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A Poll for everyone! How did you learn English and what's your relationship with languages?


samus_x
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Hi there guys, I am starting a new research with my group and need to gather some data from people all over the world and I thought... what better place than this great forum? 😎

  • The first question is about your English 💂‍♂️

If you live in an English-speaking country, were you born there? If you moved there, how old were you when you? Did you have a hard time learning the language and how have you learnt it? More practice "on-the-field", more study or a balanced dose of both?

On the other hand, if you are not from an English speaking country, how did you learn English? How long have you been studying it? Did you do it by yourself or did you attend a school/course? 

  • The second question is about languages in general 🌍

In addition to your native language and English, how many additional languages do you know? Did you learn them because it is required in your country or because they teach them in your country school? Or did you learn it because you chose to do it?

Thank you in advance for all of your answers, the more detailed your "linguistic-history", the better, but feel free to write even something shorter 😊

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Hey @samus_x

1)  I  live in Wales, so I am a native English speaker. (Although  I have a stupid accent)

2) What a lot of people outside the UK don't realise that people from Wales also have another language. (Welsh) Whilst I don't speak it fluently myself, I know the basics to get me by.  To prevent it from dying out it is part of the curriculum at our schools alongside French and German.

But one thing I have found about British people is that we arrogantly expect everyone to speak our language .  Most people on mainland Europe speak 2 or even 3 languages pretty fluently, so in that respect I think that we are a little narrow minded.  

Ian

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I'm Hungarian, so not a native speaker, but had to learn English from a very young age (I have relatives in Australia, so it was a 'must' I suppose.)

I can't really remember a time when I was monolingual, but I THINK it was around 4/5 that I really started learning/actively studying.) I had no issues with English and was always the best in class (which isn't as good as it sounds because some of my teachers had higher standards for me. The cat was out of the bag when I was competing in something and my teacher told me she thought my parents were teachers! 

As for other languages, I'd say I'm a decently quick learner. I'm conversationally fluent (can speak but not write perfectly) in French and Italian, and can chit-chat in Mandarin fairly well! My Hungarian is..bleh, but it's expected when you live abroad for so long (or so I tell myself.)

What helped me I think was actually living in France/Italy/etc. I was forced to speak which made it way easier!

That being said, I'll be in Sweden for almost a year in October and my Swedish is very...basic for now. Normally at this point I'd be fluent but the fact that I'm more of an expat now than ever before (I was more of a student in the past I guess) probably 'helps'. I'm hoping to take some classes when I have the time as it seems like I'll be here for a while so.... 

 

 

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6 hours ago, breals said:

Hey @samus_x

1)  I  live in Wales, so I am a native English speaker. (Although  I have a stupid accent)

2) What a lot of people outside the UK don't realise that people from Wales also have another language. (Welsh) Whilst I don't speak it fluently myself, I know the basics to get me by.  To prevent it from dying out it is part of the curriculum at our schools alongside French and German.

But one thing I have found about British people is that we arrogantly expect everyone to speak our language .  Most people on mainland Europe speak 2 or even 3 languages pretty fluently, so in that respect I think that we are a little narrow minded.  

Ian

I completely understand the Welsh-English relationship as here in Italy we have 20 different "regional languages" called "dialetti", and basically they are all dying out since no one is using them anymore (although some crazy people like me studied them at university, and some still study them today).

It is quite fascinating that in Wales they had the idea to teach Welsh together with foreign languages. This way you can preserve all of those many cultural facets as vocabulary and lore attached to local ancient languages. I wish they did the same in Italy.

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6 hours ago, katakatica said:

I'm Hungarian, so not a native speaker, but had to learn English from a very young age (I have relatives in Australia, so it was a 'must' I suppose.)

I can't really remember a time when I was monolingual, but I THINK it was around 4/5 that I really started learning/actively studying.) I had no issues with English and was always the best in class (which isn't as good as it sounds because some of my teachers had higher standards for me. The cat was out of the bag when I was competing in something and my teacher told me she thought my parents were teachers! 

As for other languages, I'd say I'm a decently quick learner. I'm conversationally fluent (can speak but not write perfectly) in French and Italian, and can chit-chat in Mandarin fairly well! My Hungarian is..bleh, but it's expected when you live abroad for so long (or so I tell myself.)

What helped me I think was actually living in France/Italy/etc. I was forced to speak which made it way easier!

That being said, I'll be in Sweden for almost a year in October and my Swedish is very...basic for now. Normally at this point I'd be fluent but the fact that I'm more of an expat now than ever before (I was more of a student in the past I guess) probably 'helps'. I'm hoping to take some classes when I have the time as it seems like I'll be here for a while so.... 

