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English vocabulary as a exchange student

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Dede, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    I know that this topic is pretty much random, but as I already love this forum I'm just asking that here :). (At this point, thank you so much for all replies which have been written to my questions, I appreciate a lot!) So I'm from germany but right now I'm doing an exchange year in the US and I really love it. Anyways, I got a couple questions on what will happen to my language while im here ... So I would actually consider myself being pretty good in english, and I pretty much got all the stuff worked out perfectly fine, as of speaking and writing.

    The only thing that irks me a little bit is vocabulary. I mean I've got a general vocabulary and also some specific words (like for sports), but when it comes to things like stickers (there were all over the football field) school vocabulary just doesn't cut it. I mean I am obviously constantly learning new words, but my mean question is, first of all, whether you can EVER get the vocabulary of a native speaker as an originally native speaker? Second of, there is just a certain feeling about a language, although I already developed it quite a bit in english, there are just some (although very specific) things I can't quite freely express as I could in my native language, do you think this will get a lot better? Third of, could you think of any way to actually improve my vocabulary permanently?

    Thanks so much for all replies in advance and I'm sorry for the topic being a little random :)
     
  2. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nope, never happen, don't even attempt or worry about it. In a place with 300 million and regional dialects, not to mention the whole melting pot (not) thing, there is simply no way to begin to figure this stuff out.

    Most of the organic growth in the language is driven by non-native speakers adding their own 'flavor' into the mix so you are on the cutting edge!

    Besides, the most volitile and rapidly changing aspect of the language is in the sub-cultures, slang and curse phrases which are not for the gentile, polite and well cultured memebrs of society - they certainly won't be of any help in a professional setting.
     
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I have a good buddy from Northern Germany who worked here in the US for a couple years and then went back home. I was always found him pretty adept at slang and he was really interested in this local English. Most people would actually need to talk to him for a while, before they realized he wasn't local.

    A few years ago his boss at his German firm asked him to give a presentation in English. So, he goes through this 15 minute business presentation, and he thinks it is going great. At the end of the presentation, his boss told him that he only understood 10% of what he said!
     
  5. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    I agree with what the others have said here. Unlike some languages, English has no official arbiter (i.e. L'Académie française) of what's acceptable and what's not. So new words are continuously being introduced, and older words have had their meaning radically change over time. So feel free to make up some of your own. Who knows, they may catch on!

    David
     
  6. ZephyrZ33

    ZephyrZ33 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    685
    Nov 18, 2010
    Southern California
    Congratulations. You probably grammaticize better than half the US population on the internet. :smile:

    America is pretty broad and things vary as you go from coast to coast. (I don't understand certain people from different parts of the country) Having friends and relatives from different backgrounds, my recommendation would be to just immerse yourself in a certain demograph you want to relate to. Get use to all the idioms and terms through speaking and asking questions.

    I met quite a few people who have integrated seamlessly so I ask how they did it and it's usually a combination of reading contemporary magazines, watching movies, frequenting forums such as this one and socializing with people like them.

    Focus on clarity when you speak with other students, and listen to them. Don't be afraid to stop people and ask them what the hell they just said. English is my first language but I still have difficulty understanding certain terms and idioms from the older and younger generations so you have to be careful asking for advice on the internet.

    Hope that helps and good luck.
     
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Interestingly enough, an article appeared yesterday in the LA Times regarding a linguist from a Claremont College. The linguist questioned the man's birth place because he had an East Los Angeles accent/dialect. The man laughed and stated he was from European parents but was born in East Los Angeles (over the years E.L.A. has evolved from Jewish, to Japanese, Armenian and is now predominately a Latino community).

    The bottom line is, yes, one can learn all the nuances and slang of any culture (the exception being extremely difficult languages i.e. Navaho, which many consider to be only learnable as a child). Remember that learning is dependent upon numerous considerations, like one's ear, tongue, willingness and exposure/opportunity to said language.

