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Would you learn the lingo?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by nedkelly, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. So you've just taken up that OS position, or maybe you've even been there for a while. Would you go so far as to try and learn the language of your adopted country, even such everyday phrases as "hello", "good morning" ,"how much does that cost?" etc.
    In my last posting the school put on language classes for all of its international staff, and I was able to learn some pretty basic Russian which I found useful in dealing with certain situations both in- and outside the school. Amazingly, my ESL students were also pretty impressed with my pathetic attempts to communicate with them in their own language, and even tried to assist on occasions by correcting my woeful pronunciations. [​IMG]

    But did you, or would you seek to learn the foreign language concomitant with your posting? And if so, how did (or would) you go about it -school-based classes, after school tuition or other?
    ...and has it been an advantage, or was it just a waste of time? [​IMG] I'd be interested in hearing your views/experiences etc.
     
  2. So you've just taken up that OS position, or maybe you've even been there for a while. Would you go so far as to try and learn the language of your adopted country, even such everyday phrases as "hello", "good morning" ,"how much does that cost?" etc.
    In my last posting the school put on language classes for all of its international staff, and I was able to learn some pretty basic Russian which I found useful in dealing with certain situations both in- and outside the school. Amazingly, my ESL students were also pretty impressed with my pathetic attempts to communicate with them in their own language, and even tried to assist on occasions by correcting my woeful pronunciations. [​IMG]

    But did you, or would you seek to learn the foreign language concomitant with your posting? And if so, how did (or would) you go about it -school-based classes, after school tuition or other?
    ...and has it been an advantage, or was it just a waste of time? [​IMG] I'd be interested in hearing your views/experiences etc.
     
  3. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    I learned the language in both my overseas postings. Learning Persian was very, very useful in communicating with Revolutionary Guards, etc, during the Iranian Revolution. And I've been in Spain so long now that I simply would have the "cara" not to learn the language!!!
     
  4. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Having spent a lot of years in hispanic environments I would have found it quite difficult not to learn Spanish, a language which gives me a lot of pleasure. To begin with I had about a dozen 1:1 lessons. In the early days I carried a notebook to meetings and spent 20 minutes each evening with the dictionary/ grammar book looking up anything which had given me difficulty during the day. Having done French (the genders are all the same) and a bit of Latin (ditto most of the verb tenses) helped.
    My Spanish will never be as good as that of my younger son whose job involves daily interactions in English and Spanish but I can give the older lad a run for his money and in the absence of a 'proper' teacher I've taught the literature and taken candidates through the oral element in the 'A' Level.
    I didn't have the same motivation in Africa and Asia where almost everyone with whom I came into frequent contact spoke English. I wish I'd tried harder with Welsh but I'm confident that my rusty French would become fluent within three months of moving to a francophone country. Immersion is the key for us idle fellows. I sing in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Catalá and Youtube is a great resource for listening and practising pronunciation.
    I'm very fluent in Wigan and my Bolton and Bury are not bad.
     
  5. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Despite being brought up nearby to
    Wigan - albeit from a town with a better rugby club - I always found folk from
    there to be generally incomprehensible. You are, dear sir, a rare example of
    someone from that place who I can occasionally understand.
     
  6. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Don't you mean rugby LEAGUE club MM?
     
  7. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    That is the one real rugby players play; despite some newspapers like the Independent not acknowledging the existance of RFL.
     
  8. lottee1000

    lottee1000 Occasional commenter

    I learnt Thai, most useless hour and a half of my life every week for a year... My spanish is good though, and, as said above, immersion is the way to learn...
    Rugby? What's that? We don't play it much in Sheffield...
     
  9. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Too right! Can't wait for the season to start here.

