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Learning a foreign language... in another foreign language

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My latest challenge is to learn German, and, being in Colombia, I am going to have to learn German (one foreign language) in Spanish (another foreign language). What can go wrong?

I have no idea why but for the last decade I have wanted to learn German. I learned a little at university but was not very successful (probably because I put in no effort whatsoever).

I got over my failure, though, and really forgot all about German until I spent a semester in Spain. I had a lot of German friends there and this renewed my desire to learn German. I never did anything about it, however, until I was living in France some years later. I found a German course but again I failed to learn. I was motivated but I couldn't finish the course because of my job. Here I am, then, in Colombia, and starting another German course.

Learning any language is difficult. It is time-consuming and a lot of patience is needed. You need dedication and to be committed. Studying another language requires a slow, steady effort. You can study very hard the night before a big biology exam but that strategy does not really work for learning languages. Learning and practising a little every day is a more effective technique. Or, at least, that is what works for me.

Now back in the classroom, learning German is a challenge. Many people say that German is very difficult to learn - especially compared to French or Spanish. The grammar is supposedly very strict and there are many rules (but, isn't that true of every language?) Being in a beginners' class, it is common for the teacher to explain difficult grammar points in Spanish. This is obviously very helpful for my classmates – all native Spanish speakers – but, for me, this is almost even more difficult. In my head I constantly have to switch between two foreign languages. This is really hard work and, half of the time I do not even realise that the teacher has changed language.

This German course is a challenge. It was always going to be difficult to learn German, but learning it in Spanish is even harder.

It'll be worth it, though. Finally I might be able to speak German with my German friends, all of whom are fluent in English.


Have you ever learned a foreign language in another foreign language? What language would you must like to be able to speak?


gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 3 July, 2016 - 15:37

Hi hadia, How many language can you speak ? I can only speak a little English and speak Vietnamese quite well. But I can sing many songs in foreign language :)) Korean, Japanese, Chinese, English, Philipines,...It's funny when singing a song without understanding the lyrics LOL ( but all the songs I know are about love and they are soundtracks that I learned from films ).

Although Vietnamese is my mother tongue, but I have never thought that I am good at Vietnamese, I often receive not good marks in Vietnamese academic tests. Learning language is not easy at all :))

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hadia's picture
hadia 4 July, 2016 - 00:14

Dear Giang!!
I'm happy to see you back here again......i mean I haven't seen you here lately.
Well, to answer your question i can speak two languages at the moment.......a little English! And I'm good at speaking Urdu :-)......That's my mother language.I speak very fluently. Plus, my friends also say that I am very good at it. At writing, speaking, plus reading it. It's not something one can boast up for............As, it's quite natural for a person to speak his/her language fluently.
Moreover, i can speak Punjabi too (the traditional language of the province in which i live i.e. Punjab ) But I speak it in a way that people find it really really funny and they usually laugh at the the way how I speak it. Actually, they really found it cute and sweet. :-)
So yeah, i don't often/actually never speak it. he-he-he-he :) I remember the time when I spoke Punjabi very first time in front of public. It was funfair at our school.And I took part in a funny play. So yeah, to amuse the audience, we prepared the play in Punjabi. As, it would would be quite amusing for the people to see us ( kids) speaking Punjabi. that was the first time i spoke it really correctly and fluently. ( Credit goes to my teachers who helped me practicing it a lot). My friends and my classmates especially, really appreciated my effort .I really felt happy.
I don't often speak but can read and understand Arabic too. i can read it fluently. That's because Arabic is the language in which Qur'an is written. It is the language of eloquence. Qur'an is the Holy Book of Muslims. So yeah, every Muslim knows how to read Arabic as we recite Qur'an daily. Moreover. a Muslim also understands Arabic. Also, Islamiyat( subject for study of Islam) is a compulsory subject here in our country. it helps us understand Arabic quite easily.