 

 

Well, that's quite the linguistic story! 😶

So if I did my math correctly you currently know (some well, some not) 4/5 languages and a half (the half being Swedish heheh). Well that os quite a fortune, also because, they are from different language families, so you probably have developed a quite widened perspective/forma mentis thanks to all those languages!

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44 minutes ago, samus_x said:

Well, that's quite the linguistic story

Five, yes! Though I also speak very basic Korean but I'm hoping to brush up on it. I think that and Swedish once learned properly would make me a hyperpolyglot which is insane! 

Honestly I think what I love about it is being able to engage with local people in a way otherwise I couldn't. As an expat you are always an outsider but language can help tremendously. 

 

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On 9/5/2022 at 7:31 PM, katakatica said:

Five, yes! Though I also speak very basic Korean but I'm hoping to brush up on it. I think that and Swedish once learned properly would make me a hyperpolyglot which is insane! 

Honestly I think what I love about it is being able to engage with local people in a way otherwise I couldn't. As an expat you are always an outsider but language can help tremendously. 

 

Well, in my experience speaking the language of local people always gave me an edge over foreigners trying to speak exclusively English. And one of my best weapons to speak a new language fluently was booze. I swear, everytime I got drunk with locals, my tongue untied like magic 😁

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Interesting thread 🌍

I was born in Wales (United Kingdom) raised by my family as a native English speaker. In primary and secondary school I learned Welsh as a second language, although I am sadly still not yet fluent.

Alongside Welsh (as a second language), at secondary school we were taught French and German (as additional languages) all of which I am embarrassed to say I forgot.

When I became a young adult I began to learn Spanish for pleasure. I decided to live for a short time in Spain in an attempt to improve my skills. I can now speak and understand basic Spanish, although I have also forgotten a large amount.

In more recent years, since about 5 years ago, after marrying my husband (alhamdulillah) I began to learn some Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and some Tamazight. My husband is Moroccan-Amazigh and is the eldest of a very multilingual family, and nation for that matter... ! 

And while this might all seem very impressive, the fact of the matter is that I am still a beginner in Welsh, Spanish, Darija and Tamazight, and that my primary language remains to be English, sadly. 

'Duolingo' is my primary educational language resource, and Morocco (and my husband) are my primary in-person language resources. 

I do endeavour to become fluent in Welsh, Darija (Arabic) and Tamazight, because I want to read Quran in Arabic, inshallah. and of course to communicate with my family and future children, inshallah. 

So on that note, if anybody here happens to read this, and is a native speaker of Darija (Arabic), and/or Tamazight, please contact me. For my husband would surely like a translation break, haha.

🌍

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  • 3 months later...

Being in need is the best teacher you can have for almost everything. In my case, playing videogames only in English since I was a child helped a lot, because if I wanted to play them I needed to understand dialogues, descriptions, etc. Also, speaking with people who didn't speak Spanish was helpful. I used to participate in forums and webpages like Deviantart (aaah... the good times) and I found myself lacking the skills to comunicate as well as I do in my native language. So, once again, one hand on the computer and another one on the dictionary 😂 

 

Having fun and being motivated is a must. If you take it as a game, then learning will be easier. 

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I was born in an english-speaking part of Canada, and I also speak a nearly-conversational level of Quebec French due to mandatory and elective schooling.

However, if we want to get into dialects, I also know Chiac and Newfoundland English around the same level as Quebec French, but from being around people who speak them. Both are considered generally lower-class dialects.

My sister has a similar background, but is fluent in french well enough to have completed her bacherlor's in communication at a french university.
My brother has a similar background, but is conversational in russian, greek, and slavonic as part of his theology studies in university.

My brother mentioned noticing at his school that native speakers seemed to be consistently worse speakers of a language than ones who learn it, and he theorized it was because the ones who learn it don't even know the improper ways of speaking, so they have nothing left but the proper ways.

I find myself code-switching a lot between what would be considered a "standard american accent" in work and business and my natural atlantic canadian accent, which is often associated with a number of negative traits by other Canadians. For example, people are more likely to question the validity of my suggestions if I say them in my regional accent as if they presume I'm less informed, due to my region being stereotyped as very rural and blue collar (uneducated).

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On 9/5/2022 at 5:35 AM, samus_x said:

Hi there guys, I am starting a new research with my group and need to gather some data from people all over the world and I thought... what better place than this great forum? 😎

  • The first question is about your English 💂‍♂️

If you live in an English-speaking country, were you born there? If you moved there, how old were you when you? Did you have a hard time learning the language and how have you learnt it? More practice "on-the-field", more study or a balanced dose of both?

