First Choice of Second Language

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Lourdes Luna, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Sharjah's satellite TV channel seems to be broadcasting completely in persian tonight (early morning there), so I guess it's not as unusual as I thought!
     
  2. papa_pitufo

    papa_pitufo Senior Member

    Granada
    Granada (Spain)
    That's also the problem here. So many years studying a language at school and highschool for nothing, cause nobody learn to really speak it. That's a big difference with other countries like Sweden, Finland or Denmark. I studied many years English and I didn't learn, I had to study myself after in order to improve it. I studied for two years French at highschool and I did learn anything neither. A proprosito ho vissuto a Firenze per mezzo anno e mi sono innamorato della vostra lingua
     
  3. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    In the US, Spanish is the most popular second language. At my public high school, French and German were the other options for foreign language, although very few students took any of them seriously. Mandarin is increasing in popularity recently, although I don't see it supplanting Spanish.
     
  4. jasio Senior Member

    In Poland for years we didn't have much choice: ;) the first foreign language had to be Russian starting in primary school, through secondary school through to university level. Most people didn't want to learn it though, so Russian literacy was minimal. Second language very much depended on the region: in regions where there was tradition to speak German, people often learned German, in other areas if they selected anything, it most often was English. Learning foreign languages was not very popular though*), and the teaching levels were not impressive either, so only a small percentage of population could effectively communicate. Nowadays it's much better, although there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially regarding teaching quality.

    *) I recalled an old joke:
    Two local guys were walking down the street. Suddenly, a car with foreign plates stopped nearby, the driver opened the window and started asking something in a foreign language. The guys on the pavement looked at each other and again at a driver, clearly not understanding a word. So the driver asked:

    - "Do you speak English"?
    The guys looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders

    - "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
    Same reaction

    - "Вы говорите по-русски?"
    Still the same.

    - "Parlez-vous français?"
    No reaction

    - "Parlate italiano?"
    The same.

    The foreigner finally gave up, and the car moved it's way. Then one of the guys still standing on the pavement said to the other:
    - "You know, it could be good to speak a foreign language..."
    - "What for?" - said the other - "That guy spoke five of them, and it didn't help him at all".
     
  5. NewtonCircus Senior Member

    Singapore
    Dutch (Belgium)
    Factually incorrect. Germany has been the most important trading partner for as long as I can remember and this isn't going to change anytime soon.
    According to your logic schools in Belgium should introduce German as second language.

    - 2013
    1) Germany
    2) France
    3) The Netherlands

    - 2012
    1) Germany
    2) The Netherlands
    3) France

    I agree. Red tape is the reason and I don't expect change anytime soon. On a positive note we already grasp that there is such a thing as un-dubbed TV. most of our neighbours havent't found out that yet :D.

    Are politicians in the UK taken at face value whenever they say something? The reason for this choice is purely pragmatic, no different from why Germany or The Netherlands generally use English as second language.

    Depends on the school and time period. Mine was English. French as second language in Flanders was definitely not universal.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  6. papa_pitufo

    papa_pitufo Senior Member

    Granada
    Granada (Spain)
    Spanish it's a great language :D
     
  7. papa_pitufo

    papa_pitufo Senior Member

    Granada
    Granada (Spain)
    In spain traditionally (40 years ago) the second language studied was French
     
  8. jasio Senior Member

    This reminded me my first visit to Flanders a looong time ago. A local guy, who was a sort of my guide, told me that his children were learning English, German and French at school (I don't remember the order though :) ). When I expressed my surprise, he said that he had had it more diffucult: on top of those three, he had also had to learn Spanish.
     
  9. 경상남도로 오이소 Member

    한국어
    In South Korea, there has been shift in the choice of second foreign languages taught in high school. While English has been mandatory in the last couple of decades, students usually get to choose some other language(s) in their first year of high school.

    In the 70's and 80's it was either German or French which was practically the only languages that was offered, but sometime during the 90's Chinese and Japanese gained popularity and as of now, either of those two languages is clearly the first choice among students. German and French as second languages have been pretty much edged out by now.
     
  10. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    In Taiwan, English has always been the major (if not only) foreign language taught from kindergarten to high school. Due to Taiwan's close relations with Japan, Japanese is the second most common foreign language and it is especially popular among the younger generation. Spanish, German and French courses are commonly offered in university, but most are just introductory ones.
    By the way, Mandarin Chinese is our official language, but Taiwanese is spoken widely by the 30+ generation(because of the complicated history). So one may argue that Taiwanese people have two native languages.
     
  11. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Is there a big difference between Mandarin and Taiwanese?
     
