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  #41  
Old 17.11.2010, 18:14
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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.
I think you get used to it, to not understand. When I go back home and I can understand everything in french and english it drives me crazy after a while.

It is like to much noises!

And you get to listen a lot of stupid stuffs as well, like the woman sitting next to you on the bus telling all her underwears problems....

Before I know english I was going out with a guy who was english speaker like all his friends, that was pretty boring but I learned faster. After, when I moved to Turkey, I was on my own without any responsability beside my job and I had plenty of time, energy and turkish friends to help me to learn the language.
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  #42  
Old 17.11.2010, 18:22
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I think you get used to it, to not understand. When I go back home and I can understand everything in french and english it drives me crazy after a while.

It is like to much noises!

And you get to listen a lot of stupid stuffs as well, like the woman sitting next to you on the bus telling all her underwears problems....

Before I know english I was going out with a guy who was english speaker like all his friends, that was pretty boring but I learned faster. After, when I moved to Turkey, I was on my own without any responsability beside my job and I had plenty of time, energy and turkish friends to help me to learn the language.
My husband and I have come to love how quiet the world gets as not knowing the language means you can 'turn off' from all the outside babble. Finding that woman on the tube describing her sex life/ underwear in detail disgusting is just not a problem! You don't understand her and so she sounds like nothing more than background noise that you can choose to tune into or not

My husband has turned this into an art! He sometimes turns off too well
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  #43  
Old 17.11.2010, 18:41
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

hmm, we have child and baby, niether of our families are from here, i have lived in three other countries and learned those languages to a degree, job is hell, dont like German, most here do speak english, so yes, lots of reasons not to learn or why one cant learn or does not want to or has no time to or who would rather spend time raising his children then on a wasted effort as he knows it will not take.

Oh, and eff those German speakers that dont know french (or english) then, its one of their damn countries other languages. If they, as a country, cant figure out a single language to use, then they should really lighten up when you dont know german (in german speaking areas) and they dont know french at the least.
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Old 17.11.2010, 19:00
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

No I am not going to pass any comments. It's just not worth the aggro!

In my first year in the Odenwald, south of Frankfurt, I learnt enough German to get about as a tourist, and then I moved to Munich & met a tall slim Bavarian lady and my German really improved! My present girl friend is French, and she says I can speak quite well. She is also fluent in English.

I have had three jobs when I had to speak French, and about 7 when I had to speak German. I really would reccommend you learn one foreign language properly, it really makes daily life varied and more interesting.

You will never get good service if you can only mime or use English. They sneer at you behind your back and feel superior, because they know the local language plus they can speak English. If the Swiss had enough Bankers and IT staff to choose from, most of you would not be here.
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  #45  
Old 17.11.2010, 19:02
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I think it depends on how "useful" the language is elsewhere but assuming you will never use the language again after you leave, I would think that 5 years is the absolute max. If you want to hang around for longer in a place, you should then really learn the language, easy or not and useful or not. We lived in Cyprus for 5 years and never really learned Greek I must admit. I met all the time people who had been there for 10 years and longer and did not speak Greek at all. I always found this very bizarre. I would feel very ashamed living in a place for a very long time and still not being able to speak the lingo. Given the usefulness of French and German, this period is to be reduced to max 3 years in Switzerland I would say :-)
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Old 17.11.2010, 19:06
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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You will never get good service if you can only mime or use English. They sneer at you behind your back and feel superior, because they know the local language plus they can speak English. If the Swiss had enough Bankers and IT staff to choose from, most of you would not be here.
I will never get good service because the Swiss have no idea what they're doing. My Azeri is crap, but you should see the service I get in a Baku coffee shop. If somebody wants to sneer at me behind my back, then that's great - I'll be able to live just fine - they can pour my coffee every day and sneer if it pleases them. However they don't know if I live here or if I'm a tourist, so it's sort of stupid. And saying "if the Swiss had enough bankers to choose from..." makes as much sense as saying "if all the EF members had a million pounds we wouldn't be here". The Swiss need us to survive for even a day and like any good, needy hosts, a touch of subservience wouldn't go amiss before they're made totally irrelevant. Already in 8001 I've noticed Swiss nationals ousted from the service sector and replaced with smiley, happy, English speaking Eastern Europeans. And that's where it starts.
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  #47  
Old 17.11.2010, 19:31
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Yes, the best reason is because I am ridiculously lazy.
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Old 17.11.2010, 19:55
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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If the Swiss had enough Bankers and IT staff to choose from, most of you would not be here.
Yeah, but they don't, so we're here.
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Old 17.11.2010, 20:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I think it depends on how "useful" the language is elsewhere but assuming you will never use the language again after you leave, I would think that 5 years is the absolute max. If you want to hang around for longer in a place, you should then really learn the language, easy or not and useful or not. We lived in Cyprus for 5 years and never really learned Greek I must admit. I met all the time people who had been there for 10 years and longer and did not speak Greek at all. I always found this very bizarre. I would feel very ashamed living in a place for a very long time and still not being able to speak the lingo. Given the usefulness of French and German, this period is to be reduced to max 3 years in Switzerland I would say :-)
I think one problem here is that it must be quite hard, after putting together a life in a new environment with English speaking groups for five years, (or three, or two, or one) to suddenly decide to start over and learn the local language. We all admit that immersion is the quickest way, but now you have nothing to immerse into.
I learned German and Swiss German because I intended to stay and because, being a nosey woman, I wanted to know what everyone else was saying. However, I have a lot of sympathy with folk with 'temporary assignments' who don't learn German. They know they'll be moving to somewhere where it is no help to them and they cannot really 'communicate' with the locals here anyway unless they at least understand quite a bit of Swiss German.
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Old 17.11.2010, 20:05
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Fair enough lol - but just as a matter of respect, no need to be 'colonial' about it - stuff the niceties of grammar. Learning a few simple sentences does not require formal lessons - just have a go. You'll be amazed how much the locals will appreciate it and perhaps even how it will change your perception of the country. Learning a language is never a 'waste' wherever you go next- it might even be a real boost to your career.
Is it fair to complain about asylum seekers and immigrants from other parts of the world not learning English in the UK or US - and then do the same here. Many of them might be illiterate, and their alphabet, writing, etc, totally alien anyway, so they might have a better excuse. English is after all German based, and most UK people will have done some French at school.

