Are There People Who Are Naturally Adept At Learning Languages?
When it comes to acquiring new skills some people have a naturally talent for it. Whether it be in basketball, math, chess, art, or any other skill.
The same question can be applied to learning a new language. I know there's scientific data that states the younger you are the easier it is to absorb another language. I started my first language in Spanish in middle and high school which most people have done, however I believe me not practicing what I was taught prevented me from retaining the information even though I still remember a few phrases and aspects of the Spanish language.
I discovered Duolingo last year, this month when I was 21 (I'm about to be 22 in July ), which was around the same time I saw a video of 17 yr. old polyglot "Tim Doner". I decided to learn French and as I progressed through the tree I found it difficult understanding the weird idiomatic expressions, why this pronoun went there, verb conjugation, etc. As of now, I would say I'm at an intermediate level of French and have released my frustrations with the structure of French due to the fact the a told myself that I have to stop comparing my native language (English) to French. Yes they share similarities but at the end of the day they have their way of structuring their language which I have to become accustomed to. Once I let that comparison go it was nothing but a snowball effect with learning the language.
This snowball effect has ignited a huge drive for me to learn many more languages and over the last few weeks I've looked into languages such as: Farsi, Arabic, and Chinese (Mandarin). And surprisingly I'm retained most, if not all the information I've learned about each language within a short period of time.
I've been using the "Pimsleur: Farsi" course for about two weeks now and I can now say quite a few sentences in Farsi. I also know how to read and write in Arabic (75%) and it only took me about a week to learn to do so. Right now, I'm learning the aspects of Chinese (Mandarin) and I have to say...it isn't what many people make it out to be as if its difficult to learn.
Yes the ridiculous number of characters you have to memorize is excruciatingly intimidating but with the right, PERSONALIZED Mnemonic Technique I think its possible to learn this language as well as understanding the tones of the language. Nonetheless, if I'm correct, Chinese (Mandarin) doesn't conjugate their verbs nor do they have genders in their language which is a HUGEEEE relief so now I can put my focus on memorizing the tones and characters of the language.
I feel like I've taped into my brain and opened up my naturally ability to learn languages. I know I've seen people saying learning multiple languages at the same time isn't recommended especially if the languages are similar but French, Mandarin, Arabic and Farsi aren't similar (with the exception of Arabic and Farsi sharing the same alphabet) but so far I don't mix up my words of each language because they aren't similar and I have time to put into learning each language.
I've always been an eager and fast learner. I'm good at math, love science, I can draw and I think I've found another skill which is languages which I LOVE =D
Wo hen gao xing 我很高兴
This website claims that Farsi is actually an easy language for English speakers:
Congrats on finding what works for you! You're completely right that you have to learn a language on it's own terms, and not constantly force it to the mold of another. People who don't understand this unfortunately this set themselves up for failure. And Chinese characters also aren't as difficult as people make them out to be: learn your radicals! Suddenly, a 15 stroke character is just 3 smaller, familiar parts stuck together. 3 parts are a lot easier to memorize than 15! :D
How I memorize the Chinese characters is basically associating that character with something in my native language that is similar. For instance, the Chinese character for "older brother" is 哥哥 . What I did to memorize how the character looks is by associating it with something that looks familiar to me which is a bunk bed. To me the character looks like a bunk bed and when I was little me and my little brother shared bunked beds and he had the top bunk and I had the bottom bunk because I was older lol
That's one way, very creative! How a Chinese might associate it is to notice that it is made up of two "ke" 可 on top of each other, so the pronunciation should be similar, in this case "ge". In the long run, when dealing with more complicated characters, knowing radicals is highly suggested, because most likely they won't look like anything you can easily associate. ^_^
I participated in a Chinese learning psychology study where there was a software that showed us a photo that slowly morphed in the chinese character. I retained this information over two weeks. This method is brilliant.
Would you happen to know what software it is so the rest of us could give it a try? :)
I haven't the slightest clue, she made it herself, it's probably not available yet :(
Although I am not currently learning Chinese, I did find this video very interesting. It goes along with your technique of learning the characters:
Although I'm learning Spanish now, Chinese just seems so different and unique that I would like to try it sometime in the future. I heard about this guy that is learning Chinese entirely through watching Chinese movies and media. What do you think about that idea? http://mandarinexperiment.com/
Chinese is similar to Japanese in that aspect. There are lots of characters to learn but there aren't any Masculine or Feminine words or nouns. You basically just need to to know conjugations, and dealing the with the particles. Pronunciation wise, its pretty similar to English.
I don't think it does, but I'm not an expert. The hard part I've found with Chinese is the pronunciation of words and the order in which the kanji are put in.
I think if you find the right person to teach you who's a native of the language it can go so much smoother. I've been watching some videos on this youtube channel called "yangyang Cheng" Its a Asian girl who teaches prounuciation, tones, grammar structure, etc and I PROMISE you she has this personality about her that makes learning the language so much easier.
Actually we do have Masculine and Feminine pronouns, like he and she. But you are right, most of the time you can't know whether it is masculine or feminine.
Some scientific studies claim that left handers have better language skills.... (I'm left handed and I'm fluent in English, and I am not having problems with French and Portuguese so I agree xD).
Scientific studies actually show that after you learn an L2, it will be easier to acquire an L3, L4, etc. So E.T.s_Son is probably experiencing that.
Glad to hear you're doing fine learning new languages! I do too. But personally I don't learn multiple languages at once mainly because I don't have time for that and also I think it gives me a deeper understanding of the language I'm learning when it doesn't interfere with other languages.
My native language is Persian (Farsi), so don't hesitate to ask any question you may have. Now there are some differences between Farsi and other languages which may prove useful to learners facilitating their efforts. In Farsi:
- Nouns do NOT have gender. Pronouns don't have gender either. In Arabic however you have 14 pronouns whereas there are 6 in Farsi.
- Nouns and adjectives do NOT agree on gender or count.
- Sentence structure is SOV. It's SVO in Arabic.
- Pronunciation is relatively easy since there are only 6 vowels (3 short and 3 long ones).
- Verb tenses are very much like English. (Hence I had no problem coping with English tenses.)
There are other things but that would do for starters. Hope you succeed in your studies!
Chinese doesn't have verb conjugations (unless you count adding 了 at the end for past tense and 过 at the end for present perfect), but the real difficulty lies in characters and tones. Although the characters can be easy to remember with a lot of practice, it can definitely be a lot of work. Tones are very hard to remember and pronounce, but practice makes perfect.