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  #21  
Old 17.11.2010, 15:52
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Despite all the floggings, the T-1000 Equinator's mangled corpse reassembles itself, twitches and rises yet again.

Someone just remind me which is "the language" those who live in Switzerland should learn?
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Old 17.11.2010, 15:55
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Despite all the floggings, the T-1000 Equinator's mangled corpse reassembles itself, twitches and rises yet again.

Someone just remind me which is "the language" those who live in Switzerland should learn?
Hm, yeap. I live in Canton Aargau so here they speak Schweizer Deutsch and Deutsch. I want to live in Zurich for a while so I have to learn German, at least. I guess it depends in which part of Switzerland you live in and what are the language requirements you need.
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  #23  
Old 17.11.2010, 15:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Is this specifically geared towards Switzerland or to any country?

In a non-English speaking country I don't think it's necessary (for day to day life) to speak the local language as much as it is in an English speaking country.

As for integration reasons, I don't think anyone should be forced to learn the local language. If they can function, be law abiding, pay their taxes without knowing the local language...then props to them.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:03
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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).
Wow. This is an incredibly naive and judgmental statement. Did you ever consider that there are many, many ex-pats who travel extensively for their jobs and simply don't have a schedule that permits the necessary time involved for lessons?

My husband and I were just discussing this the other day. We looked at his schedule last month. He slept in Switzerland nine nights in October. This month, he will be at home for only six nights. He is simply not going to learn any kind of functional French taking a one lunch-hour lesson once or twice a month.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:04
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

There have been times when understanding at least some German has made all the difference, and quite a few of these times have been health related. Such as when we rushed my daughter to the local hospital in the middle of the night and the doctor on duty spoke very little English. And then another time when she had to spend a few days in the Kinderspital.

I daresay I would have got by without any German, but it sure made a big difference to our experience there. Just being able to understand and then answer some of the questions from nurses in the middle of the night, or being able to have a conversation with the mum of the kid in the next bed. It was a very bewildering and worrying experience as it was, but being able to communicate just that little bit more made it so much bearable.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:11
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I learnt the wrong language before coming, i am pretty fluent in Italian and I live in Basel (pfffff), I like languages so I am taking German lessons but the language is difficult. I have had it with akusatif and datif and all that non-sense but I do like it, and I like learning and I have to admit that I am learning, and pretty fast.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:18
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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What language are we talking here
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Yep, my sediments too.
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And my sanctimonies?

Reference: Relevant Simpsons quote:

Moe: "You know what really aggravazes me? Is them immagants, they want all the benefits of living in Springfield, but they ain't even bother themselves of learnin' the language!"
Homer: "Yeah, those are exactly my sentimonies"
Barney: "Yeah, bsdkd slswa;d fl (babbling)"
Moe: "You said it Barn!"
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  #28  
Old 17.11.2010, 16:21
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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).
I speak for the German part: maybe the reason is..German is not that easy to master? You try to have intelligent conversations and feel like a person with cognitive disabilities? Then you get frustrated and give up and rely again on English. Ok, you might not master the English language either, but so what, English is international nowadays.
I am kidding, I guess a lot of non-native English speaking expats have troubles when learning the local language (so I'm not talking about the ones who don't) because they have high hopes. If they would only remember that English was learned throughout school years of boring repetition of "come came come" "sing sang song" etc...they might give German language another try.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:34
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I've used MarieZug's piece to elaborate on why I don't speak German and how I've never needed to so far.

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I don't think I would have gotten by without learning the local lingo.

How would I fix things (talk to repairmen, builders)- landlord does it.

shop (ask where things are, or for the correct size or even order my laptop when it wasn't in stock) - digitec people speak great English, every shop assistant in 8001 speaks enough English to find a product/size


read directions for cooking - recipes come from the internet which has all the recipes in the world in English

communicate with my kid's carers and teachers - I have no kids

communicate with doctors (3 operations, 2 babies, over 3 weeks hospital stay in total) - My experience in the hospital in Zurich has been all doctors spoke perfect CH-German, H-German and English and switched between the three scarily fast

get my car serviced/fixed or understand and vote at the house owners annual meeting for my area. - neither of these are applicable to me

Even my job needs german - i'm in IT and not all my users speak English - the lady that sits next to me doesn't either. My job needs no German whatsoever
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:40
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

My husband and I have been here just over a year. I have attempted to learn French and continue to do so but as we socialise mainly with other expats and my husbands office is english speaking; my conversation skills are poor. My husband works long hours and rarely takes a lunch break. Add copious travel for work and he doesn't have time for lessons. He's learnt enough to apologise for not knowing the language and to ask if they are able to speak english, to order his lunch, basic polite greetings etc.

To ask someone to come to any country for a short time and then demand that as well as working their arses off to complete the project requested, they must become fluent in the language is too much. I want to see my husband occassionally!

If we were planning on staying here long term he'd have to give it more energy at the sacrifice of some of his office hours.

But we've just discovered that its likely we'll be moving to the US next year. So we're going to have to start learning American and all my French lessons are going to go to waste
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:43
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Learning the local language is a personal choice but I do think that everyone should at least learn the very basics even if it is just to say please & thank you in the local lingo.
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  #32  
Old 17.11.2010, 16:44
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

You can't help but pick up a smattering of a language even if you aren't consciously learning it. Sitting on a train or tram or shopping in the supermarket you either hear it or read words which gradually start to make sense and build context.

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Learning the local language is a personal choice but I do think that everyone should at least learn the very basics even if it is just to say please & thank you in the local lingo.
Can you imagine staying 6 months in the US or the UK and barely being able to say "please" or "thank you". You'd go under within a week.

