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  #281  
Old 12.01.2011, 12:43
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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OK - you decide to go and live in a new country, or your Company sends you there - can you really spend 6 months, 1 year, 2, 3 or 10 - and not bother to learn the language? (not talking about the use of the subjunctive here - but good communicative language).
Yes. Why?

/Paul
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  #282  
Old 12.01.2011, 18:15
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Yes. Why?
As long as you don't complain about what happens to you because of your lack of language command, I am fine with that too. If you can. It's your life, you make it as rich or as poor as you wish, defining those concepts yourself.
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  #283  
Old 12.01.2011, 18:25
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I truly believe that a person misses out on the richness of the local culture without getting a decent command of the language...That would apply to just about any country but I find it particularly important in Suisse
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  #284  
Old 12.01.2011, 20:06
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I truly believe that a person misses out on the richness of the local culture without getting a decent command of the language...That would apply to just about any country but I find it particularly important in Suisse
Why is it particularly important in Switzerland?
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  #285  
Old 12.01.2011, 20:13
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Why is it particularly important in Switzerland?
I describe the Suisse as 'slow to warm'...I find the Swiss generally very friendly etc. but only after you breach the initial cultural hurdle

My experience has been that if you can't communicate too effectively with locals or seek out the nuances of the culture, they aren't going to be too bothered with you

You could apply that to a lot of places in the world except that the general warmth of some cultures lends itself to bridge the language gap here & there...Less so, I believe, en Suisse
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  #286  
Old 12.01.2011, 20:49
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Not only Swiss but one feels it strongly here, I agree. In Amsterdam, the super-open english speaking Dutch loves it when one speaks Dutch. It's a different contact, the attitude is not unfriendly at all in English, but it's ever much better in Dutch. I think it is natural to enjoy interaction in one's own language, even when one has a good English as foreign language.
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  #287  
Old 12.01.2011, 20:55
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Yes. Why?

/Paul
Why not? Honest, I am really interested.

My 'why' reply has been given by the above answers already. Thanks.
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  #288  
Old 12.01.2011, 22:02
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Why not? Honest, I am really interested.

My 'why' reply has been given by the above answers already. Thanks.
As has the why not. It's a bit late in the game, 15 pages later, to ask why/why not. lol
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  #289  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:23
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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As long as you don't complain about what happens to you because of your lack of language command, I am fine with that too. If you can. It's your life, you make it as rich or as poor as you wish, defining those concepts yourself.
Does speaking a second language necessarily make for a richer life? How about the scenario where person A spends ten hours a week studying a language, while person B spends ten hours a week learning music, or playing sport, or chess, all of which involve mixing with the local population. Is one "richer than the other?"

Personally, I am very grateful for the warmth that has been shown towards me by locals wherever I have lived. They seem more keen that I join in with their activities despite language barriers, than telling me to go away and learn the language and not be involved.

Another thought has just popped into my mind: I have received far more critisism and judgemental comments from nonlocals who have learnt the local language, than I have ever received from locals. I think I shall ponder upon that one for a few minutes.
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  #290  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:29
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Who says that 'learning' a language for basic communication = taking formal lessons. I totally agree with you that getting involved with the 'locals', via culture, sport, whatever- is often a much better way to improve language.
Personally I never took any course/lessons when I first lived in the UK- just got on with it - pillow talk is great too!
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  #291  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:44
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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pillow talk is great too!
So I have heard
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  #292  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:52
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

First, the locals will not speak up their mind in your face. Not in CH, not in NL, not in Germany and not in Skandinavia. So you just have no idea what they think about you, whereas the foreigners who learned the language may go from another cultural background and do speak up in your face. Don't underestimate the criticisms people do not confront you with. I've heard loads of it as I speak the lingo of the places I lived. If only you knew what I have heard about the English in Amsterdam or the Germans in Norway... not pretty. All behind your/their back.

Secondly, try music, chess, sport and mixing with locals in their language instead of English... that's what I call learning a language, not staying in a classroom the whole day, which nobody does. If you do not know what speaking the language is, how can you state that keeping it in English is as good? I can compare, I can do both: social life in English or in the local language... and comparative study shows clear result. Local language is the richer alternative. Do your own experiences once you know the local language and you may decide to go back to English as a social contact language if that is better in your opinion.

Thirdly, I never said people were unfriendly when speaking English as a foreign language with you: on the contrary, I took the example of the over-open-super-friendly-welcoming-loving-fun Dutch of Amsterdam. But still: in the local language, it would be a closer and deeper and more natural understanding and interaction. You just have my word for it, so I do not intend to convince you, I write just to address the question for our readers the way I think reflects the reality in conformity with the experience of a multilingual perspective.

You call it yourself language barriere and interaction despite of use of a foreign language. Your choice of words reveals the exact same point as my messages.
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  #293  
Old 14.01.2011, 06:51
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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First, the locals will not speak up their mind in your face. Not in CH, not in NL, not in Germany and not in Skandinavia. So you just have no idea what they think about you, whereas the foreigners who learned the language may go from another cultural background and do speak up in your face. Don't underestimate the criticisms people do not confront you with. I've heard loads of it as I speak the lingo of the places I lived. If only you knew what I have heard about the English in Amsterdam or the Germans in Norway... not pretty. All behind your/their back.
You know, if people are talking about me behind my back I'd rather not know it. My life will be infinitely LESS rich if I know that. I think the people that are talking about me behind my back are not the ones spending time with me unless they are stupid or like to bore themselves silly going out with people they dislike.

