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  #321  
Old 17.01.2011, 01:44
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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How long is a piece of string?

The one I am holding is around 39 inches. I am using it to measure my belly against a plastic ruler
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  #322  
Old 17.01.2011, 02:22
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Having lived in London, Staffs and Leicester for the past umpteen years - I can assure you that most I've known there DO object very strongly.
and my experience is that most of my friends and acquaintances don't. i can only conclude that there is some selection bias in our circle of friends/acquaintances.
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Old 17.01.2011, 02:28
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Why can't people just live and let live?
i think there generally is a live and let live attitude in the uk.

i had a few strange language incidents that stick out: once in london, i had a german couple stop me and ask me in german for directions. i was with my german gf at the time who answered them directly and fluently and they went merrily on their way - i was always confused whether they went with the happy thought that londoners could speak fluent german!

another time i was in chicago and was stopped by a chap - who i presume was asking me for directions, but as he spoke spanish and not a word of english and we had no other common languages, we spent a fruitless 5 minutes gesticulating, pointing and miming, but to no avail.

both incidents make me smile when i think back to them.
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  #324  
Old 17.01.2011, 12:13
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Live and let live = of course DB- I've always tried to do that, here or there. As you know I taught many kids from all kind of immigration backgrounds. Must say though, that a good command of English was key to success in the UK, in many many ways, not just education. This even more for girls. But that is another story.

The point I was trying to make, is that 'some seem more equal than others', goose and ganders. It seems that many Brits (and Swiss) expect one kind of immigrant to make huge efforts with language (and culture, etc) - but do not think that it applies to them. And it seems that some, perhaps many, both in CH and UK, consciously or unconsciously, believe something like (yes I know, very oversimplified) =

'poor' immigrant = must learn the language and adapt
'rich' immigrant = above not required.

My initial question was - is there ever an excuse? A few here gave very valid excuses. If one is hearing impaired, then it is of course much more difficult. I taught in a school with a wonderful hearing-impaired Unit in Leics, so am very aware of difficulties. Some mentioned the fact that their job takes them all over the place, and that they are away from home an awful lot, so of course, learning a language is near-on impossible.
Thanks too for those who explained the problem with Swiss German versus 'high' German. That certainly complicates matters greatly. But I find it hard to listen to people complaining about the locals not being friendly - and yet making no effort to reach out. As the immigrant, rich or poor, it is up to you (me too) to initiate.

It was a question, not a value judgment as some read it.
Personally, I'd say that you'll get an awful lot more of your experience here if you do learn some of the language. In German part, perhaps German as a base, with some Swiss German expressions for fun.
As well as all the advantages it might bring you on the personal and professional level - it is just a matter of common courtesy and respect to just try to communicate at basic level. This does not have to involve hours of formal lessons (I never had a lesson the whole time I was in UK and never attended a school, just got on with my job and life, and it just 'happened' slowly and surely). Your choice of course. But it will always seem to me fairly incredible, that some people can live for 2, 5, 10 or more years in a country, and not acquire even a smattering of local language.

The biggest benefits will be for you and is YOUR choice, of course.
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  #325  
Old 17.01.2011, 12:51
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Live and let live = of course DB- I've always tried to do that, here or there. As you know I taught many kids from all kind of immigration backgrounds. Must say though, that a good command of English was key to success in the UK, in many many ways, not just education. This even more for girls. But that is another story.

The point I was trying to make, is that 'some seem more equal than others', goose and ganders. It seems that many Brits (and Swiss) expect one kind of immigrant to make huge efforts with language (and culture, etc) - but do not think that it applies to them. And it seems that some, perhaps many, both in CH and UK, consciously or unconsciously, believe something like (yes I know, very oversimplified) =

'poor' immigrant = must learn the language and adapt
'rich' immigrant = above not required.

