Have you been in a situation when you MUST speak a language that you've learned?
When I visited Portugal last time, the landlord where I rented an apartment spoke only Portuguese. His son, who usually helps with English was not available.
Actually that was a nice (and real) test of my Portuguese skills. I had to call the gentleman by phone and agree where and what time we meet (after arrival). Then he introduced the apartment and explained the local environment details. He introduced me to the great local restaurants that are not visited by tourists, and many places that were very exciting.
I found that in that place in Portugal foreign tourists are very rare and even if you speak Spanish, people have hard time understanding you.
The landlord was so friendly and generous, that after checking out he offered to drive us to the airport for free. When going to the airport (about 50 minutes) he told a lot of interesting things, that otherwise, I would simply miss.
I was fascinated by that place, and was so happy that I was able to speak some Portuguese.
Only when I had to call France to get Celine Dion Cd's for my sister. I either had to wait for the manager or speak french and I spoke french. It was one of the most REWARDING opportunities of all my years learning french! I HOPE to one day get to experience another opportunity to use it like that again! :) ENJOY these moments as they will be GREAT motivators to drive you forward in learning the language! I wish you much luck going forward in learning Portuguese! Bonne Chance!
Thank you Tracy! I think that talking on the phone in a language that you are trying to learn is quite a challenging (and exciting) moment. I had similar experience with French before. Frankly speaking I was a little scared, because understanding meant booking a little private hotel (and no English :)) or get into a situation when you are simply on the street with luggage looking for a place to stay.
I'm GLAD you got to use your french! I hope this situation will propel you to learn more in french as well! :) I'm going to be getting back into Italian next year with a tutor and then I will do it on here as well. I had some before so, I'm excited to get back into it. I'm learning Sicilian on Memrise so, they will help each other. :) Here's to our journeys in languages and may we be the better for them! :)
@Tracy382545 Amazing thing is that few years ago I rented a half of a house in Sicilia (San Vito lo Capo) where the whole family did not speak any other language. In addition, they had to 'translate' from Sicilian dialect into Italian, because that was the only language we could communicate. But that was an awesome experience. La mamma liked us as her kids, she was sharing with us the food that she was cooking for her family. The food was very authentic and great (not from supermarket). This was not a part of the rental agreement, but simply a human connection. It was a feeling that you are home.
I wish you to master Siciliano soon!
Grazee! :) I just started learning Sicilianu. Piaciri di Canuscivri ( Nice to meet you) :) Comu si senti ?( how are you?) I hope to one day go to Palermo! I LOVE the Sicilian language that I want to learn 3 dialects, the main dialect ( Palermo) then Syracusan, and Calebresan! :) I love Sicilian more than Italian but that is just me. :) I listen to many songs in Sicilianu. I'm GLAD you got to experience a little of family gatherings there. To rent a place and to get to know the people is SO COOL! :) Grazee for wishing me luck in mastering it as it IS one that I DO WANT to become "Fluent" in! :) Thanks for creating an AWESOME post and for sharing your travels! :) I hope one day I will be able to truly say "Parru Sicilianu"! :) Grazee, Super_Duo_Lingo!
Cartergraysons, your question about learning Italian (or any other language in a very densely mixed country) is quite classic. Once in Greece (Corfu island), I met a group of people talking a language which sounded a kind of Italian. I asked them (in Italian) what language do you speak. They explained that it was not really Italian, but Neapolitan.
Super_Duo_Lingo :) There are many dialects in Sicilia! :) It depends where you go. Many words have different endings and they say things differently in different parts of Sicily. So, if you ever go again see if you can find out what dialect of Sicilianu they are speaking ;) Bona Sira ( Good evening) or Bona Notti ( good night) hope this will give you a few words of Sicilianu to know if you go again you can use them. :) Grazee grazee for your interest in Sicilianu! :)
cartergraysons :) Italian and Sicilian do have close similarities which is why I want to learn Sicilian and get back into Italian and do them back to back! :) They both help me with learning each of them! :) Ciao is Italian and "ciau" is Sicilian. You can see the similarity there. Like Buone Notte ( good night Italian) Bona Notti ( good nigh Sicilian). Buona Sera ( Linda correct me if the spelling is off ;) for Italian and Bona Sira Good night Sicilian so, I hope this will give you some idea of how they are close to one another. :) I LOVE Sicilian and I'm looking forward to going further in it to learn more words and phrases! :) Grazee!
