Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by AndrewTheAndroid, Jan 15, 2015.
The good old days when wolves smoked on kids TV!
In large cities there are generally multilingual meetings at coffee shops and bars. Every one wears pins (or something) with their A languages on one side and the languages they want to learn on the other and can find native (or very good) speakers in their target language. Can be quite useful and fun, also chaotic.
I went through the (US) military language school in 1989-1990 (Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California). The training is top notch and very systematic. There is a heavy emphasis on reading, writing, listening, and speaking and lots of grammar and vocab work (although the vocab tends to more military focused). Most of the training is in small group instruction with native speakers with one-on-one conversation labs.
At the end of the course, you take a test, which measure your Listening, Reading, and Speaking on a score of 0 to 5 (0 being very little, 4 being at/near native level, and 5 being educated native level). Most requirements for military jobs require scores of 2's. Most of my peers came out with scores like 3,3,2 (R, L, S) after one year of study in Russian.
Generally you study from 9 to 5 five days a week. If you fail three main tests in a row, you are gone. That motivation worked quite well for me.
Using the educational foundation taught there, I was able to pick up German and Czech (tested out with 2's and 1+'s) in the military. Later I crafted a program to learn Korea (while being in Korea) and was able to score a 2 (failed the 3 by a little bit) on the KLA, which measure 0 to 6, with 3's and 4's being the level required to attend Korean universities).
The military school is excellent (http://www.dliflc.edu/) in my opinion.
My best friend is attending there right now for Mandarin Chinese with the Air Force. He returned over the recent holiday season for 2 weeks and I was super impressed how within 8 months he was not only able to converse with people in restaurants here (NYC) but also able to read the signs and menu in chinese.
For myself, immersion has also helped me greatly. My wife is from Italy and my italian (which I studied for years in school and then when I went to college) improved 10x as quickly living with a native speaker. As I mentioned in a previous comment, practice online with a native speaker can really help a lot. Also it will introduce you to current slang that isn't always readily available in these learning programs.
A lad from our school had a year in China before going off to university,to learn baji quan.Only one person spoke any english in the familly he lived with and his master spoke only chinese. Result ? One year later he came back fluent (and surprised the hell
out of the staff at the local takeaway where he was working part time ,casually joining in the backroom banter ! )
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