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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Learning new languages is fun! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

S2000magician
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I consult with Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems, where half of the employees are Japanese. I teach two courses in an International Finance program at UCI where I have had students from China, France, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Guatamala, Russia, Morocco, El Salvadore, India, England, Tunisia, Spain, Armenia, and Taiwan. I teach review courses for the CFA exams in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, where I have had students from Latvia, France, Switzerland, Kuwait, Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Italy, Poland, Germany, and Bulgaria.

I find learning new languages to be immensely enjoyable (though I freely admit that I'm not remotely fluent in anything other than English), and I find talking in English to non-native English speakers to be equally enjoyable.

A perfect example of the latter occurred Wednesday when one of my Brazilian students was trying to think of the word "rooster" and it escaped her; she asked what we call the husband of a chicken.

Priceless!

(I'm sure that my feeble attempts at French and German are at least as amusing to native speakers of those languages.)
MobilityBundle
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I agree.

I recently spent a while in Rome, and made a feeble attempt to pick up some Italian. (Feeble for lack of time -- I was still working -- and not for lack of enthusiasm.)

My favorite part of learning a new language is the idioms. In Italian, they don't have a separate word for "crawl," at least to describe how a baby moves before it walks. They say the baby "goes like a cat."

I'm not sure why, but I find that charming.
tommy
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Devil’s Island
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It is fun having a girlfriend who does not speak ones tongue.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Agreed S2000! I also quite enjoy learning how to speak english with different foreign accents. Matter of fact, I use them in my street act, and find that they create a better hat for some odd reason...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Patrick Differ
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Smart stuff, amigo. Fluency in another language is an education in itself.

Do some people have a "knack" for foreign languages, while others don't? Is it an "age" thing, as in "old dogs and new tricks"? Is learning another language after childhood an issue of a positive/negative self-esteem and/or ego? I don't really know. I suspect it goes back much farther than that; back to the days of our upbringing and our primary education, when we were taught how we should react to ourselves after we've made mistakes. Did we learn to view our mistakes as shameful blunders, or as what are to be normal aspects of daily life? (like speed-bumps that we have to approach carefully to be able to overcome without wrecking our chassis, which, in turn, allows us to continue down the road we are on)

I know. I started learning Spanish from the Cubans in 1993, at the tender, young age of 30, and I've made every mistake anybody possibly could, and it ain't over yet. People have laughed, guffawed, chortled, and snickered at my pronunciation, conjugation, and diction errors, myself included. (What did I say? I said that??!! Oh, holy wow...!)

With the advent of a globalized economy, citizens of the USA would benefit by learning another language or three. The opportunities to learn, befriend, share, conduct business, and earn respect will be a decided plus despite the fact that many's second language will already be English. All we have to do is get over ourselves and take the plunge.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
Michael Baker
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I know a French woman who said she was so cold, she had chicken skin on the fingers of her feet, to describe having goosebumps on her toes.

When I was a kid, some of the translated instructions on magic tricks that came from China or Japan were hysterical.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2012-06-02 09:39, Patrick Differ wrote:
Do some people have a "knack" for foreign languages, while others don't?


Yes, some people have the knack. What I really find interesting is what might explain that knack.

I had a student two years ago who sounded like an American. I closed my eyes and pretended I didn't know who I was listening to. American. So I asked her where she had lived in the States--obviously she had been in an exchange program or had worked as an au pair. But no, she had never been to the States. So I asked her if she had had a native speaker as a teacher in school. No. "So how did you aquire your perfect accent?", I asked. (I didn't bother asking her about the grammar.) She said that she watched a lot of American movies. She simply has a gift, I think.

Incidentally, grammar is usually the tell-tale sign of the non-native speaker of a language, not accent. I say this because in Spy novels and movies the agent always speaks "accent free", as if this were the only standard.

Just for the record: my bi-lingual son still has a fairly thick German accent. This stuff doesn't come automatically.
S2000magician
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Four weeks ago my wife and I were in Paris. One of my International Finance students and his girlfriend were our tour guides our first day, and that evening took us to a very nice restaurant. After the meal, the waitress brought dessert menus; she gave one to my student, one to his girlfriend, and one to me (but not to my wife), said something to my student, then left. He told me, "She thinks you speak French; that's why she gave you a menu. She knows that your wife doesn't speak French, that's why she didn't give her a menu."

The next day I was talking to the gentleman who organized the CFA Mock Exam I was teaching. He said that I speak French without an accent (or, more accurately, with a Parisian accent). He said that I speak it slowly - which makes me sound shy - but that I sound like a native.

