A Tale of Two Learners – Colloquialisms and Their Place in Language Learning

I have two friends (impressive, right?) who both “speak French”.  Interestingly enough, these two friends struggle mightily to communicate with each other on even a basic level in French.  Obviously one or both of them don’t REALLY speak French, right?  Wrong.  They both are at fairly advanced levels of French and both would be considered “conversationally fluent by my definition (and by most other French speakers).  So, what’s the deal?  How is it that they can barely communicate even basic concepts to each other in French?  Let’s examine each in more detail: Read More

Speaking From Day WHEN? The Eternal Debate.

The Eternal Debate.This is a topic that really gets language learners riled up.  I mean REALLY riled up.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many flamewars I’ve seen on various language forums start up over this exact topic.  Normally the language learning community is a very tolerant and level-headed bunch, but typically that tends to change when this topic is discussed.  Therefore, I shall tread very lightly and preface this all with the following disclosure:


“The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, Bill Price and do not necessarily reflect the views of everyone in the language learning community(hereby referred to as “the Community”.  The information set forth herein has not been proven or disproven by any scientific methods.  The author does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s applicability to all individuals .  Individual opinions may vary.”

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The Importance of Listening

If you have been following my German learning in this blog, you may remember my first “real-life” encounter with a native speaker.  If not, here it is:

“There we were, about 10 of us, just chatting away, drinking our beer and somehow it came out that one of my co-workers spoke fluent German.  Turns out, her Dad moved here from Germany and she was raised bi-lingual.  Well, of course I told her I was learning German and she started to speak it to me.  That’s when the crushing blow came…

All of a sudden, I couldn’t remember basic vocabulary.  She was talking and I was not processing.  I tried to speak back and baby talk spewed from my mouth.  What was happening?  I knew this stuff.  She was speaking reasonable, short, basic sentences and I was just not getting it.  She actually asked me “Wie viele Biere trinkst du heute Abend?”  This translates to the super simple “How many beers will you have tonight?”.  My answer?  “Ummm, uhhh, ja (yes) Bier (beer), ummm…”  She looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I hung my head in shame.“

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