Sipping Claret Bordeaux and thinking.

Nearly five ago, I went to my local library and borrowed a French course. Five years on, I can speak the language conversationally, along with two more languages I’ve picked up along the way – German and Russian. The Russian, in particular, needs more work, especially in regards to accent and pronunciation, but I feel the French and German are going to plan.

Personally, I regard speaking and understanding as more important than reading and writing, and I devote my time to translating sections back into English and listening to foreign language recordings without the text in front of me. Speed and accent are also important, although a person learns best by making lots of mistakes, then returning at a later date to the task in hand and mastering it.

Grammar plays a role too, but mostly in connection to my French studies. German and Russian grammars are particularly difficult.

I believe that anyone can learn to speak a language using modern teach yourself methods (often at little cost), and I would certainly recommend it.

If planning to learn two or more languages, allow at least six months before each new language, choose a language from a different language group (French and Italian or Spanish could cause confusion/French and German works better), and devote the bulk of the studies to the first language (for example, forty-five minutes of French, ten minutes of German).

Just a few of my thoughts.

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