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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Angury

Learning and Reading (in) Other Languages

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I noticed there are a couple of bilingual members on this forum, and was wondering whether anyone is learning a language at the moment?

 

I've only learnt Spanish to GCSE Level (two years of learning for those not from the UK), but I went to Spain twice this year and was surprised at my ability to converse with the locals despite my mediocre ability. 

 

These visits to Spain have stimulated my desire to learn languages now - it is such a different experience when you can converse with people in their native tongue. I've started learning French now alongside Spanish. I'm currently using a website called DuoLingo, which consists of various levels of vocab which you need to practice through - a bit like a game. It makes learning languages more enjoyable.

 

As for Spanish, I have been listening to some Spanish music, watching films (with subtitles) and reading the news everyday in Spanish to try and improve my vocabulary. When we learnt languages in school, we spent a lot of time learning words which would never be spoken on a day-to-day basis (my Spanish presentation in school was on Global Warming!). So I've been trying to improve my everyday Spanish by using the media. 

 

My French isn't good enough to understand full sentences at the moment, so I am just going to stick to DuoLingo until I feel more comfortable with the structure and grammar. 

 

Bringing this thread back to books, I have been planning to read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez for a while now. However, I wonder whether a translated version of the story can really be the same as the original? Surely by translating it, you are taking away some of the meanings behind the sentences? I have bought the english translation of the book and will get around to reading it soon, but I do wonder how different the experience would be, reading the novel in Spanish.

 

What is everyones experiences of learning languages? What methods did you use? My main weakness is pronunciation, as I have little opportunity to practice French or Spanish here in the UK. I think I may start talking to myself just for practice. :P

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It's great you're doing so well with your Spanish and French! I was taught English, French and German in secondary school (okay, also Latin and ancient Greek but you can't speak that to anyone anymore :P). My English language keeps improving because of my boyfriend, books, TV shows and films, the internet (yes also this forum).. I don't use French or German much, since I've not been to those countries in a while. I feel more confident at German than French, even though I've been taught one year more of French than German. I've been way too tired lately to be working on German or French, let alone another language. I'd love to one day go to Germany and/or France again, to see the culture and nature and be able to buy something in a shop talking in German/French.

 

I very much admire the people who learn more languages, I think that's great. Watching a Spanish film with subtitles is certainly a good way of improving your Spanish. I was learning German before I was at secondary school, one of my favourite TV shows was Austrian (with Dutch subtitles), so I learned a lot that way too. I even watched the show dubbed in Italian (without subtitles) at one point during my teenage years, which was good for my not-very-existent Italian. You'd be surprised how much one can learn from context and word similarity.

 

I think for translation, some books are translated rather well, while for other books the translation just doesn't have the feel of the original. It might depend on which languages used or who the translator is. I'd say certainly give the translated version a go now that you've bought it, and if you think your Spanish is good enough to re-read the book in Spanish you could read a sample and if that goes okay, try and read it in Spanish! I've read quite a few books being translated from English to Dutch and knowing both languages, often the books are just as good, on occasion there's an English expression that I think they were getting at in the translation but you don't quite have it in Dutch. And of course the other way around too. My boyfriend and I often notice this, as we mainly talk English but sometimes there's something Dutch I want to say but can't find the expression in English. Or at other times my boyfriend says something in English and I struggle to find a translation (often knowing what the English means, sometimes not).

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It's great you're doing so well with your Spanish and French! I was taught English, French and German in secondary school (okay, also Latin and ancient Greek but you can't speak that to anyone anymore :P). My English language keeps improving because of my boyfriend, books, TV shows and films, the internet (yes also this forum).. I don't use French or German much, since I've not been to those countries in a while. I feel more confident at German than French, even though I've been taught one year more of French than German. I've been way too tired lately to be working on German or French, let alone another language. I'd love to one day go to Germany and/or France again, to see the culture and nature and be able to buy something in a shop talking in German/French.I very much admire the people who learn more languages, I think that's great. Watching a Spanish film with subtitles is certainly a good way of improving your Spanish. I was learning German before I was at secondary school, one of my favourite TV shows was Austrian (with Dutch subtitles), so I learned a lot that way too. I even watched the show dubbed in Italian (without subtitles) at one point during my teenage years, which was good for my not-very-existent Italian. You'd be surprised how much one can learn from context and word similarity.I think for translation, some books are translated rather well, while for other books the translation just doesn't have the feel of the original. It might depend on which languages used or who the translator is. I'd say certainly give the translated version a go now that you've bought it, and if you think your Spanish is good enough to re-read the book in Spanish you could read a sample and if that goes okay, try and read it in Spanish! I've read quite a few books being translated from English to Dutch and knowing both languages, often the books are just as good, on occasion there's an English expression that I think they were getting at in the translation but you don't quite have it in Dutch. And of course the other way around too. My boyfriend and I often notice this, as we mainly talk English but sometimes there's something Dutch I want to say but can't find the expression in English. Or at other times my boyfriend says something in English and I struggle to find a translation (often knowing what the English means, sometimes not).