My initial question was - is there ever an excuse? A few here gave very valid excuses. If one is hearing impaired, then it is of course much more difficult. I taught in a school with a wonderful hearing-impaired Unit in Leics, so am very aware of difficulties. Some mentioned the fact that their job takes them all over the place, and that they are away from home an awful lot, so of course, learning a language is near-on impossible.
Thanks too for those who explained the problem with Swiss German versus 'high' German. That certainly complicates matters greatly. But I find it hard to listen to people complaining about the locals not being friendly - and yet making no effort to reach out. As the immigrant, rich or poor, it is up to you (me too) to initiate.

It was a question, not a value judgment as some read it.
Personally, I'd say that you'll get an awful lot more of your experience here if you do learn some of the language. In German part, perhaps German as a base, with some Swiss German expressions for fun.
As well as all the advantages it might bring you on the personal and professional level - it is just a matter of common courtesy and respect to just try to communicate at basic level. This does not have to involve hours of formal lessons (I never had a lesson the whole time I was in UK and never attended a school, just got on with my job and life, and it just 'happened' slowly and surely). Your choice of course. But it will always seem to me fairly incredible, that some people can live for 2, 5, 10 or more years in a country, and not acquire even a smattering of local language.

The biggest benefits will be for you and is YOUR choice, of course.
Odile, I for one do understand why some people just stick to their native language, which in most cases seems to be English. It's so frustrating to feel and see, when speaking a foreign language, that all your education, reading and so on it's (yes) practically gone with the wind 'cause you sound a bit (or a lot)..rough(er) (as in lacking polish or finesse). I'd probably do that too, if I had a choice. O.K., maybe not.
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Old 17.01.2011, 12:55
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I used to live in Germany and my German is pretty much fluent, even if some things sometime still catch me out. I did try and learn Swiss German, or more accurately "Züritüütsch", and it hurt my throat, so I gave up. I still don't even understand Meteo after four years of being here.
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  #327  
Old 17.01.2011, 13:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

greenmount - I sympathise so much about the zuritutsch, or any tutsch, I have to say. How many years of people laughing at me for my 'lack of polish' (not Polish - yes actually, don't speak a word, lol) - and me torturing the English language, making a total fool of myself often - how many years of Mick taking- who cares. You just get on with it, learn from your mistakes, and eventually- sort of get there. Just go for it, a little, a bit more, the whole hog- whatever.
For many it won't be about fluency or perfect grammar - although many, once able to communicate at basic level will wish to continue and actually learn about Grammar, literature- or even history, culture, whatever. The weather forecast in our local Neuchatel paper, l'Express, is written as a form of poetry, with 100s of colloquial expressions thrown in - we study it everyday with my OH, as he loves to learn the expressions and words used - and it's great fun, but NOT important, Some RandomPerson, totally agree.
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  #328  
Old 17.01.2011, 13:06
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Live and let live = of course DB- I've always tried to do that, here or there. As you know I taught many kids from all kind of immigration backgrounds. Must say though, that a good command of English was key to success in the UK, in many many ways, not just education. This even more for girls. But that is another story.

The point I was trying to make, is that 'some seem more equal than others', goose and ganders. It seems that many Brits (and Swiss) expect one kind of immigrant to make huge efforts with language (and culture, etc) - but do not think that it applies to them. And it seems that some, perhaps many, both in CH and UK, consciously or unconsciously, believe something like (yes I know, very oversimplified) =

'poor' immigrant = must learn the language and adapt
'rich' immigrant = above not required.

My initial question was - is there ever an excuse? A few here gave very valid excuses. If one is hearing impaired, then it is of course much more difficult. I taught in a school with a wonderful hearing-impaired Unit in Leics, so am very aware of difficulties. Some mentioned the fact that their job takes them all over the place, and that they are away from home an awful lot, so of course, learning a language is near-on impossible.
Thanks too for those who explained the problem with Swiss German versus 'high' German. That certainly complicates matters greatly. But I find it hard to listen to people complaining about the locals not being friendly - and yet making no effort to reach out. As the immigrant, rich or poor, it is up to you (me too) to initiate.

