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 Post subject: studying languages
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:08 pm
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A question for the language experts. When studying more than one language at once, is it easier to study two from the same family eg 2 romantic, or two from different families, or does it make no difference?


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
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Location: Essex
I'm sure there are lots of 'proper' theories about this, but casting my mind back 35+ years, I had no problems with Latin + French + German in years 10 and 11 followed by German + Spanish in year 12 (and just German in year 13). 'A' grades in all of them at 'O' level and A plus grade 2 in the Special Paper (remember them, anyone??) in German at 'A' level.

German and Spanish were taught by the same (Austrian) teacher, who had started her career as a French-to-German simultaneous translator :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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'Easier?' For an adult who already knows French, Spanish will be easier, and for an adult who speaks Spanish, Italian will be a doddle. German helps with Scandinavian languages and Russian. If you are asking about a child- IMHO it's a great idea to introduce them to two language 'families' or even more if you have chance - why not? If you are just hoping for high grades at GCSE then maybe, just maybe, there is merit in studying related ones. It could also misfire if your child has no particular aptitude for them.

I've got a background in Teutonic languages which led very nicely into Russian (the most wonderful language ever IMHO) which of course then helps with Polish. I found French much harder to learn and Spanish was also harder for me- I learned with fluent French speakers who seemed to be at a huge advantage. My kids have spread themselves about language wise - Mandarin, Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, with varying degrees of aptititude and preference. DD did the first three all together for GCSE and had no problems - DS1 is studying the fourth and fifth and has developed a very strong preference for one, and DS2 likes German and Spanish pretty equally atm. I would always say have a try at as many as possible while you are young and the opportunities are there for the taking.

HTH :D


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:37 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:40 pm
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I took German, Russian and Latin O levels - all A grades. My daughter took French, German and Latin GCSEs - all A* grades. Not sure if that proves anything...


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:29 pm
Posts: 63
With Russian being my mother tongue, and English fluent since early age, I found Latin, French and Italian quite easy, but really struggled with German. Polish / Bulgarian / Croatian come as a bonus (i don't speak but understand about 70%). Japanese was not much of a problem, but i was a lazy teenager and dropped it shortly due to not being pushed :)) DH with the same background finds German and Dutch easy, and doesn't mind Italian.

To me as a linguist, it's not just about proximity of some language families, but also about the structure of the student's mind - some people find it easy to grasp some structures/concepts and really struggle with others just because it's affected how they comprehend the general world around them.


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:42 pm
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
With a good background in French, Spanish has proved much easier than German for DD. Shame she can't take the A level.


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:13 am 
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Posts: 888
Such interesting replies! I did French, German and Latin for O level - found German hard (first thing I ever had to actually work at, bit of a shock to the system!) and remember little of it now. French was the easiest and I have retained enough to use happily in France when needed, though I guess I've been able to practise it over the years but I've never been to Germany. French and Latin man I can decipher a fair bit of written Spanish and Italian, though speaking and listening is non existent!

Dd2 is doing French and Spanish - she'd been studying Spanish before she went to school at y9 and then had to do French as well. She thought she'd just get through the year and drop it in her options, but picked it up very easily, is on for A* in both and wants to do both for A level and probably onto university level. She also has plans to start learning Portuguese and Italian and maybe Russian as something completely different.

Ds is doing French and Latin atm and in y8 will also add in either German or Spanish. He's given his preference as German, I have no idea what he is basing that on, lol!


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:04 pm 
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Thanks everyone. DD has four options to continue to GCSE and possibly further: French, German, Spanish and Latin but can only take two. She has studied all except Latin before. She is currently considering French and Spanish but has never studied them at the same time, hense the question.


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:42 pm
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
The two languages go very well together. The language structures and vocab overlap often.


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 Post subject: Re: studying languages
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 7:04 am 
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What about Latin? DD loved it, which I know means nothing, but I have never heard of anyone regretting that choice. Spanish is very widely studied indeed - Latin less so and does tend to suggest academic rigour. Just a thought.


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