TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › IMO: In My Opinion › Learning the language of the country you live in
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Learning the language of the country you live in - Page 2

post #31 of 52
Definitely! When I am traveling, I always try to communicate in the language of the country I'm visiting. And I've found that people are much more willing to help me if I make the effort to speak their language. Either they'll accommodate me when they see I'm struggling and start speaking in English, or if their English is weak then often they speak some French (in Europe it seems everyone speaks either English or French as a second language), which I can communicate reasonably well in so that works too. Actually I find it more fun to speak French with a non-Francophone in another country because it kind of levels the playing field - we're both trying to communicate in a language we're not all that good in!

But as to the original question, I do think it's important to speak the language of the country you live in but there are always other factors at work. I live in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood where most people are from El Salvador and Guatemala. Many are illiterate even in Spanish, and they are usually working multiple jobs to get by and send some money home to their families in Central America. This doesn't leave much time to learn a new language.

I see lots of signs around for Spanish literacy classes. Obviously being literate at all will give someone a much better chance to improve his/her life, but also literacy is the foundation for learning a new language. Poor immigrants are at a huge disadvantage before they even begin. It's different for the other immigrant groups in this area, mostly Vietnamese and from various parts of Africa. Most are fairly well educated and certainly literate in their native language. It makes learning English much easier for them.

It's funny because in my neighborhood there are approximately equal numbers of signs and newspapers and whatnot in Spanish as in English. I studied some Spanish in school and I can read and understand it okay but I can't speak it much at all. But walking through my neighborhood does funny things to my brain! I'll see a sign in Spanish and figure out what it means in English...then the next sign I see is in English and I'll try to pronounce it in Spanish and translate it to English! Usually it's only a few seconds before I say to myself "um, doofus, it's an English word, okay?"
post #32 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loveysmummy
I think we should also be a bit sensitive to the language issue, especially with older people.
Learning a language past the critical period of development (IIRC, approx 14 years) and especially into advanced age, is increasingly hard to do for many.. This isn't to say that its impossible for anyone to learn another language.. But its very difficult at a later age (this also depends on the type of language...Germanic (like English) etc or a different language type such as French.

Just remember that that elderly person you see attempting to use a handful of English words mixed in with Spanish may have attempted an ESL course but may not have been entirely successful..
I agree with you Cindy. I'll add to that the issue of domestic violence survivors. Oftentimes, part of the isolation invoked by their batterers includes limiting their access to the language of their new country, making these survivors more dependent on their abusers. Since I was the only Spanish-speaking advocate at the domestic violence shelter, I'd work with numerous women who never learned English because they were never ALLOWED to learn English. Yes, that does happen.
post #33 of 52
Absolutely, Amy!! And what about those women for whom its not necessarily domestic violence (in the true sense of the term) but rather its simply culturally taboo for the women to disobey her husband, be independent in any way, go to school, learn to read, etc.

We have to remember that in many cultures, what we consider "normal" just isn't. We have to reserve our judgement before we know the whole situation!
post #34 of 52
I think it is. How else will you communicate with the people around you?
post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
Any time I go to Wal Mart or anything, there never fails to be a few families walking around speaking some other language. I feel that it's very rude to go out in public and speak a language that nobody else around you is likely to understand. It makes me very uncomfortable to hear people talking and not having any idea what they are saying, or sometimes, even what language they are speaking.
I have trouble with this sentiment. Often times I will speak another language when I'm out with friends or family just so that I can "keep my fluency." I've had people butt in and actually tell me "Learn to speak English !" or some other such rudeness.

If people are not speaking to you directly (and this is a general "you" not aimed at anyone in specific) then their conversations really are none of your business. I find Eavesdropping and any other sort of general nosy-ness to be worse than people having a private conversation in their language of choice.

Second and even third languages are also great to use when discussing things around children that might be inappropriate for them to hear !
post #36 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
I have trouble with this sentiment. Often times I will speak another language when I'm out with friends or family just so that I can "keep my fluency." I've had people butt in and actually tell me "Learn to speak English !" or some other such rudeness.

If people are not speaking to you directly (and this is a general "you" not aimed at anyone in specific) then their conversations really are none of your business. I find Eavesdropping and any other sort of general nosy-ness to be worse than people having a private conversation in their language of choice.

Second and even third languages are also great to use when discussing things around children that might be inappropriate for them to hear !


