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Learning another language

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Dick Whitman, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Like all of us, I took a few years of a foreign language in high school. I have retained none of it (French) and, truth be told, didn't take it very seriously. In today's economy and considering the changing demographics of the United States, I am seriously thinking about learning either Spanish or Chinese. Probably Spanish, as it is the most useful, but Chinese might be good to get out in front of. Plus, supply and demand would make it a pretty valuable skill.

    Anyway, wondering if we have any bilinguals here and how you went about it? Particularly people who took it on later in life. Once upon a time, when I covered baseball for a few seasons, I was determined to learn Spanish. But just as I had made up my mind, I left that beat, never to return.
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Ivate a la mierda!
  3. JonnyD

    JonnyD Member

    At your (presumed) age, it's going to take a ridiculous amount of work just to become conversational, let alone business levels, in a language you've had no real exposure to.

    You're going to have to do a ton of rather monotonous vocabulary memorization. Tons.

    Besides that, find as many native sources of material as you can, try to make it the background of your life. When you are on the internet, have a radio station or TV program in that language on in the background. Try to change the language settings on some programs you are familiar with to that language. If you can find a native speaker to practice with, do that as often as you can.
  4. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Spanish would be a lot easier, but if you're determined, I would aim for something else.

    Lots of people speak Spanish. It's not going to really make you stand out.

    I'd aim for Chinese (Mandarin), Arabic, or Russian. Trade with speakers of these languages continues to increase and there's a lack of US speakers. Your business opportunities will be greater as a speaker of any of them.

    You'll have to take it very seriously. You'll need to take classes & hear the language spoken.

    You need to get the pronunciation and tone down early, otherwise you'll screw it all up.

    And you'll want to get yourself around native speakers. A vacation or time spent in an immigrant community will help

    But, you'll also need a long term plan to use it, otherwise you'll lose it.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Don't forget the hot sauce chollo!
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    YF, that was what I was thinking. I like the challenge of learning one of those as well as the doors they could open to even have a basic conversational grasp of them. My only issue with Chinese or Arabic is the different dialects. It seems like Mandarin is most useful as far as Chinese goes, but Arabic seems to be even more fragmented. Hence the frequent difficulty finding translators and so forth.
  7. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    My girlfriend grew up in Taiwan speaking Mandarin.

    The way I would put it are that mandarin & Cantonese are languages. But their are many dialects.

    She can't really speak the local Taiwanese dialect anymore.

    But, I think with the internet and national media in China, there is a version of Mandarin that is universal and that would be understood by almost everyone.

    And, while there are many regional dialects/versions of Arabic, I would imagine that things like Al-Jazeera means the same thing for Arabic.

    You're not going to be looking to translate the note books of some Al-Queda operative writing in a local dialect.

    You're going to be looking to conduct business. That will be conducted in the main language.

    Everyone has to be able to speak/understand/write the main language so they can do business with each other.
  8. Iron_chet

    Iron_chet Well-Known Member

    Unless you will be in a situation where you can routinely use the language later any training you do in it will be lost.

    I am not sure on the usefulness of learning Arabic as most Arabs in business also speak English, I would think too that the opportunity to use it would be limited.

    I can see Mandarin however again, same issue, what settings will you be able to use it.

    I used to do a lot of business in Latin America so was looking to improve my Spanish language skills. I did a 2 week immersion course in Costa Rica that was fantastic. I learned a lot and was able to practice all the time, not real expensive either. I would think with Spanish being the 4th most spoken language in the world and the US becoming more Hispanic that this would be your best bet. There will always be lots of opportunities to practice as well.


  9. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Lonnie Ritter: Kids today are amazing. I played winter ball down in Venezuala, they had kids half his age, every one of them speaking Spanish. That's a hard language.
    Lou Collins: They speak Spanish in Venezuala.
    Lonnie Ritter: I know! That's my point!
  10. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I can't really answer your question about Mandarin. My girlfriend laughs at me when I try to pronounce simple words or phrases in language. I can't even pronounce her four letter last name to her liking.

    I think you're basically right, but I don't want to mislead you or come across as some expert that I'm not.

    I also have little to no proficiency for language.

    (I did find that I could ask and answer simple questions while in Spain, thanks to a grade school education, but in places like Russia, where the alphabet is different and the pronunciation is so different, I really struggled.)

    Kids do learn languages much more easily. My cousin was just in town visiting. he's American but has lived the last 20 years or so in Sweden. Hiss 9-year-old daughter was with him and she speaks perfect English. But, she never really had to "learn" it. He had always spoken English to her.
  11. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    We were watching Scooby Doo cartoons yesterday morning. She had seen them all before, dubbed into Swedish.

    I was joking with her about how they translated zoinks!

    My cousin said that once he immersed himself in it, Swedish was not that difficult to learn.
  12. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    Immersion is the key. When I was at DCA nearly half of the staff was either Spanish or Ethiopian speakers. Just being around them, I picked up some stuff. I think had I really been trying to learn, I would have picked up more.
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