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English is not enough...

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by noemie, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I've just come back from two beautiful weeks in Andalucía, where we hired a car from Málaga airport and then went off to explore anywhere but the Costa del Sol. I highly recommend it! True, it was very hot, but I just love the whole tapas culture where olives magically appear as soon as you order a coke (I found this to be systematically the case in Granada, giving a new appeal to the pub crawl, as you never knew which appetizer you would get, but potentially could be both drunk and suitably fed by the end of the evening).
    More satisfyingly, I was shocked by how little English people spoke. In fact, shopkeepers and restaurant waiters were more inclined (and able!) to speak French if needed (and bizarrely, Italian) than English. On numerous occasions. I had a very low opinion of my ability of holding a simple conversation in Spanish before my trip, but thanks to the "no English spoken" rule have improved my skills immensely.
    Has anyone else come back from their holidays with a similar experience? I know we're probably all language teachers geeks who cannot wait to speak the lingo, but this was quite eye-opening to me (and I cannot wait to regale my students with the experience in great detail).
  2. Of course, even in Germany they don't all speak English. I was tired of hearing all my life how good the German were at speaking English, until I experienced it in real life. Their accents sounds "better" in English than Spanish or French, but most people have an awful grammar and outside the areas near the main train stations or international airports, people don't really speak much English. Once travelling in Germany I had to resource to French to get directions!
  3. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    That's exactly my point! I remember once travelling in Prague (about 12 years ago) and using German more than English to get by. I just find it interesting that, in Europe at least, English isn't as much the lingua franca as I believed. I know full well that a lot of my compatriots (Swiss) don't speak very good English or no English at all, but I hadn't fully grasped how a lot of people are able to use other languages for communication, particularly as I've always believed English to be easier to pick up than other languages (we're talking basic knowledge here).
    Redpens, I might have bumped into you! We were also on the Costa de la Luz at some point (El Puerto de Santa Maria) and visited Seville too (38 degrees when we were there!).
  4. My experience during the last two weeks that I spent on holiday in France and Switzerland was much the same. While hotel receptionists and waiters/waitresses usually have enough English to carry out essential transactions they usually cannot sustain a general conversation and I found that I still needed to use my French and German quite a lot. Reading skills are particularly useful. Menus are often poorly translated and don't make sense, and information about ticket discounts (e.g. for students, pensioners) on public transport are rarely posted in English.
  5. I have just come back from Turkey and couldn't believe how popular German is over there! And Russian! Well, it was, near my resort close to Antalya I don't know if that's in ALL of Turkey......My husband and I remarked that English was certainly way way down the list of spoken languages....most hotel staff had simple English but were immediately more receptive to German if you couldn't speak Turkish to them......
    ...............not that my year 10 German class will believe me when I tell them of a proper chance to use German outside of Germany; ah, I can hear them now "well i ain't gonna ever go to Turkey anyway!".............groan!!!!!!!!!!
  6. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    Probably because a lot of them come from families in Germany and may have even been born here. There is a very high number of Turkish immigrants in Germany dating from when they were brought over as guest workers.
  7. Hm, depends heavily on where you go.... There are still states where they don't test speaking in language assessment, so it's usually not practiced that much. In comparative testings which have evaluated the efficiency of the states, many of them have not managed to reach the set standards for English (and most of the other subjects..).
    A friend of mine has just come back from Madrid and complains that nobody speaks English there :D.
  8. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    I understand that the most popular country visited by Europeans is France - hence their ability to speak French.
  9. marmot.morveux

    marmot.morveux New commenter

    I was surprised at how many people in Munich let me speak to them in German, when I went there earlier this year. (I don't feel I speak German that well).

    When visiting Burgundy a week ago, I had a strange conversation with a man trying to speak German. The end result was a heady mix of French, German and English!

    Quite often waiters and waitresses may initiate a conversation in English, but then once you reply in English, giving various detail or asking questions about the menu, you have trouble understanding them.

    If only our pupils believed us....about the lack of English that the world can speak.

  10. sam enerve

    sam enerve New commenter

    The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

    On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

    The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

    The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

    Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. It's speaking English that kills you.
  11. We love it when people try to speak German :). And Munich is full of Bavarians, they are more relaxed and don't get stressed even if it takes you some time to talk. Sadly, the rest of the Germans doesn't even understand the Bavarians :D. When my husband asked someone for directions in Essen, they answered: Sorry, I don't understand you - in English :D
  12. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Sam, that quote is going on my display wall! [​IMG]
  13. Just got back from a holiday in Switzerland. I witnessed a conversation between a guy from Cologne and a local Swiss resident on our campsite. It started in German but ended in English: Kölsch v. Schwyzerdütsch - total breakdown in communication.

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