Greetings,
(Some background info, you can skip to the questions at the end if you want. Also, apologies for the crosspost, but I feel that it is actually an interesting and relevant discussion to all groups.)

Do most of you speak a lot of languages? How many? Why and how? Here is my current situation, I wonder what you guys think:

So, I grew up in France. I was in France from 2-9, but I went to an American school. Still I was exposed to a lot of French. Never ever really got fluent, but I have the accent and pronounciation in me.

Picked up French for two years in High School during my Freshmen and Sophomore years. Then didn't do a language again until the past year and a half I took French up to the intermediate level in college. I am now a 23 year old college graduate.
I can speak enough French to make sense now, and enough that if I was in France, I could get around without having to speak English (even though I'd butcher the French.) However, I'm not at the level yet where I can read newspapers without thinking a lot of what I'm reading. My speaking is probably ahead of my writing which is ahead of my reading (to understand, not to actually read.)
Anyway, a couple of months ago, I decided to add Italian. Why Italian? Well, it's a romance language too. Plus my favorite soccer team and player outside of England is AS Roma in Italy. I'm picking it up pretty fast, I'm concentrating more on grammar and tenses. It's pretty much French with a different dictionary! So I'm picking it up at a faster rate than I did French (especially as at I'm at a more advanced level of french where at some point, it's more vocabulary and abstract grammar i.e. subjunctive and complex tenses). I can introduce myself and talk briefly about myself and others in Italian.

I study them both, I make up my own syllabi and follow them. For French, I sometimes go to bed listening to French radio, and I do some reading out loud. For Italian, I read out sentences, but I don't feel that I'm comfortable enough to go into audio yet.
Now my questions:-

1) Does it matter that you can't understand audio? Should I listen toItalian radio as well?
2) I'm greedy. I want to learn another language. I'm torn. Is it a badidea to start learning a THIRD language while I'm at staggered levels of French and Italian? It won't mess me up will it?
3) Three languages. I don't know which to choose. I'm debating betweenSpanish, Russian and German. Each have their advantages and disadvantages.
I have a few Latin friends, as a soccer fan it'd be great to read the Spanish media like La Marca?
German will be a departure from the comfortable "romance language" thing I've got going. I'm also into history, and philosophy, and there is probably a lot of German literature on that> I just admire German civilization throughout history.
Then there is Russian for the challenge. Non-Roman alphabet.

Is there anything you can tell me about the disadvantages and dissadvantages of the aforementioned three languages?

The main thing is that I want to be better at what I'm doing, and I'm finding it really rewarding when I see or hear the odd phrases in movies or print, and I recognize them because of my studies!

Sincerely yours,
William.
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Greetings, (Some background info, you can skip to the questions at the end if you want. Also, apologies for the ... or hear the odd phrases in movies or print, and I recognize them because of my studies! Sincerely yours, William.

If you try to learn Spanish now you run the danger of getting lots of interference from your other Romance languages. You're better of going for German or Russian which will be nice and fresh for you.

I know lots of languages and I can say that you shouldn't get discouraged by not being to understand tv or radio... That's hard. You'll still be able to understand when people talk to you.

Robert (www.pdaworldtravel.com)
13 Aug 2004 22:07:00 -0700: (Email Removed) (Wassup its Will): insci.lang:
2) I'm greedy. I want to learn another language. I'm torn. Is it a bad idea to start learning a THIRD language while I'm at staggered levels of French and Italian? It won't mess me up will it?

There were a period in my life when I tried to learn Spanish, Portuguese and Esperanto all at the same time. Wasn't very effective in my case.

Ruud Harmsen - http://rudhar.com
Do most of you speak a lot of languages? How many?

Two.
Why and how?

One is my native language; the other I learned out of personal interest. I've briefly studied a few others, but never long enough to develop any useful ability in those other languages.
So, I grew up in France. I was in France from 2-9, but I went to an American school. Still I was exposed to a lot of French. Never ever really got fluent, but I have the accent and pronounciation in me.

Accent and pronunciation are not wired in. Your early experience might provide enough memories to help you if you were to pursue the language again, however.
I can speak enough French to make sense now, and enough that if I was in France, I could get around without having to speak English ...

