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Everything posted by whatupswags

  1. When someone tells me straight up that English is not important, I usually just give them the most incredulous face I can make and laugh out loud. I'm not laughing at them, but at the preposterous nature of what they have just stated. Most typically, the people who make this statement are ignorant about more things than just language issues, and it's best to just not have those kind of people around you all of the time.
  2. English speakers can usually tell I'm from California because I say the word "like" a lot. When I speak French, all the French people know I'm not "from around here." Between English speakers, I can usually understand the differences between us because I have quite a few Canadian and British friends. The Australian and Welsh accents are more difficult for me to pick out, but typically they are the ones I just don't recognize as the others! American regional accents are really easy to sift through, too. When I meet someone new, I try to let them tell me where they are from, though, instead of guessing and offending someone. I can be satisfied with my guesses in my mind!
  3. I find listening the most difficult! And no, this is not a problem for me in my native language. My auditory skills in language learning are very weak, and as hard as I try, I literally miss words and search to just grab hold of the main vocabulary. Yes, of course, this is a stage in the language learning process, but I've been living in France for almost 3 years now, so clearly, my level of comprehension should be a little bit higher. Reading and writing have definitely been the easiest for me because I can always re-read or re-write a mistake. Once something is said, it can't be taken back!
  4. I love Duolingo! My cousin showed it to me a few weeks ago, and I've really been enjoying it AND learning a ton! I took Spanish in high school, and have begun learning French since moving to France in 2011. Since learning more French, my Spanish has suffered, so I'm doing both of these languages on the app. Very easy to use, and let's you decide when and where you have time to learn. I love it!
  5. Happy that you got to come to Paris! The French get a bad reputation for being rude and unhelpful, but they are actually one of the most sincerely hospitable and generous cultures out there. They just don't have any interest in helping rude and ungrateful people! So, kudos to you, you were "worthy" of their services. What it really means what that you are polite, and they respect you for that! The French definitely are reactionary when it comes to "treat others as you would like to be treated!"
  6. When I first started living in France, I was right outside of Paris - so most of my friends and coworkers had the Parisian accent. However, I did have one coworker from Toulouse, and I actually found her the easiest to understand with my limited knowledge of French! I think her sounds were stronger as compared to the Parisian slur between words. The French-Africans I have met have always been very difficult for me to understand; I think it is because they speak very rapidly, but with a strong accent. I have never talked to a French-Canadian, but I lived in Belgium for a few months. The Belgians just have a more gritty texture to their French. It is fun to finally understand enough to notice accents, though!
  7. I tried out for a European volleyball league, and got placed first in Belgium, then in France. I'd always wanted to study French anyway, but never went to a school that offered it. Learning French is a huge challenge, but it is one that I will always be grateful for in my life because of the new paths I have been encouraged to take with learning and understanding another culture.
  8. If you're looking for a great language learning app, DuoLingo is awesome! I have just started using it, based on the recommendation by my cousin. It also has the option of becoming one of their contributors, as it is still a developing program. Right now it offers several languages learned from an English perspective, and vice versa. I'm really hoping that eventually, we will be able to learn Spanish from French, for example. The app involves reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a great functional manner. And...it's FREE. Language learners should all check it out!
  9. Google Translate has done a great job translating WORDS as individual entities for me with French. As far as phrases and concepts go, that's been another story! It's not too bad when translating French paragraphs (from work emails) to English; I understand the flaws and haven't had anything go haywire. But when I type something up in English and try to translate it to French - it's out of control! One of the main differences between French and English is in sentence structure (adjectives placement in regards to nouns, etc.), and it gets lost in GT. I tend to use it only for word-to-word translations, and it's been accurate 99% of the time.
  10. I can't think of any negatives or drawbacks to learning more languages! I have a Czech friend who says that the more languages we speak, the more people we know. Language learning enhances cultural communication and understanding like nothing else in the entire world. Only knowing one language is so limiting, both from a personal and social perspective. I encourage everyone to tap into their mental capacity and start learning!
  11. I did it, and it all worked out! I actually went on a job tryout (sports) in Europe, and had no idea ahead of time if I would get a job, let alone where it would be! It was very stressful, and because of the huge unknowns involved, I could not even prepare to learn a language in advance. Athletes were placed anywhere from Finland to Spain, Montenegro to Germany - all over the place! I ended up thankfully getting a job in French half of Belgium, where I started learning French immediately. So many people speak English around the world now that there is always someone who is going to be able to help you out initially. And if that person doesn't exist, start practicing your charades skills!
  12. My college tried to give us more well-rounded cultural learning opportunities by requiring 6 units (2 classes) of cross-cultural credits. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, however, my college was a very small school (1200 students), and the diversity of our faculty and course offerings was obviously limited. I was able to slide through these credits on "California History" and "Ethnic America." These were both just niche history classes taught by two of the history department professors. My friend took "Beginners Italian," offered by one of the English department professors who happened to speak Italian. I would have taken French, but none of the faculty was either qualified or willing to offer it as a course, let alone a major! Spanish was the only language offered as a minor, so it was difficult to add real and chosen language learning to our experiences.
  13. I'm a writing fanatic, so the grammar is VERY important to me. However, surviving in another country relies entirely upon being understood conversationally, so my French lessons in France have been tailored to that need first. We have been adding grammar slowly, but surely, and as much as I appreciate it, it also frustrates me that I am learning I have said certain phrases incorrectly for two years now! I wish I could have had more grammar at the beginning mixed in with the necessary phrases, then I would feel like my language would have advanced at a more normal rate.
