How To Maintain Your Plurilingual Ability?

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  1. dinamars profile image60
    dinamarsposted 15 years ago

    Hi, I'd like to know if there's any of you capable to speak more than 2 languages (which I'm sure there is wink) and how do you maintain your skills? Do you have any language-blocked problem (I don't know the right term for this) but I do sometimes when at the same time I talk with friends from different nationalities then I have to switch it quickly to translate it to one another when they seem misunderstand of what other friend's saying. And one more question (just curious), is it possible for a headscarf woman to work in a multinational organization (such as UN) or international company as an interpreter big_smile? sometimes i doubt it... thanks. I also post this in 'Requests'.

  2. Princessa profile image83
    Princessaposted 15 years ago

    Hi, I do speak and write three languages fluently and also have some spoken knowledge of another 2 or 3.
    To keep up to date on the three main ones I do speak Spanish at home with my children (so they learn Spanish).  To avoid forgetting my English, I do speak it with my husband and that is also one of the reasons why I started writing on hubpages!
    I live in France, so the rest of the time I speak French with friends and also help the children (or they help me learn French) with their homework.

  3. Marisa Wright profile image89
    Marisa Wrightposted 15 years ago

    I used to speak French, Spanish and Russian as well as English.  I was fluent enough in French and Spanish to work as a secretary in France as well as in the UK for Spanish-speakers.

    Today, I can still read and understand French but can barely speak it.  As for Spanish and Russian - forget it! 

    The only way to maintain languages is to speak them frequently.  I recall a story about British soldiers who deserted in the First World War.  Most of them were only seventeen or eighteen when they went into hiding.  Because the penalty for desertion was death, they didn't dare make contact with their families, so they adopted a French identity, married French girls and made a new life in France.  When a researcher tracked some of them down thirty years later, she found that most of them could not speak a word of English! 

    If people can forget their OWN language if they don't practice it, how much more will that apply to those of us who learned languages in our teens or adulthood.

  4. bloggerjb profile image62
    bloggerjbposted 15 years ago

    it's all about practice and repetition i think.  i speak tagalog and spanish, in addition to english, and i feel that as i don't use it, i lose it.  so i use it!

  5. dinamars profile image60
    dinamarsposted 15 years ago

    ah sorry, what I meant with language-blocked is... for example when you want to answer a question in English, but suddenly words come up in your brain is French or Italian, so that suddenly the only thing you can do is just opening your mouth without saying anything big_smile because you only can remember that word in another language instead of the language you must answer with. Have you ever experienced that?

    1. Princessa profile image83
      Princessaposted 15 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, I have even spoken in the "wrong" language to someone in mid conversation  without noticing anything but a puzzle faced lol !!!

    2. Marisa Wright profile image89
      Marisa Wrightposted 15 years agoin reply to this

      ah, yes, I think that's very common for people who speak several languages.  In the days when I had four to choose from, it happened to me all the time.

  6. Patty Inglish, MS profile image89
    Patty Inglish, MSposted 15 years ago

    I've done that - during martial arts class I have changed from Korean commands to Russian without noticing. Students looked very confused.

  7. Princessa profile image83
    Princessaposted 15 years ago

    It seems to be something that happens to people who learnt an extra language later in life.  I have friends that have grown up bilingual and they do not seem to have that trouble hmm 
    My own children seem to avoid that despite being so young (6 and 4)

    I would have like to see the look in your students Patty  lol

  8. renegadeoffunk profile image58
    renegadeoffunkposted 15 years ago

    Nice question! I am an American living in Tokyo. I speak English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese, with Chinese being my worst. I plan to travel more in a few years.

    The trick is to be creative and turn anything into practice. I learned to read over a thousand Japanese characters and master the grammar in less than a year by playing Japanese video games. I also watched anime with and without subtitles, and did traditional textbook studying to supplement it.

    Talking to yourself helps too! Maybe I'm just neurotic, but I talk to myself a lot. Sometimes I do it in Spanish or Chinese. It helps refresh your vocab and your pronunciation. Also, when you learn new words, don't just learn the English equivalent and move on. Always define the new word in that new language either in writing or by speaking.

    1. dinamars profile image60
      dinamarsposted 15 years agoin reply to this

      I used to do this also... it's not neurotic at all! you give me great advice, thanks i think i'd better do it again big_smile. it works effectively anyhow.


      1. renegadeoffunk profile image58
        renegadeoffunkposted 15 years agoin reply to this

        Good to know that I'm not the only crazy person. smile

        1. C-Lee profile image59
          C-Leeposted 15 years agoin reply to this

          Hey all!

          That's absolutely the best advice. I did this and taught my foreign language students to do it: Use all those "empty" moments in your day to talk to yourself (i.e., think) in your other language: when you're brushing your teeth, making the bed, cooking, riding the bus or whatever. Your brain is probably working anyways, why not make it a conscious effort to work on something you choose?
          Did you get a chance to check out my answer to Dinamars' question?
 … al-Ability

          1. KT pdx profile image68
            KT pdxposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            I grew up talking to the towels and washcloths while folding laundry to keep up my Norwegian skills.  I also now tell my students to do that.  It really does help.  Putting labels on everything in your house while learning new vocabulary or if you don't remember a word is also helpful.  Great question, request, hub, and conversation topic.  smile  I'm definitely going to respond with a hub of my own, but want to think about what to write first.