On the other hand, if you are not from an English speaking country, how did you learn English? How long have you been studying it? Did you do it by yourself or did you attend a school/course? 

  • The second question is about languages in general 🌍

In addition to your native language and English, how many additional languages do you know? Did you learn them because it is required in your country or because they teach them in your country school? Or did you learn it because you chose to do it?

Thank you in advance for all of your answers, the more detailed your "linguistic-history", the better, but feel free to write even something shorter 😊

My native language is Spanish, I am from Venezuela. I love my language a lot and I think I am very lucky to be a native speaker, as it is somewhat difficult to learn Spanish as a second language.

My second language is English. I learnt it very organically. I was a curious kid with a lot of free time, so I spent it online. Since I was 12-13 years old I simply started to consume English videos and music, and reading comments online. I would search every term or word I didn't know just so I could learn some more vocabulary. I also played games. In my country there's really nothing much English being taught in the schools (specially public schools) and I definitely didn't make any significant progress with my regular English lessons. Besides from paid courses, there's definitely not a lot of places where you can learn English properly. I even had to learn grammar organically. 

Flashforward to 15 year old me, I subtitled ASMR and some other videos on YouTube and fell in love with translation. I am currently studying a Major in Translation and interpretation. These forum responses and comments are my daily dose of English writing and reading practices, so that's why I became a lot more active here lately. My combination is English-Italian.

So yeah, Italian is the most recent language I am trying to acquire, I've been learning it since January 2022 when I started my career. For me it's a lot easier than English was because it's very similar to Spanish, but the acquisition process is not happening as organically as with English to me. I blame my lack of exposure to Italian, there's really not a lot of Italian things online or maybe I don't know where to find them. I practice with Duolingo lessons and watch some Italian videos about grammar or news. Winx Club, my favorite cartoon when I was a kid, is originally dubbed in Italian, so I found the episodes on YouTube and use them to practice my listening. I was surprised to find out the show it's Italian! I've learnt quite a lot nonetheless, given how quick I had to learn something new every week in order to understand my lessons and pass my evaluations in college. La mia professoressa mi ha detto che sono quasi ad un livello B2! E grazie per la tua domanda, mi hai fatto ricordare quanto amo le lingue e quanto ho imparato fino ad oggi! (Translation: My professor told me I am almost at level B2 in Italian. Thank you for your question, you made me remember how much I love languages and how much I've learnt until today!)

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I never found Duolingo as an useful resource. When I started to learn German, I found myself knowing vocabulary but having no idea of how to build a sentence to use it 😂 Duolingo is fine for vocabulary but nothing else. It's just my opinion, of course.

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On 9/7/2022 at 11:00 AM, chat5x20 said:

Interesting thread 🌍

I was born in Wales (United Kingdom) raised by my family as a native English speaker. In primary and secondary school I learned Welsh as a second language, although I am sadly still not yet fluent.

Alongside Welsh (as a second language), at secondary school we were taught French and German (as additional languages) all of which I am embarrassed to say I forgot.

When I became a young adult I began to learn Spanish for pleasure. I decided to live for a short time in Spain in an attempt to improve my skills. I can now speak and understand basic Spanish, although I have also forgotten a large amount.

In more recent years, since about 5 years ago, after marrying my husband (alhamdulillah) I began to learn some Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and some Tamazight. My husband is Moroccan-Amazigh and is the eldest of a very multilingual family, and nation for that matter... ! 

And while this might all seem very impressive, the fact of the matter is that I am still a beginner in Welsh, Spanish, Darija and Tamazight, and that my primary language remains to be English, sadly. 

'Duolingo' is my primary educational language resource, and Morocco (and my husband) are my primary in-person language resources. 

I do endeavour to become fluent in Welsh, Darija (Arabic) and Tamazight, because I want to read Quran in Arabic, inshallah. and of course to communicate with my family and future children, inshallah. 

So on that note, if anybody here happens to read this, and is a native speaker of Darija (Arabic), and/or Tamazight, please contact me. For my husband would surely like a translation break, haha.

🌍

During my university year I had the chance to study on many manuscripts of old germanic languages, but I remember Welsh beign one of the most difficult to grasp to congratz you you that still try and manage to study and know some of it.

