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WildMan
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27 Mar 2012, 8:44 am

mds_02 wrote:
I had similar experiences. Half-Mexican half-white, spoke Spanish when I was really little, but lost most of it by the time I was ten or so. Got a lot of crap for asking people to slow down and repeat themselves a lot, and for speaking it very poorly. Can still read it though.


Well, I know about as much Italian as I do Spanish. :lol:

What part of L.A. you from? (Don't answer that if you don't want to narrow it down too much.) I was way up in Santa Clarita.

Quote:
Anyhow, one thing that really bugs me is seeing people act rudely toward people who don't speak the same language. Around here it's usually English speakers doing it to Spanish speakers. Have you experienced that over there?


Yeah, I know what you mean. I've seen everyone from rich yuppies on down to the poorest trailer trash get all verbally abusive in public towards Spanish speaking immigrants.

As for here in Italy. Many see America as being really super cool. In America you'll see/hear advertisements use Italian phrases to sound all sophisticated and posh; in Italy they do that with English! Because they think it's super cool. When I was getting my [equivalent of a green card; can't spell it in Italian], the guy taking my fingerprints got all excited. "Wow, are you from New York?" "No, Los Angeles." "Oh wow, that's really cool!" The Congolese refugee who had been sitting next to me in the waiting room, visibly shaking with nervousness and fear, probably wasn't getting the same treatment as I was.

With that said... people don't always know where I'm from. Sometimes when I go to a grocery store, the girl at the check-out counter will get all cold on me when she sees I don't speak Italian. No eye contact, a little less patience, a little more brusqueness. Since I'm dark-haired and olive-skinned they probably don't assume I'm from United States or from elsewhere in western Europe, and God only knows that back in California people often thought I was Armenian or Puerto Rican or any number of other things (my brother, who's darker, frequently got mistaken for an Arab). For all the checkout girl knows, I got here from Albania last week.

In short, I get a pass for being American. In fact, I would dare say that the percentage of the Italian population that would view me negatively because I'm an American is lower than the percentage of the American population that would view me negatively for being a minority! I wouldn't be getting a pass if I were African or Albanian or Chinese. Of course, members of those immigrant groups almost all speak far, far better Italian than I do, but that doesn't give them too much of a break.



WildMan
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27 Mar 2012, 8:52 am

faerie_queene87 wrote:
Btw, I know that coordination sucks big time here, but don't let it discourage you.


Yeah, I figure I'll get myself into a proper class eventually. Hopefully it doesn't go all wrong again.

I tried going to a "conversation course" at the local expat club, but it just made me feel even stupider. Seeing the other Americans getting steadily better at it while I made no progress at all was really rubbing it in. My wife gets mad that I now avoid going to it, but it really didn't seem to help.

Also, she speaks better English than some of my slackjawed Okie relatives back in California do. I didn't have to learn one lick of Italian in order to communicate with her. I've been told I should tell her to speak Italian to me, but... well, I guess I should try telling her that.

I mean, I don't mean to sound like a Negative Nellie about everything. I'll get it eventually. But so far it's been a real head-against-wall experience.



mds_02
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28 Mar 2012, 3:49 am

WildMan wrote:
What part of L.A. you from? (Don't answer that if you don't want to narrow it down too much.) I was way up in Santa Clarita.


Without getting too specific, I'm from the Harbor Area.

WildMan wrote:
I mean, I don't mean to sound like a Negative Nellie about everything. I'll get it eventually. But so far it's been a real head-against-wall experience.


Can't speak for anyone else, but as long as a person is trying (which you definitely seem to be doing), I don't mind them complaining.


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Last edited by mds_02 on 28 Mar 2012, 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

readingbetweenlines
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28 Mar 2012, 12:11 pm

OJani wrote:
Learning a foreign language is difficult for me, too. I'm glad that the basic structure of English is one of the simplest, and I have the motivation to learn it as it is widely used (computers and pop music have been my first contacts with it). Now I consider it as a window to the world, at least I will never stuck within the language boundaries of my own which is quite a good thing, imo.


Really? I had assumed that given the complexities of Hungarian, any other European language would be simple by comparison. I know a few native Hungarians and they are all terrific at languages. You may be the exception which proves the rule!


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Tequila
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28 Mar 2012, 12:13 pm

Go and live in Malta. You have a ready-made excuse then.



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28 Mar 2012, 12:25 pm

I took German for 3 years in high school. I'm not at all conversational. I remember a phrase or two. Ironically, I had the highest grade in the class.

I took Russian for 1 semester in college. Had one of the highest grades (aside from the people in the class who spoke Russian and took it for an easy A), but can now only remember one or two phrases.

I tried to teach myself Gaelic several years ago. Remember one or two phrases.

Like with most things, I don't have good memory recall of things that don't particularly interest me or that I'm not motivated to learn. I had a near 4.0 GPA when graduating from college, but all of the the things that I knew while in class or taking tests I no longer remember. Also, I have very slow memory recall, so even if I do remember a bit more German than I think, I'm unable to use it in conversation because it happens too fast.


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28 Mar 2012, 3:28 pm

I find learning languages tough, classes don't work for me.

