   Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:19 pm GMT
Adam (2) : sais-tu qu'il existe sur ce forum un Adam (1) dont tu aurais tout intérêt à te démarquer au plus vite ?
Adam78   Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:31 pm GMT
I didn't know it. I'm sorry; I didn't search through the site before posting my message. I'll then differentiate myself as Adam78. By the way, would you mind writing in English?

Candy   Fri Oct 14, 2005 5:43 am GMT
Adam from Hungary: greg asked you to choose another name for your own benefit! ;) The other Adam here is.....well, he has some interesting 'opinions'!!?? Believe me, you don't want to be associated with him!
Welcome to the site! :)
Adam78   Sat Oct 15, 2005 8:40 pm GMT
OK. Greg, thank you for the advice and Candy, thank you for the clarification and your kind welcome. :-)

Anyway, do you think Mitch will find or has found my response to his message?

Mitch   Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:50 pm GMT

I did see your response. I'll try to send you an e-mail, or post another message, with some ideas about sponsers.
Stefaniel P Spaniel   Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:52 pm GMT
I am currently trying to learn two languages which are quite different - Hungarian and Romanian.

I am concentrating on Hungarian, as it is :
a) spoken by girlfriend and various friends
b) very difficult, so I have to work hard on it
c) very different, so it is fascinating and satisfying to learn...and frustrating.

Romanian is, however, the state language here (guess which country...clue, not Moldova) so thats the one for instrumental and transactional purposes, and to understand the subtitles of films that aren't in English (or Polish, but there aren't any films in Polish here...) Romanian really isn't too difficult to understand in written form, and although I am terribly lazy about learning it I seem pick it up anyway, at least receptively.

Some writers on language 'functions' and discourse types use two categories : 'transactional' and 'social/interactive.' In my language learning at the moment, I seem to use mostly Romanian on some occasions, such as in shops, but Hungarian at other times and for other purposes. It can sometimes seem strange to use Hungarian with a shop assistant - it doesn't fit with my normal pattern, so I come out Romanian (which doesn't go down well if I am in Hungary...)

In the past I have learnt Polish, but lived on the border with the Czech Republic and tried learning Czech for a while, just for fun. I picked up a small vocabulary of useful Czech words that can't be simply guessed from a knowledge of Polish, and I could follow Czech TV to some extent. Handy, as where I lived you couldn't get Polish TV...

I also tried learning Estonian and Russian at the same time at one point (guess where!) I was pretty unsuccessful...although I found Russian easier and used it since. I think I have learnt a bit a bout effective ways of language learning since then ( I pretty much stuck to "Teach Yourself Estonian" and didn't get enough interesting and varied input - or if I did, it all washed over me without sinking in too much. Also I never got the chance to practice Estonian, as everyone immediately switched to English.)

So I have tried more or less unsuccessfully in the past to learn two languages at once, and I am trying it now too, with more experience and success...but we'll see about how ultimately competent I get. One can but hope.

One top tip for anyone trying it - get yourself a little hardback pocket sized notebook for nice phrases you hear (with a bit of context noted) and write one language in the front of the book and one in the back. You'll see how one language gets 'favoured...'
Sander   Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:56 pm GMT
Stefaniel P Spaniel,

Take a look at this, http://www.langcafe.net/index.php?f=22&sid=32fe0538df1ba3b509fc16af665ed78a

It's the romanian forum on langcafe.net maybe you could get/give advise from other learners.
reina   Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:35 am GMT
¡Hola a todos!

I am currently a graduate student that would like to become a college professor of Spanish. All the job searches I have done require native or near-native fluency. Everyone tells me that with a Ph.D. in Spanish, of course you are going to know the language. I also know that studying abroad is the best means to learn a language. But, can anyone give any advice of how long one should remain abroad? Is it necessary to live years abroad to learn the culture and language well enough to teach college-level courses?

Thank you for any information and suggestions.