Go on - just try that little bit harder - you might even enjoy it. And in an emergency it might even save your life. My OH is a scientist and defo not a natural language learner - but our neighbours really do appreciate the effort he is making and love him for this.

Last edited by Odile; 17.11.2010 at 20:15. Reason: error
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Old 17.11.2010, 20:11
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Yes, the best reason is because I am ridiculously lazy.
You took the words right out of my mouth...
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Longbyt has pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. It is arguable that somebody who's here on a short term basis (up to 2 years), working in an English speaking environment, and has no intention to stay thereafter, would be wasting time and money trying to learn the language here - especially if you live and work in a large city where English is pretty common. You could be putting in a full working week, then going to German lessons in the evening or on Saturday, but never really putting into practice, and then even when you do you find that people will switch to English.

It was different for me. I came over with no job offer, but just a place to live. I knew that I would have to learn the language to get anywhere here, so I spent the first 8 months doing an intensive German course - 4 hours a day Monday to Friday. It was a worthwhile investment because it got me a job.

My conclusion is that if you come here to give life a go here then you should absolutely learn the language. If on the the otherhand you're only here on a short term basis, with little exposure to German in your work, then I would say it's not at all necessary - unless you want to learn.
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:12
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Totally agree. Big difference though between learning a language, and learning some key sentences to use with neighbours, shopkeepers, and other locals, just out of courtesy/respect. No lessons needed - just have a go.
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:15
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Slaphead - Nice to be praised but I've had to read my post again as that wasn't what I was trying to say. What I DID mean, is that I can really understand someone feeling it isn't worth it. Not quite the same thing. Me, I'd probably have a shot at learning a bit of the language even when only staying a short time, perhaps just carrying a phrase book around, using it and trying to remember basic phrases. (I do this with Greek and Italian too).
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:36
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I think if you are here for a limited time, and if on top of that you are housewife/husband, chances are very low to learn and practice. You have to force yourself to go to courses and if you have young kids, that is almost a impossible mission (except if you can afford a nanny/kindergarten/babysitter)

I can order something in the restaurant, I can say that I don't know much german and if we can switch to 3 others languages, the one they will be the most comfortable to speak to me with. I always make a huge deal of how grateful I am for their kindness to speak to me in one of my languages.

But I don't see the point to learn more since we have no intention to stay here or Germany...
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:39
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I think anyone living in a foreign country should at least do an effort to learn the local language.

On the other hand, I have lived in Istanbul for a year and still barely understand Turkish, let alone speaking it
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:42
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Wouldn't you like to be able to talk to your neighbours, or other young mums in your area- you don't need to go to lessons. Just listen, try a bit, then a bit more - you'll be amazed the difference it will make. Being a young mum stuck at home can be very lonely, especially if your family lives a long way away (I remember it well).
I am NOT being judgmental, and am very sorry if I sound critical. I sincerely feel making a bit of an effort to learn a bit, have a go - can truly open doors and hearts- even change attitudes.

Lala salama.

Last edited by Odile; 17.11.2010 at 21:44. Reason: +info
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:49
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

It depends how much you want to get out of the place.

Even if you are only in a country for a short time, you win a lot of brownie points with the locals if you make an effort - of course there are miserable bar-stewards everywhere who will have a dig at you for not being word perfect after 2 weeks.

Where I work, the official language is English - which pretty much holds. However the other day I needed the help of one guy to setup a computer for testing software and when I got to the test lab, although he'd emailed me thus far in English, I spoke to him in German - and somehow I felt I got more out of the guy in the way of helpfulness than if I'd have stuck to English. My German is by no means perfect but we got there in the end.

I lived in the Netherlands for a few years and there you could live and never speak a word of the lingo - even more so than in CH. But, I found a good course and learned to speak Dutch well and again felt I got more out of the place than the English-only expats did.

If you live in the place for many years and never bother, you will eventually be marked out by the locals as a miserable bugger.

Cheers,
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:56
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Wouldn't you like to be able to talk to your neighbours, or other young mums in your area- you don't need to go to lessons. Just listen, try a bit, then a bit more - you'll be amazed the difference it will make. Being a young mum stuck at home can be very lonely, especially if your family lives a long way away (I remember it well).
I am NOT being judgmental, and am very sorry if I sound critical. I sincerely feel making a bit of an effort to learn a bit, have a go - can truly open doors and hearts- even change attitudes.

Lala salama.
Our neighborhood is full of foreigners and people don't talk more to each others. This is a general attitude in Switzerland then even language doesn't have to do much about it, especially with such an international population like Basel.

Most of the people are not interested to meet new people who is going to leave soon. It is no point to put energy in a relation that will have an expiration date.

Sad but that's the reality.
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Old 17.11.2010, 22:00
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Very sad indeed. We are all different of course, and that is good-knowing me, in your situation, I'd still give it a go and try (and I'm Swiss, lol) - I really sympathise if you feel you can't.
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