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Some easier for you than others?

  Tags: Difficulty
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
United States
Joined 3470 days ago

71 posts - 91 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Written), Arabic (Iraqi)
Studies: Persian

 Message 1 of 4
05 January 2016 at 2:59am | IP Logged 
I have a question for those who have learned / studied multiple languages.

Do you find some languages come more naturally to you than others for no obvious
reason about the language itself (for example, they are both considered to be of the
same level of difficulty for a native speaker of your native language)?

Does the age that you learned them factor in (aka, do you find imitating correct
pronunciation / accent much more difficult with languages that you began learning
after adolescence versus as a teenager?)

Are there psychological factors, such as you do better at languages you chose to learn
versus had to learn?

I'd love to hear your experiences!
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Senior Member
Joined 3568 days ago

3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 Message 2 of 4
05 January 2016 at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
I've been studying some non-transparent languages (that is, languages I can't understand automatically thanks to my background; unlike Spanish and Italian, for example). I noticed languages with a more phonetic spelling and where words aren't that long or don't look so similar are easier to learn. Compare Estonian (almost phonetic spelling apart from vowel/consonant length and palatalization here and there) to Russian (spelling is more irregular than Estonian and the overall words are longer).

Psychological factors may be a double-branched sword. I chose Georgian because I like it but then I'm too demanding on myself about learning it and it has the opposite effect. I didn't 'like' Estonian that much in the beginning and so it went much more smoothly and now it's a language I learn faster than most others and which I like a lot.
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Senior Member
PolandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3710 days ago

227 posts - 464 votes 
Speaks: Polish*, English, German
Studies: Spanish, Croatian, Czech, French, Mandarin, Japanese

 Message 3 of 4
05 January 2016 at 8:10pm | IP Logged 
Darya0Khoshki wrote:
Do you find some languages come more naturally to you than others

But what does 'naturally' actually mean?
Does it really mean what you think it does?

Does it simply mean you learn them faster than others? - In which case, have you done an objective assessment of how fast you are in fact making progress? And if such an assessment was made and turn out positive, would it take into account various levels of motivation that play a key role in succeeding at learning a language?
Or do you just base it on the feeling of satisfaction with how you are doing?

You see, I think this might be a matter of a higher level of satisfaction when learning a particular language making you assume that you are doing better than you think you are.

This reminds me of how I was learning Japanese and Swedish around the same time.
Japanese was the first non European language I learned, and so it was all about discovering new grounds and an exciting adventure into a very exotic culture. Every progress I made would give me tonnes of satisfaction. Uttering even the simplest phrase in Japanese had that special "wow!" factor - it was super fun and incredibly motivating.
I felt like Japanese was coming very naturally for me.

Whereas, it very different with Swedish. I had thought I would conquer Swedish like a knife slicing through butter, because I was fluent in (the closely related) German, but at each step forward - to my great disappointment - it would turn out not as easy as I had naively hoped for. I was never pleased with my progress, because it always felt slower than desired. But was it, in fact, slow? Was I really going up hill as much as I felt I was?
Mind that German feels veeery natural for me.

I'm convinced that Japanese didn't come to me any more naturally than Swedish. But there were all sorts of reasons for me to feel that way. But that subjective assessment was simply wrong.

Edited by Derian on 05 January 2016 at 8:14pm

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United States
Joined 3470 days ago

71 posts - 91 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Written), Arabic (Iraqi)
Studies: Persian

 Message 4 of 4
06 January 2016 at 4:23pm | IP Logged 
Also I wonder if the first language we learn we have a little arrogance / over confidence
since we don't yet realize all the hard work that's required to actually learn a language
well. :-) Since the more you learn the more you realize you don't know, I wonder if we
THINK we do better the first time we learn a language. Also learning fatigue might play a

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