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Secondly, try music, chess, sport and mixing with locals in their language instead of English... that's what I call learning a language, not staying in a classroom the whole day, which nobody does. If you do not know what speaking the language is, how can you state that keeping it in English is as good? I can compare, I can do both: social life in English or in the local language... and comparative study shows clear result. Local language is the richer alternative. Do your own experiences once you know the local language and you may decide to go back to English as a social contact language if that is better in your opinion.

Thirdly, I never said people were unfriendly when speaking English as a foreign language with you: on the contrary, I took the example of the over-open-super-friendly-welcoming-loving-fun Dutch of Amsterdam. But still: in the local language, it would be a closer and deeper and more natural understanding and interaction. You just have my word for it, so I do not intend to convince you, I write just to address the question for our readers the way I think reflects the reality in conformity with the experience of a multilingual perspective.

You call it yourself language barriere and interaction despite of use of a foreign language. Your choice of words reveals the exact same point as my messages.
This depends on the level of language each of you have. If I have baby language in your language but you have phd level language* in my language I can promise you we will have a richer, deeper and more meaningful conversation in my language or vice versa.
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  #294  
Old 14.01.2011, 08:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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You know, if people are talking about me behind my back I'd rather not know it. My life will be infinitely LESS rich if I know that. I think the people that are talking about me behind my back are not the ones spending time with me unless they are stupid or like to bore themselves silly going out with people they dislike.



This depends on the level of language each of you have. If I have baby language in your language but you have phd level language* in my language I can promise you we will have a richer, deeper and more meaningful conversation in my language or vice versa.
Oh good! You have saved me five minutes in constructing a reply. I agree with you totally.

An interesting point that seems to be showing up at the moment is that interacting with people using the target language, ( as opposed to going to classes) is the preferred way of learning the language. I really like that idea too. However, after two years of regular involvement, I doubt that my "schnell", "Langsam" and ablity to understand percentages, will get me far elsewhere. I envy those who can absorb a language this way, but unfortunatley not everyone can learn this way.
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  #295  
Old 14.01.2011, 12:25
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Another thought has just popped into my mind: I have received far more critisism and judgemental comments from nonlocals who have learnt the local language, than I have ever received from locals. I think I shall ponder upon that one for a few minutes.
Agreed. The locals have never shown any sign of caring about my French progress. Expats, on the other hand....

I take more heat over my (lack of) French and my (lack of) skiing than anything else. I've taken a "no more Mr. NiceGuy" approach when dealing with sanctimonious pr__k expats who zero-in on these two topics as fuel for their one-upmanship.
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  #296  
Old 14.01.2011, 17:07
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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This depends on the level of language each of you have. If I have baby language in your language but you have phd level language* in my language I can promise you we will have a richer, deeper and more meaningful conversation in my language or vice versa.
Jein. Yes and no. Of course that is the case in that extreem situation. But life is not made of extreems, most of it is inbetween.

Furthermore, there is a point where even if the local is perfectly fluent in English, he will not want to always have to switch just for you for decades. That is especially the case with immigrants/locals as there is not only the objective mesurable level issue but also the subjective local/foreign issue that puts the whole situation on the social scene (not sure about this expression, sorry, heavy EAL here). In other words, there are elements of social identity and of group dynamics that will knock off your above statement: in a group, if you are the only foreign-speaker, people will not nurture you for ever in your own language. There is a time when people get fed up, even if they love English and will continue to address you in English in a one to one situation. But social life is not a perpetual one-to-one situation. Hence the vice in your theory.
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Old 14.01.2011, 18:43
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Jein. Yes and no. Of course that is the case in that extreem situation. But life is not made of extreems, most of it is inbetween.
It was an exaggeration to use as an illustration which I believe you understand.

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But social life is not a perpetual one-to-one situation. Hence the vice in your theory.
There are plenty of instances where people of many different cultures & languages hang out together and the language used is the one they all speak in common. Most of the time that is English, like on this forum. Hence the vice in you theory.

I do have friends for over a decade & we still speak English together. Not to mention the fact that people won't hang around being your friend for a decade it they find speaking in "not their native language whatever it is" a chore (or don't like you!!). It's difficult enough finding friends/people you like/love enough to hang on to for a decade. I don't keep people in my life that I don't like and I assume that is true for others. Why hang on to "friends" you don't actually enjoy their company?
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  #298  
Old 14.01.2011, 19:22
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Well, I have actually enrolled in a class: went to lesson one and two this week. Hhhhmmm... I'm going to miss lesson three. Will that matter?
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  #299  
Old 14.01.2011, 19:26
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Of course it matters. Lesson 1 - the=der. Lesson 2 - the= die. Lesson 3 - the= das!!
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Old 14.01.2011, 19:33
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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There are plenty of instances where people of many different cultures & languages hang out together and the language used is the one they all speak in common. Most of the time that is English, like on this forum. Hence the vice in you theory.
Exageration is illustrating a point that becomes irrelevant without the exageration... that is a vice in the theory. But you are not one of my students, I won't lecture you.

I NEVER said it was not all right to speak English with whomever you want, you are doing that with me right now. I DID however say that the experience of contact and interaction in the local language is different, another level, another experience that one does not regret. There is no point telling me life is wonderful in English: I know that! But there is a point taking multilingual people's experience and ability to understand both sides.

Just don't forget that the locals have a perspective of their own... They do not consider foreign language and local language as neutrally equivalent. The use of the one or the other is heavily loaded on an emotional and irrational level. That makes a whole difference, the difference you do not take into consideration at all. I am just telling about it, nothing more. I don't judge... many Swiss (French, Dutch, Danes, Norwegian, German...) do, though.
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