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Linguaholic

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


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Well, considering a previous job entailed that I converse with others on the phone in a foreign language, I have indeed, haha! It is definitely nerve-wracking in formal situations especially because there's always the persistent thought that it's not your native tongue. I could often hear how different my accent was to the accent of the person I was talking to and it made me feel insecure about my fluency. Stressful situations are the worst because speaking continuously in a language that's not your native one requires a focus of thought, and high emotion can erode that.

I do like to speak in a foreign language with friends though because it is very helpful to immerse yourself in a language so that you can improve and retain more things. I also like listening to them talk since it's practice both for hearing the natives speak, and a useful way for me to know the correct pronunciation of words I might have been mispronouncing.

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The phone conversation might be easier than face-to-face conversation, especially in front of other people, as a way to practice a language when no other problems are involved.

My husband's ex-wife used to break into French with people who didn't speak French at all, which used to bother me, because she spoke fluent English--either she'd learned both languages at the same time or she'd even learned English first. When my husband said anything in French I always tried to answer in French. When his ex did I always had the feeling that she was setting some sort of trap, and made a point of answering in English.

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It's interesting to see that we're all different when it comes to this! I wonder if maybe those who are not fazed by the idea of conversing on the phone are perhaps more confident in their language skills and not as self conscious as those of us who prefer face- to- face?

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It's interesting to see that we're all different when it comes to this! I wonder if maybe those who are not fazed by the idea of conversing on the phone are perhaps more confident in their language skills and not as self conscious as those of us who prefer face- to- face?

It really depends on the context for me. For example, I prefer phone/skype job interviews and sometimes when chatting with friends, but when I'm speaking a foreign language, I prefer face-to-face :grin:

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I worked as an operator for a major telecommunications company in the US. Although my mother tongue is Filipino, I am quite fluent in English. But there were times that Spanish-speaking costumers would call. I would usually use a spiel and transfer them to the Spanish queue. I speak and understand a little Spanish so I was confident.

There was a time when a Spanish-speaking costumer went through and there was a long queue that she got irate. She didn't want to get transferred and wanted to discuss her bill with me in Spanish. I tried at first but it basically went nowhere. Luckily, she was also fluent in English. She just never told me. In that line of profession, average handling time per call is important and the moment she started speaking English was when I almost lost it. Looking back, it was quite funny experience. I never realized it until I resigned.

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@ lushlala, I think we could overcome our fear of communicating on the phone in a foreign language. Maybe if we are bold enough to ask for help then the person we are conversing with would not be listening out for perfection and would be happy to correct us when we err. As long as you can take positive critism you can try that.

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Foreign languages can be especially frustrating on the phone because sometimes you can't understand what the other person is saying, even if you are fluent in the language. If someone is not speaking clearly, or if the phone is muffled in any sort of way, it can be almost impossible. I have a hard time speaking to people on the phone in my own language, let alone one that I am still learning.

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