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Old 14.09.2011, 18:33
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To the Catalans of this forum

Hola!

I made plenty of research, found good stuff but would love to hear it directly from the source.

I am trying very hard to learn Spanish and most old ladies tell me to learn Catalan. I know it is important to do so since my daughter is now in a catalan school.

Is there any cultural behavior or attitude I should take care of? Everyday I go to pick up my daughter at school and I wait in front of the door with a huge crowd of parents. I really really feel like the outsider. Must be because we are the only foreign familly of her year....

Parents are very warm and smile a lot at me, they obviously know we are the foreigners. The teacher are amazingly warm and welcoming. Is there anything I should or could do? Bring something to the teachers? How to break the ice with the parents and get to have breakfast with them at the next bar?

Any help would be very very appreciated,

Muchas gracias!

Nil
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Old 14.09.2011, 18:48
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Re: To the Catalans of this forum

I'm not Catalan, but I feel like I can probably some way answer your question from my own personal experience. I lived in Castilla y Len and have an accent very much from that area (although probably less authentic now ). I went to Barcelona for a break and decided to learn some key Catalan phrases (as I do when visiting any place where I don't speak the language). Of course they replied to me in Catalan and I then didn't have a clue what they were saying, so I switched to Castilian Spanish. The expression on their faces immediately changed for the worse and I actually received smiles when I spoke to them in English instead.

I think you should learn Spanish, as it's the only official language of the country in which you're living, and it's infinitely more useful than Catalan. However, once you get the hang of that, I would make an effort to learn Catalan to at least a conversational level. You're a French speaker, right? It might make it a little easier for you...

Spanish first, then Catalan. Try and learn some basic phrases and smile and I think you'll be fine. Let's see what some of the Catalan natives have to say...
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Old 14.09.2011, 18:49
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Re: To the Catalans of this forum

No comprendo.

Where are you? In Spain? If so, why are getting stressed so much? People are nicer!!!!

Don't think too much!! Just invite them!

Mucha suerte

Karu
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Old 14.09.2011, 19:09
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Re: To the Catalans of this forum

Sweetie, Learn Catalan. Once you get that then the Spanish will be much easier. Good luck!
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Old 14.09.2011, 19:21
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Re: To the Catalans of this forum

Arghhh...... Discussing whether to learn Spanish or Catalan is a can of worms I shall not open. It is the type of subject that makes me pull my foreigner wild card - Oh, but I am a foreign in this country and it is not my place to have an opinion of such matters. But, you should learn the language that makes your life easier - if your kids are schooled in catalan, it would be much easier to help them with their homework and talking to teachers if you know how to speak it. In terms of integrating in the local society, probably catalan will be more useful and people will respect you more (note I am not saying I agree with it or not. It is just the way things are in that part of Spain). In any case, if you learn either one of the languages, you will be able to pick the other quite easily (just on a side note: as you speak French, Catalan will probably be easier to start with, IMHO).

Regarding personal relations, it will be much easier to to make friends in Barna than here. If you feel like spontaneously invite one of the parents for a coffee after the school run, just do it: she mostly likely will accept the invitation and make an appointment without the excruciating process of checking her agenda to find a time slot free in 6 weeks from today. Most likely they will treat you by tu [du] and your first name. Also, inviting the kiddies in you children class for birthday is a good way of talking to their parents. I would agree with Karu: don't over think it and just invite them... Oh, and regarding cultural things - saying good morning (Bon dia -- BOHN DEE-uh) and goodbye (Adu -- uh-THEH-oo) is really important in Spain. Specially to your neighbors... not saying hi to them is perceived as a major flaw of character.
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Old 14.09.2011, 19:22
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Re: To the Catalans of this forum

If you are living in Catalunya I would advise you to learn Catalan first, unless you have another reason to learn Spanish.

I made the mistake of starting to learn Spanish when I moved near to Girona, in hind sight I would have been much better learning Catalan, as that is what everyone speaks, and that is what I try to speak now when I am there.

As far as making friends with Catalans, all you have to do is make an effort to speak Catalan, even if all you can say is things like Hola, Adu, Com ests? and B, i tu? they will appreciate it and make the effort to talk to you in English if necessary.

In my experience they will mostly prefer to speak to you in English than in Spanish if they can speak English.

It's one of the friendliest places I've ever lived, also one of the noisiest.

A fantastic place to bring up kids.
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Old 14.09.2011, 20:37
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Re: To the Catalans of this forum

Thanks for the replies,

I am more comfortable in Spanish because it is was I used to speak in college. I forgot most of it but still understand. I can't talk though. Catalan will be on the agenda too since my daughter's classes will be in catalan until she reach 6 years old. From that age, they switch to castillano.

But is there anything I should be careful of? I don't want to make any faux-pas!

For the Hola and Adios, I do it. But in a huge amount of people standing all in front of the door waiting for their kids, I can't start saying Hola! and Adios! to all of them, so I smile.

For inviting them for her birthday, I find it a great idea. But it is way too soon. Her birthday is in a week!
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