It was a question, not a value judgment as some read it.
Personally, I'd say that you'll get an awful lot more of your experience here if you do learn some of the language. In German part, perhaps German as a base, with some Swiss German expressions for fun.
As well as all the advantages it might bring you on the personal and professional level - it is just a matter of common courtesy and respect to just try to communicate at basic level. This does not have to involve hours of formal lessons (I never had a lesson the whole time I was in UK and never attended a school, just got on with my job and life, and it just 'happened' slowly and surely). Your choice of course. But it will always seem to me fairly incredible, that some people can live for 2, 5, 10 or more years in a country, and not acquire even a smattering of local language.
what you fail to realise is that people don't have infinite time to do stuff. otherwise i would have learned all the languages in the world and become a world class violin and piano player as well.

there is a cost benefit analysis to be made and also a time budget to be sliced up with other activities.

once you get to a rudimentary grasp of the language, the returns on further investment diminish rapidly. so i can imagine many people would get to be able to manage in everyday life (supermarket, asking for directions) without being able to hold a conversation in swiss german.

also, the swiss do not have the reputation of being super-outgoing fun people that would make you want to rush to learn the language so that you can chat and socialise with them.

unless you expect to spend a significant amount of time conversing with swiss german speakers who cannot also speak english (e.g. you are going to marry a swiss person) it makes no sense to learn swiss german due to limited use of the language e.g. compared to more widely spoken languages such as english, spanish or french.

to be honest, for me, a lot comes down to swiss reservedness and anti-foreigner sentiment. as a non-swiss, by and large, will never be accepted in switzerland, i don't see a long term future for me in switzerland and so i wont make a long term investment by learning the language.

similarly, since the swiss are very reserved, hours and hours of time learning the language and thousands spent on language lessons will only mean that i can speak to a handful more people.

the use of the word 'excuse' was pretty judgemental and pre-supposes that you should learn the language unless you had a valid excuse. i hope i've outlined some very good reasons why people don't bother with learning swiss german.

if you're having trouble comprehending this as a swiss person, just ask yourself "is there an excuse for me not to learn Romansh?". i imagine that would be similar to how i feel when someone asks me "is there an excuse not to learn swiss german".
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  #329  
Old 17.01.2011, 14:10
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Here is something that happened to me last week. I went into a Starbuck for a quick warm coffee fix and a seat to rest my legs and belly.

I went to the counter and greated the guy in Swiss Dutch and I asked my coffee to be cafeine frei. Again in Swiss dutch.

I had to repeat 4 times cafeine frei because the frei wasn't pronounce well enough for the guy, to apparently understand. My bad, instead to say Frei, I sad frey! The guy next to him understood the first time and began already to prepare the coffee while the other kept making me repeat it with a ''I don't understand'' face. I switched to english and french. So 4 times in dutch, 1 english and 1 french and he finally got it....

So I left thinking that guy was making this little game because he just didn't like enough my beginner accent. And that remind me why I didn't bother to learn german for the only 2 years we were going to spend here.

I am not at my first foreign language I learn, but this is the first time ever that someone gives me such a hard time to recognise my attempt to talk to him in his language. Since I am here, I used french and english and I never felt humiliated or less respected as much as that twit made me feel.

So my guess will be that maybe too many people felt like that once and didn't want to try anymore.

I know, this is one time, one idiot. But it was enough frustrating to not forget it. Mind you, I did try in germany pretty often and I always been well received. But in Basel, I'll stick to the french or english for the few months we have before the move.
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  #330  
Old 17.01.2011, 14:23
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I went to the counter and greated the guy in Swiss Dutch and I asked my coffee to be cafeine frei. Again in Swiss dutch.
maybe he would have understood if you spoke to him in Swiss German.

ba-dum-tish.
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  #331  
Old 17.01.2011, 14:25
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Here is something that happened to me last week. I went into a Starbuck for a quick warm coffee fix and a seat to rest my legs and belly.

I went to the counter and greated the guy in Swiss Dutch and I asked my coffee to be cafeine frei. Again in Swiss dutch.

I had to repeat 4 times cafeine frei because the frei wasn't pronounce well enough for the guy, to apparently understand. My bad, instead to say Frei, I sad frey! The guy next to him understood the first time and began already to prepare the coffee while the other kept making me repeat it with a ''I don't understand'' face. I switched to english and french. So 4 times in dutch, 1 english and 1 french and he finally got it....

