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Chat in foreign languages or discuss language-learning.
I found this great video by Steve Kaufmann about what to do when you get frustrated learning a language. He also talks about being invited to judge a Miss Chinese Canada beauty contest!
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwOLj8-k ... ature=plcp[/youtube]
Mr. Kaufmann is Canadian and speaks about a dozen languages, including Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese. He also has a Chinese wife.
A lot of you guys get psyched out about learning languages, but ANYBODY can learn at least an easy language like Spanish if he just puts in the time and studies things that he enjoys. Even seemingly impossible languages like Hungarian seem much easier after a few years of study.
American culture pussifies people, isolates them, and makes them afraid of learning languages. People in the rest of the world learn languages all the time. It's the nature of our human brain to learn languages. So have confidence in your grey matter and go for it!
There is an easy solution.
I'm learning Chinese quite well with the Rosetta Stone software. You guys should try it out. Learning languages with it is not only easy, but effortless too. You don't have to try to memorize anything. It all comes natural with the pictures. Try it and you'll see what I mean. It's easier than you can imagine. You learn it the way a child does, by connecting simple words and images and building up on that. It's that easy and natural. There's no raw memorization involved (which I can't do). That's the beauty of it.
I promise you, if you try this program out, there will be no more language learning frustration.
You can get it on Amazon.com. But if you can't afford it, then just download it off PirateBay.org. You will need to install the basic program, and then mount the ISO as a virtual drive using a free program such as "Power ISO" which you can download for free on their website.
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"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne
Get some 3x5 cards (or scrap paper) and write one Chinese character per card with pronunciation on the side. Then make an effort to learn one Chinese character every day from M-F. Look at it in the morning, learn the brush strokes, and spend a few minuets to write it 20 times on the card. If you have time throughout the day, just take the card out and write it 20 times again. On Saturday, review the 5 new characters you've learned M-F. Sunday is "holiday".
Start with something simple with fewer strokes, like numbers in Chinese characters (一二三四五). Do this for a few weeks, and when you're really comfortable with it, add another character to your daily learning schedule. If and when you reach the higher stroke count characters, you may want to see if there's a simplified character version used in China. If you plan to travel between China-HK-TW, it's a good idea to learn both.
Do not assume street signs to have pinyin, or if the pinyin make any sense at all.
It is not easy to learn any language. Here is an article about how to learn Chinese by yourself: http://www.masterchinese.com/how-to-lea ... -1853.html
I agree with the Pimsleur recommendation. I have been using that myself. I ripped the files to MP3 and use them on my Ipod at the gym. At home I have the files on my PC which I blast through my surround sound when I am solo and practice the phrases out loud. On my laptop I also have the files in completion and use my wireless head phones to review the lessons while reading..etc Pimsleur is very natural as the speech and phrases naturally progress and are NOT abstract and disconnected. There is also an underlying PUA about the whole program since you are always "That American Man sitting next to "Insert foreign woman/language" and the whole goal progresses from saying hello to asking her is she would like to eat and eventually having a drink "at your place" bei mir (german) or her place (bei Ihnen)..so the program has long term merit for single men going the happier abroad route.
I also have Rosetta Stone. However, some of it seems abstract as you are seeing people in the images do daily activities yet the whole overall lesson concept seems disconnected (eat/drink, driving running walking, professions, colors numbers) - All relevant but much less interesting. Although the immediate visual reference is extremely helpful in terms of memorization. However, the Pimsleur angle of talking to a female immediately and the overall lesson plan centering on THAT scenario does wonders for your motivation and memory alone.
I think it all depends on your own personal learning style. Personally, I related a lot better to Pimsleur's method to get up to speed on the basic grammatical structures of a language and use them in real time speech. Once you master the key structures and patterns, then Rosseta Stone or many other courses are probably good for vocab acquisition which is a long term endeavor. But some people probably related better to the visual style of learning you get with Rosetta Stone. Depends on how your brain is wired.
This may be a bit off topic but...
I've been thinking about learning a new language right now I only speak English and know small amounts of Spanish and French (which are useless to me. The sooner I forget it the better).
I find most Asian languages difficult because they are tonal. I was reading a discussion on another forum where someone asked what the most useful language was in Asia the most common answer was English. The idea was the "average Asian" knows more English than they do other Asian languages.
That being said... I have narrowed my choices down to Cantonese and Thai. I have no real desire to visit mainland China, but Hong Kong and Thailand are a different story. Have any of you been to Hong Kong? Do people there speak Mandarin at all?
These days, I find a lot of people are able to speak passable or better Mandarin in HK for speaking to mainlanders from provinces other than Guangdong. But as you know, Canto is what they normally use. Thing is, its a very tough dialect/language to learn for an Anglo adult. I think it has 9 tones and many sounds which don't have close equivalents in English. Its much easier o get a basic command of Mandarin since it has just 4 straightforward tones and almost all its sounds have fairly close equivalents in English. Learning Canto to a practical level is extremely difficult so don't bother unless you are willing to put in some hard work and long hours.
I also think Thai is tough. I would rate it as more difficult than Mandarin but easier than Canto. I think it has 5 tones and they are less straightforward than those in Mandarin. Thai has an alphabet but I find it to be kind of complicated with the way it treats vowels and tones. If you just wanna go for speaking, I think Mandarin is the easiest. If you include reading and writing, I'm not sure.
I've been told that Korean is one of the easier Asian languages to learn by some Americans. The Korean alphabet only consists of six vowels and fourteen consonants. It's not as crazy or complicated like the Chinese or Japanese alphabet. Learning to speak the language is a bit tougher though, but it is easier to pick up than other Asian languages in my opinion.
When you're at the intermediate level, I also think it's great if you can find a news website which has both the audio/video along with a transcript. http://www.radio.cz/cz is like that for Czech. Hungarian news sites generally don't have transcripts.
I see... I guess I will give Thai a go since have "Pimsleur Thai" and plan on spending a few months there this spring. I think a guide/translator will be in order for a stop in Hong Kong.
Have any of you seen this site? http://www.learnthaiphuket.com/ I was thinking about giving it a go for lessons over skype before I leave the states.
The British example of dealing with such frustration is simple: nasally bark at people in English and never learn even a word of a foreign language. Create around one an English speaking environment. They do quite well actually, with the natives tiptoeing behind them and them behaving like colonial masters ( even when they are on a tourist visa) . They do not seem to suffer in the least from not knowing another language no matter where they live. British guys get jobs, wives, oodles of friends with not a care in the world.
And most Americans whom I have known are the same- and they get everything they need including lots of respect from the natives. Pretty girls, nice jobs, cars, good houses. Sometimes I think I have been wasting my time learning all these convoluted tongues. They got me neither respect, nor money, nor a girl. Should have stuck with just English. And concentrated on making money instead.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
When I lived in Thailand I really wanted to learn Thai but I never put the effort in. I think it would have been very worthwhile if I was going to stay there permanently but I only stayed less than a year. I may be going to Taiwan in the long term so I might look into learning Chinese. I have no patience for learning languages though. Memorising vocabulary is so boring.
And Ladislav, you know English is superior, why resist!