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Directions/advice for 10+ aimers?

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
37 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4
Senior Member
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Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 Message 33 of 37
18 February 2009 at 3:57am | IP Logged 
ProfArguelles wrote:
I am very happy to receive your update and I apologize in my turn for not getting right back to you with some feedback.

You yourself note that your questions are not formulated so as to facilitate straightforward responses from me but are rather articulations of themes that have been occupying your mind, themes that you attempt to keep in the background so as to minimize interference with actual studying. Therefore, rather than attempting to answer your questions, I would like to attempt to probe deeper into what makes you tick. You seem to be on a quest to determine the best study methods and techniques beforehand so that, when you actually do settle down to study, you will do so most efficiently and effectively. Is that fair to say? If so, then in its conception this is an extremely logical long-term planning strategy.

I would say that there is a great deal of truth in your characterization. I also agree with the general direction your questions are leading, namely, that this 'quest' has reached the point of diminishing returns. Nonetheless, I think, on the whole, that it has been extremely worthwhile.

ProfArguelles wrote:

However, when will you ever settle down to study?

February 25th, 2009, circumstances permitting. To a lesser degree, "my current study is ongoing at present"; as I type this, I am in Germany, listening to German music, and winding up a day which involved more than an hour of active study, on top of a small amount of reading and phonetics work.

ProfArguelles wrote:

What now is your ratio of contemplation or even experimentation to actual studying?

That depends strongly on the definition of 'now'. For today, it's highly biased in favor of actual study; for 2009 thus far, it's tilted in favor of study, but less strongly.

ProfArguelles wrote:

Frankly, I suspect you could be doing a better job of keeping the former in the background so as to minimize interference with the latter. You would probably actually discern the best methods for your learning style much more accurately by truly delving into the learning process rather than remaining on the outside, however accurately you observe what others do, and however much you experiment with this or that particular technique for overcoming this or that particular problem.

I freely admit that I stand to improve in this regard. I consider the last 2.5 months to have been significantly less productive than they could have been - although I also think I have accomplished a significant amount during them.

ProfArguelles wrote:

It seems to me you are well on your way to becoming theoretically conversant on an academic level with how others have gone about becoming polyglots, but that in spending so much time on this, you risk never actually learning 10+ languages to a meaningful level yourself.

I consider myself thoroughly theoretically conversant on the matter (I've read the translated portions of Spivak's "How to become a Polyglot" presented on this forum, portions of Kato Lomb's "This is How I Learn Languages", "The Art and Science of Learning Languages", and on a less serious note, Barry Farber's "How to Learn Any Language" and parts of the biography of Mezzofanti presented on this site, among other sources), though of course there is always more to learn.

I agree with everything you said in this regard, but I do wonder: how do you define a 'meaningful level'?

ProfArguelles wrote:

I myself never spent any time contemplating learning strategies in the abstract; rather, I developed what I know about them as I went about learning languages.

If you are still serious about attaining your originally stated goal, then it really seems to me that what you need is not answers to any kind of further conceptual questions about how you should approach learning languages, but rather to work on developing the discipline to go about systematically learning a series of languages in a sustained fashion. Stop thinking about it and just do it. Let the languages that captivate you the most sweep you away such that you make real progress in them.


Best regards;
Catalin Martone

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United States
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 Message 34 of 37
18 February 2009 at 8:49pm | IP Logged 

By "meaningful level" I mean the point where you can enjoy having studied a language rather than still be studying it, and where you can continue to improve in it by means of using it to explore the culture for which it serves as a vehicle.