When I hear someone talking a language I don't understand, I just get curious.
post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
I have trouble with this sentiment. Often times I will speak another language when I'm out with friends or family just so that I can "keep my fluency." I've had people butt in and actually tell me "Learn to speak English !" or some other such rudeness.

If people are not speaking to you directly (and this is a general "you" not aimed at anyone in specific) then their conversations really are none of your business. I find Eavesdropping and any other sort of general nosy-ness to be worse than people having a private conversation in their language of choice.

Second and even third languages are also great to use when discussing things around children that might be inappropriate for them to hear !
I agree with you 100% about people being out in public and talking among themselves.

On the other hand I believe its rude for people you are around socially or work with to speak a forign language in front of you. That used to happen to me so much when I worked for a family from a foriegn country. One day, in front of them (while they were speaking their native language) I wispered to my co-worker. I was immediately told that I was being rude. I pointed out that what they were doing had the same result. They didn't stop doing it, but I felt better.
post #38 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
Any time I go to Wal Mart or anything, there never fails to be a few families walking around speaking some other language. I feel that it's very rude to go out in public and speak a language that nobody else around you is likely to understand. It makes me very uncomfortable to hear people talking and not having any idea what they are saying, or sometimes, even what language they are speaking.
I'm not saying people should have to abandon thier cultures and language to live here, but if they think our country is so great that they moved here from somewhere else, they need to at least embrace our language, at least in public. I don't care what they do at home.

Amber
Pardon me? So if I'm at a store with my family and we want to have a conversation amongst ourselves, without outside interference, you find it offensive that I should deign it important to speak in my own mother tongue? Sure, I would expect to be required to talk with other co workers in english but if I were at the store for my own personal experience, and not trying to talk to anyone but my family, I should be allowed to speak in nigerian toungue clicks if I so pleased.
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
Any time I go to Wal Mart or anything, there never fails to be a few families walking around speaking some other language. I feel that it's very rude to go out in public and speak a language that nobody else around you is likely to understand. It makes me very uncomfortable to hear people talking and not having any idea what they are saying, or sometimes, even what language they are speaking.
I'm not saying people should have to abandon thier cultures and language to live here, but if they think our country is so great that they moved here from somewhere else, they need to at least embrace our language, at least in public. I don't care what they do at home.

Amber
If it makes you uncomfortable, that's not their problem. I see things all the time that make me uncomfortable but it's other people's prerogative how they live their lives. Why should people have to communicate with their family in a language they barely know just so you don't have to feel uncomfortable?

I would ask how many languages you speak, and if you don't speak any other than English, then why not? Perhaps because learning a second language in adulthood is an extremely difficult task!
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlecat
Pardon me? So if I'm at a store with my family and we want to have a conversation amongst ourselves, without outside interference, you find it offensive that I should deign it important to speak in my own mother tongue? Sure, I would expect to be required to talk with other co workers in english but if I were at the store for my own personal experience, and not trying to talk to anyone but my family, I should be allowed to speak in nigerian toungue clicks if I so pleased.
I just feel that it's really rude to speak in public in a language that nobody is likely to understand. I immediately feel like people who are doing that have some reason that they don't want anyone to know what they are saying. 99 times out of 100, it's probably not the case. But when you walk past people and they start speaking in a foreign language, you can't help but feel that you're being talked about. It's just as rude as whispering in front of people, regardless of the language. I seriously have a major problem with it, but I just keep my mouth shut because I don't want to be more rude than they are.

Amber
post #41 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by semiferal
If it makes you uncomfortable, that's not their problem. I see things all the time that make me uncomfortable but it's other people's prerogative how they live their lives. Why should people have to communicate with their family in a language they barely know just so you don't have to feel uncomfortable?

I would ask how many languages you speak, and if you don't speak any other than English, then why not? Perhaps because learning a second language in adulthood is an extremely difficult task!
I only speak English, because I live in the USA and our language is English. I don't intend on travelling to any other countries, so I have no reason to learn another language. I know that learning a second language is difficult, but it can and is done. A friend of mine is learning to speak Finnish, and is doing a pretty good job of it for the short time she's been studying it. I'm sure I could learn another language if I wanted to. I actually have a very elementary understanding of Spanish, the grammar, and the vocabulary somewhat. In the instances that I have been around Spanish speaking peple who do not speak English (I'm using them as an example because I have never had close contact with anyone who speaks a foreign language other than Spanish), I *can* communicate with them. It's a slow process and involves a lot of "What?" and "Huh?" but I can get my point across and the other person can get thier point across to me as long as they speak very slowly and use some hand gestures. But I shouldn't have to learn another language to communicate with someone in the country I was born in.
I run into it all the time in the stores, someone is asking me for help, and I don't know what the heck they are talking about, and they can't understand me, and end up getting frustrated.
I really don't understand why anyone would move to a foreign country knowing they can't speak the language. It would be an inconvienience and make life difficult, but what if you have an emergency and you can't communicate with your neighbors or those around you to get help?