Have you considered getting some one on one tuition? It needn't be a teacher, some patient person who speaks a little English for conversational lessons might do the job.

Jason



OJani
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28 Mar 2012, 3:59 pm

readingbetweenlines wrote:
OJani wrote:
Learning a foreign language is difficult for me, too. I'm glad that the basic structure of English is one of the simplest, and I have the motivation to learn it as it is widely used (computers and pop music have been my first contacts with it). Now I consider it as a window to the world, at least I will never stuck within the language boundaries of my own which is quite a good thing, imo.


Really? I had assumed that given the complexities of Hungarian, any other European language would be simple by comparison. I know a few native Hungarians and they are all terrific at languages. You may be the exception which proves the rule!

Actually, the proper word order is the most difficult part of my language, I had issues with it, thank you. :) Learning any foreign language is difficult, as I don't pick it up as easily as others do just by hearing and listening. I have to learn grammar by many repetitions, and I have the same memory feature fragileclover has, as I'm slow to recall everything.



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28 Mar 2012, 4:08 pm

I have picked away at German with a language program but I haven't been very disciplined due to different life situations that make it hard for me to keep a routine. I think I could potentially do it.

I'm interested in using the language program plus other tools such as writing it onto notebook paper. I think the act of writing it instead of just reading it might help.

Also it would be helpful to have language content written in English, German, and Phonetically for German pronunciation as well as Video of a speaker.



readingbetweenlines
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28 Mar 2012, 4:15 pm

OJani wrote:
Actually, the proper word order is the most difficult part of my language, I had issues with it, thank you. :) Learning any foreign language is difficult, as I don't pick it up as easily as others do just by hearing and listening. I have to learn grammar by many repetitions, and I have the same memory feature fragileclover has, as I'm slow to recall everything.


I think your English is very good and very expressive/poetic, in the way that only non-native English is. But what you are saying is that it hasn't come easy to you, that was the rule I was talking about. :oops:

English is my second language as well and I love it.

Like the OP I have tried to learn Italian but didn't get very far. I just lacked motivation. So few people speak Italian on this planet, I eventually decided it was a waste of time.


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OJani
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29 Mar 2012, 3:35 pm

readingbetweenlines wrote:
OJani wrote:
Actually, the proper word order is the most difficult part of my language, I had issues with it, thank you. :) Learning any foreign language is difficult, as I don't pick it up as easily as others do just by hearing and listening. I have to learn grammar by many repetitions, and I have the same memory feature fragileclover has, as I'm slow to recall everything.


I think your English is very good and very expressive/poetic, in the way that only non-native English is. But what you are saying is that it hasn't come easy to you, that was the rule I was talking about. :oops:

English is my second language as well and I love it.

Like the OP I have tried to learn Italian but didn't get very far. I just lacked motivation. So few people speak Italian on this planet, I eventually decided it was a waste of time.

I love English, too! :)



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29 Mar 2012, 4:04 pm

Let's see...

Spanish in Junior High - barely passed
Two years of Latin in High School - About a C average most of the time
Took French in College - Failed the first time, got a C when I retook the class.

According to my parents, my first spoken language was Tagalog (We lived in the Philippines from the time I was 6 months to about 6 years old) Everybody tells me if I studied it, I would pick up Tagalog very quickly. I kind of doubt that. I've heard Tagalog spoken as an adult and it makes no sense to me. While I have learned to write reasonably well, I have never had a good understanding of grammar and the logic of language pretty much escapes me.

Like the OP, I have no musical ability. I own a wide variety of musical instruments, all of which I have never been able to learn. I can kind of plunk my way through a song on a piano, but I suspect this is because the notes are laid out in a linear sequence on the keyboard where I can see them.

Perhaps it is a minority of Aspies who have difficulty at things like language, music and math (I am very bad at all three) but clearly some do. Algebra is confusing to me, but I could get through geometry because I could visualize how it worked.

On the other hand, I am quite good at analyzing complex and chaotic things and distilling out the basic mechanisms that make a chaotic system work.

I have always thought that I could only learn a language by immersing myself in it, but my distaste for interacting with people would reduce the likelihood of me actually being called upon to use the foreign language.

Well... I'm tired and I'm really not coming to any intelligent point here, so I think I'll shut up now.


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semikaatskillian
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29 Mar 2012, 9:22 pm

I guess I'm a foreign language dummy, too.

My theory is that when English is your native language, its almost pidgin-like simplicity spoils you and dumbs down the language centers in your brain. Later on, when you study some foreign language, you're overwhelmed with all the complexity. Only folks with a real knack for foreign languages can get very far. Many of us give up and never become proficient in the language (especially in output mode), even though we might get good grades in class.

A lot of folks disagree with this theory, but at least it's a great excuse for my lack of success in foreign languages, despite decent grades. :)



cactaur1640
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30 Mar 2012, 9:39 am

I believe in general, (atleast for me) unless i have a genuine interest in the subject (one of my primary interests) or if i even have a lingering doubt as to whether or not i am being forced to learn something, i am very resistant to learning anything related to the new subject.

languages are like that for me too, my english vocabulary is quite extensive, however whenever i would go to learn a different language (on my own) i never personally understood the benefits to doing so, therefore i couldn't learn it easily. additionally when i was thrown into a situation where i HAD to learn a different language (a college class), i failed because it felt like someone was trying to "make" me learn it. and for whatever reason, when i am forced to do something by someone else, my brain rebels and it makes learning nigh impossible.



