The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Gymfan15 » May 30, 2017 6:10 pm

It's hard for me to say what materials have been most helpful in my core Chinese learning because I've had private tutors and a lot of them made their own lessons, but I can tell you what standardized materials I have used and what I thought:

Practical Audio-Visual Chinese: This is a series of textbooks that is extremely popular among Chinese learners; I think it's the most common language learning resource here. It's a textbook with a DVD attached with video demonstrations of the dialogues, but you can actually find those videos online. Personally I haven't found the book that helpful but I think if you were learning Chinese on your own and needed dialogue examples, it would be useful. I guess it's popular for a reason? ;)

Memrise: This is a flashcard website that is used for language learning (I'm sure a lot of you know about it) and I've recently started using it for Chinese's been SUPER helpful. I've been going through the TOCFL Vocab banks (TOCFL is the name of the proficiency test I took a few weeks ago) and it was invaluable in helping me read and recognize more characters. Nice mix of listening, reading and definitions.

HelloChinese: iOS app that I LOVE. It's free and I like it because it teaches you a lot of grammar and sentences as well as vocab. More like a "game" but it has been extremely helpful for me. You can do it with pinyin or without, if you really want to practice your reading more.

StickyStudy: iOS flashcard app that I bought because of the TOCFL vocab word banks; it's really just a basic flashcard app but it had the Chinese already plugged in and it has a nice format. Good if you want to just drill vocab.

Pleco: This is a Chinese dictionary app that is SUPER helpful if you need to look up words on the go. Probably not the best for non-immersion learning but helpful if you are out and about and you see some Chinese on a sign that you want to translate. This is probably my most-used app but again I live in Taiwan so I'm actually having to look up words on a frequent basis to use. :p

Helpful tip; add the Chinese handwriting keyboard to your phone! I can't write at ALL but it's really helpful for when I see a character and want to translate it but I can't remember the word. I'll just copy the character on my phone and viola! Translation. Google Translate will also translate characters by pointing your phone's camera at it but that's cheating sometimes. ;)

For Youtube channels, I like ChinesePod ( and Learn Chinese Now ( ... txa7kkAH5Q).
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Varnafinde » Jun 01, 2017 3:55 pm

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:
Varnafinde wrote:Some linguists say that Swedish, Norwegian and Danish aren't really separate languages. If we went by the language definitions we use elsewhere in the world, they would be seen as dialects of one language.

Oooh. That sounds like a three-for-one deal to me. :D Among those three languages, is there one that seems like more of a middle point than the others, or are they all equally different? (Trying to figure out which one would offer me the most of an edge over the other remaining two, should I decide to learn one at some point!)

Norwegian would be the middle language there. Both Swedes and Danes tend to understand Norwegian better than the third language. Norway is geographically in the middle, too - this may be some of the reason.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby hmj97 » Jun 04, 2017 2:52 pm

what resources are you using to learn Chinese, hmj97?

I've only ever used Duolingo and Memrise for languages. I'm surprised there's no Chinese course on Duolingo yet, but there's quite a few on Memrise. I'll have to give some of those language-specific apps a try!
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jun 04, 2017 5:55 pm

Varnafinde wrote:Norwegian would be the middle language there. Both Swedes and Danes tend to understand Norwegian better than the third language. Norway is geographically in the middle, too - this may be some of the reason.

I'd love to be able to hear Norwegian and Danish spoken, as distinct from just reading it. :) I'd like to work out for myself just how close both Norwegian and Danish are to English, especially how it is spoken, say, in America, Scotland or Yorkshire. There are basically two main varieties of the many variations of English pronunciation and usage world-wide, and Northern England, especially around Yorkshire, Scotland, Ireland and North American English, as a whole, tends to be rhotic (a Greek-based term for heavy pronunciation of "R" sounds), as opposed to the non-rhotic English that is often spoken elsewhere. If I was on a podcast you would hear the difference, I am sure of it. :D

Where I worked we once had a truck manual for Volvo trucks in Swedish, which had to be updated every so often - in Swedish. And it was a nightmare thing to do given that nobody understood any Swedish. Very likely, it is the least like English of any Scandinavian (Nordic) language. Also, the diacritics can be somewhat offputting. I think these are the sorts of things I've been seeing: ð, å, Ǿ. Apart from the dot on the top of an i we don't have any diacritics in English.

But unfortunately there isn't much demand for either books or CD's here, for any Scandinavian country when I visit our big bookstores. We can get these so-called "earworms" musical brain trainers in popular languages to learn which include French, German, Japanese and maybe Chinese, but not any of the Scandinavian languages. Nor some of the languages commonly spoken here, in particular, Vietnamese. /:)
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jul 29, 2017 9:11 pm

*revives thread she has so woefully neglected*

Lady Arwen wrote:One of my coworkers taught herself Korean, and is now largely fluent. If you're looking at learning that, Rosie, I can bug her and see if she can resource share--although she did start learning about ten years ago, so some of her sources might be outdated.

