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  #61  
Old 17.11.2010, 21:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I think we are moving the goal post a bit, or at least it's not been well defined. In my mind "good communicative language" is around intermediate level and is not the same as "learning some key sentences to use with neighbours, shopkeepers, and other locals, just out of courtesy/respect". I agree with you that everyone should at least "have a go" and try to learn some of the language such as quoted above. I don't however think everyone needs to get up to "good communicative level".

We all have our own personal circumstances that dictate how much or how little language we can/want/need to acquire.

And, I also don't care if some waiter/shopkeeper is "sneering at me". First, because I probably didn't understand it anyway (ignorance is bliss in this case, LOL), and most importantly, there would be a whole slew of countries I'd never be able to visit.

But to be honest, for me, I have enough trouble keeping up with the languages I already know. I don't want to learn any more! LOL. Is that a good enough excuse? (J/K, sort of.)
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:07
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

well, despite a German husband, I don't speak good German. My husband, married to a Frenchy does not speak a word of French... and you expect us to speak the language of the country we live in?

In most countries I lived in like Ethiopia, Lebanon or Bangladesh, it was just too hard. Plus I was working in a english speaking environement, was there for just 2 years.. I tried to learn amharic and lebanese but the methodology was just so boring. AT the language course of AUB in Beyruth, they were asking us to translate things like : my friend is the tallest boy in the class..when I wanted to say : can you please drive me to so and so..plus Lebanese was a french speaking country and most people spoke also English..

In Bangladesh, Bangla was even harder... and in Shanghai, I could not attend the class organised the first term at my school because I was there alone with my 15 month old for 3 months..after a whole day at work I could not take more time off in the evening to learn basic mandarin. I had emilie too look after and my helper was going home before the course started.

Here in Bern, it has been difficult , i woud have loved and tried to sign on a german course at B2 level but without child care, it has proved impossible. In germany , i had a taggesmutter everymorning to look after my baby so i did an intensive german course 4 hours a day for 6 months.. Here it's impossible.. IN germany , the course was only 200euros ( the other 200 paid by the governement to help & encourage foreigners to learn the language) Here I paid an arm and a leg for a crap course..

and the bottom line is, i just love to speak English. it is a foreign language I want to practise everyday..
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  #63  
Old 17.11.2010, 21:19
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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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.
Dear Odile,

If we were going to stay longer, I will put my energy in the language. If we come back in some years (big possibilities) The kids will be older and I will have more time and a true interest to try harder. As I said, I am already talking one official language here and I have plenty of very nice conversations with my swiss neighbours (who speak french and english and sometimes more), with my Italian neighbours (the kids play together sometimes), etc. We do have a japanese family who doesn't bother to say Hi! back everytime you great the guy and a brasilian family who never talk to anyone. A swiss woman married to a foreigner who both are also to rude to answer back a greating.

When I shop, I do have my way to get what I want with some german, french/ english.

Since March 2008 we are here. I had a group of friends (5 couples with kids) and since this last year only one couple still here. We also have others friends couples (no kids) and like us, they will leave soon.

The reality is that swiss moms don't want to start a friendship with us. You know how the swiss are with their friendship, they cherish them and keep them for life. Those who don't go out of the country don't find the need to meet foreigners who will leave sooner or later.

In Turkey, it is a complete different mentality. They love foreigners and loves to mixed with them. They are proud to have a foregner as friend and will treat you like family. Your neighbours know you and they come to visit, to bring food, to take news and come over in tough times. During celebrations they go to each others to give their wishes. I learned the language pretty fast there because everyone is thrilled to teach you something.

Relationship is very different here. It is harder for foreigners to get to know the swiss. You have greater chances with them if they know that you are here to stay, otherwise, why to bother?
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:24
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Personally, I would always try and learn at least a basic level. I do recognize however, that there are certainly reasons for not learning the local language. I am fine with that, as long as the person accepts the consequences!

