Monday, 24 August 2015

It's a Struggle!

Language learning that is. I've always found it difficult. Didn't start learning another language until I was 11 when I went to grammar school & then we were taught Spanish & Latin. Didn't find either very easy but I think it was down to the way they taught you. I still think we should start teaching children foreign languages in primary school but of course we don't have the teachers to do that. I also think it was a big mistake when they stopped making a foreign language a compulsory subject for GCSE.

I went to Spain when I was 18 to spend a couple of weeks with my pen friend & her family & I had to listen carefully as the family all spoke Spanish continuously with the odd English translation now & again as only my pen friend spoke any English. I did find that listening to it constantly started to make me think in Spanish which felt weird.

It did encourage me to keep going trying to learn Spanish which I've done on & off for the last 50 years but I still haven't mastered it. Main reason is I find other things to do so it's been more off than on. My accent isn't too bad but I think you have to live in a country to become reasonably fluent. I have no chance of that now!



In March I discovered I had to do two Italian tours this summer, I never get Spanish ones where I could have some practice! So I thought I'd have a go at learning a little bit of Italian. I bought some CDs, a dictionary & found a couple of websites. The CDs are by Michel Thomas & they are quite good, I keep them in the car & play them repeatedly. I still haven't got past lesson 10 as it's quite difficult when it's just spoken & you can't see the words.

This is where the websites come in useful. They are very good as they make you type answers in Italian as well as English and they have the phrases spoken in Italian for you. They seem to recognise where you make mistakes & keep repeating those bits for you. I did borrow an Italian grammar book from the library as I like to check things out. Another resource I used was Coffee Break Italian which has 15 minute weekly podcasts available on the radiolingua.com website. You can download them free or find them on iTunes.

Have to say I've found it quite difficult. I'm sure it's because of being older. I find I just can't memorise the words easily. I have to keep going over them again & again. However I'm not giving up!


I did try using a few expressions when I was in Desenzano, always said buongiorno, buonasera, grazie etc & asked for my room number in Italian. It was wasted really as they spoke such good English but I like to try. I've been trying to do a couple of sessions every day picking up some new words & going back doing some revisions. Have to say I'm really enjoying it which is a surprise. I just hope I can keep up with the sessions, I'm no linguist I know but at least I try.

Hopefully I'll be a bit more confident at speaking a little more when I get to the Italian Riviera at the end of September.

If anyone is interested the two websites I've been using are:

Www.duolingo.com

Www.memrise.com

They have a range of languages to choose from and they're free! There are premium versions of the sites but you don't have to buy into them.

Buona Fortuna!

19 comments:

  1. When I started senior school we were taught French and I absolutely LOVED it, got good marks too. However I was only at that school for 18months before we moved house to a little town where the local senior school didn't offer any languages at all - I was very disappointed. In 1990 we first went to Turkey for a family holiday and loved it so much we booked to go back the following year, actually we went to the same place for four years. Hubby and I decided for the second holiday we would learn to speak some Turkish so be bought tapes we could play in the car on the way to and from work, then used to test each other when we got home. We did quite well I think as the locals were quite impressed when we went on holiday. Of course we have forgotten it all now. LOL

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  2. Very brave. I am useless at languages but husband Alan is very good and is fluent in German and has quite a smattering of a number of other languages. Scrolling through and catching up with you Winnifred. Have missed visiting but life has just taken over recently. Hope you are well.

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  3. I was taught French in school, but that was the extent of my foreign language studies. I admire your determination !
    ~Jo

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    1. I never learned any French at school & I do love to listen to it. I had a try at French last year but swapped over when I realised I wasn't doing any French tours so wouldn't get a chance to practise it. Might go back to it next year.

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  4. We learnt Italian and French when I was in school. Italian seems to come naturally to me. I really love it. French is another story. I find the accent very difficult. In my early thirties I took Spanish lessons. I enjoyed them but I am not fluent at all.

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    Replies
    1. I'm finding Italian more difficult than Spanish. It's not the accent I'm OK with that it's all those different words for the. Spanish was bad enough with 4 words for the, masculine & feminine & then the 2 plurals. Italian has so many more, il, lo, l', la, i, gli & le! Why can't they just have one!

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  5. I think some people have a knack for languages. I find it hard to speak when I am in a foreign country because I am constantly having to think consciously what to say, and that would be difficult even in English!

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    1. I agree it's not easy for me either but I'm hoping it keeps my brain active.
      I've been doing a little every day for a month & sometimes now I translate the Italian question in my head & when I go to type it I start typing it back into Italian. Very weird! Maybe I'm starting to think in Italian.

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  6. Wonderful to learn another language. I use dolingo and find that works out rather well. love seeing your photos, they are very good!
    Xo
    Dagmar

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  7. I totally suck at foreign languages. Hated French when I was at school. Plus we never go anywhere where you need to learn a second language. Mind you I have trouble understanding the "native" folk in Carlisle Cumbria when we were there in January...LOL For those of you who do not know I was born in Carlisle.....but live in Canada now.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe they have a language website to learn Cumbrian Gill!

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  8. I admire you....and truly believe you are part genius! No foreign languages for me for sure lol

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  9. Oh it's more stupidity I'm sure. I don't have the talent for languages it is an uphill struggle but I do try.

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  10. I never took a second language while in school, except Latin. I wanted to be an RN and I heard Latin was one of the subjects you needed, believe me one year was enough, I had enough problems with English. LOL That was also the year I took Algebra and one year was enough of that. It's been pouring down rain all evening. Now we also have some thunder and lightening. Have a great week-end.

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  11. I am a language teacher and I know that each one of us have different learning styles and use different strategies, even subconsciously , for learning a foreign language. Mainly though , it is important that the learner has a real motive for learning the target language and of course practice is essential.
    The fact is , though, that there are people who learn languages very easily and others who struggle with not so good results and I'm talking about young people and children.I have noticed that people who have what we call 'a good ear for music' are good at pronunciation and speaking the language, in general ,but language acquisition remains still a mystery for science .Of course ,as we grow older the whole process becomes more difficult, but it is always a lovely adventure to learn something new !!
    Have a lovely week,
    Tina xxx

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  12. I made straight A's in high school Spanish. It was easy for me to agree to volunteer working summers with the migrant ministry because I could speak Spanish. What I learned was that I could speak Spanish but I could not speak "Mexican". Oh how the children laughed at my attempts to communicate. I would like to learn Chinese now.

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    Replies
    1. My you must be good at languages to be able to get those results. I do enjoy it but it is really hard work!

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  13. Have a great week-end. Hope you and family are all well. Thanks for your visits.

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  14. Even though it's not easy, maybe it's mentally stimulating.

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