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Super Polyglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (Written), Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Latin, French, Persian, Greek

 Message 35 of 37
31 August 2011 at 8:29am | IP Logged 
Volte, since you started this thread, could you give an update of where you are? Have you not "gotten there" with more languages yet, or have you just not updated your profile? You've mentioned things like "L-R-ing Russian" and listening to Zola in French, but you don't have them listed... So please, would you mind letting us know just where you are on your road to 10+?
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Senior Member
Russian Federation
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4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 36 of 37
04 November 2018 at 1:00am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
I also aim for fluency in 10+ languages.
I'm 17 and I'm studying applied linguistics at Moscow State Linguistic University.
The languages I'm aiming for advanced fluency in are German, Belarusian, Portuguese, Danish, Polish, Hindi and Italian. Specific plans include starting Portuguese early next year and German from scratch at university in September (the latter is obligatory). I'm also very interested in Dutch, Hungarian, Turkish, Icelandic, Welsh, Indonesian and Spanish, but I'm not sure about the level I'm aiming for in these languages, especially in these ones that aren't related to other languages I'm going to learn in earnest. The dead languages I'm most interested in are Old Church Slavonic and Sanskrit.
A language that should be mentioned separately is Karelian - a minority language spoken in the Republic of Karelia in Russia, which is quite close to Finnish, albeit not necessarily mutually intelligible. I'd love to speak it as fluently as I can, but there are next to no resources on it.
Quick update, mostly intended for those making plans for the next 10 years :-)

I didn't make it clear, but I was mostly asking in what order I should add new languages. Well, I ended up starting almost all languages I want to learn before I was 20. (I was influenced by some things mentioned in Erik Gunnemark's book, about age and abilities) The order was nothing I could have predicted though. I wish I hadn't worried about making long-term plans.

I've realized that in Hindi and Sanskrit I just like the writing system. I keep meaning to learn the script just for fun, but actual language learning gets in the way ;)
Weirdly, I don't remember being interested in Indonesian before 2009, when I started learning it because I had a friend from there. I got to an intermediate level or so, but then forgot a lot. I'm undecided about the language now.

I never liked Spanish all that much, but it kept teasing me. I also became a huge football (soccer) fan in 2008. In some ways it has surpassed my Portuguese (which I started before Spanish).

On the other hand, I don't think I'm aiming for advanced fluency in Danish anymore. Nor in Polish or Belarusian, but in a different way.

As for the rest of the list, Dutch is the only language I have any vague plans for.

In another thread I asked whether I should learn French even though I dislike it, and the Professor said I should. Well, I've done just fine without it. I do understand some written French now thanks to my Italian/Spanish/Latin, and I've noticed that when I'm in France I'm able to feel fascinated by the language to some extent. I somehow even communicate orally with those who speak absolutely no English/Spanish/Italian.
The things that work for me are formal grammar study, creating immersion through music, books and the Internet, shadowing and writing and being corrected. I've also recently tried creating flashcards in multiple languages through flashcard software, and it seems to be working greatly for learning vocabulary in languages that share a lot of it (Esperanto and Latin in my case) and avoiding confusion.

Volte has already asked practically everything I'd like to know, so just one question from me. As far as I understand, you initeally learn to speak through shadowing, without looking at the written text. Do you think it suits for everyone? Listening comprehension is generally my weakest skill, and for example in Finnish, even though its writing system is very phonetic, I used to hear some sounds in unfamiliar words incorrectly rather often, eg u instead of l. I've also noticed that I just fail to remember words I've never seen written, although it may be just the psychological effect of not being sure I hear all the sounds accurately.
Well, my methods have changed completely by now. I've actually discovered that listening can be my strongest skill if I just give it enough time and use the right kinds of materials (not news; not exclusively music; not limiting myself to short segments). I also find most textbooks really boring, but I use native materials from the beginning (at least in a language that's not completely opaque). I also use parallel texts and do listening-reading (reading in a familiar language, listening in a new one).

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Monox D. I-Fly
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Speaks: Indonesian*

 Message 37 of 37
05 November 2018 at 5:39pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Weirdly, I don't remember being interested in Indonesian before 2009, when I started learning it because I had a friend from there. I got to an intermediate level or so, but then forgot a lot. I'm undecided about the language now.

Hi, I am an Indonesian native speaker. Maybe I can help you if you want to relearn it?

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