Amber
post #42 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
I just feel that it's really rude to speak in public in a language that nobody is likely to understand.
These people are having PRIVATE conversations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
I immediately feel like people who are doing that have some reason that they don't want anyone to know what they are saying.
Is it even remotely possible that these people are having PRIVATE conversations that do not concern you and are none of your business ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
It's just as rude as whispering in front of people, regardless of the language. I seriously have a major problem with it, but I just keep my mouth shut because I don't want to be more rude than they are.
These people are having PRIVATE conversations. They are not the ones being rude - it is those who insist that they speak another language in order to facilitate their eavesdropping that are rude.
post #43 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
These people are having PRIVATE conversations.

Is it even remotely possible that these people are having PRIVATE conversations that do not concern you and are none of your business ?

These people are having PRIVATE conversations. They are not the ones being rude - it is those who insist that they speak another language in order to facilitate their eavesdropping that are rude.
If you're speaking loudly enough that other people can hear you, in a public place, it's NOT a private conversation. Nothing said or done in a public place should be considered private, really. I cannot count the times I've been somewhere and, had I been able to understand the words, I would have heard everything that was said. It's not eavedropping when it's people loudly talking in a public place and it takes no effort on your part to hear the conversation. If people are truly trying to have a private conversation, they generally lower thier voices, and then you don't know what language they are speaking unless you ARE eavesdropping. I don't notice these people when they are conversing, becuase they aren't drawing attention to themselves. I've obviously touched a nerve with you here, and I really don't wish to get in a fight over this. All I know is the majority of people I know feel that you should speak the native language of the country when you're in public.
I'm done with this subject.

Amber
post #44 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
It's just as rude as whispering in front of people, regardless of the language. I seriously have a major problem with it, but I just keep my mouth shut because I don't want to be more rude than they are.

Amber
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
If people are truly trying to have a private conversation, they generally lower thier voices, and then you don't know what language they are speaking unless you ARE eavesdropping.
So, whispering is rude, but lowering your voice so others can't hear is ok?
post #45 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
I just feel that it's really rude to speak in public in a language that nobody is likely to understand. I immediately feel like people who are doing that have some reason that they don't want anyone to know what they are saying. 99 times out of 100, it's probably not the case. But when you walk past people and they start speaking in a foreign language, you can't help but feel that you're being talked about. It's just as rude as whispering in front of people, regardless of the language. I seriously have a major problem with it, but I just keep my mouth shut because I don't want to be more rude than they are.

Amber
Sorry, Amber, but I just can't understand this stance. English is my native language, but I live in Germany. If I go out for coffee with my Canadian and British colleagues (all of whom speak German, too, but as a foreign language) after work, would you really expect us to speak German among ourselves, on the off chance that our conversation could become a bit animated, and other people could overhear?
If family members or friends from the U.S. who don't speak German visit us here, should I speak German to them when we're out in public, for fear of being considered rude by Germans?
post #46 of 52
Honestly, If I'm in a store with a foreign person that speaks the same language as I i'm going to speak in our native tongue. I don't understand why it matters that I chose to speak my native tongue, when speaking to another person that does so. And, hey, I do speak english. So do my parents, my aunt, uncles, and cousins. Surely someone new to the country will have to work on grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary, but you can't know whether they have or haven't tried, or even if they do speak english, but want to keep their fluency by speaking it with friends and family. There's also colloquialisms that may not translate well into english or have no english equivalent, or maybe they're saying something pivate like "I need to by maxi pads and deoderant" to their mother/sister/daughter that they might prefer that others not understand.

