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retaining knowledge of a language
Thread poster: silver_galaxy
silver_galaxy
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Apr 7, 2008

hello -

I am a new prozian. I've been learning Vietnamese, English, and Spanish for many years. I find the process quite fun and also very challenging. I try to keep my language skills "sharp" by reading books and watching films in those languages and of course, speaking whenever possible. Still, it gets difficult sometimes, and I start wondering if I'll ever get really good. Anyhow, I'd be glad to hear what fellow prozians have to say about their experiences learning/keeping up with a language (or several as many here seem to do).

Ngan


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 20:29
English to Russian
+ ...
Speaking the language whenever possible Apr 7, 2008

Ngan,

You are on the wright track - except that, when you say "speaking the language whenever possible", please understand that it depends on you whether and when it's possible.

Do not wait for the speaker of the language you want to practice to fall from the sky in front of you. Don't wait for the opportunities - create them!

Unfortunately, your profile does not say where you live, so I cannot be more specific about how and where to find native speakers. But, unless you live in a really remote part of the world - they can be found. Churches, universities, restaurants - the possibilities are endless.

Internet is a great resource, too. Participate in on-line forums in these languages! You can do it on ProZ, or on the other websites (there are plenty of forums in English and Spanish; I don't know about Vietnamese, as I do not speak it). I made Spanish-speaking friends thanks to my participation in forums, and now I correspond with Spanish-speakers all over the globe.

Good luck,

Alexandra


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Taylor Kirk  Identity Verified

Local time: 21:29
Portuguese to English
+ ...
For Spanish and English... Apr 8, 2008

...living in Texas works pretty well.

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kjmcguire
Netherlands
Local time: 05:29
Chinese to English
Immersion is the key Apr 8, 2008

Living in the country where your language is spoken is certainly the best way to maintain and improve your language skills but not everyone has this luxury. So try and immerse yourself in your language(s) as much as possible.

Here are a few good immersion tips :

- Listen to online radio at work or home. Podcasts are also a good option, especially if you need to commute to work.

- Watch as many films or television programmes in your languages as possible (with or without subtitles, depending on your level of proficiency).

- Read a lot. It helps to keep your reading material as varied as possible in order to boost your vocabulary as well as learn more about the various registers used. Newspapers, childrens' books and easy readers are a good start. Wikipedia is also a good source and you should be able to find interesting articles to read in any of the languages you're learning.

- Participate in online forums or keep a blog. These are great ways to improve your writing skills and you can always ask native speakers to correct your mistakes.

- Use Skype and/or instant messengers to chat with native speakers. This is really helpful if you can't find native speakers in your neighbourhood.


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silver_galaxy
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes yes Apr 10, 2008

These are all very excellent and practical ideas. Thanks for sharing! At one point, I also tried writing down new words and memorizing them. Unfortunately, the older I get the more resistant my brain has gotten towards crude memorization drills.

Happy learning,

Ngan


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gregomck23
Canada
Local time: 23:29
French to English
+ ...
Foreign exchange students Apr 10, 2008

How about hosting a foreign exchange student? Or if you do not want someone living with you, go to the nearest university, ask at the foreign student office if they know of foreign students who are looking for language exchange. Maybe you could post something on a bulletin board.

Go to ethnic restaurants and speak with the staff. I know that may sound weird, but my father always does that to find new communication partners who speak Spanish. You could do it for all your languages, no?

[Modifié le 2008-04-10 23:15]


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 20:29
English to Russian
+ ...
Our brains are not designed to memorize words out of context Apr 11, 2008

silver_galaxy wrote:

These are all very excellent and practical ideas. Thanks for sharing! At one point, I also tried writing down new words and memorizing them. Unfortunately, the older I get the more resistant my brain has gotten towards crude memorization drills.

Happy learning,

Ngan


Our brains are not designed to memorize lists of words out of context! Yet, you need to expand your vocabulary. So, what do you do?

This is my solution: I read a book in a language I am trying to improve (for now, I'm working on Spanish), and whenever I come across a word I don't know, I look it up in the dictionary. Then, I underline it lightly with a pencil and note the page number.

After a while, I have a book fool of words I want to memorize - all in context. So I go from page to page, concentrate on the words for a while, making up sentences with them. This way words are stuck in my mind forever - which has never been the case with simple lists of words.


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Jessie Linardi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
keep it up Apr 13, 2008

It is very important to make the effort yourself, like you are already doing by watching films and reading and things. Try to get your hands on an assortment of materials that cover a wide range of subjects... magazines are always good as there is such a variety and they'll improve your vocabulary immensely. If you can find a "language exchange" partner, even better. I try to do all of this when I am back home.

Also, if you are watching a film or reading a book and you come across some construction or phrase that you are uncertain about (related to grammar, meaning, etc), don't just skip it... "unravel" it in your head or look it up. You'll be surprised by how much you will learn... I never knew how to use the subjunctive until I analysed every phrase I saw it in!

I know many English teachers here in Spain (their native language being Spanish) who neglect to put in the effort and improve their level, and subsequently they have a very low level of English despite it being the very subject that they teach! Even if the language(s) you are learning are not related to your profession, don't let this happen to you!


[Edited at 2008-04-13 19:25]


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