SweetPaw :) My sister is a HUGE fan of Celine Dion and has been BEFORE she hit it BIG around the World! :) We both would like to learn le francais Canadien "Quebecois" as well as the Parisian french! There are different words and sometimes sentence structures. My french teacher from France told me that. She couldn't help translate a lot of it because of some of the differences. :) Worth learning both and hopefully someday I will. :)
I lived in Vietnam for awhile and could have gotten by with English, in both cities and the countryside. When I went for daily walks looking for opportunities to speak Vietnamese, seeing this tall foreigner walking around attracted those who were looking for opportunities to speak English. It was all good, having conversations in Vietnamese and a combination of that with English.
But there was one memorable time I had to speak Vietnamese. I was crossing a street at the "intersection of McDonalds and Dien Bien Phu Street" (Google or look up in Google Earth and you can see exactly where this happened). One minute I was walking through traffic and the next minute I was flat on my back looking at the sky. A motorbike knocked me down, and a bunch of people came over to help me. I used Vietnamese to ask people not to help me because I was assessing the damage and didn't want to be moved if I had a neck injury. I wiggled my big toe so I figured my spine was OK and moved my head slowly to assess pain. Then I moved the rest of me and got up and thanked everyone for their kindness and walked home. Good deal of pain in my left leg and a couple of scrapes and small lacerations. I still carry a scar on my leg that ironically is a fairly good rendition of the map of Vietnam. My years of martial arts training paid off as I used a "break fall" to distribute the energy of being thrown down and avoid broken bones or worse.
Let that be a lesson for you. If you are traveling in another country, it is good to know basic conversation and health words and phrases. Unless you are conked out, it is important to let people know what hurts, what you need or don't need.
On a traghetto crossing the choppy waters to St Marks in Venice, a local lady swore at me ("... tourists!") and kicked my small case - admittedly it was in the way. I apologised nicely in Italian and explained that I wasn't a tourist but was going to help my uncle in his bakery. She softened, we had a brief chat about real bread and the "rubbish" in supermarkets, and everything was calm. She even wished me "happy baking" as we walked off the boat. Sometimes a tiny white lie to go with the language you're learning is essential;-) (Thankfully she didn't ask which bakery!)
Great approach to what could have been a nasty situation. At first, I wondered about your "uncle", that really put the hook in me.
And the local kicking lady got me wondering about differences in public behavior in different countries. My perception in hanging out with Italians years ago, is that the folks are fairly demonstrative, lots of hand gestures and whatnot. Maybe some excited language thrown in. Generally in SE Asia, "losing face" is when someone gets angry in public and is usually avoided. But it happens.
But in any country, knowing the language, even a little bit, can rapidly change an awkward situation into something friendly.
Once in Coimbra, Portugal, I was waiting for an overnight train to Spain--there were supposed to be two trains coming through the station, one to Madrid and the other (mine) to Basque Country, but the only one that was showing up on the screen was the one to Madrid. I tried to ask the guy working at the ticket window what was going on in Portuguese, but he looked at me like I had three heads so I switched and tried in English instead. After that he said, "Só Português," so I had to switch back to Portuguese. He was more patient at that point, though, and managed to explain that the two trains were hooked together and wouldn't separate and go their separate ways until later in their journey.
Another entertaining one was in Rome, when I had to call a number to make a reservation to visit an archeological site in the city. I pressed the number they told me to in order to get someone on the line in English, and then was immediately forwarded to someone speaking Italian. I fumbled along as best I could, and after a couple minutes they asked if I spoke Spanish, so that solved that. I've actually used Spanish rather than English as a common language any number of times in Italy when my Italian isn't up to the task. That included a landlady in Salerno who I communicated with exclusively in an odd mixture of Spanish and Italian.
