Learning a new language: how to go about it?

Interesting, thanks! Now, can you read this? it's Standard American:

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When you are interested in this, IPA can help notice nuances that you wouldn't unless you have a very attentive ear and lots of training. But, like I said before, I don't think it's for everyone. It's a lot of work for a very small return to language learners, OSIT. And, like you pointed out, accents can then vary so much, that the transcription above may not give you an accurate depiction in the end.
In case some of you don't know about it, I've found this app to be quite useful.

It allows you to basically watch any video in your target language AND get subtitles, both in your mother tongue and in the target language as well. You can export a PDF or copy the text. The translation is not perfect, but it works quite well.

It's handy to listen to interesting people in foreign languages too even if you aren't learning the language and are just interested in the content. :-)

Another extension I've found useful is called Toucan for Firefox and Chrome/Brave, which does that for text pages. So it will insert words from the language you wish to learn into web pages that you can look up via mouse-over, or have whole sentences or paragraphs translated.
a) always reading material that I had audio for (never separate until level B1 was reached)
If somebody is interested in French, and wish to read a text along with an audiobook, then this page Lectures Cle en Français Facile offers more than 50 easy readers in mixed genres and of varying difficulty. The audiobooks are on the webpage for each book. If you download the audio file, you can adjust the speed of the playback on a VLC player or similar.

Probably other companies provide similar services. One could look for "easy readers in English" or or alternatively: French/Spanish/Russian/Chinese etc., or one can translate the words into the target language and search that way, which may give different publishers. A few searches that worked for me: FR, livres en français facile/ES, libros fáciles en español para extranjeros/RU, книги на легком русском языке для иностранцев. I did not forget Chinese, but after a few translation variants in different search engines, also www.baido.com, I concluded the most consistent results actually appear to come in English. If needed one could ask in a social media group for the learning of Chinese.
There is a good overall summary of the construction of the French language in this video. IMO

Yt channel: Langfocus / video : La langue française Link
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I used the Pimsleur course to learn some Spanish before a trip to Puerto Rico. It is a 30 minute a day listen and repeat drill program. In a month I was comfortable asking directions, ordering food, getting around, having simple conversations. I tried this also with Russian and German, which were much harder for me. I recommend the Pimsleur courses overall. I've looked at Rosetta Stone, but I found Pimsleur to be easier. I also liked being able to do it in the car. I didn't do the reading/spelling part, just the listen and repeat drills. For the few words and expressions I know and use, I've had several native speakers remark on my good accent, asking me where I learned Spanish. The common languages come in 4 course levels. They are kind of pricey, but they get you speaking and understanding the basics quickly.
My only complaint is that they don't offer Bangla/Bengali, which is the 7th most commonly spoken language in the world.
As for learning, for me anyway, it was living and interacting within a non English speaking community day in and day out, trying to develop an ear and a tongue (the harder part) for the language. Writing a different language seems a lot more more difficult (masculine/feminine etc.). When traveling in Europe, would write down as many things as possible that I thought I would need to ask, and then really try and listen to the responses to sort out nuances, pronunciations and meanings - usually people would smile knowing I'd said it all wrong.
It has been my experience that that is the simplest way to learn; from ordinary people in every day life where it surrounds you and you absorb it more easily.
As a small child I spoke Hungarian fluently, thanks to my babysitter, until my mother decided to fire her. Mum was, apparently, ashamed of our maternal Hungarian genes and didn't want me to speak that language. Funny enough, some 50 plus years later I can still pronounce the words with a bang on dialect which I think is awesome.
In high school I learned German for four years and it also came fairly easily but it felt too complicated learning from books compared to just being around German speaking people.
So today, Serbo-Croatian remains my formal mother tongue but English also as I have been learning/speaking it since 8 years of age. It is most effective IMO to learn in the community.
I'd also like to plug a language learning program called Yabla. _Yabla - Language Immersion - Learn Languages with Authentic Videos
It was started by the child of a local colleague, which is how I learned about it. I subscribed for a while, but did not have the time to do much with it. I forwarded some of the videos to Spanish speaking friends for their opinions, and got very good reviews on their quality. It is kind of a subject focused immersion in casual conversations, staged at various levels of difficulty/learning. I think short-term free subscriptions are offered to see if it is a good fit for prospective students.
I also used My Language Exchange to try to learn Bengali and to help another learn (better) English. To this day I still have that individual as a penpal, albeit in English.
Available as Docx and Pdf, here is a compilation, “EN Help with Reading and Writing in English”, written for forum members for whom English is a secondary language and who rely on translation machines when reading and writing. Since the previous version, the information about DeepL.com and spell checkers has been updated. The document can be translated using Google Translate.


