A Tip $$ for Learning a Second Language

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smart-money-saving.jpgLanguage (through speech) is by far one of the most effective and quickest way for humans to communicate to each other. It is faster than communicating through writing or body language. Yet we take language for granted, because we have grown up speaking at least one language from as young as age one and recognizing language by the fifth month of pregnancy. Language consists of about four levels (phonemes, morphemes, syntax, extralinguistic information) for it to be communicated effectively.

Being bilingual has both its pro and con. The con is that bilingual children have shown to have languages delayment in the syntax (grammatical order) area when compared with monolingual children. The pro is that bilingual children can communicate in two languages and are also aware of language structures and usages.

I grew up as a bilingual child, learning English in school and Hmong at home. Growing up I always struggled with grammatical errors in the English language. Eventually though I finally got the hang of it. Then at the age of twelve I started learning Thai by myself, by watching Thai dramas and music that had English subtitles. It took a few years before I could finally watch the dramas without and subtitles, but what really made learning Thai effective was its similarity with the Hmong language. The first step I took to learning Thai was just getting use to the sound of the language. Then paying close attention to the subtitles and looking for any one word or phrase I heard such as, "No, Where, What is your name?" etc. I would Imitate these words and phrases, until I could recite it from memory. Then I would look up each individual English word (from subtitle) in the Thai-English dictionary. If the English word yield a Thai word, and that Thai word sounded similar to what I heard, then I just learned a new vocab in Thai (I would also be on the look out of encountering these new words again in other Thai movies). Next I would listen to the phrase multiple times again (till it's no longer strange), now knowing all if not most of the words and trying figuring out exactly were that one word was placed in the sentence, at beginning, end, middle, etc and refer back to its English subtitle. This made learning the sentence patterns easier which made learning Thai easier and more effective more me. For example, in English we say, "What is your name?", in Hmong we say (word for word), "Your name is called how?", and in Thai, "You name what?" Both Hmong and Thai have the question particle "how" and "what" at the end whereas English has it at the beginning.


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This blog did a great job pointing out the challenges of learning a second language, but I also appreciated the helpful tips that were offered. My first language is English, but I have tried to learn Spanish over the past 8 years or so. I definitely see what this blog is saying about the grammatical confusion. I constantly find myself using English grammatical rules to try to piece together a Spanish sentence... it doesn't work very well. Good tip on the movies with subtitles. Maybe that's what I need to become fluent in Spanish!

I agree that being bilingual is a very good idea for someone looking to have a long successful career. People who can communicate in more than one language have a wider spectrum of people for business opportunities. These opportunities are the keys to distinguishing oneself from the pack and essentially enable people to move forward in life so therefore, being bilingual means moving farther in life.

I enjoyed reading your blog. My primary language is English, but I have been taking Spanish since I was in fourth grade. At the start, it was hard to learn because of the habits that I have formed when speaking English. It takes a while to get used to and it is hard to remember all of the rules that are different. One thing that I found was that it really helpful to just listen to people speaking Spanish and get a feel for their dialect and the way of things, this really sped up the learning process for me.

It's amazing that you taught yourself to learn another language by simply watching and listening, wow! I love learning different languages, even if it's just a phrase or word, so I will definitely have to use your style the next time I want to learn something new. What I find funny however, is that when I started learning Spanish, I found out that it made more sense to me than learning English!

It's so cool how you could teach yourself Thai! Especially after already knowing English and Hmong. Wow. That's impressive. But it is also cool that being bilingual made it easier for you to pick up on Thai quicker. I've heard that the more languages you learn, the easier it is to pick up on new ones - which is clearly supported by your personal story. Very neat.

Very interesting blog post. My best friend spoke spanish growing up and learned to speak english as he got older. But he knew english grammar better than spanish grammar so language is something that is very interesting to. I liked the article though and i thought you brought up a very interesting point.

I thought you did a really good job in writing this blog. It was a really interesting topic and I really liked that you brought in your own personal experience. It really kept my interest.

Your blogpost is very interesting. I really like how you utilize your own experiences in writing it. I just knew from you that being bilingual affaect grammatical ability. I guess it is good to know. I am aldo bilingual and that is probably why I am not very good at grammars.

Your experience about how to learn two language in your childhood and learn the third language by yourself is very interesting. Your story recall my own experience that learned the second language. It is always very hard, especially when it is not related with your first language. Watching drama is a good idea to practice the second language.

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This page contains a single entry by xion0559 published on March 4, 2012 10:30 PM.

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