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Language just for fun
Thread poster: Roni_S

Roni_S  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 14:11
Slovak to English
Aug 31, 2015

After sitting through my nephew's Spanish lesson (8 years old, using Rosetta Stone), I am now wondering if for non-professional purposes - and trust me, I don't mean learning a language for translation purposes in the future - if it wouldn't be something insane to learn for the future. I had 2 years of high school German (of which I remember phrases like "wohin geht Peter"), but I think that Spanish might be more to my liking. Do any of you learn languages just for fun? Or is it just too hard and useless at 50 years of age?

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:11
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Well, for fun... Aug 31, 2015

I wouldn't call it for fun. But I have been spending a lot of holidays in German speaking countries over the last few years and yes, it would be useful just to be able to get about, they don't always speak English. I have been learning a little. I am over 50, too.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:11
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
I found it fun Aug 31, 2015

englishpartner wrote:
Do any of you learn languages just for fun? Or is it just too hard and useless at 50 years of age?

I'm absolutely not a language geek, but I did a bit of Mandarin Chinese a few years back and found it a lot of fun to be studying a new human language for the first time in a couple of decades. It was challenging in some ways, but not in others. Overall it provided me with a pleasant "mental stretch" and I'm glad I did it. I was nowhere near 50 at the time but I don't think that would have made any difference.

Spanish seems to be considered the quintessential "easy to learn" language for anybody who has some background in Romance languages. From that perspective, it might be a nice idea. Given how widely spoken it is it's also probably quite useful, not professionally but just for travel and so on.

Regards
Dan


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:11
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes Aug 31, 2015

I guess I might be what Dan calls a 'language geek'. In addition to my working languages (French and Russian) I have taught myself German to a reasonable level and explored many other languages just for fun including Spanish, Chinese, Swedish and Klingon. It's an interest I inherited from my father who taught himself Greek because he likes going there on holiday.

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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
And here's a free plug for Rosetta Stone. Aug 31, 2015

I did some in-house consultancy work for them, and they told me that before I started, I had to use their products to start learning a new language. So I chose Greek, and found it extremely enjoyable. There's a real sense of excitement as you spot patterns and intuit things you know from other languages. It's not cheap, but it's worth it.

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Simone Catania  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:11
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Why not? Aug 31, 2015

I think language learning can be funny and entertaining as it involves not only grammar rules but also interesting cultural aspects. Age does not come into play; it is never too late to learn something new! If you think learning a new language, in your case Spanish, is a good way to employ your free time, just do it!

When I was working as Italian language assistant at the University in Germany I remember there were one man and one woman already on retirement attending a class I was working with. They were doing that just for fun, for their own interest and not for professional reasons.

The fact that people spend their time to learn a foreign language just for their own interest, it is a sign of how fascinating languages are!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:11
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Why not Esperanto? Aug 31, 2015

englishpartner wrote:
...but I think that Spanish might be more to my liking. Do any of you learn languages just for fun? Or is it just too hard and useless at 50 years of age?


Well, Japanese stops getting interesting after two or three hours practicing those squiggles (and they never look like they're supposed to, so you get wrist cramp for nothing). (-:

If you're thinking of learning a language for fun, why not do Esperanto? The nice thing about Esperanto is that most speakers of it are non-native speakers, so you'll be at less of a disadvantage once you can help yourself in it.


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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:11
Chinese to English
For travel/communication/interest Aug 31, 2015

I've been studying Uyghur off and on for the past five years, mostly because I've never been anywhere more beautiful than Xinjiang (in China) or met more interesting and lovely people than my Uyghur friends, and I want to be able to go back and communicate with them in their native tongue. I still have thoughts from time to time of going back to school for Central Asian Studies, and I'll occasionally daydream about becoming good enough where I can translate from Uyghur, so I guess the Uyghur study is not entirely without other cause, but mostly I just really like Xinjiang.

[Edited at 2015-08-31 23:40 GMT]


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Sonoko Enami  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:11
Member (2010)
English to Japanese
For travel and reading novels Sep 1, 2015

I started learning Spanish in 2013 when I was 58 just to memorize a few phrases I might conveniently use during my backpacking solo travel to Bolivia. I frequently shared funny moments with the locals when I just said a few basic words such as greetings and questions for directions Bolivian people took me to be somebody from some other Latin American country. I think it's because of my pronunciation (Japanese vowels are similar to Spanish ones) and my face (I look like an indigenous woman). The confusion only lasted a few seconds but it gave both of us at least a chuckle or grin, and all in all it made me feel good for some reason.

Probably because of that good feeling I continued my Spanish study after coming back. Then I gradually got interested in South American literature, which led me to reading "Cien años de soledad" in Spanish this year. It took me 3 months but what a joy it was to read the masterpiece, and a sense of accomplishment!

I don't think any age is too late to start learning a new language. What you might need is a little bit of motivation to keep it going.

