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Linguaholic

Hands-on Experience


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4 hours ago, wolfette said:

My experience was a little different to this, so I'll explain that first. I met a Spanish guy that knew absolutely no English at all and he was really struggling here in the UK. My mission was to help him to learn English so that he was able to communicate with people here. He's now a successful guy that's doing well for himself, and I've since learned he's actually fluent in many more languages (French, Italian and Polish, to name a few!). It was difficult to communicate with him initially as I spoke next to no Spanish and he spoke next to no English.

However, I found that there was some brands he knew of from Spain that were also in the UK. Think things like McDonalds and Coca Cola, which are everywhere. He was able to recognise that those things meant food and drink for example. Then, there are words that are pretty similar in both languages which was another bonus, although it did take a bit of working out sometimes. We were also able to draw things sometimes to get across what we were talking about. It didn't take long before we were able to have some conversations, either I had picked up enough words in Spanish to talk to him or he'd picked up enough in English to talk to me. 

While his English is pretty good now (and I like to think that my Spanish is too) we still ask each other about words from time to time. He had never heard "fringe" in relation to the outskirts of somewhere until pretty recently, and had asked me what hair had to do with where he lived. 

Interesting story indeed. Lol at th fringe bit.

When you spend enough time around an unfamiliar language, it becomes easier to pick it up especially if you are genuinely interested in learning the language.

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It is always the best approach. We were in Majorca and I was looking for the eggs in the supper store. I had forgotten my Spanish pocket book, so I was trying to describe eggs to the store attendant. From that day I learned what eggs are called in Spanish and I tried not to forget the pocket book. When we drove around, I would look at the signs and then make a reference in the Book, That is how I picked a bit of the language and I actually found it interesting afterwards.

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I had this sort of experience when I went to be an au pair for 3 months in Italy. The lady of the house and the kids didn't speak much English, so I was thrown in at the deep end. I made friends, but most of them barely spoke any English. We'd go out and hang out but the language barrier was a bit of a problem. I mean, I still had fun and we found ways of communicating, but it was especially daunting at the start. Then it got better because I started picking up some Italian, and making more of an effort, which the locals really appreciated. I think that in itself accelerated my learning process, and had I stayed maybe 6 months to a year, I strongly believe I would have picked up a lot more. 

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I thought the reason people got au pairs was so that they could learn a bit of the au pair's language? Did they not attempt to learn any English at all while you were there? I just thought that instead of getting an au pair, who comes with a language barrier, it would be preferable to get a nanny if you weren't planning to learn the new language.

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We just travel to foreign countries, not actually live there. And most of the time it's just at five days, at the most it would be a week. But really, not more than that so it's not even enough time to converse with locals as much. However, we still do communicate with them, to ask directions, to haggle or to just know more about the place we're in. At times, it can be difficult especially in countries where English isn't spoken as much. Another problem would be the accent, we encountered this issue in China since it's quite difficult for us to understand what they're saying even though it's in English because of their supposed accent.

I didn't have much problem in Korea though, almost all the people we conversed with know English. I do know Korean as well, so I was able to grasp a few words whenever we speak with non-English speakers. Plus, it's very handy to know a few basic phrases and words as well since at that time, I haven't mastered Korean as I have now.

Japan is another issue since not a lot of people speak English there. However, most of them are helpful and they will point us to the right direction. They could actually understand us but they cannot respond in English.

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