I've been struggling with foreign languages my whole life, and I'm running out of time...
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:17 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 52

TheMarchingMule

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Posts
9,158
Likes
21
Location
SoCal
WARNING: Long story ahead, but I tried to keep it as brief as possible.

Hey everybody, this is the tail-end of my first week of college (my sophomore year), and I can deal with all my stressful classes, except for my new foreign language class, Japanese. As Gob Bluth of Arrested Development said: "I've made a huge mistake."

Ever since high school I've struggled with Spanish (maybe you can already see one of the problems here); I even repeated the second level Spanish, and after I passed the minimum requirement of a Foreign Language my Junior year, I was done with it. Not just Spanish, but any foreign language in general. Boy was I wrong.

Now in college, I need to take at least three semesters of a foreign language (not consecutively, thanks goodness) to graduate. So, progressing class levels, like 101/102/201. Can't jump around doing three classes of three different languages and call it a day. I struggled enough in Spanish 101, and had to get a tutor to help me through it. And when Spanish 201 came around, within a week I knew I wouldn't survive; the teacher spoke only Spanish. So I quit that class and told my parents I'd take Japanese the first semester of my sophomore year. I figured that it would be so foreign, that I would have a totally different thought process and outlook on it, and it wouldn't interrupt my English-side of thinking.

Well, it's been a week and three classes later, and from what I've done, I'm the slowest and most confused person in the classroom of 30 people. I tend to speak Spanish when the teacher talks to me, and when I stop myself from doing so, I need to wait another few seconds to push the Spanish thoughts aside and get to the Japanese, which is already jumbled in my mind. It's a horrible feeling when you're put on the spot, and everybody is either staring at you, or whispering the answer to you.

So now, I'm struck with the familiar realization that I'm wasting time and money (textbooks), and I'd hate to annoy my parents further with "Well, I think I'm going back to Spanish now..." But at this rate I see no choice. I've carved enough of a rut with all my Spanish years that it'd be hopeless for me to try and forget the language and forge a new path. Also, the fact that I'm in Southern California would probably make learning Spanish more sense than any other foreign language.

My college offers: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. I was just talking to a friend, and he recommended I try German, because from what he's read and seen, "It has pretty much no exceptions to rules and is very logical. And is pretty similar to English." My only real exposure to German stuff is related to either World War II documentaries, or watching Indiana Jones movies, so I'm not sure how accurate my friend's claims are.

(A side note is that I think my passive stubbornness to not want to learn a foreign language is because I taught myself how to read English, and I'm always wanting to expand my vocabulary, and don't want to fragment my language knowledge. I never had to use another language when talking to anybody, and although I'm sure it would come in handy a few times down the road of life, so far I see no real motivation to learn it, other than for fulfilling the foreign language requirements. So I guess secretly, the closer the foreign language is to English, the better I'll do and understand it, even though that was one of my main grips against Spanish....)

What say you? I chose to ask Head-Fi because of the obviously broad and diverse cultures and languages that gather here. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated; I have until the end of next week to drop and add classes.

Many thanks in advance.
smile.gif
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:51 AM Post #2 of 52

Jubei

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 27, 2004
Posts
1,571
Likes
14
If you ask me, all foreign languages (or for that matter any second language) is difficult.

Over here in Hong Kong, as I grew up under colonial rule, English was the "official" first language. This means we were taught 2 languages from the go and many people aren't particularly good at either. For me, I write better English than Chinese, but obviously speak better Cantonese than English (well, English is rusty because I don't really speak it on a daily level). Mind you, these days Cantonese is NOT the preferred Chinese dialect - that would be Putonghua (or Mandarin depending on your politics ...), and I DON'T speak that.

When I was in university in the US, I opted to do, of all things, classical Latin. The upside is no one really expects you to speak it!

Anyway, my opinion is that since you have already spent time doing Spanish, why not just finish it? Frankly, English is not an easy language to master (Latin, for example, has far fewer exceptions to grammatical rules than English), so if you taught yourself to read English you should be able to do other languages.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 8:53 AM Post #3 of 52

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,597
Likes
502
As much as I hate to say it, go with Spanish. You already know some of it and you can do immersion around here. It'll be a struggle at first, but start picking up Spanish newspapers, watch Spanish TV channels and listen to Spanish radio. It will start to sink in. Also, get your butt down to Mexico for a few weekends and speak it there. You can have a pretty good time in Mexico, to boot.

I took five years of Spanish between junior high and high school, but what helped the most was working at a movie theater where half the employees were fluent. I picked up a lot - including the ability to swear colorfully.
biggrin.gif
I'm not quite fluent, but I visit Mexico every time I go to Yuma (family biz down there) and make an effort to speak the language. One of these days, I'll take a few community college courses and really straighten out my Spanish - I want to travel Mexico, Spain and South America and get by without English.

