1. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Studying languages?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Daydream, Jun 5, 2011.

    Hey so was wandering if anyone else is having this issue to. Basically im currently in Germany...studying German for one year. Ever since I've been in Germany I SWEAR my English has gone out the window ><! It's kinda frustrating because I'll be writing and sometimes it will be grammatically wrong or i'll spell something completely wrong OR i'll forget words completely... Anyone else whose bilingual or studying another language and also having the same problems sometimes? :p
     
  2. AvihooI
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    AvihooI Member

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    I know English and Hebrew. I think every improvement I had with one of the languages complemented the other. Certainly I didn't have any drawbacks from focusing on either Hebrew or English.

    However, considering German is much closer to English than Hebrew is - it's quite understandalbe that when learning it, it might have negative effects on English. I've noticed German speakers having a much harder time getting out of their inherent habits when speaking English.

    In other words, when someone like me learns English - they learn it as a completely new language. A German speaker is more likely to adapt the understanding of his native tongue to English speaking.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i studied french for 3 years in high school, audited university french 2 and 3 courses, plus one in conversational italian many years later, while also picking up a lot of spanish and some bits of german and greek in my travels, and spent much time in france, italy, mexico and spain, but never had any of it affect my writing english in any way... so i can't figure out why it should do that to yours...
     
  4. _Lulu_
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    _Lulu_ Member

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    I speak Arabic as a second language, I learnt it when I was 10 years old. The only situation I found myself in was my French oral exam at school, I kept wanting to answer in Arabic since that's what I would speak automatically if not English haha.
     
  5. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    I honestly think this is just a habit. I'm multilingual. I can speak Hindi, Gujarati, English, and Spanish fluently. I can also understand French and few other languages though can’t speak them and what I’ve noticed is that the more "immersed" I am in a different language for an extended period of time, the more I want to write/speak/think in that particular language. But you can easily get out of that by using English more and soon you'll see that everything is back to normal.

    It's not that you're losing your English (well you could if you don't use it just as with any skill) but that initial shift does take time to get back to that smooth flow that you once had.

    I've had similar experiences where I'd forget the English words, or I want to respond in a different language when I'm talking to someone in English but only find it prevalent when I haven't used English for a long time and am in the process making that shift to use it again.

    I use these languages interchangeably for different things everyday and so that shift is non-troubling for me… but staying in different country for an extended period of time where all I do is speak, live, and breath a different language, shifting to using another language predominately at the drop of a hat isn’t like a quick on-and-off switch and it does take time, but it’s only that initial couple of days before everything comes back to you and then you laugh at yourself for forgetting a simple word like basin.

    In writing - knowing/speaking/learning a different language has never held me back. The only times I've ever noticed a problem is where I know what I want to say... but honestly don't know the English word for it. This happens with me a lot with food. A lot of foods have different names in different languages, especially vegetables. And some veggies that I eat on a regular basis aren't typical veggies found in western countries so sometimes I have a hard time with that since I really just don't know the English word for it. Another thing I find difficult are concepts. Like, I want to describe a concept that I hear talked about in a different cultures, but don't know how to describe it in English since there are no words for it.

    A simple example of this is when a particular language doesn’t have a specific word for what you want to say. Like in Gujarati, there is no word for "thank you" - so sometimes, having to explain a simple English phrase in a different language takes two or three more words. And same goes with the concepts. The concept in a different language is strung together easily in a few words. But to describe that concept in English requires more words and sometimes I find that difficult because even the English words sometimes do not fully measure up to the foreign words.

    But other than that... no, I don't find that I forget how to use a different language. The initial shift takes a while, but it always comes back as good as new.

    BTW... I consider English to be my main language.
     
  6. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeh agreed, I probably mentioned that wrong. I wasn't forgetting my English, but I'm definitely abit rusty! Especially when speaking. I seem to phrase my sentences in German grammar quite often xD
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only problem I ever experienced in multiple second languages was between French and Spanish. I would be speaking in one language and a word would come up with a similar sounding word, though often with different meaning. The next thing I knew, I had switched from one language to the other. the problem being that they are both rooted in Latin and, therefore, have a lot of similar sounding words. I had no such problem with Russian which is, loosely, more aligned to slavic languages via their cyrillic alphabet.
     
  8. haribol
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    haribol Member

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    In fact I use two languages simultaneously: Nepali and English. These languages are polar opposite. The problem is one language interferes with the other. I can fluently switch over between the two. When I speak with a Nepali I am at the liberty to swing between the two profusely and I feel comfortable with that but when it comes to talking with an English speaking foreigner I will to have to take restraints since Nepali is very likely to interfere into my English. I have to lower my conversation tempo or else I may utter ungrammatical sentences with a Nepali accent. Whereas when it comes to writing feel more at ease and relaxed. Writing is an unhurried enterprise and I am at the liberty of correcting my language. What is more, today writing in a foreign language is not a herculean exercise since we are stuffed with on line dictionaries, usages and other grammar and spelling aids. When I speak in English I will be at a loose end with some imminent confusion
     
  9. Islander
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    That happens a lot when you immerse yourself in another language by living there, Daydream. It's common that emmigrants who return to their home country involuntary use foreign words and phrases when speaking to their former countrymen.

    It'll probably go away if you practice switching between the two languages, e.g, by talking on the phone or text chatting with your English-speaking friends.
     
  10. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeh :D Just weird since Engish is my first language. Technically German is, but I only lived in Germany until I turned 6.
     
  11. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    My English got better when I learned Russian, as the first thing they did was give us English grammar books because they'd found so many of us didn't know our own language well enough to be taught another. Kind of sad, and funny, but true.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I lived in Italy for four years and I can tell you my swedish became weird and my english would sink a few levels, as most of the people around me didn't speak english very well, so I sort of shrunk to their level. It didn't take long before I was thinking in italian instead of my native tongue, something that didn't bother me at all ;)
     
  13. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    I speak six languages fluently. I am learning the seventh.

    I experienced a similar problem when I lived in Germany (I wrote my MS thesis in that language). I think the reason lies in how strong and fixed German grammatical structures are. A few months after leaving the country (to Spain, my native country), I could speak English again. You'll be fine :)
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    Overachiever ;o)
     

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