Language Discussion

For discussing things related to languages: learning languages, talking about incorrect grammar, stories that involve languages, and so on.


I’ve been learning Japanese for a while now. Took a couple courses while at uni, and trying to keep that knowledge in my head while learning new things. The most convinient part is that they don’t really use spaces to separate words, so it doesn’t matter that I always forget to space my handwriting.



Doesn’t that get confusing?

I have managed to cause trouble for myself in two of languages I know. I can “speak” American Sign Language (ASL) functionally. The other languages I am not fluent in at all (though I would love to be). I know just enough Lithuanian to get me in trouble.

  1. I used ASL with someone and they promptly went faster than I could keep up with. Oops. Also, when speaking ASL make sure you know where your fingers are pointing.
  2. I was at a Lithuanian dance festival in Baltimore and was browsing some pretties. A woman says hello to me in Lithuanian and me, not paying attention beyond this, says hello back in Lithuanian. I got a string of Lithuanian. Also, oops.

It’s always worth knowing a few languages. When I was 18, I went on a trip with college/sixth form to Krakow. On one of the days, there was a non-compulsory visit to Auschwitz. We’d visited Terezin and Sachsenhausen already, so I said “No thanks”.

I spent the day exploring Krakow, and got lost.

I managed to find a traffic warden to ask directions from. One problem - he didn’t speak English, and my Polish didn’t get any further than “Hello, do you speak English?”.

A brief discussion ensued where we both tried to find a common language. French? Not enough for directions. Italian? Nope. German? We have a winner!

Directions given, I headed back to the hotel, very relieved that being multilingual worked.

Since then, I’ve got to the level of being able to get by in a few languages - German, Russian (but that’s rusty), French, Spanish and Welsh. I’ve also got various Duolingo courses on the go.


I’m something of a polyglot. Growing up Orthodox Jewish in Montreal, I attended Hebrew day school. I’ve been told that things have changed since I was there, but at the time, the provincial government had an arrangement with “parochial” schools, where if they taught X hours in French, they would fund the parochial (in my case Hebrew; but there was a similar arrangement with the Greek and Armenian schools) portion of the curriculum. So it ended up costing about half what a full-on private school would. And in elementary school in addition to French language classes, science, social studies, and gym were taught in French. Math was taught in both English and French. While my accent gives me away, and my grammar is barely passable, my French comprehension is way up there and I can make myself understood.

As I mentioned, it was Hebrew school, so I got that starting in preschool, until I graduated high school (in Quebec, that’s Grade 11).

Now, when I was 16 in 1988, I went on a trip to the former Czechoslovakia and Poland. This was before the Berlin Wall fell and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The iron curtain appeared to be solid. And as soon as we crossed the Czech border from Austria (the airline we flew didn’t go to east-bloc countries; Vienna was as close as it could get us), my English and French appeared to be useless and I wasn’t going to try Hebrew.

In junior college, I majored in Literature and Languages and studied Spanish and Russian with an eye to being able to communicate in the majority of countries I might travel to. Minored in Russian in university, too. I’ve forgotten most of it unfortunately.

These days, I’m doing three languages on Duolingo: Welsh (finished the program; eventually, I’ll probably take more advanced classes through distance ed via the LearnWelsh website); Hungarian (it’s the hardest language I’ve ever taken, but I will learn it or die trying!) and Yiddish.


Are you planning on learning Ladino?

[To Ellen_Fleischer, since the reply function seems to be broken again]

Actually, this might be useful anyway, since they do have Yiddish. Free online language classes from a university. They’re no longer taking applications this semester, but maybe you or someone you know might be interested next semester.

1 Like

Possibly. I’m not opposed to it, but with three languages on my plate right now, I’m not looking to add another at the moment. But maybe when the new semester starts, I’ll be ready. Thanks for the tip!

I like learning languages :slight_smile: So far, I speak Swedish, German and English. I took French, Spanish and Latin in school, but I wouldn’t claim that I can use any of those freely.

My French teacher was 2 years away from retirement and didn’t want to work. We just watched movies and learnt nothing. I understand a lot of (written) words and get the general topic of a text, but that’s it.

Spanish was good, but I didn’t have it long enough to achieve anything - I started learning again using DuoLingo and lived in Spain for a while, I can make very, very basic small talk and order food. The main issue is that they speak so incredibly fast :sweat_smile:

Latin was used as a tool to learn and understand other languages :slight_smile:

If I meet someone who speaks Norwegian we can usually both communicate using our own languages. Danish is difficult, I don’t get anything they say but can understand written texts fairly well


I’m currently learning Italian. Might add a scandinavian language into the mix next year.
I like learning languages and stuff.