That evening he and his girlfriend went to dinner with us. When he arrived at our hotel we were already in the lobby, and as he approached I said, "Bon soir!" He was ecstatic! "You have no accent!" When his girlfriend came in, he said, "Say that to her!" I looked at her and said, "Bon soir!" "See! He doesn't have an accent!"

I should contact the French department at my alma mater and see if they can contact Mlle (well, these days it would be Mme) Dozier, my French professor from 30 years ago, to thank her. I'm sure that she's the one who gave me the Parisian accent.

I agree with Stoney on both points: some people have a knack for languages (I seem to have, for example), and grammar (and idiom) are probably better signs of a non-native speaker than accent.
ThatsJustWrong!
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I spent a long time learning another laanguage but have yet to be called upon to perform a show in Pig Latin. Ohay ellway.
Joe Leo

All entertainers can benefit from some help from an experienced stage director. How about you?

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landmark
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My son is in the North of Spain right now and while I knew they speak Catalan there, I didn't realize how different it is from Spanish. Common phrase there he tells me: Jo no sóc espanyol, sóc català - I am not Spanish, I am Catalonian.
motown
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I studied French when I was in my teens and later in life Swedish. Never got fluent in either. I was never able to use them on a regular basis. Wish I had though.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
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MobilityBundle
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Here's a funny story, particularly to the German-speakers in the crowd.

I have sister who is three years older than I am. She started college in my second year of high school, but her college semester didn't start until about a month after my high school semester. So we decided to do a little experiment: I'd take German in high school, she'd take German in college, and we'll see how long it takes for her to "catch up" to my one month head start. To be sure, neither of us had any significant prior exposure to German.

So we were off and running. We would chat on the phone and check on our progress. She was clearly going at a faster rate than I was. But her pronunciation was TERRIBLE, particularly on umlauted o's and u's. Eventually, she became a little self-conscious about it, and she listened to her instructor very very carefully. She swore her pronunciation was okay, even according to her instructor, but to me she was mangling the words.

We discovered a short time later that her instructor was from Berlin, and my instructor was from a small village in Switzerland. By way of analogy to the American language, she was learning pronunciation that a TV news anchor would use, and I was learning pronunciation from Yosemite Sam. Then *I* became self-conscious of my pronunciation!
motown
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I've spent time in both Germany and Switzerland. Even without knowing German, I can here the differences. I suspect it's a bit like French and French Canadian.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
– Karl Germain
MagicSanta
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I have a very hard time learning another language, my dad speaks five or six.
S2000magician
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Quote:
On 2012-06-03 10:13, MobilityBundle wrote:
Here's a funny story, particularly to the German-speakers in the crowd.

I have sister who is three years older than I am. She started college in my second year of high school, but her college semester didn't start until about a month after my high school semester. So we decided to do a little experiment: I'd take German in high school, she'd take German in college, and we'll see how long it takes for her to "catch up" to my one month head start. To be sure, neither of us had any significant prior exposure to German.

So we were off and running. We would chat on the phone and check on our progress. She was clearly going at a faster rate than I was. But her pronunciation was TERRIBLE, particularly on umlauted o's and u's. Eventually, she became a little self-conscious about it, and she listened to her instructor very very carefully. She swore her pronunciation was okay, even according to her instructor, but to me she was mangling the words.

We discovered a short time later that her instructor was from Berlin, and my instructor was from a small village in Switzerland. By way of analogy to the American language, she was learning pronunciation that a TV news anchor would use, and I was learning pronunciation from Yosemite Sam. Then *I* became self-conscious of my pronunciation!

I had a similar experience in high school because my first-year Spanish teacher was from Puerto Rico, but my second-year Spanish teacher was from Spain. I'd imagine that the differences in pronunciation were comparable to yours.
MagicSanta
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My dad learned spanish in spain when building a plant there. He liked taking classes and the teacher spoke French so he learned French in order to take the Spanish class. I can say beer in spanish but I don't drink!
Father Photius
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My nativ languige is Texun, I ar still a workin' on Anglish.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Tom Jorgenson
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Speekin o' whitch:

A good way to teach losing of an accent is to have the student speak their own language, but in a strong American accent. This gets their breathing, tongue positions, etc., in practice. Then, when they speak in English, try to keep that accent. Their accent will diminish because of the exercise.

For instance, have your Japanese people speak Japanese (badly) like a Texan might pronounce it. All languages have different tongue positions, breathing, pacing, etc. This practice helps the student get there naturally, helps them recognize those positions.

It's also a good way to lose some of your own American accent.
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
MobilityBundle
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That's an awesome suggestion, Tom.
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