Learning the language

Old Jun 20th, 2005, 05:16 PM
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Learning the language

Can anyone give me their opinion of the best (and easiest) way to learn a new language? I want to lean Italian but there are no classes near me. I've looked into the cd programs but there are many different ones out there. Can you give me feedback on those programs, or any other way you've found good?
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 05:18 PM
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I found Ultimate Italian-Living Language to be good, CDs plus book
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:27 PM
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..I found that the easiest way was a boy friend..quick, pleasant and inexpensive. Long term benifits in my case..a baby and a wonderful longterm relationship..not Italian but you cnat have everything!
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:30 PM
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I am very proud of myself. I taught myself Spanish without a teacher. (It did help that I took Italian in high school.) I bought a lot of note cards because at first there is a lot of memorization. (nouns are nouns) I got every book I could at the library; then I bought a few books and $10 software programs. I didn't want to spend too much money in case I didn't keep studying or I didn't like what I bought.

My philosophy was this: Every sentence has a noun and a verb. So learn nouns (rote memorization) and learn verbs. Once you throw in some adjectives and prepositions you really start to sound well.

I did not use a cd audio program. As a result I can read, speak, write but I can't hear very well.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:46 PM
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I started by taking an introduction to Italian night class offered by my local school system. This gave me the basics of pronunciation. Then I checked out Pimsleur's CD courses from my library, listening to them during my commute each day for a couple of months. By the time I visited Italy, I could carry on simple conversations, make sense of menus, give directions to cabdrivers, and buy tickets for the trains. I highly recommend the Pimsleur learning system; the sets are expensive, but try your library first.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:49 PM
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I have to say that for basic tourist conversation, you cannot do better than Pimsleur. I did all 90 of the Russian lessons before going to Russia in June 2004 and recently I did 60 of the Italian lessons before my trip to Sicily.

What you get is a basic survival vocabulary. I found I was able to understand some of what they were saying and I even told a couple of jokes in Italian during my stay. I do speak decent (but not totally fluent) French so that did help.

My next goal is to do all 90 of the Spanish ones before moving on to maybe Rosetta Stone and learning how to read and write Spanish (which I need for work).

A big deficiency of Pimsleur is that it is oral. It does not teach you how to read and write.

Now buying the CD's is not enough. You have to do the lessons seriously. I simply pop them in when I am in the car. Works for me!
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:57 PM
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<<I did not use a cd audio program. As a result I can read, speak, write but I can't hear very well.>>

Don't be too hard on yourself. Listening comprehension is always the hardest and last thing for a new learner to "master" (or even being close to some competency).

My advice to bashawik is... that no matter what audio aids you use... you MUST say it out loud - you have to get used to (and get over) how (bad you think) you sound.

And I submit that a personal "program" which you take seriously (30 minutes or more, five or mor etimes a week) is important - - use flash cards, fill out workbooks, measure your progress.

You can do it!

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 08:52 PM
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The way you learn depends on your objectives, namely, the level of fluency you want and the specific skills (reading, writing, speaking, or understanding) that you wish to emphasize.

If you just want polite phrases but not communication, phrase books or CDs are fine. If you want to be able to speak and understand, intensive total-immersion courses work well, but they are very expensive (Berlitz is good at this). If you want reading and writing skill, do-it-yourself books and CDs can be sufficient. If you want formal grammar and literature, a college class can be useful (but slow and not cheap).

You can learn phrases in a week or two if you just want to say hello and other polite things. At the other extreme, good functional fluency in a foreign language of the same family (i.e., a European language for a speaker of English) requires about two years of full-time study for well motivated students. The key factors in success are motivation and some degree of intelligence (at least average). Motivation is crucial.

In general, children are good at learning pronunciation quickly, but they take a long time to learn grammar. Adults learn grammar quickly, but they often have trouble with pronunciation. Anyone who already speaks a native language will also have intereference from that language to some extent.

If you are just going on a trip to Europe, intensive study of a language is probably not justified: you don't need it for the trip, and you can't acquire enough fluency for it to be really useful in the short time available prior to the trip. Learning polite phrases and some very basic language may help. Even then, if you are visiting multiple countries, it may not be possible to learn anything useful in time for the trip.

If you are planning a trip to Europe a year or more in advance, you might be able to acquire some useful ability on your own with language courses or with intensive training (don't bother with college classes, they are too slow). Being taught by a teacher goes much faster than learning on one's own, but you can achieve a good level of fluency entirely on your own with a good language course(s) if you have enough time and you are motivated.
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Old Jun 21st, 2005, 01:00 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions, you've been helpful. I already know useful phrases, now I want to lean the language to converse more fully with others. Keep your suggestions coming!
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Old Jun 21st, 2005, 01:41 PM
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I just bought the cd rom from Unforgettable Languages for learning Greek. It cost about $65 for the first two levels and it working really well for me. Greek is my husband's first language but I've been slow to pick it up and he's amazed at what I picked up over the weekend. If you go to there website they have a quick free sample of how their system works.
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Old Jun 21st, 2005, 03:37 PM
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The easiest way is immersion, go live in Italy and speak only Italian

Most of us are not fortunate enough to have the opportunity unfortunately, but I am pretty sure anyone who has done it will agree!
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Old Jun 21st, 2005, 03:39 PM
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Films in Italian are good to help develop your "ear".
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