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Learning A Language vs A Programming Language

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22nd August 2017

German architecture is very cool..

I can Program

I can comfortably program in C# and JavaScript and can make something look ok using HTML and CSS. I can also write in Java, whilst not very well compared to C#, and although I’ve dabbled with C++ I’m still just a beginner with it. However, if I set aside a few hours every week, I know that I’ll be able to pick up almost any programming language, they’re all quite similar, they just have their quirks! C++ for example forces you to manage your memory properly, if you make it, you destroy it. JavaScript isn’t really an object orientated language so some of the common practices we use in C# don’t apply and as such JavaScript can be super annoying to debug!

 

My Quest To Learn German

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to learn German, I don’t know why I do but I’m fascinated by the country. In late December last year, I visited Dortmund in Germany. I ate some Bratwurst, went to the Christmas markets and developed my desire to learn the language even more! Surely if I can easily pick up a new programming language, then learning a new actual language should be just as easy. I speak one of those already. Wrong. Learning German is tough.

 

Languages are Hard..

Learning a new language is hard for several reasons; you don’t know what to study, having the motivation to study consistently, receiving feedback on what you’ve learnt and then practising, practising, practising. For example, should I watch German TV and listen to Germany music? Well yes, but I have no idea what they’re saying and finish being none the wiser. Then of course I could learn individual words, but they each have their own gender. Is a toaster female? Why is a football striker male? Why do they even have these in the first place!? And the gender is crucial because it changes how the words in the sentence look around it.

How am I supposed to remember the words for toaster, shoe, table, cat…?

Flash Academy

Since January, I have been using a neat app called Flash Academy which my friend and guest poster here on BrainyBeard Francesco suggested. The app provides vocabulary written on digital sticky notes (which you can also buy) that you memorise and test by playing games. This has been the most successful starting point for me as a new learner but it hasn’t offered me enough in terms of making actual sentences (although I know it does offer that, I just want to start making sentences from scratch). So, I bought myself a huge German grammar book. It’s dry, but does offer all of the rules about when to use what and where. However, right now I have resorted to using a trusty dictionary, finding the words I want to learn and then trying to learn 10 of them every day. My current theme is football.

 

The Goal

My aim by the end of the year is to be able to watch a German vlog and understand what the person is talking about, even if I don’t fully translate every word. This is tough, because there are obviously different dialects, some people speak much faster than others, there’s slang and even words that some Germans use which others use something else for. Confusing.

In programming, it’s not like that. If you want to learn a new language, great. Write hello world, trying make some circles appear on screen that dance or something, hit run and boom you have instant feedback. If you did it right, great, if not then the compiler is probably going to tell you where you went wrong. And if not, there are thousands of great resources online! Learning a language is not so easy. You’re probably learning on your own, receiving no feedback and not only do you need to write in the language you need to be able to speak and read it too.

 

What About You?

What about you? Do you speak any languages? What worked / didn’t work for you? We don’t always write about languages, sometimes we talk about remote working and why University helped us become game developers. We also let you know about all of the latest game AI news once a week. Subscribe to our newsletter below to stay up to date!