Author Topic: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner  (Read 1801 times)

Uboa

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The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« on: December 01, 2009, 02:31:21 am »
I know of a few Compendiumites currently studying second or third languages, or even several languages at once.  For those who are on the lookout for language learning resources on the web, or even language partners, let this be the thread in which to find them and post about them.  It would also be helpful for people to give their accounts of self-teaching methods here, making note of what has been most and least effective for them.

For starters, it would make sense for posters here to specify which languages they are learning and whether or not they would be a willing language partner for anybody who wants to practice.  I was thinking that allowing open practice in this thread might not be a bad idea, but then I realized that trying to find resources amidst a sea of unintelligible conversation would probably not be the most ideal activity for anybody wanting to benefit from this thread.  So, no practicing here!  (Sorry.)

I suppose I'll give a brief introduction related to my own language learning ventures here:  I am currently studying Spanish through a number of online resources, and am trying to formulate a good self-teaching system.  Currently, I am trying to digest one article from an online Spanish newspaper every day.  I try to grasp the main points in the article and then read the article aloud, which is typically an entertaining experience.  I also idly listen to a number of mainstream Spanish news podcasts.  I'm not sure how much the latter is actually helping me, besides familiarizing myself with the sound of native Spanish.  I consistently add to my vocabulary list in "notepad" while reading the news in Spanish and making note of interesting new words which I translate through Google Translate, a really remarkable tool.  Every time I add to the list I review it by mentally composing about five or six sentences made up of many of the newer vocabulary words.  This is a very helpful activity.

I benefited greatly from the many Spanish classes offered in public schools in Texas.  I definitely would not recommend jumping into major foreign publications without basic knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, and conjugations which introductory foreign language courses provide.

I would be glad to practice Spanish with anybody, my only stipulation being that it happens through Livemocha.  If you want to friend me there, send me a PM here.

In my scouring of the web I've found several great language resources.  First I'll list those which are not specific to one language.

Livemocha - A website which offers amazing introductory courses for a number of languages, and facilitates connections with language partners.  I could go on and on about this website, but I'll spare everybody here and instead just say that it is highly recommended.

BBC Languages - This is a decent way to gain familiarity with a number of languages, although it does not offer the best free basic courses.  It does offer some unique "fill in the blank" exercises which utilize authentic news stories.  However, on a couple of occasions I've found that the audio files which are supposed to accompany these exercises are missing. 

Google Translate - Indispensable!

Now, for Spanish-specific links:

elmundo.es - This is a mainstream news site in Spanish which I've found very good for reading comprehension practice.  For news stories of interest to North Americans, in particular "noticias estadounidenses", check out the North America section.

News in Slow Spanish - A weekly news podcast in "slow Spanish", for intermediate learners who tend to miss too much in mainstream Spanish news podcasts to benefit from them.  I have to listen to one podcast many times over to "get it", so the fact that this is only updated weekly is not a problem for me.

BBC Mundo Podcast - A good mainstream Spanish news podcast.  Updated weekdays.

Democracy Now!  Lost Titulares De Hoy - The Spanish language version of my favorite podcast.

Chrono Traducciones - From the "News and Updates" section.  Thanks, Z!

FaustWolf

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2009, 02:55:38 am »
Awesome idea Uboa. I really need to start practicing my Spanish or else I've just completely wasted eight years of studying it. Whoa, that "Slow Spanish" could really do wonders for people just getting into the language, and sounds like a great way of easing oneself back into it as well.

For languages that use non-Roman characters, I highly recommend Rosetta Stone. It offers free web-based sample lessons to help you get a feel for just what it is you're getting into. They're fantastic exercises IMO.

A major minus for Rosetta Stone is that it doesn't take you through the non-Roman alphabet you kinda need to know for the new language, though 2006 was the last I used it, so maybe that's been taken care of. Or maybe I couldn't find that option since everything was in Modern Standard Arabic and I didn't have a clue what the heck I was doing. On the other hand, being forced to learn the alphabet through entire written words makes it stick with you, so it wasn't a bad thing by any stretch in the long run IMO. Just a lot more inefficient.

But if you wanted to learn, say, Japanese or Chinese, I could see a free Rosetta Stone test drive in those languages being a very useful element in the decisionmaking process.

I still want to learn Arabic down the road to get a better feel for Middle Eastern cultures (knowing the language would help in accessing websites, for example), but I've regrettably decided to put it on the back burner for the time being to focus on other things.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2009, 03:49:18 am by FaustWolf »

ZeaLitY

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2009, 02:57:32 am »
Great thread.

http://www.byki.com/ is also a free program worth checking out; to my knowledge, it doesn't install any adware or malware, but it is kind of limited unless you start shelling out money. It contains a few introductory vocabulary courses for several languages, although the person pronouncing Czech couldn't do the Ř correctly, so perhaps they're a bit suspect.