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Practising writing and spelling with a translation programme
In France, it is customary that students do some subject review exercises during their Summer vacations. At least the bookshops at highway refuelling stations and supermarket book department carry a whole range of booklets for different age-groups with exercises in one or more subjects. The booklets carry solution keys, typically in the middle, so they can be taken out by the parents, if they wish to supervise the efforts.

I bought one such booklet from the series Hachette Education Passeport called:
Passeport - Du CE2 au CM1 (8-9 ans) - Cahier de vacances 2022 While not written for people learning French, there will be many immigrants in France for whom French is their second language, including 8/9-year-olds.

As I came to an exercise, where I had to insert the correct words, I came to the idea of writing the text in translate.yandex.com and see how it would play out. (I believe one can use other translation engines.) The programme recognized the French text, as I began to write, and gave me red lines when I had misread or skipped the ´, ` or ^ above an e. Similarly, it also gave me a red line, when I had inserted the wrong word, which allowed me to try again, without having to read the final answer in the solution key before I had all clear.

In the following exercise, I had to put a sentence in singular in the plural and I went through a similar process, where I inserted my best guess, and observing the feedback from the program. The exercise done, I could save it to a document, though that is optional of course.

Reading a French paperback along with an English kindle version
Fortunate to be gifted a romance novel in French by Julia Quinn: Les Lyndon (Tome 1) - Je t'offrirai la lune
I found a Kindle version of the original: Everything and the Moon (Lyndon Sisters Book 1) (English Edition)
A good rhythm has been to read one page in French, and then follow with the same page in English on the Kindle, while looking back on the French version to pick up a couple of new words and improve the understanding of passages, I could not get by reading the French alone.

The French translation is not literal in many places, as some English expression simply do not have exact translations, just as the translators may have their own style of translation, but that to be expected if you try this approach. Now this was an experiment with French to English, but the same should be possible with other languages, as soon as one has learned enough vocabulary, for this exercise to be meaningful.

Voici un lien qui a traduit les sons en ANGLAIS en écriture (pour moi le Français)​

Super bien fonctionné, ce n'est pas parfait mais cela donne une idée de ce qui est dit... Un Grand MERCI à ANDREW 🥰

AndrewMn :​

Oh, bien sûr ! J'ai déjà partagé des conseils dans ce fil. Je serais très heureux si cela aidait @@PERLOU !

Nous assistons aux réunions depuis l'ordinateur. Et nous utilisons le programme de traduction du téléphone. Ils se tiennent côte à côte pendant la réunion. L'ordinateur à le son et le téléphone "écoute" ce qui se dit et affiche la traduction à l'écran.

Je ne sais pas quel téléphone vous avez, mais je pense que le processus d'installation sera le même ou très similaire (pour iphone et pour android).
J'ai un téléphone Xiaomi et le système Android est installé, j'utilise donc Google Playmarket. Cette application est déjà dans mon téléphone par défaut. J'espère que vous avez le même. Le téléphone doit être connecté à Internet. C'est important. (vous pouvez consulter auprès de votre fournisseur de services), ou si vous utilisez le Wi-Fi, vous devez vous connecter à Internet via celui-ci.
Ensuite, trouvez cette icône sur votre téléphone et lancez-la (Google Playmarket).