So I left thinking that guy was making this little game because he just didn't like enough my beginner accent. And that remind me why I didn't bother to learn german for the only 2 years we were going to spend here.

I am not at my first foreign language I learn, but this is the first time ever that someone gives me such a hard time to recognise my attempt to talk to him in his language. Since I am here, I used french and english and I never felt humiliated or less respected as much as that twit made me feel.

So my guess will be that maybe too many people felt like that once and didn't want to try anymore.

I know, this is one time, one idiot. But it was enough frustrating to not forget it. Mind you, I did try in germany pretty often and I always been well received. But in Basel, I'll stick to the french or english for the few months we have before the move.
Yeap, I've experienced the same kind of episodes here, when speaking Swiss Deutsch and in France, one time. Though I do speak French pretty well because this is the first foreign language I ever studied and I did it for most of the school years, and I do love it, yet it happened to me something similar in a shop. The guy was laughing and imitating my pronounciation (I admitt I was very neglectful to it)..he perfectly understood me, but he just couldn't help to make fun of me. It made his day.. I was about to ask him "Excuse me, how many languages do YOU speak? Ahh, and by the way, I'm only a tourist"..but I was having a good time with my friends and didn't want to spoil the moment...Idiots everywhere.
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  #332  
Old 17.01.2011, 14:30
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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maybe he would have understood if you spoke to him in Swiss German.

ba-dum-tish.
Smart Ass!
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  #333  
Old 17.01.2011, 15:52
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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what you fail to realise is that people don't have infinite time to do stuff. .
I took one year off in Amsterdam learning Dutch and then I looked for a job. Worked wonderfully, thanks. And it only took one whole year because I wanted the highest exam in order to be allowed to teach in Dutch high school. One can also keep it to six months and do the intermediate level for "social interaction Dutch".

Just an example from an average guy, I know I am no genious.
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Old 17.01.2011, 17:49
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I took one year off in Amsterdam learning Dutch and then I looked for a job. Worked wonderfully, thanks. And it only took one whole year because I wanted the highest exam in order to be allowed to teach in Dutch high school. One can also keep it to six months and do the intermediate level for "social interaction Dutch".

Just an example from an average guy, I know I am no genious.
What he meant was that not everyone can afford time and /or energy to do that!
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Old 17.01.2011, 18:09
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

It cost me 8.000 euros for 12 months, drinks and condoms included. I understand that not every body is a single male with that huge amout of cash. It was an investment for life to me, even if I don't live there anymore, the language stays (sort of).

As I stated before in this thread, I have no problem with people who do not speak the language. But language is such an essential element of one's identity that one can not blame the locals to feel strong about it. As long as one accept the consequences of not speaking the local lingo, I will not be the one judging. As long as.
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Old 17.01.2011, 18:09
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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what you fail to realise is that people don't have infinite time to do stuff. otherwise i would have learned all the languages in the world and become a world class violin and piano player as well.

there is a cost benefit analysis to be made and also a time budget to be sliced up with other activities.

once you get to a rudimentary grasp of the language, the returns on further investment diminish rapidly. so i can imagine many people would get to be able to manage in everyday life (supermarket, asking for directions) without being able to hold a conversation in swiss german.

also, the swiss do not have the reputation of being super-outgoing fun people that would make you want to rush to learn the language so that you can chat and socialise with them.

unless you expect to spend a significant amount of time conversing with swiss german speakers who cannot also speak english (e.g. you are going to marry a swiss person) it makes no sense to learn swiss german due to limited use of the language e.g. compared to more widely spoken languages such as english, spanish or french.

to be honest, for me, a lot comes down to swiss reservedness and anti-foreigner sentiment. as a non-swiss, by and large, will never be accepted in switzerland, i don't see a long term future for me in switzerland and so i wont make a long term investment by learning the language.

similarly, since the swiss are very reserved, hours and hours of time learning the language and thousands spent on language lessons will only mean that i can speak to a handful more people.

the use of the word 'excuse' was pretty judgemental and pre-supposes that you should learn the language unless you had a valid excuse. i hope i've outlined some very good reasons why people don't bother with learning swiss german.

if you're having trouble comprehending this as a swiss person, just ask yourself "is there an excuse for me not to learn Romansh?". i imagine that would be similar to how i feel when someone asks me "is there an excuse not to learn swiss german".

