Tag Archives: French

The Multilingual Desire

Ever since I started using Duolingo to study languages, I’ve had a growing desire to learn multiple languages. There are many languages available on that platform, and it continues to grow.

My experience learning languages started in 1986 when I was 9 years old. I studied French in school until 1994, when I was 17 years old. I didn’t take French in grade 12, but instead challenged the final exam and passed it easily, getting full credit for the class. I was good at it. I had confidence that I could learn languages easily.

In university, I took a class in Japanese and enjoyed it a lot. I did very well in that class, and it helped me a lot when I moved to Japan in 2005. I had full intentions to learn the language and become fluent. I studied it on my own. However, I worked entirely in English. My interactions with Japanese people were with friends who spoke English well, coworkers who spoke English, students who I taught English, and people in shops. It was when I went shopping or out to a restaurant that I was able to use Japanese. As a result, I have no problem going shopping or ordering in a restaurant in Japan. My confidence in speaking Japanese didn’t grow at all. I didn’t speak well enough to have a conversation with my wife’s parents, or even with my wife. My listening improved, but my speaking did not. That’s my fault.

I started using Duolingo to relearn French. I also started doing Esperanto, since studying it has been proven to help people learn other European languages more quickly. I also started learning Spanish.

My studying has stalled recently. I’d like to get myself back into it. I’d like to focus on French and Japanese. French will be useful for future job prospects in Canada, while Japanese will be useful for me with my family and my in-laws. And since we plan to travel to Japan often, I can use it there.

But I don’t want to stop there. I want to get back into studying Spanish, as well as German, Norwegian, Russian, and Irish. My family heritage includes German, Norwegian, and Irish. My grandfather was born in Russia, so a lot of research into his family history has to be done in Russian. I think it would help. And I’d also like to learn Tagalog. I have some Filipino friends, and I think it would be fun to be able to understand what they’re talking about.

Are you using Duolingo? Are you studying a language? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, you can check out my Duolingo profile and add me as a friend.

Is there a Useless Language?

Recently, Jeremy Paxman, said something controversial. He said that French is a useless language. He went on to say that English is the only language we need.

How arrogant. There are about eighty million native speakers of French, and it’s an official language of twenty-nine countries. Certainly not useless to those people. And if you travel to those countries, French is incredibly useful. It’s useful as a second language, as well.

I enjoy studying languages. French is my main target language, other than Japanese. I live in Canada now, and French is useful if you want to have a job with the government or tourism. And if you want to visit Quebec, it’s extremely useful.

Without French, English wouldn’t be the way it is today. There are a lot of words of French origin in the English language. And to be honest, English is one of the most ridiculously illogical languages in the world. It’s the Frankenstein’s monster of languages. It’s adopted words from so many languages that the spelling and pronunciation rules often don’t even apply. That’s one of the things that makes it more difficult to learn than many other languages. At least French has rules that are followed.

But it brings me to this question: Is there a useless language? I don’t think there is a useless language. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages

Studying languages has been an interest of mine for quite some time, but I hadn’t really focused on learning more than just French and Japanese.  Now, I’m studying Spanish and German in addition. But that’s not all I want to study. I’ve decided which languages I’ll do after these, but I’m going to do something a little different at first. I’m going to test drive some languages.

On Duolingo, there are 25 levels for each language. It’s basically like a game. The more XP you get, the higher your level. I’m currently at level 8 for French, 5 for Spanish, and 4 for German.  I’m going to do each language available on Duolingo up to level 2, just to try them out and see what they’re like. After achieving level 2 (which is only 50 XP or 5 lessons), I’ll write a post with my impressions of the language. It should be interesting.

As for French, I’ve studied it before, so I can’t give a first impression. I do have to say that I’d forgotten a lot of it, but it seem somewhat easy to pick up again. The difficulty for me is verb conjugation for some verbs, as well as pronouns.

Spanish is the first new language I’ve studied since I started Japanese in 1997. I’ve heard that it’s supposed to be the easiest Romance language to study. So far, I haven’t had many problems. Just the same issues as with French: verb conjugation and pronouns. I also don’t study it enough to really remember things well. I’ve been focusing a lot more on French.

German is the third language I started. I’m not really focusing on this yet, but I’ve found it interesting. It’s kind of similar to English, since it is a Germanic language, so some things are easy. However, I’m having issues with the verb conjugations and pronouns. The noun capitalisation has been easy, though.

So, I will be trying out the following languages (in no particular order): Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Esperanto, and Russian. Coming soon are Polish, Hungarian, Vietnamese, and Hindi. I could also study Catalan from Spanish.

Which do you think would be the most difficult language?