Tapez "Google traduction" dans la barre de recherche. L'écran de mon téléphone est dans l'image ci-dessous:

Ensuite, cliquez sur le bouton d'installation.
Le programme va s'installer.
Après cela, vous pouvez sélectionner la fonction "Speech to text" dans ce programme et l'essayer.

Oh! Si vous êtes sur un ordinateur, vous pouvez essayer la traduction en ligne. Ouvrez votre navigateur à proximité - entrez le lien : Google Translate
Il y a deux flèches dans la capture d'écran ci-dessous. Si vous cliquez sur un avec un micro, c'est pour traduire le discours en texte. Si vous cliquez sur l'astérisque - c'est pour enregistrer la traduction pour la lire plus tard.
Capture d'écran_1.png

Vous pouvez voir notre réunion dans une fenêtre et voir la traduction à côté. Essayez-le, c'est encore plus simple qu'au téléphone. J'espère vraiment que tu pourras le faire.
La seule difficulté dans ce cas est que dans les cours SRT, ce n'est pas aussi pratique car il faut regarder l'écran de l'ordinateur.
Ce n'est pas parfait mais cela donne une idée de ce qui est dit...
Mille MERCIS à ANDREW pour ce service, précieux et apprécié, rendu...

It is not perfect but it gives an idea of what is said...
THANKS to ANDREW for this valuable and appreciated service...
I am lucky that I do not have to try to learn Japanese as a foreign language.
However, this kanji/kana mixed manner, like hieroglyph, has a large amount of information that comes in just by looking at it. Writing in English and Japanese next to each other has the advantage that you can see at a glance what you have posted in the past.
However, as long as I do this, I don't think my English will improve.

If there is a word/sentence in Japanese that you do not understand even after consulting a dictionary, please ask.
By the way, my English basically relies on DeepL and Google translator. And in the latest session, C’s also said this in imperative form ☺.

A: Push to get a machine translator.
Trying out tests for citizenship and long time residence permits
In order to become of citizen of a country or even to achieve a long time residence permit, the country often requires a language test and especially for citizenship also a test of knowledge of the history of the country and society. Sometimes there are online resources that prepare for such tests, or services that will give you an example of what is required.

A search for: "test for immigrants to Russia", gave several hits including this site which has trial tests in language, history and law. The history test offered an exposure to the language, at the same time as I was learning or refreshing what I already knew about Russia.

According to the Wiki for Test of Russian as a Foreign Language, the minimum requirement is a A2 level, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. However, one might need a B2 to practice one's profession.

Being motivated by the experience, I did a search for another country, France. One company offers packages that one can study as a preparation for a multiple choice test on French history and culture. As part of their presentation of what they offer, they write:
Law No. 2011-672 of 16 June 2011 on immigration, integration and nationality adds certain conditions for those who wish to obtain French nationality. It includes signing of a charter of rights and duties of French citizens.

The candidate must also prove his or her assimilation into the French community, including adherence to the fundamental principles and values of the Republic and a sufficient knowledge of the language, history, culture and French society, as well as knowledge of the rights and duties conferred by French nationality.

Assimilation is checked during an individual interview with an official of the prefecture or consulate. The government has implemented a special test, so-called French Citizenship Test, which consists of 12 multiple-choice questions.

The test is considered passed if at least 7 questions are answered correctly.

Our Training Packages contain questions published officially, questions that are part of the Civic Exam since 2005, and questions submitted by site users who have already passed the test. Our program offers the opportunity to prepare for the French Nationality Test quickly and easily.
For citizenship in France, one needs, according to a UK based emigration service, a B1 level in French.

Other languages and countries
Many countries have language tests they use to determine if one can obtain a long term residence permit. To get an idea, here is a Wiki with a list of language proficiency tests. If that is a bit much, you can try a simple search string, like I did for Russia and France. Perhaps there will be additional hits if the search string is first translated into the target language.
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