How do people learn foreign languages

Reply Tue 2 Jul, 2013 01:16 am

I live in East Asia; I hope to know how Americans, Europeans, and Britons and the Japanese learn foreign languages. I understand such a question has been asked numerous times, so to be more specific:

1. In British, American, Northern European, German, French, Italian, Japanese etc. high school, what do students do in class to learn a foreign language? Do you, as one who has experienced such a thing, think these methods were useful?

2. For those whose major at university was language-related, what did you actually learn? Did you think the courses were useful?
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Reply Tue 2 Jul, 2013 09:20 am
Hello.I live in India.I don't have experience about these things but yes,I shall try to answer your questions because I read a lot of novels written by American/Europeans/Britons authors.

Ans1= The students first learn the alphabets,after that the words and how to make sentences, and finally,the grammar.

Reply Tue 2 Jul, 2013 09:54 am
Thank you~

For example, in India, for those non-native English speakers who are Indians, how do they learn conversational English? Have Indians much chance every day to talk to native English speakers?
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Reply Wed 3 Jul, 2013 02:41 am
For those language majors in foreign countries, is it a rampant problem that undergraduates skip class?
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Reply Wed 3 Jul, 2013 02:59 am
I taught myself to read the French language when i was 13 years old. By the time i was 15 years old, i could read French with almost as much facility as i could read English, my native language. However, i couldn't speak French at all, and much of the idiomatic usage of French was a mystery to me.

In schools, and especially in universities, foreign language learning is aided by what are known as language laboratories. One goes to such a place and listens to recordings of the language being spoken, and is expected to repeat what one hears. This is accompanied by a text from which the student can read, or a display on the screen of a computer, which the student would also read which listening and repeating what one hears.

I found reading plays to be of great value because authors tend to, or at least attempt to, display the language as it is spoken by native speakers. Their intended audience is the native speaker. Although sometimes (perhaps often?) stilted, the language used in plays is the spoken language, or a close approximation of the spoken language. One doesn't get voici la plume de ma tante in plays (that's a joke on how French is badly taught to native speakers of English).

In end, however, the way to learn a language effectively is to use it. I learned more about speaking French in a few years with African speakers of French than i did in any number of years of classroom study. Of course, it left me speaking an African idiom of French (for those friends of mine, French was their first European language--they were all native speakers of their respective tribal languages). I took the Foreign Service Institute test in the course of a study of language ability evaluation by the U. S. State Department. I scored very well--at that time, French was more my daily language that English was. However, in their evaluation of the tape recordings of my test interview, the staff at the Foreign Service Institution rather smugly stated that the "student" was an African. That didn't happen to be true.

Finally, using the language on a regular basis matters a great deal. I lived and worked with those Africans and took that test more than thirty years ago. I no longer use French in my every day life, and haven't done so for most of the last thirty years. I find that my ability to properly speak French, and to understand it when spoken has eroded a great deal. I still can read French with almost as much facility as i do English, as has been true for almost 50 years since i first set out to learn the language. Reading and writing are far different things than speaking and understanding.
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Reply Wed 3 Jul, 2013 08:11 pm
Thank you, Setan~ It's a very interesting account~

For language undergraduates in Europe, America, the UK etc. do they need to attend lectures and tutorials? If yes, need they take attendance?
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