1 Like

In that case I would recommend Norwegian. It is sort of a mix between Swedish and Danish, if you learn that, it will be easier to understand or even learn the other two languages :slight_smile:

1 Like

I love languages. I’m currently learning Danish, and I know French and Esperanto. I’ve been trying to learn Japanese but I fell off the wagon again; I think I’d do better if I could take proper classes or have a tutor, as I’m bad at managing it on my own. I’d also like to learn ASL in the future.

1 Like

I used to be able to read French pretty well. Since I’m in Canada, French started in Grade 4 and I took it right up till first year university. However, being in Western Canada, the quality of instruction really wasn’t there, and it was a pretty big leap from high school French to university French. The French keeps getting a little nudge every time I go shopping and read the “wrong” (French) side of the packaging.

I also took a semester of German in university because I picked up some from my mom, who spoke German when she was growing up. I loved the English cognates, but I can’t put together a sentence any more.

Throughout my language learning journey, I’ve always been very self-conscious of my accent and of making mistakes when speaking, which has really held me back.

My husband and I have been studying Japanese off and on since about 1982. After each break, we have forgotten a lot, but still are more advanced than when we started the last round.

Studied Spanish independently for a few years; however, that was around 2000-2003, and I’m amazed that I remember anything at all.

1 Like

I took four years of Spanish in high school and I remember some of it.

I still remember the first full sentence I learned in Spanish, however.

“Comarero, dos Coca Colas por favor!”

I think it was in the book Say it in Spanish. I could be wrong tho.

I’ve mostly learned through Duolingo courses. I finished the trees for Spanish (though they’ve added new content since then), Norwegian, Esperanto, Irish, and Welsh. I started but did not finish Czech, Hindi, Greek, Hebrew and Latin. For Hindi, Hebrew, and Greek, I found it difficult to deal with the different alphabets and I don’t feel that the courses helped me that much. Czech and Latin, I got pretty far but lost interest after I lost my streaks.

I would say that of the ones I’ve completed, the Norwegian course is the best. The development team very clearly put a lot of effort into it. They even included fantasy and sci-fi terms. Esperanto was also pretty good, since they had a voice actor and the guy was clearly having fun with his lines. Welsh was pretty solid, though they didn’t really teach the mutations as well as the Irish course did.

The one I had the most trouble with was Irish. Mainly because they weren’t able to record audio for all words and sentences, and then pushed me into audio-only sentences where I’d never heard the word pronounced before and with no slowdown. Which especially doesn’t help when Irish uses different vowels to mark pronunciation of the consonant in ways that I can’t hear and there are about as many silent letters as in English, if not more. It’s been a while since I took the course, though, so hopefully they improved it.

I also dabble in conlanging for story purposes.

1 Like

That’s what made Navajo tricky - the lack of audio past about the first two sections.

Zulu’s quite an interesting one but, because my brain’s being weird at the moment, I’m back to refreshing my German.

checks full Duolingo list of my courses

The courses I’m doing are as follows, in order of XP gained:-

Welsh (complete to level 5), German (complete to level 1), Spanish, Navajo (complete to level 5), Hindi, Zulu, French, Italian, Ukrainian, Hawaiian, Swedish, Czech, Latin, Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese, Danish, Klingon, Irish, Japanese, Polish, Spanish (German speakers), Hungarian, Swahili, Esperanto, Hebrew, Haitian Creole, French (German speakers), Arabic, Korean, and Gaelic.

1 Like

What would you all say are the best language-learning courses and websites?

If you can find a website specifically aimed at teaching your language of choice that’s usually better.

I like Duolingo for general language learning. It won’t make you fluent but it’s great for beginners or practicing. Quizlet is great for making flash cards (though they locked certain features behind a paywall :/). For Japanese, Todoku is a website with lots of free kids books; reading books is a great way to learn any language. Lernu is recommended for Esperanto.


Also: listen to music (and read the lyrics) and sing along. Watch movies in the language with subtitles . It’s a great way to sneak it into everyday life situations


Cooking. Get a few recipe books in your language of choice. Look up the words you don’t know and make the recipe.

1 Like

I kinda did that the other way around. Stumbled across a band on YouTube and liked the music but didn’t understand a single word. Looked it up and set the language of the navigation system on Euro Truck Simulator accordingly. (I mean, how hard can it be to understand "turn right/turn left after hearing it a few times?)
Then started the course on Duolingo.

The band was Garmarna by the way.

1 Like