What can really amaze me is the pretty elaborate "opinion" people can have about subjects based solely on hearsay. (I don't mean things like SVP-posters which are pretty obvious).
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:29
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I really feel what you are saying - and I'm so glad to hear you are coping so well and have some good friends. But it is hard for me to accept that Swiss women do not want to know foreign neighbours - you see I AM Swiss, and I do like to meet people from different cultures- and I am NOT the only one, I promise. On the other hand, one of my daughters lives in Surrey, and does not know her neighbours. Not all Swiss are cold and unfriendly, I promise you and feel really sad if that has been your impression.
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  #66  
Old 17.11.2010, 21:39
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I really feel what you are saying - and I'm so glad to hear you are coping so well and have some good friends. But it is hard for me to accept that Swiss women do not want to know foreign neighbours - you see I AM Swiss, and I do like to meet people from different cultures- and I am NOT the only one, I promise. On the other hand, one of my daughters lives in Surrey, and does not know her neighbours. Not all Swiss are cold and unfriendly, I promise you and feel really sad if that has been your impression.

I don't find them cold, or unfriendly. I find them quite nice actually. I have always great contact with plenty of older people in the street (I love to pass by a elderly person and give them a Gruetzi! , in the bus, tram, at the store...

My daughter help a lot by introducing me to them, anytime, everywhere: Ist mein Mama (she is 2 years old!!!)

It always start great conversations.

But yes, for sure the swiss are more reserved with their friendship, and most of those who are open are those who have been travelling a lot or lived abroad. I really believe that language has never been an obstacle for me here in Basel.

I find it more odd to see foreigners having so much trouble to mixed with each others... I see plenty of them at the gym or at my daughter's kindergroup who will just stand there and not talk to others.

PS: As a foreigner, I think it is to me to make extra effort to be nice, smilling and kind to other people. It helps them to open to me and it gives them a better opinion of the foreigners.
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:45
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I really feel what you are saying - and I'm so glad to hear you are coping so well and have some good friends. But it is hard for me to accept that Swiss women do not want to know foreign neighbours - you see I AM Swiss, and I do like to meet people from different cultures- and I am NOT the only one, I promise. On the other hand, one of my daughters lives in Surrey, and does not know her neighbours. Not all Swiss are cold and unfriendly, I promise you and feel really sad if that has been your impression.
This subject has been covered so many times on EF before. A Swiss who speaks a local language and feels at home here may find it hard to understand the impression a non-native, perhaps non-Swiss-local-language-speaking foreigner gets of his/her Swiss neighbours. But as so many EFers have said similar things we have to admit that there must be at least a grain of truth in it. The fact that Swiss on here are different is maybe due to their different attitude, maybe having lived abroad themselves or simply being interested in other cultures and other languages.
Now I've had my say on this off-topic bit, can we perhaps get back to the language learning theme?
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Old 17.11.2010, 21:49
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Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I just consider it polite to at least try to palaver with the natives in their local language. That and multiple language skills can sharpen other skills indirectly.
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  #69  
Old 17.11.2010, 22:18
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Language learning does not stand on its own - it has to do with attitudes, people, cultures, just as much as ability or technique IMHO.
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Old 17.11.2010, 22:50
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Learning a language is about changing your life. If you don't want to change your life - and I will not be the judge of your reasons - you will not learn a language.
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  #71  
Old 17.11.2010, 23:01
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Learning a language is about changing your life. If you don't want to change your life - and I will not be the judge of your reasons - you will not learn a language.
Learning a language is not the ONLY way to change your life. There are many ways to change your life. I won't judge you whether you learn a new language, don't learn a new language, speak 1 language or 5, move to a new country or don't, change your life nor not. But I will judge you if you wear white shoes after labor day.
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Old 17.11.2010, 23:06
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I work full- time and commute 2 or more hours per day so I completely understand that some people don't have the time and energy to learn. The only reason I speak French is because I had to learn it at school, my step mother was a French teacher and most importantly I am lucky to have friends who prefer to speak French even if I'm a little slow, a Swiss partner who is patient enough to help me, his family who make a group effort to make me speak as much as possible and most of my colleagues are French teachers. Without this huge support system I'd be really lazy!
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Old 17.11.2010, 23:10
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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).
There may be good reasons why someone (not necessarily an English speaker) doesn't or can't become fluent in the language of a foreign country after living there for six months or more. But there's no excuse for not learning SOME vocabulary and key phrases, especially "please", "thank you" and "sorry."
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  #74  
Old 17.11.2010, 23:11
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

OK, here we go, my excuses, opinions, situation....