You don't really know that unless you go to France and try it. Americans and other monolingual people routinely underestimate the amount of competence they require in a foreign language in order to get by, and actually trying to survive with what they know abroad is often a rude awakening.
However, I'm not at the level yet where I can read newspapers without thinking a lot of what I'm reading.

When you can translate the newspapers, you'll know that you're really reading French.
My speaking is probably ahead of my writing which is ahead of my reading (to understand, not to actually read.)

That's unlikely, since it's usually the other way around. What I've observed is that people with only some vague speaking experience tend to imagine that they speak and understand far more than they do. Their low competence in the written language is evidence of just how little they know.
There are true cases of people who speak and understand but remain illiterate, but they are rare. Based on your description, I doubt that you're one of these exceptions.
It's pretty much French with a different dictionary!

Only as compared to Chinese.
1) Does it matter that you can't understand audio?

If you ever wish to converse in the language, yes, it matters a lot.
Should I listen to Italian radio as well?

To develop listening competence you must listen to the language.
2) I'm greedy. I want to learn another language. I'm torn. Is it a bad idea to start learning a THIRD language while I'm at staggered levels of French and Italian? It won't mess me up will it?

It depends on your goals. It takes about two years of nearly full-time study to go from zero to a reasonable level of fluency in a foreign language of the same family as your own (e.g., another European language). If you jump from one to another you're not going to develop this fluency. However, it's up to you. Some people really do pick up languages extraordinarily fast, but most simply don't realize how little they've learned until they are actually forced to use the languages they've been studying.
Remember, it took you a decade to learn your native language.
The main thing is that I want to be better at what I'm doing, and I'm finding it really rewarding when I see or hear the odd phrases in movies or print, and I recognize them because of my studies!

Then this might not be the moment to start on yet another language.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
On 13 Aug 2004 22:07:00 -0700, in rec.travel.europe, (Email Removed) (Wassup its Will) arranged some electrons, so they looked like this :
... I can speak enough French to make sense now, and enough that if I was ... in France, I could get around without having to speak English (even ... though I'd butcher the French.) However, I'm not at the level yet ... where I can read newspapers without thinking a lot of what I'm ... reading. My speaking is probably ahead of my writing which is ahead of ... my reading (to understand, not to actually read.)

Insist. Keep reading in French. It won't last long; in a few days/weeks you'll be used to it. It worked for me when I was learning English - talk about learning (almost) effortlessly... :-)
I know lots of languages and I can say that you shouldn't get discouraged by not being to understand tv or radio... That's hard. You'll still be able to understand when people talk to you.

If you don't understand radio and TV, you're not really understanding the language. You may have the impression that you understand better in person because it's easier to guess at what someone is saying when you have a familiar context and other non-linguistic clues. Listening to pure sound like television and radio is the acid test of listening comprehension.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
Do most of you speak a lot of languages? How many?

I struggle along with only two.
Why and how?

When the choice was put before me in high school, I realized that I'm an American living in Aztlán but that's only part of what made my decision. Looking at a map, it was obvious that the the primary language in America is Spanish, the two primary exceptions being Brazil and Quebec with several smaller ones.
I do not regret my choice. I've travelled America from Fairbanks to Buenos Aires, Santiago to Montréal and much of the Caribbean. I've been able to speak with the locals in their language with the few exceptions already mentioned.
Recent trips to Paris and Italy, I was able to easily read important stuff and fake enough of each language to get the help needed at the moment.
Un San Francisqueño en San Francisco
http://geocities.com/dancefest/ http://geocities.com/iconoc/ ICQ: http://wwp.mirabilis.com/19098103 IClast at SFbay Net
Sat, 14 Aug 2004 11:53:22 +0200: Mxsmanic (Email Removed): in sci.lang:
If you don't understand radio and TV, you're not really understanding the language. You may have the impression that you ... context and other non-linguistic clues. Listening to pure sound like television and radio is the acid test of listening comprehension.

Watching TV, especially recent news items, offers a lot of context and non-linguistic clues too.

Ruud Harmsen - http://rudhar.com
Watching TV, especially recent news items, offers a lot of context and non-linguistic clues too.

Not nearly as much as face-to-face conversation. I have lots of students who do well in face-to-face conversation but can barely make out a single word in TV and radio broadcasts.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
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