Do you think languages are taught well in schools where you are from? Can most people speak two languages, or just their native language?

The UK has quite a bad reputation for its poor ability in foreign languages - mainly due to the fact that English is an international language. We are also not taught languages until we are 12/13, whereas it may be more efficient to begin learning them at a younger age.

 

It's interesting how there are expressions in other languages which you just can't translate into English - I often wonder if such expressions say something about that particular culture.

 

Here's an interesting list of words which cannot be found in the English language:

 

http://www.rosettastone.co.uk/blog/10-awesome-words-that-dont-exist-in-english/

Edited by Angury

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Do you think languages are taught well in schools where you are from? Can most people speak two languages, or just their native language?

The UK has quite a bad reputation for its poor ability in foreign languages - mainly due to the fact that English is an international language. We are also not taught languages until we are 12/13, whereas it may be more efficient to begin learning them at a younger age.

 

It's interesting how there are expressions in other languages which you just can't translate into English - I often wonder if such expressions say something about that particular culture.

 

Here's an interesting list of words which cannot be found in the English language:

 

http://www.rosettastone.co.uk/blog/10-awesome-words-that-dont-exist-in-english/

I think the Dutch education system works quite allright with languages, though I should point out that I recieved the highest education we have. I don't know what it's like at the low levels, as far as I know they only are taught English. I was taught English in the last few years of primary school (so ages 10-12) and in secondary school (12-16/17/18 depending on your level, 12-18 for me).

 

Most Dutch people can understand and speak some English (though not everyone is as comfortable with it.), we do get quite a lot of for example American and British shows and films on our TV channels. We have to all study English, because we're a small country and Dutch isn't spoken much throughout the world. I can imagine in the UK it's quite different. To be honest my boyfriend (he's from the UK) doesn't really like the British education system all that much.

 

I do think learning languages at an earlier age would be better. I was maybe 10 or 11 when I was taught English. I was taught French and Latin when I was 12 and German when I was 13, ancient Greek when I was 14. I think I would find it more difficult to learn a language nowadays, they say it's easier when you're younger.

 

That's an interesting list :)! A very Dutch word would be 'gezellig'. English doesn't seem to have a word for it. It's hard to describe, too, but it means that being with your family or friends and you're having a good time, things are cozy, the atmosphere is great, you're having good talks. A room can look 'gezellig', meaning it looks cozy, great to spend some time in with other people, great talks to be had. A visit can have been 'gezellig' meaning you had a great time talking with everyone. The word comes from 'gezel', which is someone who worked in a guild trying to learn a trade (between the level of being a pupil and master).

Edited by Athena

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I'm Belgian and Dutch is my native tongue. We learn French from when we are about 10 to 11 years old. My French was good when I was in school, but I kind of lost touch with it when I went to college and didn't need it anymore. I need at work sometimes and I get by, but I'm not nearly as fluent as I'd like to be.

 

We start learning English when we're about 13 to 14 years old. I watched TV in English before that, though - my sister is four years older, so she was already learning English and I could read fast enough to keep up with the subtitles. By the time I received formal education in the English language, I could keep conversations in English. I still prefer to read books in this language whenever I can.

 

We start learning German when we're about 15 years old, but I missed the first four months of learning that language and it's always left me feeling a bit behind on it. I like it enough to want to speak it more fluently, though.

 

I'd love to learn Russian, Portuguese, Finnish and Spanish as well.

 

Most people in my country are at least bilingual - those who have Dutch as their native tongue tend to speak better French than those who have French as their native tongue speak Dutch, though. Everyone I know is fluent in more than one language, and often they speak three languages.

Edited by Alexander the Great

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Swedish is my native language, and of course, we all learn English in school, from the age of 8 I think. English is one of 8 obligatory courses up until you graduate upper secondary school. 

 

At secondary school, you are also to choose another language. Many choose Spanish, German or French - but some also choose to read extra English. I read German. But as I didn't use it outside of those classes, I don't remember much anymore. 

 

So I can only claim to know Swedish and English.

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In the UK, well England at least, GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is the qualification taught in high schools in a variety of subjects and are graded from F (lowest) to A* (highest). When I was at school during the late 90's we generally took 10 different subject which were all GCSE's but now there are some more vocational qualifications that can be taken called NVQ (National Vocational Qualification).

