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Velociraptor
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17 May 2012, 12:49 am

I've been trying/needing to learn a foreign language for YEARS for college. It's made me not able to graduate so many times.

Do Aspies have a harder time learning a language?

Part of it is just practical... I hadn't studied the language in a few years, then tried to pick it back up.

I still find foreign language learning next to impossible for some reason. I can get a 4.0 in graduate classes, but can't learn intermediate to advanced foreign languages.

Do I just suck at language learning, perhaps, or do you have the same problem?



EstherJ
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17 May 2012, 1:01 am

Nope...I think language is one of my splinter skills....
I'm on my 3rd as far as officially learning, and 5th/6th as far as what I can read in.

Are you incredibly visual? That could have something to do with it...I only see words when I think, so I think that helps me. If you're very very visual, you might have a problem connecting words to pictures, and when abstract stuff comes, you're at a loss.



ooo
Velociraptor
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17 May 2012, 1:21 am

I'll trade ya skills! :)

Hm... I've never thought of myself as visual. If I see a word written, I don't just remember it. Flash cards help decently. If I'm in a small room of people, say, an organization meeting, and there are fewer than 100 people, I can count the number of attendees after leaving the meeting. My total number has ended up within a few people of the "official sign in count" many times over the years. I'm freakishly into some useless details like this... if a roommate leaves dishes out, it drives me nuts. If there's dirt on the counters... groceries left out... can't deal. Does this just make me nuts, or visual?

I can memorize vocabulary, but it's hard putting sentences together. Verb conjugations? I just can't do it. I can't remember them, and I don't understand them.

I guess I'm hoping that I'm visual so there's some chance I might be able to learn a language. I feel seriously... challenged... if not completely stupid.. for not being able to learn the stupid language after so many years. I've taken the language placement test a few times, not done well enough, and had a meltdown each time.


EstherJ wrote:
Nope...I think language is one of my splinter skills....
I'm on my 3rd as far as officially learning, and 5th/6th as far as what I can read in.

Are you incredibly visual? That could have something to do with it...I only see words when I think, so I think that helps me. If you're very very visual, you might have a problem connecting words to pictures, and when abstract stuff comes, you're at a loss.



EstherJ
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17 May 2012, 1:40 am

When I say visual, I mean, do you think only in pictures? Words may not register as sharply, but obviously you notice a heck of a lot of detail.

I don't think it means you're stupid at all. Maybe the reason is because you take in so much detail that the bigger picture (i.e.
grammar, conjugations, etc, get lost in the mix.

Are you better when you read a language? I mean, do you feel like you could understand it with time and practice? Maybe you have some not so good teachers?

Lastly, some people learn better outside a traditional classroom type setting. I bet if you immersed yourself in another country you could pick up the language faster than you expect.



ooo
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17 May 2012, 1:55 am

Hm... I'm not really sure. Does every word have to bring in images to think only in pictures? I've never really thought about how I think or learn.

It could be the bigger picture that gets me lost. Just the words "learn spanish" overwhelms me. I once had a meltdown in the dean's office... talk about humiliating. I either figure I'll never learn it and give up, or study all the time for a few days and quit out of boredom. Grammar and conjugations... if those are bigger picture items, then that might be the reason.

I wish I could go to a country and immerse myself, so that's sadly out. Right now I'm just trying to learn on my own, then hopefully find an online class. The most recent class I took was freshmen year. It's been way too long since then. I signed up for a correspondence class, but never completed it. I get frustrated, distracted and give up I guess. There is only one local college, and they aren't very accepting of students who only want to take one of their classes as a non-degree student. (I don't to that school... my school is far away.) I'm inept at speaking the language in person... though I understand more than I can say. Speaking English in person is bad enough... Spanish... eh...

I can read or watch a Spanish movie and sort of think I can understand it. Eventually, they'll start talking way too fast, and I get frustrated and give up. Maybe I should just keep reading in Spanish and eventually it'll come to me?

I've tried everything I can think of, and I think it's helped some... but just not enough. I've tried flashcards, software, video learning programs (Standard Deviants, myself), audio learning programs, grammar books, vocabulary books, vocabulary apps,... I wish I could find something that worked.


EstherJ wrote:
When I say visual, I mean, do you think only in pictures? Words may not register as sharply, but obviously you notice a heck of a lot of detail.

I don't think it means you're stupid at all. Maybe the reason is because you take in so much detail that the bigger picture (i.e.
grammar, conjugations, etc, get lost in the mix.

Are you better when you read a language? I mean, do you feel like you could understand it with time and practice? Maybe you have some not so good teachers?

Lastly, some people learn better outside a traditional classroom type setting. I bet if you immersed yourself in another country you could pick up the language faster than you expect.



Max000
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17 May 2012, 4:33 am

ooo wrote:
I've been trying/needing to learn a foreign language for YEARS for college. It's made me not able to graduate so many times.

Do Aspies have a harder time learning a language?

Part of it is just practical... I hadn't studied the language in a few years, then tried to pick it back up.

I still find foreign language learning next to impossible for some reason. I can get a 4.0 in graduate classes, but can't learn intermediate to advanced foreign languages.

Do I just suck at language learning, perhaps, or do you have the same problem?


I suck at it. At one time in my life my major goal was to learn Japanese and become fluent in it. I studied it a ridicules amount. I took lessons for several years. I frustrated the hell out of my instructor. She tried her best to teach me the right intonation to speak. I had a very hard time hearing and comprehending what she was trying to teach me. Which didn't really matter much anyway because my voice is too monotone to reproduce the sounds correctly anyway.