ŘŘŘŘŘŘŘŘŘŘŘŘ HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I LOVE THAT

Czech is so so so so so so so so cute it's like a knife of pure cuteness, sunshine, happiness, and love plunged deeeeep and full of rainbows  :oops:

FaustWolf

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2009, 03:05:32 am »
Oooh, Byki looks interesting, I think I'll take that for a spin.

We could probably start a thread on foreign/non-English music too, I'm curious as to what everyone would come up with. I love pop music in foreign languages, it's fantastic. And since the US is being accused of cultural imperialism, perhaps it would do us some good to eat up what non-English language artists dish out from time to time.

Uboa

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 03:44:12 am »
I'm relieved to see replies here so soon.  As soon as I posted this thread I feared that it might be doomed to immediate idleness, but it looks as though I was wrong.

Thank you for your input, Faust and Z.  I'll definitely be looking into the resources that you both posted.  Regarding music:  I don't see a problem with posting good foreign music here, since non-English music is commonly used as a tool for learning another language.  I understand how it would warrant its own thread, though.

I just remembered something fascinating I found today as I was looking for Spanish language podcasts: Radio Verda is a podcast recorded entirely in Esperanto!  At this point I cannot think of enough good reasons to learn Esperanto to want to give it a go, but I do find it fascinating that many people are so devoted to this constructed language. 

Ramsus

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2009, 04:07:54 am »
I had to spend a few years learning Korean for the military, and I learned enough French before that well enough to be considered proficient and make an extra bonus, so in a way, language learning is an essential part of what I do for a living.

One site I used for reviewing French was this one: http://www.euronews.net/

Every article and video is in all of the languages listed at the top. Just click another one to switch the current article to that language.

KebreI

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2009, 04:11:15 am »
Its not a course or a language learning program, but http://dict.leo.org/ (http://dict.leo.org/?lang=en for the English site) is my personal favorite place for German help. It is a fully stocked Dictionary, Grammatical guide, and simple phrase translator. The site requires some previous knowledge but it has still been I life saver to me and several other German as a second language people.

Shee

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2009, 04:21:16 am »
Stumbling through Italian right now.  Oi...not much for resources that I can honestly list, been going the Rosetta Stone route.  A gracious gift, I dig it if $$$ is an issue with it.  If you can afford it, I recommend it.  I think it's a great program.  I also suggest just reading through websites, publications, etc etc etc in the language in question.  For example, I frequent http://ansa.it/ and love it.  I stumble though the site, making the best out of it I can.  More often than not I do better than I thought I would.  A little stronger each time, that's what I'm going for.

Thought

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2009, 12:35:38 pm »
Lovely resources so far. I'm currently learning Latin, and will return to German, Greek, and Anglo-Saxon when I get a chance (which will be after learning French, but before learning Icelandic, which itself may be before or after learning Spanish). I'd love to learn some none-Indo-European languages, but that's so far in the future I have no idea if I'll ever get to do so.

For Icelandic, I have been pleased with the "Colloquial Icelandic" book/CDs/Cassettes. My opportunities for focusing on that have been few and far between, so I can't really definitively comment. But so far I like it.

For Latin, I highly recommend the book "Wheelock's Latin." If you've already learned a language or two in an instructor-setting, you'll probably be fine with a self-study (but maybe not if this is the first foreign language you are picking up).

Something that helped me with Latin and Anglo-Saxon was "real" translating experience. Wheelock's presents modified sentences from actual Latin works in chapter 1, and unmodified sentences started to appear shortly after. This made the experience much more memorable and exciting, than just translating the made-up sentences from my Greek and German classes.

To that end, I have found wikisource to be fairly useful. You'd be surprised what sorts of original texts they have up.

Truthordeal

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2009, 01:10:34 pm »
Luckily, I just had to do a research paper on the history of English, focusing mainly on the syntactic, morphological and phonetic changes between Old, Middle, Early-Modern and Modern English, and I found a really helpful site from the University of Calgary, where they pretty much offer a free online course on the grammar of Old English.

http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/engl401/

I, myself, have studied German for going on 4 years now, so I have some moderate success with that. In all honesty, with most modern languages there is very little change, so you can actually teach yourself with a textbook from the 1970's. I figured out that's how old my current German textbook is because it mentions the German Democratic Republic(East Germany) as well as the Soviet Union.

I also briefly attempted to learn Czech through livemocha about a year ago, and although livemocha is an awesome resource for learning foreign languages, Czech...meh. It's not a very pleasant language.

And, as any self-respecting weeaboo would tell you, I've picked up a few Japanese idioms from watching anime.

As for resources, I'd recommend livemocha, because of how community-based it is. You can actually get help from native speakers of the language. I've still been helping several people learn English over the last year or so since I attempted to learn Czech.

