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Old 7th June 2009, 04:55 PM   #1
Pam Tyler
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Post Any hints for learners of 2 languages?

Hello folks I am new to the site and would appreciate any advice any of you can offer. I have been in Nepal for the past 18 months and learning Nepali. Before coming here I learned Spanish at evening classes; GCSE and conversational. However, now I find that if I try to speak Spanish all that comes out is Nepali even though I find I can still read Spanish reasonably well. Are there any particular techniques that speakers of more than one foreign language use? For example, is it useful to try to make links between two foreign languages that you know? I have bought a Nepali to Spanish phrase book but I think its just confusing me. Thanks.
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Old 7th June 2009, 07:54 PM   #2
greytop
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Like many of us you are probably not thinking in the language you are speaking. Now you need an expert to help you do that
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Old 8th June 2009, 07:12 PM   #3
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I speak French and Spanish (bilingual in French & English since I was 5, and I started learning Spanish 2 years ago), and it might be because the languages are quite similar to begin with, and because I think in French as second-nature, but I confuse myself if I try to find links between the two languages.
I haven't really found anything that helps seperate the languages in my head, apart from practice in both on a regular basis, and trying to think in the language I'm speaking. No matter what, it'll take practice.
I can totally sympathize with your frustration in trying to speak one language and having another language come out, though.
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Old 8th June 2009, 07:52 PM   #4
DaveKotschessa
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I had this problem when I first started learning Spanish, becuase I had taken German in high school.

I think your brain will sort them out eventually. It just may take some time. What encouraged me was actually reading accounts of how to raise bilingual children, which you can find here:http://www.multilingualchildren.org/

I think this applies to adults learning multiple languages as well. Just substitute "you" for "your child" in the following paragraph. Emphasis mine.

[myth #4]

Quote:
Your child will only mix the languages together
Yes, some mixing will occur, but it is both harmless and temporary. As the child increases her vocabulary in each language, this phenomenon automatically disappears, just as a monolingual child will automatically fix mistakes after correct usage is learned. For example, children who are only learning English often begin by saying, "Me want" rather than "I want." Eventually, they learn what is correct. The same is true of multilingual children. Of course, the less you mix the languages yourself and the more consistent you are when speaking to your child, the less your child will mix.
I believe it's simply a matter of reaching for that "other" word and coming up with the one most readily available. If you are trying to speak Nepali, but don't know the Nepali word for "for" you might say "para" or "por." I think it just means you haven't quite filled in the gap yet. So you might "mix" languages in this way, but I think that's a little different than knowing both languages and just speaking the wrong one.

As your Nepali improves you'll probably do less mixing.

I don't know if this helps. I am working pretty hard on Spanish right now and my German is not interfering, but now the opposite happens if I try to speak german, becuase my spanish has surpassed it. Millions of people are able to speak multiple languages and I don't think there's anything special about them. I think it's just something that improves with time.

-DaveK
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Old 9th June 2009, 10:55 AM   #5
el chico perdido
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I know exactly how you feel!

Once, when in Madrid to do a Spanish course, I heard a french couple struggling to ask a waiter to warm food for their baby. As I speak french (or so I thought) I turned to them and said:

"Est-ce que je puedo vous ayudar"

It seems to me that a different part of the brain holds the first language and another holds anything else you might learn, with the result that confusion is inevitable!

Last edited by el chico perdido; 9th June 2009 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 9th June 2009, 09:30 PM   #6
cdowis
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duplicate

Last edited by cdowis; 10th June 2009 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 9th June 2009, 09:34 PM   #7
cdowis
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Sometimes I catch myself saying "ein" instead of "un". This will certainly go away when I get the sprachgefül, or the "patter" of the language.
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Old 11th June 2009, 03:39 PM   #8
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This is completely natural, I have it when I speak Dutch with family that I mix Spanish. It's simply because I speak more Spanish and get more Spanish input than Dutch. However, when I'm a few minutes into a conversation (doesn't matter if it's English or Dutch) I stop mixing things.

