Jacqueline A. Lott Ashwell (isquiesque) wrote in linguaphiles,
Jacqueline A. Lott Ashwell

Distance Learning Recs & Thoughts on Learning Multiple Languages

Greetings! I am excited to have found an active language community here on LJ. I have three questions on which I'm seeking advice:

1) Any suggestions on distance learning for basic German?
(Details on my exact desires can be found below.)

2) Any suggestions on distance learning for really fine-tailored intermediate to advanced French?
(Again, details on my exact desires can be found below.)

3) And to those of you who speak more than two or three languages, do you have any personal preference and/or advice about whether it's better to speak more languages at a get-by level or fewer languages at a more fluent level?

Please also note: I live nowhere near a university, college, or even high school that offers language courses. English is my native language, I speak fairly reasonable French, fundamentally basic Spanish, and can read Portuguese but don't keep up with it enough to speak it these days.

German: Where I Stand Now
I know very little German. Let's say I don't know any. I mean, I've been self-teaching a bit. Mostly flash cards, pod casts, tinkering with text books.

German: What I Want
I'd like someone to keep me on track, and I'd like someone to explain things when I have questions, and I'd like someone to correct my mistakes. Self-study is not working well and it's hard to stay motivated.

German: Why I Want to Learn It
I'd like to learn German for two reasons: because I live in Alaska, and lots of Germans visit here, and because I go to England every couple of years or so and would like to explore more of the continent but I really only want to visit places where I speak (at least) enough of the language to get by. I have friends in Austria and Germany that really want me to visit, but I keep putting them off. They say they'll be there to help me, but I want to not feel entirely helpless. [I've been to a few places where I don't speak the language (Marshall Islands, Haiti, Kiribati) and it's a bit maddening (though in Haiti I was able to get by on French and muddle through Kreyol when it was necessary).]

French: Where I Stand Now and Why I Want to Improve
I am in my mid-thirties, and began learning French in earnest at age nine. I still use French quite a bit. Sometimes I use it at work (where my proficiency is considered acceptable because it's not a primary focus in my job). I use it a lot online, and I'm an accepted member of a couple of online Francophone hobbyist communities. I listen to a lot of French music and sometimes prod myself into reading French lit in the original. And when I travel to French-speaking countries and I have no real problem finding my way, getting along without a dictionary, etc.

But! I somehow avoided taking grammar after high school, and focused on phonetics and literature at university (I ended up with a minor and even took a class or two while in Grad school just to keep things active in my head). I consequently know that I have a great accent, but that I say some pretty silly things from time to time.

French: What I Want
I'd like to tune my French up and really be fluent, but I fear self-study is not efficient, and that it's allowing me to solidify some bad habits I've developed. A basic course would bore me, but an advanced course might lack some fundamentals I actually need. Really, working one-on-one with an instructor who can gauge my level, see where I'm lacking, and direct the study accordingly is what I need. I have no idea where to find this.

In neither case am I seeking credits or formal recognition, just ability.

Thank you very much in advance for any recommendations or thoughts you might share.

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