 

First and second form are the same as first and second grade in the USA. Basically age group class sets.

 

A CV is a curriculum vitae which I think is known as a resume in the USA. It is a brief collection of qualifications, work history and other pertinent information submitted to a prospective employer when searching for a job.

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I see it all the time, GSCE (?) CV'S and first and second forms. What exactly do they represent? I know what "OWL'S" are, lol!!!

 

Ah, but have you got your NEWTs as well? ;):D

 

In the UK, well England at least, GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is the qualification taught in high schools in a variety of subjects and are graded from F (lowest) to A* (highest). When I was at school during the late 90's we generally took 10 different subject which were all GCSE's but now there are some more vocational qualifications that can be taken called NVQ (National Vocational Qualification).

 

First and second form are the same as first and second grade in the USA. Basically age group class sets.

 

A CV is a curriculum vitae which I think is known as a resume in the USA. It is a brief collection of qualifications, work history and other pertinent information submitted to a prospective employer when searching for a job.

 

:he:  Also, GCSE's are generally obtained at age 16 upon leaving high school. Kids can then choose whether they wish to go on to study A-levels at a sixth form college before progressing to university at the age of 18. I believe in the states they have to stay in high school until they're 18?

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:he:  Also, GCSE's are generally obtained at age 16 upon leaving high school. Kids can then choose whether they wish to go on to study A-levels at a sixth form college before progressing to university at the age of 18. I believe in the states they have to stay in high school until they're 18?

Ahh.. this bit has changed here in the UK. You need to stay in some kind of education until the age of 18, but this can be school, college or even an apprenticeship.

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What are "A" levels? Is it like the equivalent of the U.S. "Bachelors degree?"

GCSEs are sat around age 16, and A-levels around age 18. Most pupils take approx 10 GCSEs but only 3-4 A Levels. Degrees are obtained at University.. most people will be about 21 at this point.

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So the "A levels" are between the GSCE and University? Like a prep for university or extended high school? Do you have to take the "A levels" in order to get into uni?

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So the "A levels" are between the GSCE and University? Like a prep for university or extended high school? Do you have to take the "A levels" in order to get into uni?

 

Yes. I should also explain that "A" level means "advanced" level. The old GCE "O" level (no longer used) meant "Ordinary ".  They scrapped it several years ago.

 

"Sixth form" is a hold over from the old school system. It is not the same as sixth grade in the US. Lower Sixth form is  age 16-17 and Upper Sixth is 17-18. A levels are done in sixth form and traditionally were the clever kids who were going on to university (what you call college in the states)

Edited by vodkafan

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I THINK I've got it.

 

In our high schools, we do advanced classes while in high school. For those students who are going to college they follow the CP classes (college prep). For those going into trade, they often have a general diploma and may go to a vocational school from their "feeder" (high school0 and return to the feeder school before school ends. They normally do this twice a week and often come out with basic certifications in automotive, child care, certified nursing assistance, etc. We also have what's known as "dual enrollment" this allows students to attend college for credits (while still in school and during school hours) to get those "core classes" out of the way if they decide to attend college. This is done at a community college (2 year college). No matter which track they take, they get the same type of transcript. There is no gap between high school and college unless you count community college.

 

Fascinating stuff!

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Looks like a well organised system you have there with lots of flexible options. What you call college we call university; what we call college is your "community college". It is more vocational. Sixth form is more academic (A levels) and geared towards University.

As Michelle says, our system is becoming more like yours in that all children are now required to continue in education till 18. Unfortunately it is a bit of a political smokescreen with little value. 

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It's interesting to hear about the systems in other countries, very educational :) (pun not intended)! It's nice to hear how it works in th United Kingdom and the United States.

 

The Dutch system is different yet again. We have primary school (ages 4-12) and secondary school (ages 12-16/17/18). Secondary school has several levels, VMBO (used to be VBO and MBO I think), HAVO and VWO. In primary school all children take tests as well as that their teacher advises which level they think is right for the child. VMBO is for people of lower and average intelligence (~ IQ 100), upto the age of 16 (4 years in secondary school), HAVO for people with higher intelligence (IQ ~110) 5 years in secondary school upto age 17 and VWO is for people with high intelligence (~ IQ 120+) 6 years in secondary school upto the age of 18. The higher the level the more is taught to the teenagers in the available lessons. Not all secondary schools offer all the levels. If you are in the VWO, you can choose between atheneum and gymnasium (Greek terms), which means either without or with Latin and / or Greek languages. Most people in the VWO do the atheneum but for those extra gifted students who are interested there is the gymnasium. I went to the gymnasium (I'm trying not to be arrogant about it! :unsure:). I don't know exactly about the VMBO as I don't know many people who went there, but in the HAVO / VWO (my school offered that) you choose a profile in the fourth I think year and you get some choice in the courses (sometimes you need to fill up the 'free space' with a course of your liking). Starting the fourth year there are school exams, tests which count for the final grade that will be on the diploma. The grades from the first three years don't matter for what'll be on the diploma eventually, but of course they do need to be high enough that the student passes the grade. In the Netherlands we rank from 1 to 10, with a 6 being a pass.