Another more "trial by fire" situation was in Athens. My brother and I were traveling together and having trouble keeping track of who owed whom money, so when our breakfast cost 9 euros, we asked the woman taking our order to split the change 50/50 instead of returning us a euro. She spoke enough English to take orders, but not enough to understand a specific request like that, so after a couple minutes of utter confusion, I said in my broken Greek, "He pays his part, I pay my part," and that immediately solved the problem.
Beyond that, I've had a couple of situations where I've had to step in to translate for other people--usually in France for people who didn't speak any French, though it's happened a time or two in Spain also.
Hi Ilmarien - thank you for sharing your experience. I am going to Sardinia soon. I found they also have many dialects - Sardinian language, Sassarese language, Gallurese language, Algherese Catalan, and Ligurian (Romance language). I think that I need to go back and learn Latin to be sure :). I am heading to the area where Algherese Catalan is spoken and hope that in the meantime, my Castellano should be good enough.
Ooh, how fun! Alghero sounds really interesting. I imagine you'd get by just fine there with Italian, though, since at least in my experience it's rare that people speak only the local language. I had such a strange time with Catalan, though, since I spent time in Valencia, and the accent is close enough to Spanish that it took me a while to notice that people were sometimes speaking a different language and not just tossing a couple of words of Catalan into their Spanish!
@Ilmarien I visited la costiera Amalfitana many times (Maiori). I also met many local people and tourists there. I found that when you even attempt to speak languages, you can simply obtain new friends.
I also had many situations when I jumped in to translate - this just makes me feel good :)
Yes, several times. Most memorable, when we got lost trying to find our hotel after leaving EuroDisney. Sat at the side of the road in the dark looking at the map, a french driver pulled up "vous etes perdu, monsieur?", "Oui, nous cherchons l'hotel. " He got out and found where we had to go and started explaining in French - it was complicated, even though I understood. He recognised my plight and suddenly said "Suivez-moi", jumped into his car and off we went. He got to a junction where we had to go straight on and he was turning off, which he explained with waving his arms - we went our way with waves and hooting! He must have gone 10 minutes out of his way, a generous gesture, particularly to a family of Rosbif's
Interestingly, I happened to be on the other side of the equation several times too. I stayed in a little (and beautiful) French town in Provence. Sometimes French people also visit that town. While you walk down the street, they stop the car and ask how to get here or there. I was so proud I was able to give directions! There was a funny situation in a tiny village in Alps (Switzerland), when a car stopped and the driver asked in French where is the hospital. I told that I am here the first day, and he replied that he is here the first hour :). I took him to my hotel (everything was closed and no people around) and asked the receptionist to give the directions.
In 2015 I was in Paris for a trip, I had studied French for about two years, should have used and could have used my french a lot but because I have social anxiety and am very stubborn I limited myself to, est-ce que vous parlez francais?
I should probably have started with the fact that I made a complete fool of myself when ordering food at a restaurant, the first night in Paris. It's the sort of thing most people would be able to laugh off immideatly but I was quite embarrased at the time.
When it was time to go home, I found out that the cab driver didn't speak English, so in order to avoid an awkward situation I said, well I speak a bit of French.
He got really excited and started asking me all kinds of question, am I English, he got even more enthusiastic when I said that I was from Finland. My first reaction was oh my God what have I done this is exactly the sort of situations that I dread. I was tired and not confident with my French, I did manage to use my French enough to get through the ride to CDG without making a fool out of myself.
I don't think we are fools if we attempt to use new and not polished skills. Quite the opposite - it is a smart thing to do. I remember a situation in Iceland, Blue Lagoon, swim-in bar. The Icelandic bartender asked a guy in English where he was from, the guy replied that he was from Finland. Then the bartender forced some words in Finnish. It was nice, and all people ('swimmers') around were cheering for them.
