Switching between languages fluently | Ask Benny | Forum

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Switching between languages fluently
December 11, 2011
21:16
Izidor
Stuttgart, Germany

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July 12, 2011
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Hi Benny :-)

I am currently in Germany as an exchange student. I am working on my German the most of the time but sometimes I need to speak with somebody who can speak only English (no German). After the whole day in German speaking world it is quite difficult for me as a not native to speak English. I mean that it takes a while to change all those little phrases,  the construction of sentences from one language to another. Do you have any tips or tricks how to effectively and fluently switch between languages?

Native: Fluent: Learning:
December 11, 2011
23:39
Benny
worldwide book tour (Ireland until May 22)

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http://www.fluentin3months.com/not-mix-up/

This post says how I manage switching between languages

Speaks: English Spanish Italian Portuguese German Irish French Esperanto Mandarin (Taiwan) Nederlands American Sign Language
December 12, 2011
01:24
Izidor
Stuttgart, Germany

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I haven't found that blogpost... But it doesn't exactly answer my question.  It takes a while to switch between contexts, different (language) personalities. I know that what I would say is not correct in that language, but I can't remember/spent a lot of time by finding the right words, phrases.

 

To give an example: if somebody talks to me in Slovak (my native language), I would experience the same thing - looking for the proper grammar too long, having feeling "This is such a strange language". After a 10-minute conversation, I get comfortable with the language. Lot of people including you, Benny, seem to switch those contexts in no time. Do you have any suggestions how to reduce this adaptation time?

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December 12, 2011
15:25
Danny P
New York City / Ohio

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July 5, 2011
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I second this,

I have had similar issues even in switching back to my native tongue, (Although I find no one even notices your grammatical incorrectness in your native tongue due to perfect pronunciation)

But especially when switching in between L2 and L3 after only speaking one for a decent amount of time, I can go back and forth, (Working construction with an Italian grandfather with Mexicans) but both of the languages tend to get much worse to the point where I may even accidentally throw in an entirely foreign word.

I understand the accent thing and personality thing, and that undoubtedly helps, but could just practicing a lot be the perfect solution?

Speaks: English - Native , Spanish - Fluent , Italian - Fluent , French - Intermediate , Mandarin - Novice , Cusco Quechua - Novice
December 12, 2011
17:17
Benny
worldwide book tour (Ireland until May 22)

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The blog post does explain it - lots and lots of exposure. The way I can switch quickly is because I go to international meetings with both parties and switch between them naturally and am forced to tune myself in quicker. I was once at a Couchsurfing meeting in Budapest and I actually ended up speaking all my fluent languages plus Hungarian in the meeting, since there were people who spoke them there to practice with.

Speaks: English Spanish Italian Portuguese German Irish French Esperanto Mandarin (Taiwan) Nederlands American Sign Language
December 12, 2011
19:23
Alasdair
Canterbury, England

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July 28, 2011
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There's a point (it's not worth a question of its own)

 

How much do you remember of the languages you learnt-but-don't-retain like Hungarian, Czech or Turkish (or Thai)?

December 13, 2011
02:30
Benny
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Very little to be honest. I've done nothing active in any of those languages since I finished those missions. I prefer to focus on my other languages ;)

With Thai for example I just remember a half a dozen words... and then I can recite the entire introduction to my Thai video from memory! That usually gets me an applause from a Thai native :P But it's basically being a parrot.

Juggling the scale of a dozen languages is not a problem most people have to deal with, so they can easily focus enough on their target language to make sure they never forget it!

Speaks: English Spanish Italian Portuguese German Irish French Esperanto Mandarin (Taiwan) Nederlands American Sign Language
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