Ooh, I may ask you to do that! It looks like Duolingo is finally getting their act together and has a projected launch date for the Korean course in beta (or should I say βήτα? :P) in the middle of next month, but if they postpone it yet again, I may poke you about poking your friend. ;))

Lady Arwen wrote:One of the things I find fascinating about Greek is that, unlike most other languages, it is both a parent language to so many other languages, and a living language. So many other languages fall into one category or the other, but Greek is just hanging out, chilling with both crowds. I suppose nowadays you could say the same about Hebrew, but that one took quite a lot of work to revive, and I don't think it has had as much of an impact on the development of other languages as Greek has.

That's a great point! A lot of the time I feel sort of like I'm time traveling when I'm studying Greek, or participating in ancient history somehow. It's a very cool feeling.

(Duolingo also has a Hebrew course.... :D Not sure when I might get started on that since Korean and Russian are next on the list, but I'd love to learn to at least read a bit of Hebrew at some point.)

Thank you so much for that breakdown on the resources you used during your journey with learning Chinese, Gymmie! :ymapplause: Especially the apps and the YouTube channels. Speaking of YouTube channels, I've been enjoying Wikitongues. It's really neat to listen to the different native speakers, especially for some of the more obscure/dying languages.

In other lingiustic news, I hit the 250th day of my Greek streak on Duolingo today, though not without the help of a lot of Streak Freezes. ;)) I'm through about 60% of the modules, and I'm hoping to have finished all of them by the one year mark of beginning the course. (That'll be on October 17th, I think.) Just completing all of the quizzes shouldn't be that difficult to do, but it becomes harder if I'm actually trying to retain some of what I'm learning and not just get through the quizzes as quick as I can. :P I don't really want to move on to other languages until I have a firm grasp of Greek, after all.

I've found that regularly doing the "strengthen skills" quiz helps a lot with retention of what I've learned... I sort of swing back and forth between intensively studying a new quiz set and doing a bunch of the all-around skill strengthening quizzes found on the course's homepage. Plus, the variety you get with doing the all-around quiz helps keep my brain from getting bored. ;))

One of my favorite Greek words that I've learned recently is παραμύθι, or paramýthi. It means fairy tale. :D
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby shastastwin » Jul 31, 2017 6:04 am

Rose's post reminded me that I downloaded Duolingo a while back, but never used it. Inspired, I redownloaded it and then started learning Welsh (and refreshing my Spanish). We'll see how this goes.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby SummerSnow » Aug 06, 2017 2:19 pm

I like a lot of different languages. Unfortunately, I seem to like learning them a little less.
Right now, I'm trying to learn Spanish. I learned it in school and thus, it seems like a natural thing to pursue, since I already have started. Unfortunately, I don't find that I love the language, and beyond the fact that it would be practical to know, I'm having a hard time finding a reason to learn it.
I also studied Swedish in school, but I had no particular desire to learn it. I'm debating whether I ought to try learning it now. It's pretty much in the same boat as Spanish. I already know a bit, and it would be neat to know it, but I don't have a particular desire to learn it.

So, beyond that, there's Czech. It's a language that it was never convenient to learn, but I've been thinking about picking it up. I admit I was going to wait until it came to Duolingo (because it's very simple to start out at), but it just keeps on getting pushed back. I have Mango Languages through my school, though. I'm not the hugest fan of it (it is very repetitive, which is good for language learning....but sometimes a bit boring), but it has so many languages. Czech being one of them, and I just had to try it out. I haven't really done much. I'm still debating whether I want to try to focus on that or not.

I'm really interested in Japanese. Unfortunately, I've struggled to pronounce the most basic of words, so it's a bit up in the air right now. To be quite honest, pronunciation is one of the things I most struggle with though, regardless of the language, so I'm not sure why I'm so nervous about that. =P

I've dabbled in various other languages, and I'm definitely interested in many more, but those ones are the main ones I've been thinking about lately.
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Re: The Gift of Gab: All About Languages!

Postby Lady Arwen » Aug 09, 2017 6:18 pm

I just recently discovered that Duolingo lets you bet on your streaks with lingots, and I've become much more serious about logging in every day. ;)) I guess it helps that I really like winning. :P Also, if anyone is interested in being "friends" on the site, my handle is RiverWrenSong.

I hadn't noticed the Hebrew course on Duolingo before, Rose, but I may consider checking it out. It would be nice to start differentiating between Yiddish and Hebrew :P Otherwise, I've always thought Hebrew to be a beautiful language, mainly because it moves from right to left, and how cool is that for those of us who struggled through not smearing pencil led for our teachers in grade school???

I'm also curious how Duolingo chooses what languages to develop next. While I'm not surprised to see "made up" languages on the list at all (but not one type of Elvish! tsk tsk), I am a bit surprised to see a lack of "major" languages like Chinese, Arabic, and Hindi (although they're now developing Hindi, so maybe the other two will show up soon).

Summer, I hope you find one you're passionate about soon! It never hurts to work on a language through more than one program, too, so even if Mango might be annoying, it might not hurt using it. Still, with languages, if you can't find a reason to do it regularly, it becomes a bit useless, so best of luck on that one. :)
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