Yeah I agree, actually I have noticed that I am able to overcome some of the stuff that I am anxious about by "exposition therapy". Speaking french and languages in general despite me not being fluent enough to my ridiculous standards is one of them.
The situation that I was referring to was that I went in to a restaurant asking if they spoke English (Chinese restaurant right across the hotel), the waiter in his twenties maybe, barely nodded and because of the heat, being obsessed with speaking good french and everything I responded in French despite having ask if he spoke English and he nodding.
It lead to a very awkward situation at the time (in my mind), I wanted to go to try out other restaurants but that experience scared me for a while. Anyway, four years on I can see the humorous side in all this.
Yes, when I travel to Hungary each year. Like you I have had to organizing renting a flat - and getting most of my deposit back when I left. The real test though was when the toilet was blocked and I had to arrange for the landlord to organize a plumber. Somehow the fact that I was not there during the day was not conveyed with frustrating results (but all fixed in the end).
I may not have had any emergency or really forcible real life situations but: I remember helping a French tourist trying to find his way in the filthy and disturbing Mexican subway and explaining smt about an art exhibit for two sweet Brittish ladies.
These things may not count but: speaking with Skype technical support - although I could've received the help in my nat lang, I was too lazy to figure out how I guess- and I usually speak French or German to avoid the spammers at the phone or certain religious proselits knocking at the door lol. But the thing I'm most grateful for is when I had to use English or French to meet my friends from around the world.
After living in Israel for 25 years, I am almost as fluent in Hebrew as I am in English (my mother tongue). As far as my current "target language", Spanish, (which I have been learning on Duolingo for 8 months), I get to practice it with a woman cashier, who is originally from Argentina, when I do my weekly shopping. It is always tempting to resort to Hebrew, but I force myself to use whatever Spanish I know (even though I know I sound like a bumbling moron). There is also a family in my synagogue from Peru. The great grandfather never really learned to speak Hebrew so I practice my Spanish with him. I break my teeth trying, but that's the only way to improve....
When I was in China for a summer, most people assumed I spoke no Mandarin and a few vendors/taxi's tried to overcharge me. When I asked them (in Mandarin) to lower their prices, most people were happy to know that a foreigner was taking the time to learn, lowered their prices, and even had a conversation with me!
My first language is Spanish, and English is the second. Once in Prague, at the hotel I tried to find out where the restroom was for a friend visiting with me. I tried asking in English, and the staff at the hotel seemed not to understand me and instead of taking us to the restroom took us to a restaurant. I had to try to explain to them using each language I had any knowledge of, and french got us to the goal that time.
well, yes, many times - English is not my first language. So wherever my family and I travel, I have to use it to communicate with others [and basically every day on the internet]. I'm also studying Spanish, so this year in Barcelona I got to practice it a bit when explaining to everyone that I don't really speak it. I'm also trying to learn Danish trough English [cause my native language is not an option in here], which is fun...
I learned English and must use English as a laddering language when I want to learn a language on DL. I had a huge need of it on a daily basis. But I was already fluent in English when I found DL.
Otherwise I started to study Japanese on DL and now I live in Japan. I'm still far from fluent and now I work in an environment where almost no one can speak English. I have actually complained until I got the job that I never get a chance to actually speak Japanese since many like to try to speak English with me.
I got a girlfriend recently who only speaks Japanese which is also a good practice for me. I struggle more with her dialect than the vocabulary and grammar.
I moved to France for my master's degree, although it is taught in English; I still have to speak french daily to socialize and get by with everyday life. At first, it was very difficult especially when I knew exactly what I want to say but the words just refused to come out of my mouth.
It's been more than 3 months since I moved to Paris and I can say that I have greatly improved due to almost constant practice and forcing myself to speak french in local stores and restaurants.
I still have a great deal to learn but I am taking it step by step, I have started listening to a good french podcast that talks about a lot of interesting topics and even explain complex words using basic french.
I look forward to becoming some sort of fluent in the language and improve my french speaking skill
I think the most challenge is having to use the new language in making a hotel reservation. I've also found taking a taxi in a foreign country really helps you use your new language. Taxi drivers love to have conversations with you in the language you are trying to learn .