  12. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Are you implying that younger people in Taiwan know Mandarin but not Taiwanese? :confused:
     
  13. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    There is a big difference. Taiwanese is very much the same as Min Nan. (However, there is a noted existence of Japanese words in Taiwanese because Taiwan was colonized by Japan during the first half of the 20th century.) During the Qing Dynasty, the immigrants from the Fujan province brought Min Nan to Taiwan, and it remained the major language until ROC came to Taiwan and established Mandarin as the official language. Taiwanese (Min Nan) has eight intonations and the phonetic system is much more complicated. One who only speaks Mandarin will not be able to understand Taiwanese, just like he won't understand a single word of Cantonese!!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Min_Nan
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  14. gary17 Senior Member

    Chiayi, Taiwan
    Taiwan-Mandarin & Taiwanese
    Well, the younger people vary in their proficiency in Taiwanese. It depends on what language their parents use day to day, whether they have close relations with their grandparents, and where they reside. The southern part of Taiwan uses Taiwanese more commonly than the north, so younger people from southern Taiwan speak better Taiwanese but that's not always the case. I should also note that in some regions, Hakka is the major language.

    It is completely correct to say younger people know Mandarin better than Taiwanese. After all, Mandarin is taught at all school levels while the language Taiwanese has little (if there's any) importance in the education. We learn Taiwanese from the elder generation.
     
  15. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    @Originally Posted by effeundici [​IMG]
    But I'm still wondering why my son has to spend 2 hours a week studying German when I'mpretty sure he will end up with speaking neither fluent English nor fluent German.


    If he spends only two hours a week he is not very likely to become fluent in those two languages.
    Does anyone expect that?

    And if you keep telling him all the things he cannot learn I am sure he will never learn them.
     
  16. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    Spanish is pretty dominant in US second-language learning. There is increasing interest in Mandarin (my nephew is being educated in a Mandarin-immersion school), but Spanish is still the overwhelming preference. I was a weirdo, and studied German and French during my primary education in the 80s.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  17. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Has French been blown totally out of the water then? I read somewhere that there are bilingual French/English schools springing up in parts of Brooklyn.
     
  18. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    No, most schools still have French, even Latin, but Spanish is 10x more popular. Often students take it because they believe it is easy as pie. All you do is add -o to everything. Yo learno el españolo.
     
  19. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    Spanish, German, and French were the predominant second-language options when I was educated (I'm just under 40, from Minnesota). French was the artsy one; Spanish the hipster choice; German the brainy language. I think Mandarin is pretty common now in the States too.
     
  20. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    The same is true in Ireland where Spanish is gaining rapidly at the expenseof French. The fact is, though, that Spanish is a difficult language to learn.
     
  21. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    You think? I've studied a few languages, and none were easier than Spanish. French is much more difficult, German even more so, and languages like Arabic or Korean or Hebrew are far, far harder to pick up for Anglophones.
     
  22. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Really? I think Spanish is really hard, except for maybe spelling and pronunciation. All the indicative and subjunctive verb forms (14 tenses) and their required uses and subtle nuances, lots of irregular forms, 2 verbs to be, prepositions, and the vocabulary is often quite different. I wouldn't choose Spanish to be the easiest. Not insurmountable but not really comfortable for a student looking for an easy A to fulfill a pesky language requirement.

    French is easier in grammar and has more cognate forms with English but it is true that the spelling and pronunciation are pretty chaotic. I think I'd choose Italian as a compromise of the easiness of both. But of course Spanish is easier than Irish Gaelic.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  23. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    It's unfortunate that English has become quite distant from the other Germanic languages. Otherwise, they would be the easiest to learn for English speakers.
     
  24. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Italian has almost 170 irregular verbs (vs. almost 20 of Spanish) and almost 500 -isc verbs. Spanish/Portuguese verbal conjugation is very much regular.
     
  25. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Afrikaans is not that difficult for English-speakers to learn, or vice-versa. The basics are very close. Or so I'm told.
     
  26. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    That many irregular verbs? I never noticed. Spanish has a lot, especially in the preterite. A lot of verb tenses have grown archaic in Italian.
    My impression is it has an easier feel than French or Spanish.
     
  27. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Yes. Almost 170 verbs of the second conjugation have an irregular preterite ("passato remoto", see here http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbi_irregolari_italiani).

    For example:
    romper - rompo - rompí vs. rompere - rompo - ruppi
    beber - bebo - bebí vs. bere - bevo - bevvi
    asentar - asiento - asenté vs. sedere - siedo - sedei/sedetti
    escoger - escojo - escogí vs. scegliere -scelgo - scelsi

    About -isc verbs (80-85% of the verbs in -ire, see here http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbi_incoativi)
    adquirir - adquiero - adquirí vs. acquisire - acquisisco - acquisii
    It's normal if you don't use the "passato remoto" (but you'll note the -isc suffix, which is added in the present tense of both indicative and subjunctive mood).
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  28. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    The textbook we used for Italian in high school (was called Prego!) didn't even teach "passato remoto", it was as if it didn't exist. Also the -ire forms with -isc increments were taught as if they were "the" regular conjugation and the other ones were irregular.
     