     
  10. My school has started 1.5 hour lessons per week for any teachers that want to learn/practice. It is great and I find that I am now picking things up a lot quicker
     
  11. When I was at uni in China I started studying Mandarin. I moved to Japan and continued learning Chinese characters. As I also learnt hiragana and katakana it helped me read things in Japanese, although I often only knew the pronounciation in Chinese, not Japanese. Still, at least I could read menus and train timetables.
    I got offered a job in Taiwan, so a few months before I started I went off to Beijing to do a six week one on one Chinese course. It was possibly the loneliest six weeks of my life, but I learnt a lot and it really helped when I got to Taiwan. I continued taking classes in Taiwan. I was never converstational, but I had (and still have) no problem negotiating everyday situations. My reading is not too bad, but deteriorating as the years pass.
    Now I'm in Arabic speaking country and I can say, left, right, straight on, stop here, hello, good bye and let's go! I doubt if it will ever improve much as I don't have the motivation to learn Arabic that I had to learn Chinese. It's the motivation that counts.
    Alas, my wife would not move back to China in a million years, so my Chinese will probably never improve much.
     
  12. I only intended to stay here in Egypt for two years so there didn't seem to be much point in learning the language. Every year I decided to stay just for one more year and still didn't see much point in learning.
    I'm now into my sixth year here and am deciding whether to stay another year or not.
    I am able to converse on a very basic level and regret not pushing myslef to learn when I first arrived.
     
  13. I think it depends a lot on the language and whether or not English is widely spoken.
    Spanish - I picked up easily but had to use on a day to day basis.
    Kiswahili - I really struggled with but managed quite easily without. It is a very odd langauge from a European point of view, with prefixes for tense and person.
    Hindi - I can count to 15 and direct a rickshaw. I can cope with that but would like to learn more.

     
  14. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    How that takes me back!
    My snobby sister-in-law (I like her really) insists that Wigan has no dialect but only 'lazy speech'. This is nonsense of course because Wiganese generally requires a lot more muscular effort than RP. 'Do you have for to... ' , 'How, what, sorry!' (How now, sirrah) and Wheer'sta bin? (Where hast thou been?) are pure Elizabethan.
    A London friend exiled in Lancashire with his Bury missus tells me 'You Lancastrians always sound so aggressive with that repeated pronoun: 'Wheer'sta bin thee? Wurzy bin, 'im?'
     
  15. ..not even strine BFG.. crikey, now that's callin' it a bit! [​IMG]
     
  16. As others have said, it depends on a few variables; how 'valuable/useful' I perceive the language to be, how difficult it is, how accessible it is to learn (classes, teachers, materials) and how widely spoken English is in the community.
    I would always take the time to learn a few absolute basics, though.
    I went to Mexico with about three community/adult ed courses under my belt and madrileno pronunciation (couldn't understand a word the locals said, so different was the accent and intonation) and left, a bit over three years later, as a fluent speaker with a strong Mexican accent.
    It has opened new doors for me, career-wise, as I've now even taught it at the secondary level and as enrichment at primary level.
     
  17. ¡Bravo!
     
  18. rednelly84

    rednelly84 Occasional commenter

    I pick up bits and pieces from the kids and have learnt a few basic words of Arabic but never gone the extra mile and formally learnt any.
    I feel I don't need to learn more as English is widely spoken.
    I remember holidaying in rural Spain where no-one spoke English...I had no option but to use some of the Spannish I knew at the time.
     
  19. I had to look a couple of times, but, yes, ball-numbingly funny.
     
  20. I can speak Indonesian fluently. I learnt through immersion as I've never been able to learn languages well in a class. One reason I learnt it so fast is because where I first lived there were only a handful of westerners and the English of most locals was extremely limited. It was a choice of learn and have friends or have no friends. I think if I'd have lived in a larger city where more people spoke English my Indonesian wouldn't be half as good. I've found it extremely useful speaking the language especially as I like going to the more remote places away from the cities. Being able to converse fluently allows me get a lot more enjoyment out of Indonesia as I can chat to people easily on my travels. Another method I've found that helps when learning a language is dating someone local (this time round getting married too). So that method is now out the window if I move else where ;p
     

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