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Have you ever attempted to conduct a telephone conversation in a foreign language?


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A French friend likes to call me and will sometimes break into French. She knows that I understand a little French, but feel a lot more comfortable writing it than speaking it. She feels that I write a lot better than I think and ought to try practicing spoken French more. I know she's right; but because she speaks English and she's my friend, I'm not very comfortable with it lol

Have you ever attempted to conduct a telephone conversation in a foreign language? If you haven't, would you do it, given the opportunity?

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Given that I've lived in a few English speaking countries and my native tongue isn't English, yes I have haha. I absolutely agree that it's super difficult to speak in a foreign language let alone over the phone where it's not as clear as in person.

Speaking is really tough, especially to a native speaker because you can get insecure about mispronouncing words or having a weird accent :confused:

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I do agree that writing in a foreign language is much easier than actually speaking it. I wouldn't say that I have had a real conversation in a foreign language since the most I have done is the greeting and closure to the conversation. It would be good though, to try and do more so the next time I converse with my friend i'll make sure to add more Spanish in the conversation.

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When I started learning Spanish, I always encouraged my Spanish friends to converse with me in their native language, but to help me along when I got stuck. I only ever got uncomfortable when I was presented with a question that I didn't understand and there was a long silence. But if I was given a little help to understand better, I felt good and confident to prattle along. :)

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For me, telephone calls are the hardest.  I am still trying to figure out exactly why.  I have two theories.  The first is that if I can´t see the mouth of the person talking to me, it makes it harder to understand all the sounds correctly.  The other is that the other person cannot help me.  I think when someone is talking to me in spanish, they can see/sense when I am not following, and slow down their speaking a bit.  Over the phone, the other person doesn´t see that I am getting lost, and just keeps rambling on.

At my level of spanish, this is definitely become more of a difference though.  In person I am able to understand everything for the most part, but if that same person called me on the phone and said the same thing, I would probably fall behind.

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If I am not very familiar with the language yet, I would not dare to use it over the telephone.  There can be a lot of miscommunication there.  First of all, if you are the speaker, you have to consider the fact that over the telephone, they can not see your mouth movements and expression.  And so, if you happen to have mispronounced something, it will be difficult for them to guess what you are really trying to say.

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I come from a family of immigrants so we always get calls at home from people speaking their native language. I can speak enough of it just to get by but I'm by no means fluent so what I usually do is just to tell them to wait and then I'll get one of the more fluent speakers of my family to talk to them. Thankfully these days everyone just calls via smartphone so I don't have to answer the family phone all that much anymore.

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Given that I've lived in a few English speaking countries and my native tongue isn't English, yes I have haha. I absolutely agree that it's super difficult to speak in a foreign language let alone over the phone where it's not as clear as in person.

Speaking is really tough, especially to a native speaker because you can get insecure about mispronouncing words or having a weird accent :confused:

Hehe I know what you mean! I feel super self conscious even though the person can't see me! I don't know what's worse; being face-to-face with the person or over the phone!? But your English is good, so you probably have nothing to worry about :)

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I do agree that writing in a foreign language is much easier than actually speaking it. I wouldn't say that I have had a real conversation in a foreign language since the most I have done is the greeting and closure to the conversation. It would be good though, to try and do more so the next time I converse with my friend i'll make sure to add more Spanish in the conversation.

Same here, I'm alright with just the basics. The minute they want to go a bit deeper; I find that I clam up, my heartbeat quickens, clammy palms....the lot lol! My friends tell me all the time to relax, it's just them and apparently my French isn't half bad. But I don't like mispronouncing anything, and panic before I've even said a word. I think I overthink it, too.

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I get why she does it as it is always good to practice, but to be honest, if you feel under pressure then you are probably not going to do the best you can, you may just clam up. I have tried a few times with my Mother as she speaks very good French and Italian, but when the Italian conversation goes to fasts it gets a little bit stressful!

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Same here, I'm alright with just the basics. The minute they want to go a bit deeper; I find that I clam up, my heartbeat quickens, clammy palms....the lot lol! My friends tell me all the time to relax, it's just them and apparently my French isn't half bad. But I don't like mispronouncing anything, and panic before I've even said a word. I think I overthink it, too.

Another thing is that when you're writing things down, you can take a quick peek at the dictionary, whereas that'd look a bit odd if you just busted one out during a face to face conversation :wink:

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Yeah, I have, plenty of times actually :P  English isn't my mother language, but is a language I use on a daily basis.  I speak it quite often, but the first time I tried to speak it on the phone I was so damn nervous, because up until that point I only knew how to type it.

So the idea of practicing made me feel so darn nervous!  I made a lot pronunciation mistakes, but I learnt from my mistakes soon enough. Now I feel confident most of the time when I speak it :)  Working on a third language right now :)

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For me, telephone calls are the hardest.  I am still trying to figure out exactly why.  I have two theories.  The first is that if I can´t see the mouth of the person talking to me, it makes it harder to understand all the sounds correctly.  The other is that the other person cannot help me.  I think when someone is talking to me in spanish, they can see/sense when I am not following, and slow down their speaking a bit.  Over the phone, the other person doesn´t see that I am getting lost, and just keeps rambling on.