GenesisOne

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2009, 03:20:29 pm »

I'm hoping to learn Japanese (I only know basic sentences and the such) and I'm still picking up on my French.

I'd recommend Rosetta Stone if they didn't cost so freakin' much.  Those things are like a god-send to the person learning a new language who is lucky enough to afford it.

ZaichikArky

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 05:13:58 am »
I'm not really "learning" a language right now. The only way that makes me learn is to be in a classroom setting, interacting with the teacher and students. It's not effective for me to learn a language in any other way.

I have a very long history with learning Japanese. I became interested in Japanese after an exchange program when I was 15 and I got to go there for a month. I've been a pretty bad student, though, so I don't really know how to read Japanese, and while I can hold conversations pretty decently, all I wish is that I could use it more. I haven't used Japanese since I came back from Japan a year ago. Hopefully I find some way to talk to Japanese people...

Oh, and I also speak Russian, but as time goes on, I feel myself getting worse and worse. Some day after I'm finally done with school, I think I'll go back to taking night classes at community college for Russian or Japanese... or maybe both if I feel up to it.

I signed up for that Livemocha service. Unfortunately, the lessons they offer are far too rudimentary for me, but already 5 people friended me. Interesting. At least one of them is a girl. I'm hoping that someone Japanese will! Maybe I can talk to them on skype... that would be fun. I did that for a while a couple of years ago. I added a ton of people to my skype list who were from Japan and I just started talking to them XD. Maybe I should go back to that. I don't feel shy when doing something like that. I wonder what makes me so shy with making friends offline.

Lord J Esq

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2009, 08:49:17 am »
I am not very active in learning additional languages, although there was once an outstanding website packed full of Latin maxims and other sayings, which I used for many years to pepper my speech. By studying these sayings, I was able to pick up some bits and pieces of the structure of Latin, which is a remarkably simple language compared to English. That website is no longer online, but the Internet Archive still has it. As for a translation dictionary between Latin and English, this one is by far the best that I have found.

I took three years of Spanish in high school and had begun to develop a primitive conversational ability by the end of it, but I've barely used any Spanish since then and my skills have folded down to Teh Suck. However, I had my most fun learning that language during Spanish III, when the instructor, Mr. Sudlow, had us read Spanish documents. I particularly enjoyed reading the Popol Vuh, and would recommend it as an appetite-whetter for those of you studying Spanish. I don't know how instructive it would be relative to other Spanish-language writings, but it really did a lot to capture my interest, and, as we all know, interest is half the battle.

Uboa

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2010, 12:59:45 am »
This topic has not been active for 120 days!  Wow.  I suppose that means I should drop in and make a note of more resources that I've found since my last posts here.  

I've finally commenced my long awaited study of Welsh with a rather inexpensive book and CD set.  I happened to have a $25 Amazon gift card, so I decided that I would use it to order the Welsh edition of the Teach Yourself series.  For a $20 investment, this set is amazingly extensive and thorough.  I'm not sure what the other Teach Yourself sets are like, but for the content to dollar ratio alone I can recommend them.  Once you learn your way around the books you can make your way through the lessons at a pretty rewarding rate.  

For those who have little or even no exposure to linguistics and want a more comprehensive view of language in general, I recommend picking up a copy of The Language Construction Kit.  Or, head over to the website for a free but more limited (yet still very impressive) overview of the subject.  While TLCK addresses the concerns of people who are interested in creating languages, it also provides a very entertaining context in which to explore the innumerable possibilities of human (and even alien!) communication.  It very well may change and challenge the way you think about any languages you are currently learning.  The chapter on phonology has so far been the most helpful aid to my sometimes struggling articulation of Spanish words and phrases.

Speaking of which, for those learning Spanish I found a really neat page which deals with uncommon vocabulary words, idioms, sayings, and even jokes.  Every week day, Spanish Word-a-Day reviews one vocabulary word along with a couple other linguistic novelties.  I find myself repeating some of the idioms over and over because they amuse me that much.  Estoy en la danza hoy.  (I say that one a lot!)  Hooray for Spanish Word-a-Day!

Finally, one of my co-workers informed me that a great way to become more immersed in a language without getting overwhelmed is to read some of your favorite books from elementary school in the language you are studying.  You'd be surprised at the variety of young adult foreign language books available on Amazon.  If you are able to find the foreign audio version of the book as well, then you are really set!  I've yet to try this, but I likely will in the near future.

FaustWolf

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Re: The Compendium Language Learners' Corner
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2010, 01:33:33 am »
Thanks for that Spanish site Uboa! Hah, I had to laugh at...

Quote
'quince' - fifteen   [KEEN-theh]

Been doing it wrong all this time... :picardno Depending on which country/region one lives in, of course.  :D