Dear Giang, I'm glad you wanted to know :) Your humble and kind behavior provokes me to learn and understand Vietnamese too. I hope my comment isn't too long to make you bore. I hope you make up your deficiencies in Vietnamese academic tests.
Don't be embarrassed if you couldn't get high grades in it. That's not a shameful thing.
Here, in Pakistan, despite Urdu being our Mother tongue. people couldn't make up well in their academic tests usually. Biggest examples are that of my own friends. They also come across many problems gaining max. marks in Urdu :)
You know to achieve High grades and Max. Marks in a language subject....You must consider following things and be best in these fields:-
*Vocabulary and diction in that language should be good and high.
*Your writing skills should be awesome.
*You should have better understanding abilities and a fast learner.
*Your hand writing and presentation of work/test/paper should be great.
*You must have creative ideas and innovative mind.
*You must know who to explain your answer and ideas in the best possible way.
*You must know and learn possible idiomatic phrases, quotes and proverbs, so that you may add them to related topic to make you idea more thought provoking, clear and best.
*Your ideas should be contemplative, lucid and vivid.
*You should give your best at it.

I am sorry, I may not have explain everything deeply because these were the only points that hit my mind at the moment and I shared them with you :-)
I am sure your teachers would guide you the best.

I am of the opine that one should be best ( at least better) in his/her own language.
I have always been lucky in this case. As, my Day helps me a lot. He's the best and awesome teacher I have come across. he's an amazing teacher. he helped me a lot in my board exams. I usually make upto 95 % in Urdu and 90% or above in other language subjects :-) That makes me feel really good :P
Hey there Giang,please do pray for me. My result will be announced in Oct. I know it's a long way but still I want to score more than 95%. I hope I could make up to it.
All I need is just everyone's blessings, wishes and prayers :P
I wish you best of luck too :))
Stay Blessed~!
Your BFF

(Sorry for too long comment.!'re a person whom everybody wanna talk more and more :))!!)

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gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 27 September, 2015 - 14:32

I would like to be able to speak English ( only English - That is reason why I am here!!)
[ Know English, know success]
Do you agree with me?

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NATALYY's picture
NATALYY 7 June, 2015 - 15:08

I love languages( I'm here because that,no?)This year I am going to hight school and I'm learning english and italian.
I would like to learn so many languages,but it's not very possible.For example,I learn italian and I would like to learn spanish.
For me,that is very hard because they are very similar and also very different.When I try to speak I mix them.Awfull!
But,I would like(if I can get anything else)to speak WELL this 2 languages.

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bekhruz's picture
bekhruz 13 March, 2014 - 16:35

I don't very like studying German but I'd like to study Spanish and French. I like to travel and I want to be at France.

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dzeni's picture
dzeni 4 March, 2014 - 13:43

No, but maybe I will try to do it. I am sure it will be funny experience. I would like to know all world languages. In my country there is one saying: How many languages you know, so many heads you worth.

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 19 February, 2014 - 11:53

Yes, I have. I'm learning Turkish in English because there are no sites for learning in Serbian. I thought I would be totally confused, but it's actually very good. I want to improve my German, and to learn Greek, Arabic and Hindu.

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beatiful's picture
beatiful 15 February, 2014 - 06:00

I have no idea why but for the last decade I have wanted to learn German. I learned a little at university but was not very successful (probably because I put in no effort whatsoever)...

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hermione123's picture
hermione123 27 March, 2021 - 12:21

Cool username syriuslee. And great profile photo too. I guess you're a Harry Potter fan.

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Niluh's picture
Niluh 11 February, 2014 - 15:08

No, i haven't. I am learning Chinese in Indonesian as well as English, my English teacher is Indonesian, she speaks Indonesian more often than English in class. I think Chinese, french, Spanish and German are languages i have to master, despite it's not easy to learn even one language. I have been learning English since i was in elementary school, that's quite long, but i still feel that my English is very bad compared to another students in the same age as me who speak English fluently.

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