In undergrad, I did my three semesters of foreign language with Latin. Figured it would help with law school (it did) and would have enough cognates between Spanish and English to make it relatively easy. It was, to a point. However, Latin is enclitic and learning to conjugate verbs was more difficult than I thought. I made it through, and while it was valuable, I sort of wish I had gone further with Spanish. I will sooner or later (I'm also itching to take some welding classes, for whatever reason) but I think that having had some Spanish and access to lots of Spanish media and native speakers would make it the easiest for you. That's not to say it will be easy, but you have more resources.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 10:58 AM Post #4 of 52

NightOwl

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 16, 2008
Posts
918
Likes
10
I speak English, Spanish, French and German. The first three happened through circumstance and location rather than any conscious effort. I learned German because my wife is German and most of her famly still lives there and the ones that are here speak German as their first language. I didn't want to be left out of the conversation.

Your psychological analysis of why you don't want to learn another language is a little far fetched. Do you think that you've reached the limit of your brain's capacity already? Learning anything (including another language) enhances your capacity to learn and communicate. As someone who is fluent in a couple of languages, it's just like switching from talking about sports to discussing economics.

If you were starting from scratch, I'd say that German would be the easiest language for a native English speaker to learn. However in your case I'm with Uncle Erik. You already have some background with Spanish. You live in California so you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language. That's the best way to learn. I learned French not because I studied it in school, but because I grew up in a city where the primary language is French. When the newspapers, television programs, signs, working language and girls
evil_smiley.gif
are French, you learn pretty quickly.

Actually, there's your answer. Find yourself a Spanish speaking girlfriend
wink_face.gif
.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 11:11 AM Post #5 of 52

TheMarchingMule

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Posts
9,158
Likes
21
Location
SoCal
I had a feeling the general consensus was to switch back to Spanish - it does make the most sense.
tongue.gif


Yes, perhaps my brain has reached its limit, and I'm too afraid to admit it.
redface.gif
I'm not sure what to call it, I just can't seem to focus in class in general any more, but math and foreign language even more so. I hope nothing's wrong with me.
ph34r.gif
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 11:44 AM Post #6 of 52

fhuang

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Posts
1,927
Likes
45
Location
Hong Kong
Quote:

Originally Posted by NightOwl /img/forum/go_quote.gif

Actually, there's your answer. Find yourself a Spanish speaking girlfriend
wink_face.gif
.



x2 or a franch girl for franch etc
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 12:22 PM Post #7 of 52

Duggeh

Indeed
Joined
May 9, 2005
Posts
9,618
Likes
39
French, Spanish, German are the easiest to get to grips with, in that order. Italian is a bit tickier. But moving to a language which uses a non-latin base like Russian, Japanese, Arabic or Urdu. That's a whole step more difficult.

Stick at the Spanish. And work hard.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 12:25 PM Post #8 of 52

Kirosia

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 24, 2003
Posts
14,153
Likes
67
1) Stop being stubborn, you're only hurting yourself.

2) I'm in my 3rd semester of French, and it's fairly easy, especially compared to say Japanese. But I actually enjoy learning the language, some of my classmates just coast by and know almost nothing.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 12:57 PM Post #10 of 52

EugeneK

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
Posts
682
Likes
11
Japanese is apparently one of the hardest languages to pick up as a second language.

I've tried german as well, and it's fairly straightforward, you can even guess the meanings of some words if they're close enough to the English word.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 4:35 PM Post #11 of 52

linuxworks

Member of the Trade: Sercona Audio
Joined
Oct 10, 2008
Posts
3,456
Likes
63
can't you take C or pascal, instead?

wink.gif
wink.gif


maybe try german. I would not take japanese when I'm starting out at school. school is stressful enough, why add to it with a difficult language?

if you want, study that language later, for fun, OFF the grade-chart. ie, audit it.

easiest: continue in spanish. more interesting (I think), german. knowing german can be useful if you travel to europe (its a common enough language, imho).
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 6:02 PM Post #13 of 52

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,597
Likes
502
Quote:

Originally Posted by DeusEx /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I really dislike Spanish. Really want to take Japanese or Korean in college..


The language has its charms and quite a bit of good literature. Also, the pronunciations are consistent across the board and there aren't too many weird conjugations. Also, it's a good excuse to visit Mexico. The border towns can be a little sketchy, but once you get past the border the people are incredibly nice and friendly. They're forgiving if your Spanish isn't perfect - usually slightly amused and they will help you out and teach you a new word or two.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 6:11 PM Post #14 of 52

Kirosia

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 24, 2003
Posts
14,153
Likes
67
^ I think people dislike Spanish due to be being force fed the language in lower education.. and in most cases not remembering a thing. Also, it's just not considered as "exotic" anymore.
 
Sep 5, 2009 at 7:13 PM Post #15 of 52

DeusEx

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Posts
1,939
Likes
16
Location
California
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kirosia /img/forum/go_quote.gif
^ I think people dislike Spanish due to be being force fed the language in lower education.. and in most cases not remembering a thing. Also, it's just not considered as "exotic" anymore.


Also, crappy teachers...
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top