Brushing up your language skills

Mar 8th, 2009, 09:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 219
Brushing up your language skills

I'm curious to know how people brush up their language skills before they go on a trip. Are you:
A: I don't speak a word and know I'll get by with English.
B: I know a bit and realise the locals appreciate it if I make an effort.
C. I can have a basic conversation and should brush up before I travel.
D. I am confident with the language and enjoy the benefits of being able to converse freely with local people.

I have produced an for people wanting to brush up their French:
and would welcome any feedback people have.

JeremyinFrance is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
Hi Jeremy,
Your ebook won't show up on my Mac.

I fall pretty much into the D category, but I'm always working on maintaining my French.

Maybe it's not fair to say without actually being able to read your book, but I'm not sure how pertinent a book of jokes is in helping the average tourist with useful French for a trip.
marcy_ is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I/we usually (countries with romance or germaic languages) know a bit and can get by with that and sign language, plus the english of locals. In countries with other language families (slavic, hungarian etc) I just learn the politenesses and then hope for the best. And, we've never had a problem.

As for taking lessons before each trip - how many languages could we possibly learn very much of? (I've studied French and Spanish and can hold a simple conversationa and the beau has a smattering of German - but really - there's no way I'm ever going to learn a dozen or more languages.)
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 151
I speak Spanish, Some French and a little German, and even less Italian (so similar to Spanish I felt psycho! I would start a sentence in Italian and end up in Spanish. I found the Italians were a little impatient with this problem.). I study French on a ongoing basis, in the car, Pilmsleur is my audio of choice. I try to learn a few simple phrases before I go anywhere, just to be polite.
P.S. I could not see you e-book either
rosiecaro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 08:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 146
i have absolutely no knowledge of french...i am going to paris in june, and after reading dozens of guides saying that it would be good to know some basic french phrases, i have bought a traveller's guide for french phrases.
thing is...even though they kinda have the pronunciations written down, i don't really know how it should sound like...what if i say something and they don't understand any of it!!
3sica is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 09:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,910
i don't really know how it should sound like

Try one of these site to help in pronunciation:

Just enter the text you want to hear.

Of course the real problem with French is not your asking the question. It's in understanding the reply.
Sarastro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 09:20 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
If you're trying to learn French from a book the WON'T be able to understand any of it. The spoken and written are completely different - unlike Spanish or Italian, where you can get close.

You really need something with tapes or a live conversation class.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 10:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26,390
I'm fairly confident in Spanish. German I speak like a 5 year old, meaning I can get my basic needs met as long as it's essen, trinken o schalfen but I make an effort. I do like to practice speaking the language though, much to the annoyance of many Deuschlanders

My husband speaks French fairly well, (I think). But because my few words of French proved really confusing to the locals, I carried a pen and paper and just wrote "what, where, how much".
LSky is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 05:43 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 146
thanks sarastro...and i absolutely agree with u that the real difficulty comes from understanding the reply...
I can speak some Japanese but the minute i used it in Japan, i was bombarded with replies that were too fast for me to apprehend at all!
i think i will just stick to phrases like the 4Ws and 1H, and 'i dont speak french' or 'can you speak english'
the book which also had some tips for telling what is on a french menu should be helpful, since we are not particularly adventurous in foods and ordering brain, tongue, or liver is definitely a NO NO!
3sica is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 23,979
I pretty much only speak English and that is always more than enough for me. I don't see the point of learning even the basic "traveler's" lingo, as I'm never able to understand the response anyway. Besides, I visited enough countries in 2008 that it would have meant learning 11 different languages, and 2009 will probably see a similar number. Even if only the basics, I have neither the time nor the inclination to keep 20+ languages floating around in my head.

I do speak a bit of Spanish, and that enables me to make out quite a few signs in France and Italy too. I can also get a general idea of what is on the menu in French and Danish. That I will eat anything (and I mean anything) takes a lot of the fear out of dining out in foreign countries.
travelgourmet is online now  
Mar 9th, 2009, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,602
As someone who has spent a lifetime learning other languages, I find this to be an utterly useless tool. There's no benefit to learning jokes, and without any grammatical context, it's a pointless exercise. You might learn the meaning of the vocabulary words, but you could do that easily without this book.

It always kills me when folks think they can bypass hard work in order to learn a language - or anything else.

It also needs a good proofreading.
StCirq is online now  

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