Yup, but it was pre-Duolingo. In France, couldn't find an English speaking taxi driver, found one that spoke Spanish. That single year of 9th grade Spanish came in really handy. (I couldn't just give him the address because I forgot it - I was staying with a friend, I had to give him what I remembered about the area and streets surrounding it.)
A few years ago i did a trip through georgia with a few friends and we visited a valley inhabited by chechen people. there we talked to a man, who visited his familiy there, but usually he lived in sweden. since we did not speak neither russian, georgian nor chechen and he could not speak english, german, french or italian our common language was swedish and i had to translate for my group with my very basic knowledge of the language.
Earlier this week I was with my granddaughter at a café when I heard a French lady talking to her child and I was able to join in the conversation. I was pleasantly aware of how much more I could both say and understand than before duolingo, and the child was happy to be able to speak to my granddaughter via me. Thank you Duo! And thank you for your post. I am glad you enjoyed your holiday too.
Everyday!!! I live in Texas. Up till 2 years ago , I only spoke English while many of my customers were primarily Spanish speaking. Most of my Spanish speaking customers are from Mexico and there are some differences in some of the vocabulary however with a lot of practice, I was able to communicate quite effectively!!
Duolingo has made my job so much easier!!
I live in Salt Lake where we have tons of Native Spanish Speakers (Central American) Since I have brown skin, can't tell you how many times I've been stopped and people start speaking rapid Spanish at me. I smile and I think to myself, dang are you lucky I took Spanish in middle/high school and the programs in Washington DC are much better than here. (True story, when we moved here, I got kicked out of my Spanish classes for knowing too much.)
Many decades ago, when I first got to Germany (West Germany then!) my German was a bit shaky and I would get into more technical things where I would be lacking the necessary German vocabulary. There were quite a lot of people who really did not speak English. I would ask politely in German if they spoke English, then proceed in German. They would normally be understanding then and it helped me improve my German to the point where I would rarely need to inquire about English at all.
Probably English is more widely spoken today than it was then, but just forging ahead with what language one knows and using one's native language only if absolutely necessary really helps acquisition!
Hi Mat, I really understand you. A while ago, I was travelling by bicycle around Hamburg, and I was lost. My German was very sketchy. It was dark and raining, and I asked for directions one person who I met. That person spoke only German, but in addition had some speech disorders. I am sure that even local people had trouble understanding him. But the guy was very understanding and had a lot of patience. After about half an hour of talking he helped me to head to the right direction.
Just want to say what a lovely post this is, and huge congratulations on your use of Portuguese! It's a really gratifying feeling isn't it?
Personally, I moved to Germany earlier this year to do my Master's, which is (more or less :P) all in German; so having to speak German has become something of an inevitability. Asking questions in lectures, going shopping, at the pharmacy, the doctor's and just generally taking part in WG (=Wohngemeinschaft=student (ish) flat) life and life in Germany in the greater sense :)
I've moved to Germany but still find in a lot of situations that, even in my small town where not many people speak much English, people will attempt it the second they hear my accent (no matter how well I think I'm doing!). Where I work, managers often default to English with me especially for important information. Even my husband, who tries his best to remember to use lots of German to help me out (since it's his native language) just naturally speaks English with, since that's what he's used to doing and it requires conscious effort not to.
One thing that is absolutely never done in English are official German wedding ceremonies! Okay, I didn't need to do a lot of actual speaking, but following it all by myself and not being required to have a translator present to get married was a real accomplishment for me!
I speak only a little tagalog (i'm tagalog myself but I was born here so I can't really speak it well though) and once I went to my cousin's house and all of a sudden my cousin's mother asked me something in filipino, and it was so awkward and she decided to walk away, but good thing I didn't say anything.
I have a pal from Germany, and when he and I got into a call together, I just began talking with his friends. They had rough english, and asked me to speak a bit in german, and I did! They'd say an english word, and if I knew it, I would respond with the german word of it. I ended up learning curses in that call too, haha >_>