Also, switching from a Germanic area to a Semitic one is another praiseworthy task so you truly are a linguistic marvel! 😃

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7 hours ago, moonstaredits said:

My second language is English. I learnt it very organically. I was a curious kid with a lot of free time, so I spent it online. Since I was 12-13 years old I simply started to consume English videos and music, and reading comments online. I would search every term or word I didn't know just so I could learn some more vocabulary. I also played games. In my country there's really nothing much English being taught in the schools (specially public schools) and I definitely didn't make any significant progress with my regular English lessons. Besides from paid courses, there's definitely not a lot of places where you can learn English properly. I even had to learn grammar organically. 

Thinking about how I also started learning English as a kid online is somehow romantic, and I believe that is the starting point of almost anyone who was born in a non-English speaking country.

7 hours ago, moonstaredits said:

So yeah, Italian is the most recent language I am trying to acquire, I've been learning it since January 2022 when I started my career. For me it's a lot easier than English was because it's very similar to Spanish, but the acquisition process is not happening as organically as with English to me. I blame my lack of exposure to Italian, there's really not a lot of Italian things online or maybe I don't know where to find them. I practice with Duolingo lessons and watch some Italian videos about grammar or news. Winx Club, my favorite cartoon when I was a kid, is originally dubbed in Italian, so I found the episodes on YouTube and use them to practice my listening. I was surprised to find out the show it's Italian! 

Woah, I would have never thought someone would bring up Winx Club here, that is something that belongs to the past of almost any Italian girl I know! I was born in 1995 and every girl of my generation watched that cartoon during their childhood. I did not know it was so famous abroad as well 😮

7 hours ago, moonstaredits said:

I've learnt quite a lot nonetheless, given how quick I had to learn something new every week in order to understand my lessons and pass my evaluations in college. La mia professoressa mi ha detto che sono quasi ad un livello B2! E grazie per la tua domanda, mi hai fatto ricordare quanto amo le lingue e quanto ho imparato fino ad oggi! (Translation: My professor told me I am almost at level B2 in Italian. Thank you for your question, you made me remember how much I love languages and how much I've learnt until today!)

I am also sure you will probably manage to get also to C level, as an Italian speaker trying to learn Spanish, I can see the many similarities and the alikeness our languages have, in fact up to now Spanish is the language I find personally the most fun and easy to learn.

Also, if I can recommend you a new way of exercise your language for free, I suggest you to take a look at https://www.conversationexchange.com/.

Here you can register and set the languages you know and the languages you want to learn. The website will match you with someone who is learning your native language and that speaks natively the language you want to learn, so you can chat there and help each other out.

I have had a great time both learning on webistes like Conversation Exchange and live (aborad and at university), because the greatest part of learning a new language is also getting to know the people that speak it. It can open you whole new worlds! 😁

And P.S. Complimenti per il tuo italiano. Si vede che lo hai studiato bene, continua così!

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On 9/5/2022 at 4:35 AM, samus_x said:

how many additional languages do you know?

Well, let's see, in addition to English, I know a little Pig Latin, Elvish, Op, and Klingon.

On 9/5/2022 at 4:35 AM, samus_x said:

Did you learn them because it is required in your country or because they teach them in your country school?

Neither. Although, as I understand it, two of those four languages are, indeed, taught in some American schools. 😉

On 9/5/2022 at 4:35 AM, samus_x said:

Or did you learn it because you chose to do it?

Well, "geek" is my unofficial middle name, so... 😛 

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8 hours ago, moikchap said:

However, if we want to get into dialects, I also know Chiac and Newfoundland English around the same level as Quebec French, but from being around people who speak them. Both are considered generally lower-class dialects.

I find myself code-switching a lot between what would be considered a "standard american accent" in work and business and my natural atlantic canadian accent, which is often associated with a number of negative traits by other Canadians. For example, people are more likely to question the validity of my suggestions if I say them in my regional accent as if they presume I'm less informed, due to my region being stereotyped as very rural and blue collar (uneducated).

As a passionate linguist and dialects supporter I believe that still knowing your local dialects, even if they have kind of a social stigma, is a praiseworthy skill.

They might have no practical use but every language, be it spoken by 5 people on the whole Earth or by billions of people, brings with it a cultural and historical heritage that is deeply intertwined with the language itself. So, by speaking  Chiac and Newfoundland English you are making yourself a guardian of a cultural baggage that otherwise would go missing in some decades.

Here in Italy, dialects are frowned upon as the language of not scholarized and illiterate people, as the "real" Italian language went "mainstream" during the last century. In 1861, 80% of Italians were in fact illiterate and each region/area spoke a different language (lacking of course an officially written counterpart).