  14. Great question! Yes, it's definitely "an hour," not "a hour." This website has the rules and is easy to read and understand. http://editingandwritingservices.com/a-or-an-before-words-beginning-with-h/
  15. I have run into an opposite sort of problem. Learning French, I have learned one phrase in particular that I'd like to use in English, but just sounds ridiculous when translated! In French, the phrase is, "morale dans ses chaussettes." This translates to, "morale in their socks," and it just means everyone is sad. I've started saying it to my American friends just to be funny, and that works for a joke, but I wish it actually made more sense in the context!
  16. Far and away, the English Welsh accent! The Welsh are the only people who can make English sound like music. I do love the British and Australian basic accents as well, but the Welsh one has such a beautiful lilt to it, and I can listen to them all day!
  17. I read too fast. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it's true. I don't absorb all of the material, and when my purpose in reading is to fill my down time, I finish the book too quickly to have it simmer into my down time naturally. I guess I could be called a binge reader? I really do love to read, but growing up I made it a contest with myself to finish books faster and faster, and now it just isn't as enjoyable anymore. I always feel like I'm racing against no one! The only books I have read slowly are the ones by George Eliot. I think it's because they are so chock full of psychology, intricate relationships, and extensive dialogue, that if I do not slow down, I lose interest. I think I'm going to look into deeper books to slow me down?!
  18. I blame it on AOL Instant Messenger for starting this problem with our generation (born in the 80s). I haven't used IM in ages, but the lingo lives on through my texting, emails, Twitter, and so on. My friends and I even made a band in high school, calling ourselves LOL-squared. It is part of my familiar vocabulary with friends and family, and I use it both literally and ironically...way too much.
  19. I think this entirely depends on our regional exposure as children. What language has the most familiarity, have we overheard being spoken, and so forth. I grew up in California, so Spanish was almost too easy to learn. The pronunciation was simple, straightforward, and obvious. Learning French might be a natural transition for a Western Canadian who grew up with bilingual signs everywhere. People living in border countries have probably found the neighboring languages to be normal to grasp (Switzerland and it's multilingual approach comes to mind). Any language that has similar vocabulary and grammar, coupled with familiarity, is going to come the most naturally to an individual person.
  20. I am thankful that American English is my native language, BUT I do wish my growing up experiences had been more diverse. I have now met several American families that live abroad, and their children get to learn another country's language fluently. I think my "wish" would have been to still be born to my American parents, but that they would have been living as expats somewhere in Europe!
  21. The real loss is in cultural awareness. I am so grateful for the opportunity to live overseas because if I had stayed in California forever, I would never have understood that the opposite side of the world views language learning much differently than we do in America! In Continental Europe, language learning is highly revered, and multilingual employees are sought after in companies. In America, and now the UK, multilingualism has low value (exception: California employees should also speak Spanish these days). In the same way artistic expression in education has lost value, language learning is disappearing as well - and to our shame. It's no wonder so much prejudice and ignorance exists in our world - we don't learn to appreciate other cultures and their languages anymore!
  22. Any time spent with more of whatever language you are trying to learn can only help you! I have found that listening to foreign music has been more of a progressive puzzle for me. At the beginning, I understood nothing, but I started absorbing some of the regular French sounds. In the middle, I was able to recognize some phrases, instead of just words. And now, when I listed to the same songs, more and more recognizable lyrics surface. It really is about exposure, and the more exposure we can give ourselves, the farther along we can get!
  23. I think this totally depends on how we learn anything; visually, audibly, kinesthetically. I am a visual learner, so the reading and writing of languages is a very simple and easy to understand process for me. Speaking is difficult because I want to be able to speak quickly and make no mistakes, but I have to slow down and be humbled by my errors (in French). Listening and understanding the spoken word has been the most difficult for me. Where I slow down in my speaking, the French locals have no reason to - but my ears are not even at the same slow speed of my speech! It's been coming along (for two years), but I still find myself piecing together what someone's saying just through key words and hoping that I've understood them correctly! My husband, on the other hand, is not a visual learner. I've been amazed at how much French he has absorbed just through listening and speaking, but he is illiterate when it comes to reading and writing! It really depends on learning styles, and how hard we are willing to work to compensate in those areas where we are not as strong.
  24. Definitely learn how to say, "I would like..." because it is so much more polite when ordering food or just talking to someone in general. I usually tell my visiting friends (coming to France) that if they can key in on these 5 main sayings, they can survive just fine because these open the door to the locals. 1) Hello - Bonjour 2) Please - S'il vous plait 3) Thank you - Merci 4) Do you speak English? - Parlez-vous anglais? 5) Goodbye - Au revoir Obviously, this is super basic, but the foundation of what you must absolutely have is here. From this you build up!
  25. When I first moved to Europe 3 years ago, I was completely inspired to learn ALL languages. Then I had one of those wonderfully interesting conversations with an older woman at an airport who told me something I will never forget. She broke it down for me like this: between English, Spanish, and French, you can find someone in every corner of the world who can speak at least some of one of those languages. Why? Because Britain, Spain, and France were the conquerors, and colonized most of the entire world. Of course, there are respective merits of learning any country's language, but for covering the most ground, these three languages do indeed make the world a much smaller place. I'm still trying to pick up some general levels of the languages of the places I like to visit (Italy, Portugal, Germany, Holland, etc.), but Spanish and French are the only languages I will ever really work to be fluent in for the rest of my life.
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