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I'm considering adding a C language mostly for work. I'm wondering if any of you have tips that would allow an asymetrical way of learning, i.e. I want to focus much more on understanding than on actually speaking the language, in oder to be able to work with that language as soon as possible, and polish it up later.

In your experience, are pronounciation and conversation exercices vital to memorize vocabulary? Is there a way to enhance listening comprehension without investing in active speaking skills?

I have a very basic level in the language, probably due to the fact that it's close to my A language and that I did take classes, long, long time ago. Now I got a few books and methods, Assimil and Rosetta Stone, but am wondering how to speed up things, save time and efforts - if possible.

asked 12 Nov '14, 05:24

G%C3%A1sp%C3%A1r's gravatar image

Gáspár ♦

I think techniques for learning a language are probably a personal thing. I for example can't learn a language passively more than say 20% better than my active knowledge, so I regularly get to a stage where I have to improve my active to allow my passive to get any better. Actively speaking vocabulary for example, was an essential part of my remembering it in the future. This may not be the case for everyone of course.

I think much of these would still apply...

Exposure to the language is undoubtedly part of the solution. Listen to talk radio all day, every day for example!

Implicit in your question is that you are going to limit to a minimum the time you spend in the country. This I think is a problem. Lots of people add languages this way, but I think they are at a real disadvantage in understanding how people really speak, and putting what is said into the real context of that countries culture and customs. (And that makes it harder to interpret properly.)

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answered 12 Nov '14, 08:23

Andy's gravatar image


edited 12 Nov '14, 08:38

Hi Gaspar!

I am in a similar situation and understand you perfectly. It seems super difficult to add a new language from scratch when we know that it took a life to get to our present combination. The thing is that our present combination (in the case of young professionals) is the result of a natural process in which we learnt languages without even knowing that we would want to become interpreters one day. We acquired them "unconsciously" somehow, and now it is so hard to accept that actually it takes long to learn a language "consciously" and for interpreting purposes.

So what I try to do now I am adding a new C is:

a) As you said, taking advantage of the knowledge you already have of a language of the same family.

b) Doing all the stuff you are supposed to do even with the languages you already have (reading newspapers, listening to radio programs, etc.).

c) Spending time in the country where the language is spoken and making friends who are native speakers (as a friend of mine would say, be a language vampire!).

d) Try to do all the things you "unconsciously" did when you acquired the languages in your present combination.

e) Try to speak the language. I know it is not your main goal when adding a C, but your mistakes will be corrected (by your new friends!) and you will learn a lot from that.

f) Translate some articles about current affairs into your mother tongue, as a translator would do. Take your time to reformulate and note down nice expressions and links.

g) Picture yourself meeting your goal and never give up!

Good luck! ;)

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answered 13 Nov '14, 11:44

David's gravatar image


Dear Gaspar,

I have been in the process of adding Portuguese C for the last 3 years. It's been quite an investment of time and money. I started with private lessons, and then took a 6 month sabbatical from my freelance work and enrolled in a uni in Rio.

I'm afraid that there are no shortcuts, if you want to have a good C. There's no science to this: you have to work on your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Even if it's "only" a C, you'll have to speak it in front of your colleagues at least somewhat decently. There's no point in rushing your C language acquisition, after all, you're signing up for a career-long commitment. It's better to take it slow and add a strong C, rather than to try and fast-track it. Trust me, colleagues will notice the difference, and they will respect you if you put adequate time and effort into it.

Best of luck!

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answered 17 Nov '14, 08:05

anyulig's gravatar image


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question asked: 12 Nov '14, 05:24

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last updated: 17 Nov '14, 08:05 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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