I spent six months in Japan and that didn't help much either. I ended up being able to speak just barely enough broken Japanese to get by. With the amount of effort I put into it I should have been able to speak it fluently. I had slight better luck with my reading and writing Japanese. But even that wasn't that great.



auntblabby
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17 May 2012, 4:44 am

i have a much easier time reading a foreign language than to comprehend it being spoken to me, the latter being an insurmountable goal for me. the only way i can understand another person speaking anything other than english, is if they would just SPEAK - ONE - WORD - AT - A - TIME - - - S-S-L-L--O-O-O-W-W-L-L-Y-Y.



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17 May 2012, 7:20 am

I have a weird love/hate relationship with foreign language. I've been learning Italian for quite some time, not really seriously now, because I can't see my efforts coming to fruition. I can read it well and I'm very good at deciphering words I've never come across before. My accent is very good, causing me to be mistaken for a local, when in Italy and I'm good at remembering vocabulary. But, my main problem is the 'real-time' scenario. Someone says something and, unless it's something I'm expecting, I'm like, 'AAARGH! What was that and how do I reply?' Being mistaken for a local can be a big problem. I can't ever imagine being fluent, as translating takes time. I have to think too much about verb endings too. I'm good at remembering them and, in a written exam, I'd be good, but they don't spring into my brain automatically, they way they do, if you're fluent. I get there, but it takes too long.

I've the same issues with learning to read/play music. I've a good understanding of what it's all about, but there's too much time involved in the translation process.


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CrazyCatLord
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17 May 2012, 8:48 am

I've always had a knack for languages. Some aspies are good at math, others excel at languages, others again are very creative and artistic. Sometimes I think that we're actually not all that different from NTs in this regard :)

Edited to add: It might be harder for a native English speaker to learn foreign languages than the other way around. Unlike many other languages, English has a rather simple grammatical structure and doesn't have grammatical gender and cases. I also find English very easy to pronounce. The only sound that gives non-native speakers some trouble is the voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative that is better known as "th" :)



Last edited by CrazyCatLord on 17 May 2012, 8:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

Dillogic
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17 May 2012, 8:52 am

Englush was hard enough.



CrazyCatLord
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17 May 2012, 9:01 am

auntblabby wrote:
i have a much easier time reading a foreign language than to comprehend it being spoken to me, the latter being an insurmountable goal for me. the only way i can understand another person speaking anything other than english, is if they would just SPEAK - ONE - WORD - AT - A - TIME - - - S-S-L-L--O-O-O-W-W-L-L-Y-Y.


I had the same problem with English until I started to watch English movies and TV series with subtitles. Learning to read English was easy, but training my listening comprehension was a female dog. I still don't understand many British dialects and some U.S. actors with an extreme Southern drawl.



Nascaireacht
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17 May 2012, 9:35 am

There are a lot of people on the net trying to learn languages, and trying out new things. Maybe it'd be worth checking out some of the sites. I learned Irish from an immersion class at the age of four, and was educated through Irish for most of my years in school. When I started French and German, I found them easy enough (they say a 3rd language is easy compared to the 2nd!). But there were certain things that really threw me. I found that I need an overall view of the grammar - I can't take it in as well if it's in bits and pieces. I have heard it said that Michel Thomas' method is good for getting that overall view of a language. I haven't really tried it myself, but I know someone who has tried his Spanish course, and found it really helped (though not so much with vocabulary). You can try it for free at http://www.michelthomas.com/learn-spanish.php and if you have a smart phone, there's an app of the first few lessons in Spanish.
Also, try mnemonics and tricks of that sort. They help me a lot. There's a site called memrise.com which has other people's mnemonic tricks and memory aids for lots of languages. Not so good for grammar, though. There are also some funny (and useful) hints on http://www.fluentin3months.com/ which is a guy who's learning lots of languages, and other people like him all talking about how they did it.



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17 May 2012, 9:44 am

Language for me is a mixed bag. I learn the rules of the language with ease, but pick up vocabulary...slowly. Using flashcards with visual depictions of what the word represents right on the card with the word always helped me more than other regular rote memorization techniques.



OJani
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17 May 2012, 9:47 am

The only foreign language I could learn to a reasonable level so far is English. Yes, its relative simplicity helps a lot, I was always confused by conjugation when I tried to learn other languages, including Russian and German. Also, English words are usually shorter and many come from Latin.

I could develop my understanding of spoken and written English by listening to sci-fi TV shows with subtext and reading books including classic novels and autism-related books. I tried to combine my interests in sci-fi and the culture of the anglophone world with learning the language.

Yes, it can be rather embarrassing and frustrating when I speak a few words to the cashier in German that I thought up well in advance and I can't do anything with the answer...


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17 May 2012, 11:16 am

I've been unable to successfully learn any foreign language, they're just to complex.

the only language I've had success with is American Sign Language, because it's all visual, and if I don't know the sign for something, I can just spell it out(IN ENGLISH!) unlike other languages


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2wheels4ever
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17 May 2012, 11:27 am

Once I learned textbook Spanish (as opposed to street) it enabled me to draw similarities to other languages, I see Russian being easier for a non-native to learn than English; there are just as many loanwords but not too divergent from standard Romance structure. With that in mind I cover a lot more ground when I read non-English text than trying to speak and hear it, part of my Aspie verbal bottleneck I suppose