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Learning a new language

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by Tally, May 7, 2013.

  1. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    I would really like to learn a new language. It seems like such a good opportunity since I am mostly bedbound and I think it would really make me feel more useful in a way.

    However, as you can imagine, I am having difficulty concentrating, I can't grasp grammar concepts and memorizing new vocabulary is next to impossible. I forget all the words so easily.

    I was really good at learning languages before I've gotten ill and I had my own way of doing it, but I was wondering if taking a different approach and adjusting to my situation might make it possible to learn even now.

    Do any of you have any tips or advice? Did any of you manage to study a language while ill?

    I don't expect it to be the way it was when I was healthy, but I just want to make it possible to do, no matter how slow it is.


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  2. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    Hi Tally,

    Dmitri started a similar thread a while back: http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/what-language-to-learn.22888/

    There are some good replies there. I have been studying Spanish taking courses at a Community College. And yes, I have had to discover new ways to learn--not easy, but possible.

    Would you like me to merge your thread with the earlier one so that all the discussion is in one place?

    Best,
    Sushi
  3. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    Hello Sushi,

    I've seen that thread but since I've already decided which language to learn, it wasn't of much use to me.

    If you think it's better to merge the threads, I don't mind :)
  4. Sherlock

    Sherlock bicarb for exercise recovery and taming candida

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    Isn't constant practice the key? I always would have liked to learn a language besides English, but without anyone to practice with constantly, it dies out quickly.
  5. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    Yes, but that's what healthy people do because they can.

    I just don't see the point in practicing month after month after month every single day and still not being able to memorize 50 basic words.
  6. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    I was living in the Netherlands and in the middle of learning Dutch when I came down with ME/CFS. I usually don't have much problem with cognitive efforts triggering PEM, but actively focusing on Dutch speaking for long messes me up badly.

    But I still hear and read Dutch every day without it crashing me. Basically I try to learn it passively. Instead of studying it, I just sort of let it be part of the background noise. Most TV I watch is English language but with Dutch subtitles, so I might read the subtitles from time to time to pick up new words. Or listen to the radio, but not really worry about understanding what is said ... if I do, fine.

    Studying to learn new words or grammar is pretty hard, so for me it's just a matter of picking up the odd word now and then, or hearing a catch phrase for the 10th time (without noticing it the previous 9 times), and it just becoming something that I now know. It's very slow, and might not work if you don't already have a basic vocabulary in place, but it's the best I've been able to do.

    Something else that works (if you do it right!) can be reading simple books in that language. Again, some basic vocabulary is required, but even books for young children might help. Basically just read it without focusing on the words. The book needs to be simple enough that you can generally understand what's happening, but you have to be careful not to try to puzzle out the things you don't understand. Looking up a word from time to time isn't a problem, but fully engaging your brain to make sense of things will hurt :p

    Most Dutch cities have some libraries with a section of books for Dutch-learners and/or Dutch people with dyslexia or other issues. Some are short simple novels targeted at teens to get them to read, but others are simplified versions of real (and good) novels. They also get labeled for their difficulty level - A0, A1, A2, B1, B2. C level is basically fluent enough for normal novels. Also, if reading normal novels, it helps to go for a foreign-language version of a book which you're very familiar with, and where the author uses simpler and more straight-forward language. For example, Stephen King and Jim Butcher are fairly easy for me to handle in Dutch, but Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman get me stuck on the first paragraph.
    Tally likes this.
  7. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    Valentijn That's very good advice. And reading what you wrote I realized that's basically how I learnt English, even though I was completely healthy at that time.

    Sadly, I am starting from scratch with the new language. It will be very difficult to get the basic grammar and vocabulary but you are totally right that it will be possible to learn passively after that.

    Thank you.
  8. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    I just thought of something else that might help in getting started ... I used Rosetta Stone while I was still healthy, but it uses a fairly low-demand method (not rote memorization or studying). It might be worth looking into that for getting the basics.
  9. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    There's also http://livemocha.com/ , which is similar to the Rosetta Stone method, but partially done by volunteers and language learners. So the basic lessons are free. I wouldn't bother with the lessons that are paid for or swapped for points, since that's too focused and intense.
    Tally likes this.
  10. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    Thank you for your suggestions.

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