Second, third etc languages and how we learned them

Following on from @sil’s mention on Duolingo, I thought I’d see who speaks more than one language and where they learned their non-mother-tongue language. Or, which would you be interested in learning and why?

My mother tongue is English (UK). I learned a small amount of German at school, enough to structure conversations but not enough vocabulary to actually fill them. I guess it really depends what you want out of learning a language to decide whether this is good or not. I learnt a bit of Italian through Duolingo and Memrise (because I find one app gets very repetitive). This was just about enough to get by when I worked out there, for a short period. As I expected, I absorbed much more as I was there.

For me, I’d love to learn Maltese as this is my heritage. But it’s only spoken on the islands of Malta and it’s a very complex language, with its own alphabet (, so it’s not yet been available on any apps. I can speak a very small amount, but it would be nice to get more.

@sil you will hit a paywall after the first few levels on Duolingo

Ah, really? The duolingo site claims you can learn a language entirely for free…

Hmm, I was doing the same group of nouns over and over again. I tried to move forward and it asked for some money (which is fine). Maybe if you keep doing a level for a really long time.


English - -Obviously, born in the UK

Black Country - A particular dialect of English spoke in a small area of the English west Midlands where I grew up.

Bollocks - I’m an engineer so fluent

Thai - My ex wife is Thai and my daughter was born there, I lived in Thailand for seven years

Edit: just spotted this thread is supposed to include how we learnt other languages.

My Ex wife was also an English teacher so If I asked for something in English and so thought I should know how to say it in Thai she just ignored me. No prizes for guessing the first things I learnt to say in Thai.

I speak…

  • dutch and a strong west-flemish dialect, because I’m from the belgian coast.
  • english, because I’m an programmer, so I couldn’t do my job without it.
  • french, because I worked in Brussels for a couple of years

Apart from english, all of those (including proper dutch) were a real pain in the backside to learn.

hang on, hang on, so you’re literally Maltese Joe? Things not to do: get into a game of pool with Borg.


Tony Drago was the mega Maltese snooker player.


Ah, it’s Maltese Joe Barbara I’m thinking of :slight_smile:“joe+barbara”+pool – just discovered that he got busted for doing a million quid’s worth of counterfeit currency, and he was in a Spectrum game!

Ah, I’d never heard of him! Tony is probably the most famous player

Mainly because he’d swear like a trooper, but in Maltese so no one would understand :smiley:.

I have been learning Swedish with Babble, been doing it for a while but have no one real way to practice.

Babble is available for Android and iphone, it’s pay for but they do deals now and again.

I have been looking into audio books as another learning avenue.

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I think that is a result of the age range on this site. I’m a few years older than @sil and he is a few years older than you. This is a good thing in that we are able to be happy with our differences but where our interests overlap we can discuss things openly.

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Age? Surely not! :slight_smile: However, when it comes to pool, all I can bring to mind is Minnesota Fats. I swear, it was only a couple of years ago! :smile:

Ho usato Duolingo per imparare l’italiano da oltre un anno. Non c’è nessun muro a pagamento per quanto ne so. Certamente non ho pagato, tranne che per ripristinare la mia striscia quando l’ho persa a causa di stupidità.

(Which translates as):

I’ve been Duolingo to learn Italian for over a year. There is no paywall as far as I know. I certainly haven’t paid, except to restore my streak when I lost it due to numbskullery on my part.

(And I really like the fact that I only had to use Google to check the idioms in that sentence :). I’m thinking about taking actual lessons).

Bravo! fantastico!

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I’ve lived in Japan for quite a while after leaving the UK and wandering around, and my ability goes up and down over time depending on several factors. I have a few apps/sites/books for studying, though the best for speaking is just to go out and do it (bars are great). I have not tried DuoLingo specifically, as they are releasing the Japanese course on Android around now (?)

As for how they fund it, I heard that they use advanced learners to crowd translate text as part of the courses, and merge the different interpretations back together for a final version to sell?

My mother tongue is Swedish and also consider myself fluent in English. Being a programmer in a multi national company, I use English every day, some days more than Swedish.

In Swedish school, we have mandatory English classes from 3rd grade. We also have a mandatory 3rd language from 6th or 7th grade, where you can usually choose between German, French or Spanish. Some schools provide other languages like Chinese as a possible 3rd language. I choose German at the time, but since that was 25 years ago, and I haven’t used it outside of those classes I don’t remember anything.

I’ve tried HelloChinese Android app a little bit to learn Chinese, but haven’t really got very far yet.

I stumbled across duolingo and installed the english version on my S3 (CM13). It looks like in order to use it for learning greek (did the michel thomas courses before), you’ll need to set your keyboard to greek but I’m not interested in learning to write, just speaking the language. Is there a way to set duolingo to use the english transcription of common greek like google translate uses it?

All the best & thanks for pointing out duolingo!


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