  9. DominiqueGoh profile image66
    DominiqueGohposted 15 years ago

    I talk to different groups of people in different languages- daily use of English, Mandarin, Cantonese. Ocassionaly I do try to brush up on my French and Japanese via reading and watching tv shows.
    Lots of practice and dilligence is needed.

  10. profile image0
    Zarm Nefilinposted 15 years ago

    I do not speak three languages, I play chess big_smile

    Hope to learn three languages and join the tri lingual club!


  11. profile image0
    Zarm Nefilinposted 15 years ago

    Talking out loud is not the same thing as talking to oneself.

    If you think out loud it is different from "Attempting a convo with yourself"

    Of course if isolation is present to enough of an extent you will talk to yourself a little in addition to talking out loud as usual (if you already do that) but in that case that is hardly indicative of being crazy.

    It is a survival mechanism as old as the human race.

  12. profile image0
    Zarm Nefilinposted 15 years ago

    Anyone speak Amazon dialects?


    On a more serious note, anyone here speak czech native tongue?  If so what is the difference between that and polish or russian, I am curious.

    1. Princessa profile image83
      Princessaposted 15 years agoin reply to this

      Actually... a little bit tongue

      I learnt to speak in the Amazon with an indigenous "nanny" and my grandmother (also from the Amazon) is always using the odd native word when speaking!

  13. Misha profile image63
    Mishaposted 15 years ago

    They are all different smile

    There are all Slavic, and there are many similarly sounding words - but they often mean different things in different languages. I think if you compare English to French you get an idea smile

    1. profile image0
      Zarm Nefilinposted 15 years agoin reply to this

      Interesting Misha.

      That is pretty interesting, a helpful comparison because I know the difference between english and french.


  14. profile image0
    Zarm Nefilinposted 15 years ago

    wow, amazing!

  15. hot dorkage profile image79
    hot dorkageposted 14 years ago

    Yes you are right, about language block, I speak bilingual Spanish/English, learned both very young.  Then learned a smattering of Russian, took French classes in Spanish, and took Irish Gaelic in Ireland, and studied Portuguese for my job.  It is funny I could always read Portuguese, and after tuning my ear a bit  I understand it well if they speak slowly and avoid "modismos" but since I was grown when I started  it I just can't make it come out, and to add to my laziness, most porto speakers can understand Spanish if you speak slowly and avoid "modismos".  smile

  16. profile image0
    Zarm Nefilinposted 14 years ago

    It would seem like the most obvious solution to keeping and maintaining a plurilingual set of tools would be to get any new movies you want to watch or games or news broadcasts and make sure the subtitles are on.  That would reinforce grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation right off the bat.  Keeping your laptop handy with an opensource dictionary pertaining to the languages in question would be a good idea too, in case you hear any words you do not know.

    That is what I would do, and that is what I will do once I learn more languages. 

    My goal is to be functionally fluent in 20 languages before I go 6 feet under. 

    Talk about expanding one's own mind.

    1. profile image0
      Zarm Nefilinposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I suppose it would have been better to say, if I were you I would make sure to get new movies and such that have a vocal and subtitle aspect that falls within your language needs.  So for example, if you want to sustain your mandarin then go out and buy a jackie chan movie you have been wanting to watch for ages that has chinese and english as available language subtitles and as an available spoken script.

      One could for instance, have the Chinese vocals on with english subtitles or vice versa.  Or one could have Chinese vocals with Chinese subtitles.

      Cheap and easy to do, and you have fun while your doing it!


  17. kerryg profile image82
    kerrygposted 14 years ago

    I've only ever been fluent in one language, but I studied and was pretty good at Spanish, Russian, and Ancient Greek at one time. Nowadays I can get the gist of most written Spanish and most spoken Russian, but the Greek is functionally gone. sad I've also had a smattering of Latin, French, and German, but not enough to really understand much beyond the most basic of interactions. I get a little more reading, but only because of the resemblences to English, Spanish or both.

    My husband is genuinely trilingual - Russian, English, and a Central Asian dialect of Farsi - and he helps with the Russian, although we don't speak it around the house nearly as much as we should. There's a pretty healthy community of speakers of both non-English languages here, so he's able to keep it up that way, though he's been embarrassed by people back home telling him he's picked up a slight American accent. And even I have noticed that the longer people are over here, the more Anglicized their Russian becomes, in sentence structure, etc.

    I've also picked up some of the Farsi by virtue of hearing it for 8 years, but I can't really speak it at all. Honestly, I don't think my tongue can make those sounds! It's very set in its ways, for being only 26.

  18. Lady Luthi profile image61
    Lady Luthiposted 14 years ago

    I love this topic.I wish I still remembered how to speak Spanish. I lived in Hawaii for most of my life and not very people speak Spanish out there. I mean I still remember some words but that's about it. I guess I'll just have to learn again.


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