    Good Luck on Your Journey,
    Gary

    PS- I've lived in France, Japan, Korea and Vietnam and due to lack of use, I've lost what various language skills I developed.
    G

    PPS- While not completely relavent, an interesting article nonetheless:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-eastla-accent-20111025,0,987605.story
    G
     
  8. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    i think weve actually got a pro linguist somewhere on this forum... hopefully theyll chime in!

    from my experience, and the experience of friends, the best way to be natively fluent in a language is to ditch the books and studying, and just hang out with friends that are native speakers, and only speak their language

    youll pick up on things naturally, without trying
    theyll just sneak into your brain!

    the more reading of casual english writing the better
    read lots and lots and lots of forums
    especially if they have frequent silly responses, as they will be in a more casual form of writing, and more like what you would use in speech with friends and peers

    and tv is always useful at this stage of your learning
    easy, entertaining, and full of common language


    to KEEP the language, either find english speaking friends that youll call or skype or whatever with regularly, buy a lot of english dvds to watch while home, or buy tons of english books
    if you dont do it a lot, youll lose it!
     
  9. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Massachusetts
    Herbert
    I am not a native English speaker, but we've been taught English since first grade. Our country's second language is English, and politicians deliver their speech in English 90% of the time. There was even a time when "serious" news were always delivered and broadcasted in English, and the tabloid-y news are the ones spoken in our native language. A lot of our people's choice internet vice is picking on your English grammar.

    Yet I'm still facing some difficulties using it daily here in the US. :smile: I can write just fine, but speaking is an entirely different matter. You just have to keep using it, or as one (in)famous newscaster put it, "keep f#@!kin' that chicken." Or whatever that means. :biggrin:
     
  10. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    211
    Sep 3, 2011
    If you want to improve your vocabulary, just be as active as you can on this forum.

    What I've notice throughout the forum is that many of the posts are VERY well thought out, to the point where I don't think I'll ever be able to match. English is my first language too :(
     
  11. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Alright thank you guys so much for all the quick and helpful awnsers, I knew why I posted this here and not anywhere else :) Yeah I guess I'll get a way bigger vocabulary over time (grammar is no problem at all), it's just sometimes a bit weird, because you basically learn words in schools that noone is even using in the US ;D

    Btw, is it noticable (in terms of my post) that english is not my first languages? (Just curious)

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  12. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    Ihr Englisch ist viel besser als mein Deutsch! :tongue:

    David
     
  13. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Haha, might be, but german I'd also say that german is about a 100 times more difficult than english :)
     
  14. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    Not at all! I spent six years in the German-speaking part of der Schweiz, and in my opinion German is child's play in comparison to English. Every word is spelled exactly as it sounds. Verbs and Nouns follow a standard pattern. It's all so predictable. In English, there's no rhyme or reason to anything. For instance, you want to spell the word "Fish?" Here's how:

    GHOTI

    GH as in "Enough"
    O as in "Women"
    TI as in "Definition"

    GHOTI = Fish :biggrin:

    David
     
  15. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Oh really?! You're the first one that I heard saying that german is easy to learn :D ... Anyway, I'm not from der Schweiz so I can't talk about that, but well in actual german fish would be fisch which sounds exactly the same, as in english ;D ... Btw, if you lived six years in der Schweiz im pretty sure your german is top notch :)
     
  16. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    Nein, nein. Leider habe Ich fast Alles vergessen. :rolleyes:

    David
     
  17. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Oh, thats really a shame, how many years ago did you live in the schweiz, if I may ask?
     
  18. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    For six years, 1963-1969, from when I was seven 'till I was thirteen. My father worked for a company that had a branch office in Basel, and I got to grow up attending Swiss schools and becoming fluent in Schwyzerdütsch. When we moved back to California I spoke German better than I spoke English. And I kept capitalizing nouns for years. :redface:

    They were some of the best years of my life. I loved it! And those years planted a love of travel in me that I've never lost. I don't know how old you are, but getting the chance to live in a foreign country (even one as bizarre as the U.S.) is something that will never leave you. Consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

    David
     
  19. Dede

    Dede Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Oct 10, 2011
    Oh ok, well then you propably experienced all the differences between the US and germany/schweiz, just as I do right now. Yeah, I know that I'm really really lucky, this exchange year is just so much fun and has already helped me in so many aspects.
     
  20. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Have you tried our Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches?

    Gary

    PS- So Dede, what's your '20' (location).
    G