  29. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    But this tense is important in Italian (it's used in writings, in television news and also in informal speech in Central and Southern Italy).

    This is a good method, seeing that there are few verbs (of the third conjugation) that don't take it.
     
  30. ESustad Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    English - (Minnesota)
    Huh. We used a textbook called "Prego!", early 90s, and I still have trouble with passato remoto. We should sue the publisher. I have billions in damages from not being able to marry an Italian princess, due to my buffoonish Italian.
     
  31. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    I remember there was a paragraph saying that passato remoto had been completely overtaken by passato remoto in Modern Italian and since it was archaic and irregular they would not be teaching it in that manual.

    Eustad, you're the lawyer. Maybe we should make a class action suit against Prego! for robbing us of the Passato Remoto.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  32. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Yes, that must have been the textbook used throughout North America in the 90's.
     
  33. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Passato prossimo overtook passato remoto in informal speech in Northern Italy (because in the Gallo-Romance languages it is not used) but in the rest of the country it is normal to use it (it's not like in French).

    So, you can take the publisher to court. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  34. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    While I agree that, in Spanish, ser/estar is complicated on all levels and subjunctive usage is quite tricky on an advanced level (the consecutio temporum is really easy, I think), I think Spanish has done a good job in getting rid of irregular verbal forms (past participles, pretérito indefinido forms). The basics are rather easy. The prepositions are really consistent and a piece of cake compared to French, Italian and especially Catalan (oh, those pronouns - they are a real nightmare, especially the combinations), except perhaps some finer points in the personal accusative.
     
  35. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    I don't really understand why you list the passato remoto of sedere as irregular (by the way, which form is preferred in use, is it the -tt- form?), but not the present.
     
  36. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    The problem is the teachers even as far "South" as Emilia Romagna pronounce passato remoto dead and thus contribute to the tempicide...
     
  37. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    You know, the real difficulty for me were not the irregular passato remoto forms per sé, but the difference between passato remoto and passato prossimo, since there's no prevalence of either, like in Spanish or French.
     
  38. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    That textbook is in its eighth edition now and is still used in schools. It says in the bio that the author is from Genoa, maybe that is why she decided to eliminate it.
     
  39. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Were I inclined to start using Passato remoto I'd probably apply Spanish rules of pretérito perfecto and indefinido to Italian. Something makes me think it was originally like that. What is weird also in Italian is the irregular forms are only in a few persons and the other forms have regular conjugation. Rompesti, ruppe, rompimmo, ruppero...
     
  40. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    My teacher at varsity was from Apulia and she spent a lot of time teaching us correct usage of passato remoto and imbuing us with the notion that correct Italian has Tuscan flavour...
     
  41. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Don't forget the differences between por and para. It takes time, study and thought to master those.
     
  42. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    It's rompEmmo: unlike in present tense, in passato remoto you can recognise to which conjugation pattern the verb belongs.
    The rule is pretty clear: one pattern for the 1st singular, 3rd singular & plural irregular, another (mostly regular) for the other three. By the way, essere obeys the same pattern, but it's completely irregular. Avere has, for the 1st person plural both regular avemmo and the extremely rare ebbimo.
     
  43. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    That's not politically correct anymore. :cool:
     
  44. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Yes, forgot them. However, I don't remember having particular difficulties with them. Time and study, no, but yes to thought.
     
  45. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    I'm not good at political correctness and I strongly oppose the milanisation of Italian.
     
  46. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Yes, but from the point of view of someone looking for an easy language, that's not going to do it for them.
    That makes total sense. I don't see how essere
    is regular though. :confused:
    Ma Milano è una bella città! Cos'hai contro lei? Che t'ha fatto di male?:D
    Italian could easily become a multi-centered language with different norms.
     
  47. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    Lol!

    :thumbsup:

    The -tt- forms are the most usual (especially for the 3rd singular/plural).

    Much simpler than, for example, ne/ci (there is a recent topic in SI about the usage of these pronouns with verbs, that was opened by a Spanish speaker).
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  48. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Mbè, ho fatto uno sbaglio: è fUi, fU, fUmmo, fUrono e solo fOsti, fOste. Se fosse "regolare" sarebbe *fOmmo.

    Non ho niente contro Milano, non essendoci mai stato, ma non mi piace l'italiano che vi parlano: troppe vocali chiuse (dicono), niente passato remoto. Comunque i manuali d'italiano per stranieri sogliono orientarsi verso un italiano di matrice settentrionale/milanese.
     
  49. Nino83 Senior Member

    Italian
    E sbagliano, visto che prevale nettamente la versione romana nei media (che poi è simile a quella toscana).
     
  50. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Il mio professore di spagnolo, che prima di venire alla mia scuola era vissuto sei anni a Roma, mi disse che a Roma non avevo usato attivamente il passato remoto.
     

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