 

Further education include schools for people who did VMBO (I'm not sure what they're called to be honest, as I don't know many people who did this :blush2:), HBO for the people who did HAVO and university for people with a VWO education. In university you first get your Bachelor's degree and then if you want your Master's degree.

 

While I wouldn't say it's the perfect system it worked for me, I'm glad I got through it all (says the person with the Master of Science diploma hanging off the wall.. :giggle2:) in the end.

 

I hope anyone founds this understandable or interesting :unsure:, I know no one really asked for it but thought I'd tell you about the system in NL in case anyone finds it interesting :).

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Athena, that definitely sounds confusing from this end but I'm sure it works. Your educational system ranks pretty high in first world countries, am I right? I'm always thrown by the acronyms, they sound so imposing!

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Athena, that definitely sounds confusing from this end but I'm sure it works. Your educational system ranks pretty high in first world countries, am I right? I'm always thrown by the acronyms, they sound so imposing!

VWO means Voortgezet Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (Advanced Scientific Education), but I don't remember what the other ones mean :blush2:, I can look it up though if you want :).

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Hey everyone,

 

For me the following topic is really intersting so I decided to ask you :)

 

I'd like to know which languages did you learn (or currently learn) in school. Here in Germany English is the first foreign language for almost everyone. Depending on your school you can learn a bunch of other languages. I learned French some Latin and last year I had to start learning Spanish instead of French. :(

 

So which languages did you learn (or had to learn)? Do you also read books in any language you learned (besides English ;))? I just read English and of course Geman books. Why do you read books in a foreign language? Do you just like the language or do you want to improve your skills? :)

 

Greetings from Germany,

Lanka

Edited by LankaDivore

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We learn portuguese at first, and then english and french. The secondary school continues with portuguese and english, and spanish is the following most popular. In most schools it's hard to learn any other language, because the options are limited to the teachers available and to the students who opted for it. I had two classes dedicated to portuguese and they shared much of the content. The way languages are teached is also rather poor, in my experience the contents never seemed to evolve in difficulty or relevance. It's then to no surprise that Portugal has the lowest ranking of foreign language aptitude in western Europe, tied with the UK.[1]

 

I started reading books in english because I wanted to improve my abilities. It was difficult at first, but with training and persistence I was able to do it. Everything I have read in the last few years for recreation was in english, because I want to read more from foreign authors. I also prefer the language and I have to practice it somehow. But there are some books I couldn't finish, like Hamlet, because I had to continuously search what the words and expressions meant. My backlog in portuguese literature is already considerable, despite missing a couple of classics, so I think I should read only from what's out there in order to keep a broad perspective. I'd like to read in german and french, but I should learn the languages first.

 

[1] - https://jakubmarian.com/average-number-of-languages-spoken-by-the-eu-population/

Edited by woolf woolf

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Everything I have read in the last few years for recreation was in english, because I want to read more from foreign authors. I also prefer the language and I have to practice it somehow.

Wow almost every book in a foreign language, not bad woolf ;) And I think Hamlet and other old classics are be difficult for many people, probably even for some English people ;).

 

Just a general question: Aren't many English books translated into Portugues?

Edited by LankaDivore

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What a fascinating topic.  When I was at school we had to learn French at first, then after a couple of years we were given the choice of either German, Italian or Latin as an option for our exams - I chose German and found it very difficult!  I don't know how they choose languages in schools now.

 

I don't blame you for finding Shakespeare difficult, as you say, a lot of native English speakers find him difficult as well (myself included - I think you either "get" Shakespeare or you don't).

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I don't know if this thread already exists, but I would like to talk about what languages you all read in (when you don't read in English). Also if you have any book recommendations for different levels of knowledge.

 

To speak for myself, I'm from Sweden and have Swedish as my mother tongue, but I've learned English since first grade, so I like to read a lot in English. But besides that, I've read a book in Spanish. It was called "El Círculo" (The Circle) and I had read it before in Swedish (Cirkeln).

 

So, my first question is if anybody here knows a Spanish book that isn't all too difficult?

Edited by DauntlessTribute

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