I am of course as British as you are btw. I haven't even got a Swiss passport! If I lived in the Grisons/Graubunden - I would definitely learn a bit of Romansch - and perhaps then get stuck in and learn more. I have a good excuse for not learning it, as I do not live there. lol. Wherever I will choose to live, I will, our of respect and courtesy, and also for my own personal and professional development/integration - try my best to learn a bit, and perhaps more. I would never have the cheek to say 'the locals are not friendly' or 'they won't accept me', etc, and at the same time 'I won't even try to learn a bit, to understand the culture and history, even just a bit' To gain acceptation, anywhere, as an immigrant - YOU (ME), can't just sit there and expect this to happen by miracle. You don't need to attend lessons, you don't need lots of study time - you just need to try, with an open mind and attitude.
Nil - ignorant people will laugh and take the **ss - so what. Laugh with them, dust yourself up - and improve, little by little. You wouldn't let ignorant and rude people get you down, would you. Prove them wrong- it feels good. In your case, being pregnant and about to move, I can fully understand this is just not your priority, and fair enough.

Last edited by Odile; 17.01.2011 at 18:21.
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Old 17.01.2011, 18:19
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I am of course as British as you are btw..
Wow. Well, I know one thing - the raised eyebrows if I ever said that I am Swiss.
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Old 17.01.2011, 18:46
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Wow. Well, I know one thing - the raised eyebrows if I ever said that I am Swiss.
you know, being swiss is more state of mind than a nationality, IMO. so better be careful!
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Old 17.01.2011, 18:53
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I am of course as British as you are btw. I haven't even got a Swiss passport! If I lived in the Grisons/Graubunden - I would definitely learn a bit of Romansch - and perhaps then get stuck in and learn more. I have a good excuse for not learning it, as I do not live there. lol. Wherever I will choose to live, I will, our of respect and courtesy, and also for my own personal and professional development/integration - try my best to learn a bit, and perhaps more. I would never have the cheek to say 'the locals are not friendly' or 'they won't accept me', etc, and at the same time 'I won't even try to learn a bit, to understand the culture and history, even just a bit' To gain acceptation, anywhere, as an immigrant - YOU (ME), can't just sit there and expect this to happen by miracle. You don't need to attend lessons, you don't need lots of study time - you just need to try, with an open mind and attitude.
Nil - ignorant people will laugh and take the **ss - so what. Laugh with them, dust yourself up - and improve, little by little. You wouldn't let ignorant and rude people get you down, would you. Prove them wrong- it feels good. In your case, being pregnant and about to move, I can fully understand this is just not your priority, and fair enough.
as i said, it is a cost/benefit issue. some 90% of the people i socialise with are english speakers. of the remaining only a handful are german speakers and an even smaller subset are swiss german speakers.

for me, it's not worth learning the language to use in and of itself. the only reason to learn it would be for my own personal amusement.

i know people who do learn random languages for no apparent reason (e.g. japanese, italian). and i'm sure you can get a lot of intellectual satisfaction from doing so. but for me, there's better things i can do in my free time.

now if work offered me a day off each fortnight to attend classes...
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Old 17.01.2011, 23:39
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Nil - ignorant people will laugh and take the **ss - so what. Laugh with them, dust yourself up - and improve, little by little. You wouldn't let ignorant and rude people get you down, would you. Prove them wrong- it feels good. In your case, being pregnant and about to move, I can fully understand this is just not your priority, and fair enough.
yeah. i have to agree. you will get idiots everywhere. try not to let it put you off. i'm sure they just found it funny and didn't mean to take the piss out of you.

actually, i ended up in a pub tonight speaking with a german guy and swiss guy and quite enjoyed speaking my broken german to them.
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