The main problem (like greytop said) is that you (probably) don't think in Spanish. To solve this I urge you to get massive amounts of input in Spanish. That means watching series in Spanish (without subtitles, or only Spanish subtitles), listening Spanish music, reading Spanish books, etc. In the end Spanish will sound so natural to you that you'll picking up things faster and will start thinking in Spanish.

Last edited by Ramses; 29th June 2009 at 08:46 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 12th June 2009, 03:54 PM   #9
Eugene
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Ramses is absolutely right - if you practice some kind of "immersion" technique for the new language (lots of reading, listening, memorizing), it will eventually take over the circuitry in your brain from the other "idioma".
...for all kinds of reasons, some things may be hard to shake off though. I have being studying French, English and Hebrew (in this sequence) for years, but only the latter is still able to pop-up in my mind in linguistically stressful situations, quite uncontrollably
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Old 26th June 2009, 05:36 PM   #10
ArielleRDJ1
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I agree with you guys...once I am speaking a certain language for a while in a conversation, the problem goes away somewhat. But this was REALLY difficult when I started learning Italian this year, and bits of my previous Spanish education kept popping up instead. Good luck!
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Old 11th July 2009, 03:31 AM   #11
Polvorones
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el chico perdido View Post
I know exactly how you feel!

Once, when in Madrid to do a Spanish course, I heard a french couple struggling to ask a waiter to warm food for their baby. As I speak french (or so I thought) I turned to them and said:

"Est-ce que je puedo vous ayudar"
!
haha.. Sorry but I can really empathize..!!

I have only been learning Spanish for about 6 weeks so a long road ahead of me.
Sofar I have learned (to varying levels of proficiency I might add.. ) English, German and French apart from my native language (Dutch).

In the beginning (and actually on occasion still especially if I am tired it seems) I kept messing up & mixing word order between French and Spanish. I had more or less banked on speaking French helping me out to learn Spanish but in fact sofar it has been as much help as it has been a stumbling block..

Instead of 'puedo ayudarte' for example I keep wanting to say 'puedo te ayudar' etc..

I am hoping this effect will wear off in time.. the other day when I was online on msn I had one conversation in French and another in Spanish simultaneously.. wow that almost felt like blowing a fuse in my brain...

So hopefully this will get better.. but honestly speaking English well (i.e. a relatively extensive knowledge of vocabulary) seems much more helpful wrt learning vocabulary in Spanish than French has been at least sofar.
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Old 11th July 2009, 02:38 PM   #12
Kralizec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polvorones View Post
Instead of 'puedo ayudarte' for example I keep wanting to say 'puedo te ayudar' etc..
Well, puédote ayudar is still technically correct... But that word order hasn't been used for centuries, so you would sound like a poet from the 16th century... Puédole ayudar, gentil caballero?
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Old 11th July 2009, 04:36 PM   #13
Polvorones
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kralizec View Post
Well, puédote ayudar is still technically correct... But that word order hasn't been used for centuries, so you would sound like a poet from the 16th century... Puédole ayudar, gentil caballero?
Haha..!!

So I guess I could always opt for being 'La Extranjera loca' impersonating a 16th century poet when I am there should I not master this in time..
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Old 23rd July 2009, 07:07 PM   #14
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I do find that my knowledge of french has helped me out so far in my quest to learn spanish. For example, today I learned about transportation. In both languages, autobus, avion, and camion mean the same thing.

Although I await the day I become too dependant on my french, only to become a crash course!
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Old 23rd July 2009, 07:26 PM   #15
MiCasaEsSuCasa
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I think the fact that I speak two languages helps when learning Spanish. I master both Swedish and English and they both aren't "that" different from Spanish. For example a lot of Swedish and English words are spelled (and often pronounced) nearly the same in Spanish, for example Train - Tåg (the Swedish word for train) - Tren and Study - Studera (the Swedish word for study) - Estudiar.

This might not have been on-topic but it was just a thought o.o

Last edited by MiCasaEsSuCasa; 23rd July 2009 at 07:42 PM.
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