Nowadays of course we all speak Italian and dialects are slowly fading away, but with them also folklore and many old traditions, myths, recipes, games and other things that belonged to the "ancient" Italian culture are beign forgotten and lost, if not preserved.

So, once again, it is great to hear you know and use you local dialects ☺️

8 hours ago, moikchap said:

My brother mentioned noticing at his school that native speakers seemed to be consistently worse speakers of a language than ones who learn it, and he theorized it was because the ones who learn it don't even know the improper ways of speaking, so they have nothing left but the proper ways.

I remember reading a comparative study about how different countries have a different apporach of teaching their language in primary and secondary schools, and how some focused more on a side of the language (as grammar or syntax), while other completely overlooked them.

In the end it also compared how these approaches affected the language spoken by native speakers compared to the version of second-language-learner.

Unfortunately I cannot recall where I had read it but as soon as I do I will link it here! 😁 

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19 minutes ago, jonbaas said:

Well, let's see, in addition to English, I know a little Pig Latin, Elvish, Op, and Klingon.

Well there are so many Elvish languages, you need to tell me at least if it is from the Middle Earth of from somewhere else 😌

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I was born and raised in Pakistan, Although English is not my native language but from a very young age I started speaking English organically because of my academic education. I used to listen to English songs, watch English series and try to speak as well.

I speak 3 languages in total which are Urdu (my native language), Sindhi which is another native language, and then English. I love to learn Spanish but due to my busy schedule I could not properly give time to it.

 

 

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I'm French, everything has begun in 2014 when I started to play online video games with my friends, I used to play league of legends for so long time and world of warcraft before.
I liked to communicate with other people in using english and even sometimes in real life when forgeigners come in my country, but I wasn't very good at first.
Then in 2015 I have met in league of legends, a group of foreigners from Finland, Germany, Spain, Koweit, Serbia, and then they have invited me to play games and wanted to be on s***e with me, when discord didn't exist yet, or it was the discod begining.
First time I arrived on a call with foreigners, I had just some English basis from school, but I didn't understand anything what they say, was google translating most of things they wrote in chat trying to communicate.....
But I kept playing with them and came to vocal convs with them, days, weeks, months passed, more time passed and more I became better at understanding in vocal, at writting and also developped more vocabulary.
We also had a whatsapp group to talk about everything, we were there, 2 years passed and those people were like friends to me until one of the finnish person decided to meet me in real life in coming at my home, we spent a good summer in 2017, we hanged together, went bars, beach etc then he also came again in 2018 for the final football world cup, huge moment too.

And this is how I learnt English, and during all this time I was still meeting foreigners sometimes in my country 🤷‍♂️

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I'm from Portugal. We all have english at school, and then you just kinda learn from exposure (internet, media...). Besides portuguese and english I speak spanish decently enough (because it's similar to portuguese), a little bit of french, and I can understand some italian (basically all romance languages become easier if you speak one of them).

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9 hours ago, samus_x said:

I did not know it was so famous abroad as well 

Well I've watched some recent meme videos with the English dub and basically it was very popular during the 00's, it turns out Nickelodeon bought the rights too and I think that's when it became worldwide famous!

9 hours ago, samus_x said:

I can see the many similarities and the alikeness our languages have

They are indeed very similar! A lot of Italians can speak Spanish to some level, and grammar is similar too so it's not that difficult. I hope you achieve fluency soon. I also hope to achieve C1 sooner than later, sometimes I'm very worried because my lessons in college require me to learn things WAY faster than I've ever did with English. It's a challenge but I always try my best.

9 hours ago, samus_x said:

Also, if I can recommend you a new way of exercise your language for free, I suggest you to take a look at https://www.conversationexchange.com/.

Thank you so much! I will definitely check it out these holidays.

9 hours ago, samus_x said:

Complimenti per il tuo italiano. Si vede che lo hai studiato bene, continua così!

Grazie mille! È stata una sorpresa per me incontrare un madrelingua in questo foro!

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13 hours ago, samus_x said:

Well there are so many Elvish languages, you need to tell me at least if it is from the Middle Earth of from somewhere else

Oh, the only Elvish language that matters -- from Middle Earth, of course! Although, I wish I could speak it fluently. 

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Hi too

Answer - 1st Question:

Born in Pakistan so our native language is Urdu. How did I learn English: Hmm via several mediums I can say:

  • Academic Institutions (English Medium's School, College & University)
  • English Newspaper and Novels/Books
  • English Movies/TV Shows
  • Communication with Mom at Home/Outside too

Answer - 2nd Question: 

Apart from Urdu and English, I know Punjabi and Hindi because Hindi is sort of similar to Urdu.

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