My Roadmap to Learning Languages

Having started studying various languages at Duolingo, I have to make sure I don’t get myself in over my head. I need to pace myself and limit the number of languages I learn at one time. Duolingo isn’t the only thing I’m going to use, of course, but it’s one of the best ways to learn core vocabulary and grammar for free and efficiently. What it doesn’t help with is speaking and listening. Those can be learned in other ways.

At the moment, I’m working on French, Spanish, and German, and I’ve taken a look at Irish. French is what I’m focusing on, as it’s mostly a refresher. Since it isn’t new material to me, I’m tackling another Romance language at the same time, Spanish. I’ve heard Spanish is easier than French to learn. And then there’s German, which is my third main language to learn, but I’m not working on it as much as the others.

So, for now, I will concentrate on French and Spanish. As I finish the language tree for French, I will then change my focus to Spanish and German. Spanish should finish soon after French, so I’ll then switch to German and Irish. But what do I do next?

I’m thinking that after German, I may work on either Italian or Norwegian. However, there is another language that’s starting up in the next few days, Russian. It’ll be released into Beta soon, and I’m intrigued by it.

So, why would I learn Russian? My grandfather was born in Russia, and some members of my family are trying to trace his roots and find as much information about his ancestry as possible. If I learn Russian, it may be useful if I ever try to communicate with anyone in Russia or even visit my grandfather’s hometown to do a little searching on my own. I’ve heard Russian is a difficult language, and it’ll be my first Slavic language to study. Up until that point, I will have worked on mainly Germanic, Romance, and Celtic languages, as well as Japanese. A Slavic language means learning a new alphabet. That should be interesting.

There is one other thing I may work on while I’m doing the other languages, and that’s Esperanto. While it’s not a widespread language that has a home country, it has been found that if you study Esperanto, it can be easier to study other European languages. I think I’ll give it a shot.

In the long-term, there are other languages I’ll work on, including Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Dutch. Those are all available on Duolingo now. In the future, I’d love to try Greek, Welsh, Polish, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Finnish, and Mandarin Chinese.

Too ambitious? What do you think? Do you have any language ambitions?

Learning More Languages

Last week, I posted about duolingo, a website dedicated to studying language and doing translations. I said I was working on a few languages:

  • French (now up to level 5/25) – This is the main language I want to study, as I studied it for 8 years in school, and want to brush up on it before going back to Canada.
  • Spanish (now up to level 3/25) – This is a next logical step after French, considering how widespread the language is. And I heard it’s fairly easy to learn.
  • German – I’m part German, and I’d like to learn it.
  • Italian – I’d love to go to Italy, and this would be useful.
  • Norwegian – Not necessarily useful, but I’d like to learn it, as I am part Norwegian.
  • Irish – Not the most useful language these days, as there aren’t many speakers any more, but it would be wonderful to help expand the number of people who speak it. Also, I’m part Irish.

Well, I’ve since added two more:

  • Portuguese – Since it’s very closely related to Spanish, this should be quick and easy to learn.
  • Turkish – It’s different. It’s something I may never have to use, unless I visit Turkey, which I’d love to do.

In addition to these, I’m always trying to improve my Japanese, something I need to work harder on. And also, I still want more languages! Duolingo has some languages that aren’t quite ready for studying, but I would like to add Greek and Russian when they’re available.

Are you studying any languages? What can you speak? What do you want to study?

Learning Languages: Duolingo

Does anyone use Duolingo? I’ve decided to seriously start using it. I started about a year ago to brush up on French, but I’d like to try several languages.

Currently, I’m at level 4 for French (about to reach level 5). At Duolingo, there are 25 levels, and 4 is still pretty basic. Here are the languages I’m learning or going to learn there:

  • French (level 4)
  • Spanish (level 1)
  • German (haven’t started)
  • Italian (haven’t started)
  • Irish (haven’t started)
  • Norwegian (haven’t started)

There are quite a few other languages, including Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, Esperanto, and Ukrainian. There are other languages under development at the moment, including Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Hindi, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Romanian, and believe it or not, Klingon.

So, that’s a lot of languages you can study at Duolingo. At least, that’s for English speakers. You can also study languages from your own native language, if available.

Have you tried Duolingo? What are you studying? You can find my profile here, and if you’re studying there, send me a friend request.

Studying and Nostalgia

As I work through my online courses at Coursera, I recall my days at university.  What triggered these memories is equations being used in the Imagining Other Earths course.  It really brings back memories of using equations everyday.

Another thing that’s been making me nostalgic is the amount of geology I’ve been exposed to in all 3 courses I’ve done.  When I was in university, I took a couple geology courses in my first year, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  It makes me think that if I ever go back to university, I’d study geology.

Another thing I’ve started doing is studying languages.  At duolingo, I’ve been working on French mainly, and it made me realise how much I’ve forgotten.  I also started on Spanish, and I will work on German as well.

Anyone else doing Coursera or other MOOC courses?  How about duolingo?