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30 Mar 2012, 10:23 am

I speak several languages and still screw up my spelling in all of them, I'm also not a native English speaker.

I think you essentially have two problems stopping you from learning here:

1) no to little motivation

Your wife will take care of things that you need her to and you know that. So, on a survival basis, you basically have it covered. What motivates most people who move to another country is that they need to learn it to survive there. When I first moved here my best friend moved with me, and as a result, I didn't utter any English for a year and a half because I didn't have sufficient motivation to start speaking. I was listening and soaking it up at school and at home, but I wasn't using it.

2) teaching methods

Most teaching methods in language learning center themselves around grammar. Sadly, learning grammar is really not going to be useful to an aspie. What makes kids so good at languages is two things, first they are visual thinkers at that age, their thought process is not yet language based and secondly, they are great at picking up and using patterns. Aspies are very similar to kids in those two ways, most of us are visual thinkers and most of us are also good with patterns.

Therefore you need to find a way to learn that is pattern based, not grammar based. Italian is similar to Spanish (there are heaps of patterns in spanish), therefore there must be basic patterns already present in the language that you can learn from.

Start with basic words / phrases you know you're going to use. Your wife should be able to help you. Build on it week by week. The point is not to memorise sentences, but to break stuff down at a really basic level so you can change a verb pattern or a noun pattern in the sentence and still be understood. You should be able to create your own sentences from the beginning without too much thought.

e.g. I want to see my wife.
The bolded indicates the subject, which you can replace with another subject (I have, I must, I need)
The underlined indicates the verb, which you can replace with another verb (to speak, to visit, to give)
The italics indicates the object or noun, which you can replace with another (my friend, her, them)
And the you have the option of extra basics you may need ( with, and, to, something)

Just keep finding patterns like the above, the more you use them, the more you will learn and you will naturally start to expand your patterns as you go out of necessity.


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Last edited by Kjas on 30 Mar 2012, 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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30 Mar 2012, 5:22 pm

WildMan wrote:
I moved to Italy last summer. I have permanent residence and everything. But I can't speak or understand any more of the Italian language than when I got here! I tried to sign up for an "Italian as a Second Language" class last September, which was aimed at immigrants and ex-pats, but the people who referred me to the class screwed up and it was too late to sign up and all the other classes were closed, so I have to wait until next summer. I have the Rosetta Stone but... well, yeah.

I feel like a complete moron. The most I can do is go to the grocery store and ask where the beer is, while hoping to God that the person I ask is very good at pointing and gesturing. Most Italians can't speak a lick of English so it's not really possible to meet them in the middle; if you come here you either learn sufficient Italian or you're up the creek. Everybody swore up and down I'd be speaking like a pro in a matter of months. "Oh, you'll be in a state of total immersion!" They should have added the following caveat: "results may vary."

The fact that my wife is a local is what keeps me from being totally screwed. (She's also the reason that I'm here.) I work at home on my computer, using nothing but English, so at least I'm not screwed in that department (yet). I don't leave the house all that much, and when I myself socialize with people other than my wife, it's usually with the few individuals her and I know who have at least some grasp of English. My best friend over here speaks it pretty good.

I don't know what's wrong with me. I did a search here to see if other Aspies have trouble with learning foreign languages, and... holy sh**! More like the complete opposite! It turns out that Aspies are linguistic virtuosos when compared to the average bear. And I'm a complete dumbass when compared to the average bear. Many Aspies also have a thing with music. Happily, I am one of those.

Regarding music. I tried to take guitar lessons in high school and it was a complete failure. I couldn't learn theory, I couldn't figure out chords, I couldn't figure out anything. Not a damned thing. None of it made sense. My guitar teacher went so far as to tell me to take a hike, and my mom was pissed at me for having wasted her money. Five years later I bought an old crappy bass guitar off a buddy and proceeded to teach myself. I started out completely naive, going off ear and feel alone, nothing else. It turned out I had damn near virtuosic capabilities. I want to learn enough theory to compose avant-garde symphonies. And I can improv like a mo'fo. I'm self taught so there's certainly holes, some of them gaping, but I'm naturally gifted at music, to the degree that professional musicians have expressed jealousy about it. I hate to toot my own horn, but that's at least one positive generalization about Aspies that I live up to!

Language, on the other hand... nope. What the hell is wrong with me?

Start out slowly and try very basic phrases such as "how are you?" "Come stai?" Or "good morning" buon giorno. Do not put too much pressure on yourself and remember that it takes awhile to learn another language and you are in a good position to learn it well since you are living in Italy. In the past I lived in Italy and I studied work books and listened to DVDs while living in Italy and also listened to tapes prior to moving there. I was able to speak basic phrases and order in a restaurant. I did buy a hand-held device that looked like a calculator and it helped define words when I was at a restaurant, etc. Good luck. :)


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