Also, my mom's side of the family immigrated because their country was at war, and they have family here that can help them get on their feet-not because they wanted to. It's a very strange assumption that one may want to come to the US without being capable of caring for themselves. My uncle has had a really hard time learning English, not only because there's not a lot of people that can speak enough bosnian to teach him- but because he had to get a job in order to make ends meet, and be allowed to STAY HERE.

certainly it's not the business of someone outside of a conversation to listen in, no matter what language.
post #47 of 52
Thread Starter 
I have no trouble when people speak with friends and family in the language of their choice, I mean it is none of my business what they are saying. Just like I never stare at someone using sign language - to me that is the same as eavesdropping. I still think however that there are basics that everyone needs to learn to just get by in everyday life. You can't always walk around with an interpreter.
post #48 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
I just feel that it's really rude to speak in public in a language that nobody is likely to understand. I immediately feel like people who are doing that have some reason that they don't want anyone to know what they are saying. 99 times out of 100, it's probably not the case. But when you walk past people and they start speaking in a foreign language, you can't help but feel that you're being talked about. It's just as rude as whispering in front of people, regardless of the language. I seriously have a major problem with it, but I just keep my mouth shut because I don't want to be more rude than they are.

Amber

My mother toungue is English, but i speak two other languages.


There are many reasons why people would speak in another language
I mean what if the other person doesn't speak English and they are just VISITING THE PLACE? Such as FAMILY?

I mean seriously?

How would one know if they are living in one's country??
What does one know about these people's lives?
Is one's self esteem that low that one really thinks they would talk bad about one?
99% of the time nobody even has to speak the other language to realise if they speak bad about one.
post #49 of 52
It's absolutely important to speak the language of the country you live in - at the very least, it's such an advantage to be able to understand what's going on around you!

When I first came here I didn't speak French (GSCE French had been many years before ) and I didn't think I was talented at languages. But getting out there and speaking the language has helped me become pretty fluent (although my grammar isn't perfect and I write like I speak )... when I go to France now, they even tell me I have a Swiss accent and I've also managed to pick up quite a bit of Italian and some German since coming here.

I don't know what the education system is like in your country these days but when I was at school, languages really weren't promoted by the "insular-thinking" governments.... all I can say now is that whether learning languages at school is pushed or not, there is no substitute for real-life learning, in the country where the language is spoken, in a situation where you are forced too speak.

Many people (at least here in this part of Switzerland) never learn French because
a) quite a few people speak English (so they use that as their common language)
b) people only hang out / work with people from their own country and don't even try to integrate into Swiss society
and
c) (IMO) they're just lazy and can't be bothered

Personally, if I went back to Ireland today after nearly 9 years in Switzerland and didn't speak French, I'd be suitably embarrassed....
post #50 of 52
I think it is, especially if your living there.

I've said this before, if people are wanting to come to my country to live, get housing, benefits, free health care etc...then the least they could do is to learn to speak my launguage. And theres nothing gripes me more when i don't hear them even trying.

When in Rome do as the romans do as they say.
post #51 of 52
Yes, I think it's important to learn the language. If there is a common language it can help defuse tense situations, like rioting such as we have seen in UK in the past.

What's more, I think if you go on holiday it is only polite to learn a few simple phrases at the very least. People like it if other people make an effort to fit in, it makes for a happier society.
post #52 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatkitties
I just feel that it's really rude to speak in public in a language that nobody is likely to understand. I immediately feel like people who are doing that have some reason that they don't want anyone to know what they are saying. 99 times out of 100, it's probably not the case. But when you walk past people and they start speaking in a foreign language, you can't help but feel that you're being talked about. It's just as rude as whispering in front of people, regardless of the language. I seriously have a major problem with it, but I just keep my mouth shut because I don't want to be more rude than they are.

Amber
Here's one for you. Today I took the city bus to get to an appointment. It just happened that other than the bus driver, I was the only non-Latino on the bus.

So if I had a friend with me, or made a call on my cell phone, would it be "rude" for me to speak in English, since the others on the bus were Spanish speakers who may not speak English?

If not, why not? Remember that the United States does not have an "official" language, per se.

I say it would be rude to make me speak Spanish (which I barely know) just so others aren't made uncomfortable by their own imaginations running wild about what I *might* be saying! And others deserve the very same consideration.

People who speak in their native languages do so in order to communicate with the people they are intending to communicate with - in this case, their friend and/or family member. It has nothing whatsoever to do with you!

Likely your ancestors came to the US as non-English speakers, just like the immigrants you see today. Are people supposed to lock themselves in their homes until they can speak English fluently? Or maybe communicate with their spouses and kids by grunting and pointing, just so you won't feel uncomfortable? That's just plain undignified and unnecessary.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: IMO: In My Opinion
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › IMO: In My Opinion › Learning the language of the country you live in