Sonoko


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:41
English to Hindi
+ ...
My brush with French and Urdu Sep 1, 2015

I attempted to learn French twice and had to give it up on both occasions. The first attempt was made when I was relatively young (in my late twenties). I joined Alliance Francaise and enrolled for their starter course. I received their entry-level book, audio cassette and other resources and attended a few classes where a French-speaking Indian tutor was available to hand-hold us through the intricacies of this language. But I couldn't keep up and had to abandon the effort. The main reason was after a tiring 8 hour day at the office, I found it immensely strenuous to scooter up to Allaince Francasie, a distance of several kilometres, spent an hour or two at the class, come home and do the home work and other language learning chores.

The same thing happened the second time, thirty years later, recently. I wanted my young daughter to learn a foreign language so that she would be in an advantageous position later in life. The languages I took into consideration were German, Chinese and French. In the end my old failed attempt at learning French clinched matters in favour of French. I decided to make a second go along with my daughter at French. In any case I would be taking her to Alliance Francaise and bringing her back. The distance was too great for me to have dropped her there and collected her when her class was over - it would save me time to hang around nearby while her class got over. Instead of wasting time in this way, why not spend it more fruitfully in the French class and learn the language along with my daughter, I reasoned - the two of us could mutually help each other in learning French.

However, this too came a cropper, mainly for the same reason - lack of time and energy.

Learning a language demands a lot of time and if you are a fulltime freelance translator, much of your time will be taken up by your professional activities, leaving you with little time for anything else. Also, learning a new language as an adult is a daunting and difficult task for biological reasons - the brain as well as your vocal cord are wired for another language and they resist the imposition of a new language.

But I will admit, learning a new language is tantalizing for language professionals, and they will disregard better council and their own better judgement and will jump into the fray with alarming regularity.

I myself have learned nothing from my debacles with French and have active plans for learning Urdu - in which I am making progress in fits and starts.

[Edited at 2015-09-01 08:11 GMT]


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Whitney Maslak
United States
Local time: 06:11
German to English
I've been learning Russian Sep 1, 2015

..just for fun over the last few years. At first, I wanted to learn it so eventually I'd be able to translate from Russian to English, but now I just want to enjoy it and have fun with it. I have the first Rosetta Stone course for Russian and it was pretty fun (although for some reason the voice recognition never worked when I said the word for "bread". Just that one word, so annoying). I really think it's a beautiful-sounding language and I'm very interested in Russian culture, so it's been fun.

Another language I dream of learning is Icelandic. What an interesting language and culture. But unfortunately, right now I don't have time for that one. Maybe someday.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:11
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Italian Sep 1, 2015

Over the years I have dabbled in this and that, and with more or less of an effort can read five or six languages.

Ten days in Northern India earlier this year whetted my appetite for Hindi ... More pressing is a need to learn Italian - I have a new prospective daughter-in-law! She speaks English, of course, but her family are Italian. So this autumn I am going to start in earnest on Italian classes.

I hope it will not be a disaster - I hate not speaking a language well, and am tongue-tied when French acquaintances turn up - all I can think of is German! Like most Scandinavians, I speak my own favourite language (Danish) slowly and clearly or resort to English when with Swedes and Norwegians. We get by...

Luckily my husband is going to learn Italian too - although he would prefer Spanish... so he will force me to keep trying. I know I will never get to professional levels, but if I can follow what is going on and make an intelligent answer now and then, I will be quite happy.

Over fifty? So what!
My father was still complaining well past eighty that there was only one alphabet on his computer. Maybe he was not learning new languages, but he did try up into his seventies to pick up a little Danish, though he did not find the pronunciation easy. Serious lessons might have helped, instead of all my relatives helpfuly switching to English at the first hint of a problem!


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Aleksandar T.  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 14:11
Italian to Serbian
+ ...
I love learning languages Sep 1, 2015

Languages are my passion. In addition to my working languages (Italian, English and Spanish), I speak German and Portuguese.

Currently I’m studying Catalan and Galician and I would like to learn Basque one day.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:11
Hebrew to English
Me too (but Welsh even more) Sep 1, 2015

Whitney Maslak wrote:
Another language I dream of learning is Icelandic.


I'd quite like to learn that too, especially since Iceland is relatively close. However, I have a real desire to learn Welsh (I only live a few miles from the Welsh border).


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:11
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Be careful what you wish for! Sep 1, 2015

Ty Kendall wrote:
I'd quite like to learn that too, especially since Iceland is relatively close. However, I have a real desire to learn Welsh (I only live a few miles from the Welsh border).

I speak, to one degree or another, English, French, Japanese, Chinese and Welsh. I am not a native speaker of Welsh, although I did most of primary education through the medium of Welsh. I find it by far the most difficult of the languages I have encountered in terms of its grammatical idiosyncrasies and oddities like its very extensive system of mutation.

But it is a pleasant language to my ears, and it has a very long and proud heritage.

Dan


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