Last edited by Sandgrounder; 17.11.2010 at 16:46. Reason: Added to my original post rather than start another...
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:46
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Learning the local language is a personal choice but I do think that everyone should at least learn the very basics even if it is just to say please & thank you in the local lingo.
Yeah I think everyone learns the basics via osmosis. I speak fluent restaurant and taxi German.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:52
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

My father is italian but moved to America and never taught us Italian so I have tried to learn it - I do courses every now and again but don't use it enough to become proficient - but it would be my first choice in learning another language in order to speak to my family and friends there. Our 'retirement' plan is to have sport/nutrition/therapy retreat - most likely in France so that would be my second choice but then, on very short notice (matter of weeks), my husband took a job here in German speaking Basel (we thought it would take us one step closer to our long term goal and make it easier to visit Italy). So I am a little confused!! Our original plan (pre-Basel) was for me to learn Italian, my husband to learn French but do we drop that and learn German? I would like basic German - numbers, directions, food, pleasantries etc.. but it still comes 3rd when it comes to proficient conversation.
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I've used MarieZug's piece to elaborate on why I don't speak German and how I've never needed to so far.
I find it hard to believe that anyone would live in a country and not at least try to learn the local language. How do you understand what's going on around you or what strangers are saying to you? It would feel like living inside a little English bubble to me. Not being able to express my feelings or concerns to others and not knowing what the heck people are saying to me.

How did you find your rental place? I called up agencies and asked if they spoke English and many didn't. I couldn't even understand the advertisements and if it was for rent/wanted or what the places had. The contract nor Protocol weren't in English.

All doctors may speak English, but the staff don't. I was given Bircher Müsli for dinner in a language mix up my first time in hospital None of the staff caring for us in the Kinderspital apart from the doctors spoke English either.

A friend was living here for a couple of years and wondered where "Extrafahrt" was because he'd seen buses all over Zürich heading there Don't you ever wonder what people are saying to your/around you?
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Old 17.11.2010, 16:58
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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).
6 months is a bit ambitious isn't it?

I've had eighteen months of once a week one-to-one + conversation practice elsewhere and I'm still struggling to understand most Standard German. Swiss German is another mountain to climb.

Are you asking a practical question or an 'ought' one?

In Switzerland, it's pretty easy to survive without German, at least in somewhere like Zürich.

Ideally I'd like to improve my German as much as possible . . . but I don't think ill of anyone else for not bothering.
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Old 17.11.2010, 17:02
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I can live here easily without being fluent in Swiss German. I am lucky for this part because I do speak french. When I talk to my daughter, in the majority of the time someone will talk to us in french. Which is great from them, they don't have to do it, but I think they like the occasion to practice a bit!

I know some very minimal sentences in German and I can understand all informations and instructions since it comes always in the 3 officials languages. All our doctors speaks french and/or english and same for their assistants and receptionists.

We were suppose to be here for 2 years only and we will now reach the third year and we know that we will move again somewhere else for sure. I could have take the time and learn the language but I didn't bother... Was it because I was lazy? Depend, I came here already pregnant and extremely tired, I got my baby and plenty of work on my hands without any time nor energy to go to a class. And since almost a year that we were suppose to move again, it got pushed many times without knowing when.

All of this is beside the fact that swiss deutch is extremely difficult. And hubby speak german. We both together cover 2 officials languages (German and French) and 2 foreigns (English and Turkish). You could be surprise how my turkish is useful here!
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Old 17.11.2010, 17:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I find it hard to believe that anyone would live in a country and not at least try to learn the local language. How do you understand what's going on around you or what strangers are saying to you? It would feel like living inside a little English bubble to me. Not being able to express my feelings or concerns to others and not knowing what the heck people are saying to me.
Oh this is more common than you think, I am not using it as an excuse but it is not unheard of. My dad for instance, went to study in Chicago 1000 years ago and did learn the language, made some Peruvian friends living there and up until now, aged 70, they still do not speak English and have their children helping them out...
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  #39  
Old 17.11.2010, 17:11
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I find it hard to believe that anyone would live in a country and not at least try to learn the local language. How do you understand what's going on around you or what strangers are saying to you? It would feel like living inside a little English bubble to me. Not being able to express my feelings or concerns to others and not knowing what the heck people are saying to me.

How did you find your rental place? I called up agencies and asked if they spoke English and many didn't. I couldn't even understand the advertisements and if it was for rent/wanted or what the places had. The contract nor Protocol weren't in English.

All doctors may speak English, but the staff don't. I was given Bircher Müsli for dinner in a language mix up my first time in hospital None of the staff caring for us in the Kinderspital apart from the doctors spoke English either.

A friend was living here for a couple of years and wondered where "Extrafahrt" was because he'd seen buses all over Zürich heading there Don't you ever wonder what people are saying to your/around you?
OK, good questions - here's the deal.

This is the fifth country I've lived in and not the last. I've learned the language before, but mainly because it was a language I was interested in, or Latin based and therefore easier. I work all the time and if I have free time I'd like to spend it with my gf/family/friends. I don't feel like I'm in an English bubble because I feel like I'm in a family/household bubble instead. It'd be the same in London - I've never been the sort to jump into a serious social scene both feet first.

My apartment was found by a search/relocation assistant, I have a tax accountant who takes care of all the serious contracts (although this would be done were I in England too) and I worked out what extrafahrt was the first time I saw it. I have an autotranslate on my phone which translates anything I need, but I've only needed it a couple of times.

I think a lot of the explanation is that I live in 8001 which is the only square mile of proper city in the entire country. I can well believe if I lived in Schwyz I'd need to learn German.
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Old 17.11.2010, 17:12
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?
Yes. Odd question. There are always good excuses. A good excuse implies that it is good, therefore acceptable. Oder?
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