MY EXPERIENCES AS A LANGUAGE LEARNER

August 27, 2016

 

I have studied 6 languages to one degree or another in my life. I learned or studied these languages in bilingual classes or with a bilingual method, especially at the beginning. In each class I also learned how to pronounce it and speak it while learning how to read, translate and write.
Below is a synopsis of the course content and curriculum, and method of teaching. 
1. French, 1 year, in my 8th grade English teacher's French Club. I bought a book called "French Through Pictures" which I used for a while. I still remember a song, "Sur Le Ponte." 
2. Latin, 6 years, from 7th grade to 12th. We began by translating into English "Ceasar's Gallic Wars" and ended by translating some very ….realistic poetry of Plautus and a few other poets. Actually we could say it was almost XXX rated!!! It was only at the end did I have any interest in learning Latin! Well, I was a teen age boy!!! 
3. German, 7 years. I began in my sophomore year at High School, in a special course in 1960. Our first year texts included “Deutsch Fur Auslander” by Kessler, which I still own. We also used a Langensheidt’s German English dictionary. There were only 6 to 8 students in our classes and we read a lot of very good books. I still remember the first sentence from Kafka's "Metamorphosis", which we studied our second or third year. We also read "The Visit" by Durrenmat, which became a movie with Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren. 
I then studied German for four years in college and I was a German major for two years. I read “Faust” by Goethe, most of Schiller’s and Brecht’s plays, and I also translated the poetry of Gottfried Benn. 
4. Norwegian, 3 months. When I was about 30, I visited a Norwegian girl friend for the summer. I tried attending a NSL class for adults, which had about 20 people from different countries, and was conducted only in Norwegian. I dropped out because I was bored and instead exchanged lessons with a six year old daughter of my friend's friend. Bilingual, bicultural 
5. Irish (Gaelic), 3 months. Some of my ancestors were Irish immigrants and I took an extension course primarily to learn pronunciation so I could sing a few Gaelic songs in a group I had joined. 
6. Spanish, since 1985. I lived in Mexico on and off for more than 10 years, and learned Spanish with the help of my wife at the time (now my “ex) and my students when I started teaching EFL and writing EFL texts. I am still learning. I was 44 years old when I started to learn Spanish and I remember that I thought that it was very difficult…too difficult! 
I thought: “I must be getting old!” But gradually I learned and actually I also learned a lot about teaching English because of these difficulties.

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