At my level of spanish, this is definitely become more of a difference though.  In person I am able to understand everything for the most part, but if that same person called me on the phone and said the same thing, I would probably fall behind.

You know, I actually think that's part of the problem. I did think it was just me, but I think being able to listen to someone face - to-  face and almost lip read as they speak to you, is a huge help. Plus like you say, they can bail you out if you come unstuck!

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I get why she does it as it is always good to practice, but to be honest, if you feel under pressure then you are probably not going to do the best you can, you may just clam up. I have tried a few times with my Mother as she speaks very good French and Italian, but when the Italian conversation goes to fasts it gets a little bit stressful!

I know this is a friend, but you're right; it does put you under pressure lol!

I've also noticed that it seems like when people speak in Italian or French, they speak so fast I can't keep up! I don't know if it's just in our heads because we're trying to follow every word coming out of their mouth, but it definitely sounds way too fast to me. I have to keep saying, can you please speak a little slower?

I've also been told I speak both my native language and English fast, which I find hard to believe. Funny how that works!

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I have never had that opportunity but i don't think i would fare any better. I get nervous when speaking on the phone in unfamiliar language so it would be hard for me. I would prefer interacting face to face as my confidence builds up and am able to let out my mastery of that language be heard.

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I haven't done that yet, but I would do it. But only when I'm fluent enough to speak as fast as I think. I think speaking a foreign language also helps you to assess your command of the certain language by asking the person on the other end of the line to assess your command of the language and correct any mistakes in grammar and pronunciation that you have made, if there's any.

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Another thing is that when you're writing things down, you can take a quick peek at the dictionary, whereas that'd look a bit odd if you just busted one out during a face to face conversation :wink:

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I haven't done that yet, but I would do it. But only when I'm fluent enough to speak as fast as I think. I think speaking a foreign language also helps you to assess your command of the certain language by asking the person on the other end of the line to assess your command of the language and correct any mistakes in grammar and pronunciation that you have made, if there's any.

Isn't it funny how your moth always seems to be lagging far behind your brain and thought process when you're new to a language. You want to say one thing, but for whatever reason; it doesn't come out quite how you intended, or worse still it comes out all jumbled hehe Maybe this only happens to me!

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I have never had that opportunity but i don't think i would fare any better. I get nervous when speaking on the phone in unfamiliar language so it would be hard for me. I would prefer interacting face to face as my confidence builds up and am able to let out my mastery of that language be heard.

How're you getting on with your German, @Jeremy? Kudos to you for going there! In my opinion, German is one of the hardest languages out there. I'd definitely struggle with the pronunciation.

I think most our problems stem from confidence, or lack of it. If we could just get past that, we'd be fine. I envy people who confidently speaks a foreign language whether it's correct or not, because that's the best way to go about it.

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Isn't it funny how your moth always seems to be lagging far behind your brain and thought process when you're new to a language. You want to say one thing, but for whatever reason; it doesn't come out quite how you intended, or worse still it comes out all jumbled hehe Maybe this only happens to me!

Yeah, in a way I experience that too. When I speak in English it's like I'm also thinking, like I'm also double checking my grammar as compared to speaking in my native language where I just speak and speak and I don't double check. But nowadays I don't seem to do that as often as compared to before, my brain must be getting used to speaking English.

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When I went to Korea for the first time to visit my friend she was supposed to pick me up at the airport, but she cancelled on me last minute because she got a new job! And so her aunt agreed to pick me up but I first had to phone her when I arrived at the airport... I called her aunt... who spoke only Korean.  :confused:

I already stress over having to answer the phone in my own language, I think that phone call took a couple of years off of my life just from the anxiety.  :bored:

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Not a full conversation, I've spoken in broken Spanish on the phone but 80% of the conversation was in English. It's strange because I don't lipread or anything like that but I seem to understand spoken word with less hassle in person.

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When I went to Korea for the first time to visit my friend she was supposed to pick me up at the airport, but she cancelled on me last minute because she got a new job! And so her aunt agreed to pick me up but I first had to phone her when I arrived at the airport... I called her aunt... who spoke only Korean.  :confused:

I already stress over having to answer the phone in my own language, I think that phone call took a couple of years off of my life just from the anxiety.  :bored:

That must have been a very sticky situation for you, and no doubt a very long drive! But you survived it to tell the story lol Do you speak ANY Korean at all? I can just imagine the awkwardness.

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I have never actually had a phone conversation in a foreign language I wasn't comfortable speaking but I think I would like to try that just so I see how far I could go with talking to a native speaker over the phone!

Maybe it is just me but I think a phone conversation would be so much better that speaking face-to-face with a native speaker and biting your tongue because you can't articulate your thoughts or can't pronounce certain words right. With a phone conversation you can get away with quite a lot obviously at the risk of ending up not having understood a word of the conversation you were attempting to have!

With that said, I would still like to try it, of course it would have to be with someone I am comfortable with preferably a friend!

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