I've been here 15 years and my German is not really more than what I would describe as "basic" - maybe "basic plus"
That is, I can converse in simple terms with the washing machine repair man, and the shop assistant, and with the teacher at kindergarten. I can read quite well so for example I can read the 20 mins paper - maybe understand 60% of it and then fill in the gaps with context/pictures if that makes sense?

And I have some kind of mental block when it comes to speaking - some combination of embarrassment at getting it wrong and the words just not coming to my mind when I need them.

My job is all in English, my friends are a mixture of ex-pats and ex-pats married to Swiss - so there are some Swiss friends in my circle, but they are all fluent English speakers. I can't imagine having a Swiss friend - I mean a proper friendship not just an acquaintance - who didn't speak English because I just don't have that conversational level.

I did four years of lessons when I first came here - permanently - I mean nearly every week for four years.... and I actually have an O'level in German too, but still I would not say I could converse at a conversational level.

So, compare and contrast me with my husband, also English, but with some kind of super-aptitude for languages - he is a fluent Swiss German speaker. His job when he came here was in a primarily Swiss department so it was essential for him to learn. But embarrassing for me isn't it? That he learned it so easily and I just didn't. Also useful, because he can do the tax returns and any complicated discussions with officials and teachers, but it does get to me, because it's not like I haven't tried - I did try, but somehow I just don't have this knack of languages.

So, now, I'm at the point where I just say it is what it is. My German isn't great and I'm reliant on English speaking people for my social life (and my job) but I'm still happy here and I'm not hurting anyone by not being a fluent German speaker am I?
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Old 17.11.2010, 23:14
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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.
I have a better reason: I am ridiculously thick.

I have started German evening classes but am way behind most of the others already and we have only had six lessons.
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Old 17.11.2010, 23:46
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Yeah, I've been here 3 years and not learned the language. While I like languages I don't really have an interest in German and have never felt the need to learn German.
You probably sense, at some subconcious level, that, if you do, you'll start spying on your neighbors and ranting at random strangers about the proper way to do things.
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Old 18.11.2010, 00:06
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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You probably sense, at some subconcious level, that, if you do, you'll start spying on your neighbors and ranting at random strangers about the proper way to do things.
I do that anyway. I was naturally Swiss before I ever heard of Switzerland. I even pick up litter in my street and put it in the bin and "tut" when somebody throws a cig end. Oh well.
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Old 18.11.2010, 00:36
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So Which Language Is It That You Lazy Beggars Are Getting Lambasted For Not Learning?

Has anyone managed to identify yet which language is meant when the OP refers to "the language"?

Or perhaps the OP lives in one of those deprived parts of the country where there is only one language?
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Old 18.11.2010, 00:44
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

This thread is relevant to my interests. I'm almost certain that I have an APD and I'm beginning to think that it has a substantial impact on my ability to acquire a second language. I'll discuss a French word or a phrase at length with an instructor -- and then forget it 10 minutes later while everyone else remembers it. Give me a little more time and I won't even recognize the word when it's spoken to me. Others can hear a new word or phrase and imitate it reasonably well in short order; all I hear is a string of phonemes that might as well be the emanations of a machine.

I've been here for a little over a year and I've tried several different approaches to learning French. None are yielding results.
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Old 18.11.2010, 02:19
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Foreign language learning essentially comes down to the type of movitation an individual has: instrinsic or extrinsic.

You'll learn if you really want to, or if you have to!!
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