Posts Tagged ‘lessons’

I love languages! This is the second part of my posts about my relationship with languages.

University

As i mentioned in my previous post, i studied English Literature at university, so i know a lot about my native language already.

I did a module on TESOL (teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and the first thing the tutor did was speak to us in one of her foreign languages, in this case it was Indonesian. I can’t remember anything she said, mainly because i had a mad panic at being addressed in a completely unfamiliar language! A good example of how people feel when they first learn a foreign language!

Arabic

I chose to study Arabic as an extra-curricular activity whilst at university, and i studied it for a semester because i wanted to learn something new. Arabic is a totally different language: not only is it from a different language family, it is read from right-to-left (instead of left-to-right like English, German and so on), letters of the alphabet change when you write them down in certain ways, and it is a cursive language. I got totally confused at times while studying Arabic! It is one of the hardest languages to learn because it has a different alphabet, which i spent hours trying to learn! I made reasonable progress with Arabic, although when the final exam came i completely stuffed it up and subsequently failed the class! Oops! To be fair, it was only a recreational class and not part of my degree, so it didn’t take priority when i had important essay deadlines and a dissertation due around the time of the final exam!

My Arabic skills consist of being able to say a few greetings and replies, and the odd word, but i can’t read Arabic and i have forgotten the letters of the alphabet, except for “al” which basically means “the”. I don’t have  much to show for that class! I do still have the Arabic learning CD set though, so i could attempt to learn it again!

Outside Academica/ In the real world!

I have had the opportunity to visit other countries and learn their languages, mainly through holidays. Mainly i know the Scandinavian languages, having visited a few of those countries.

Swedish

As my family has friends in Sweden and we’ve been on family holidays over there a few times, i learned words and phrases to make our trips more interesting. I know greetings and simple touristy phrases, and i know lots of random words! My food vocabulary is my strongest skill in Swedish, as i love Swedish food! I can pick out words from sentences and make a guess at what it means!

I also had the opportunity at university to study abroad and Sweden was my country of choice, but in the end i decided i would rather stay in England for the rest of my degree because i loved my university city, York, too much! Actually, i see now that i was very stupid to pass up such an opportunity! Oops!

Finnish

Finnish is another difficult language which is from a different language family to the other Scandic languages. It is fascinating though! I went on a family holiday to Finland as a teenager and i learned a few simple phrases and words in Finnish. I can pick out the odd word, but sentences are a bit too difficult to understand! It is one of the more difficult languages to learn, especially with the sentence structure and so on.

I did actually do an essay on the Finnish language at university, several years after this holiday, for which i learned about the history of Finnish and how Swedish used to be the main language spoken in Finland until Finnish was introduced as the main language. One day, it would be nice to learn a bit more Finnish because it is a really fascinating language!

Danish

I went to Denmark a few times on holiday, so i learned a few Danish words while i was there. Mainly i know food vocabulary!

Now and the future…

Currently i am taking 1-1 tutorial sessions to improve my German language skills, in the hope that i will someday be able to either live and work in Germany or at least communicate in German on a regular basis while working here in the UK. It is my favourite language so i decided to give it a shot, and i’m finding that i can actually remember a lot of my school German when prompted! The only problem is getting my head around all the grammar rules again!

In the future, i would like to maybe give Arabic another shot or start learning Finnish, as both are quite difficult to learn. I would love to learn Swedish properly, and i would like to improve my French to i can communicate more fluently in it!

My main aim is to become fluent in another language before i’m 30, so i’ve got 5 more years to get cracking!

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I love languages! I thought i would talk about my language history!

English

I am English and speak British English (as opposed to American English), so i have the advantage of knowing English pretty well as a native speaker!

Studying “English Language” at school was infinitely boring because it was pretty much just grammar and styles of writing *yawn*. It was one of those things tacked onto English Literature at GCSE. I’ve always liked English best though, it’s far better than Maths or Science!

I studied English Literature jointly with English Language at university, and having never studied English language properly before university, i really enjoyed learning about the history of English and how it has developed over time into one of the main languages of the world. I also got to learn about other languages as well, their histories and how they affected English and vice versa.

School languages

At my secondary school (a language-specialist college), in Year 7 we got assigned either French or Spanish as our compulsory foreign language which we studied until the end of Year 9 – i was given French – and then we got to learn three different languages through Year 7, one per term. The choices were Spanish/French (depending which you got assigned as your compulsory first language), German, and Russian.

French

I started learning French at secondary school when i was 12 years old as my first foreign language and i kept it up all the way to A Level standard. By the end of Year 8, i got the highest exam grade in my French class: somewhere just over 80/100! I loved learning French, although it got really stressful at A Level as i was slipping behind and my confidence took a bit of nose-dive as i started getting worse grades as i struggled to keep up. I was lucky to pass French A Level with a D, which goes to show that A Levels weren’t easy for me, even though people say they’re getting easier to pass! Load of rubbish!

French is my best foreign language: although i am not fluent in it, i can read French pretty well and it’s the first language after English which i can speak fairly well. I can read a French newspaper and understand what it is about, and i find that very useful for finding out news in Europe!

German

I started learning German at secondary school when i was 12, and chose to carry on studying German after Year 7 as my second foreign language. I took it all the way to A Level, although i was forced to choose to drop a subject during my second year of sixth form in order to maintain my pass grades and lower my workload, and because i was doing worse in German than French and i wanted to keep my other subjects, i ended up dropping German. I had to re-sit my German exams because i did so badly but i managed to scrape an E in German AS Level. Not my finest hour, i can tell you!

A Level languages weren’t a lot of fun, but at least i achieved some sort of fluency and knowledge of them!

Russian

As my school offered Russian, which was a whole new concept to me, i was fascinated by the term i spent learning it. It has a whole different alphabet and different sounds, such as rolling “r”s which i just can’t physically do!

I know a couple of words, mainly “hello” and “goodbye”, but that’s about it!

Spanish

I had originally wanted to study Spanish alongside French, but as the Spanish classes were full because everyone else wanted to do Spanish as well, i decided to do German instead. I studied Spanish for a term and thought it was fairly easy at a basic level, although now i think it would have confused me as it is a Romance language and very similar to French.

My Spanish skills are mainly based in giving basic directions to places, and food vocabulary! Most Spanish words i know have been picked up through sources outside school!

Next time….

In Part 2 of this post, i will talk about my later experiences with languages!