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Does not speaking language isolate you? English not spoken much in Spain.

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Does not speaking language isolate you? English not spoken much in Spain.

Old Feb 13th, 2003, 06:10 AM
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Does not speaking language isolate you? English not spoken much in Spain.

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Malaga and Melilla. I found that most people do not speak English. Even the flight attendant's English was pretty crabbed. At the Melilla tourist office, they didn't speak English but they got an older man from the back whose was very charming but 75% of what he said was garbled. Therefore, I will endeavour to learn some Spanish before my next trip to Spain.

Anyway, do others think that not speaking the local language diminish the travel experience? I think it does. The trip degenerates to seeing only sights. There is little interaction with others. One forfeits the chance to learn a little history about the place and how people live.

The first part of my trip was to England. There I talked a lot with others on a wide variety of topics.
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 06:57 AM
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Hi

Sure, its nice to understand a few words.
However it is unrealistic to aim to learn the language of each country you visit ! Spain alone has several languages in common use.
The compromise must be to buy a tourist guide in English. I think Fodors do one !

Peter
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 07:05 AM
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It is definitely easier to know a little of a language to get around, but I don't think it diminishes from the experience. When I am somewhere where they don't speak my language, I just suck up the atmosphere and enjoy the differences in scenery, etc.
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 08:29 AM
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There are two "attitudinal" questions here - - and I will not attack you (the person), Hiroshi - - even though I am very much on record as opposed to the attitude of "can't possibly begin to learn the language of everywhere I want to travel, so I just throw up my hands and refuse to try."

First is one's attitude about learning language before going to a country. I am struggling with this for our trip in May. How much effort ought I commit to Czech? to Polish? with what expectations? and my wife and children will probably not learn more than a half dozen words or expressions. Maybe they will begin to pick up a few words they see on signs - - enough to be helpful as map-reader/co-navigator on public transportation (in Prague), or while driving. I am personally committed to spending 2-3 hours per week times ten weeks because I believe the trip will be all the richer for me, and for my family. I hope to have a vocabulary of 300-500 words in both languages, or maybe half that amount in (the lesser)? one? That is almost surely not enough to even place a single phone call and make a reservation, for example. It's about willingness to try to learn, and of course, it will extend to time THERE. I always think that 24 hours, in immersion THERE can produce more real learning than 40 hours in a week of self-study HERE.

So, the second attitude quesiton is can you figure out how to enjoy your time in a country when you DO feel isolated by language. My experience at this is more limited, but I did experience it in Malaysia, in Japan, and to a lesser extent in Portugal, Denmark and Holland. Others have expressed elegantly how you go about this. It's an attitude of feeling lucky to be there, to soak up what you can in spite of language barrier.

Both attitudes are useful for (better?) enjoyment in a "foreign" country.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 09:04 AM
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Speaking the language can add a lot to a holiday.I think that explains the result of a survey published on this board last week showing that Americans enjoyed their trips to Ireland,Australia,New Zealand,Britain and Austria in that order.My experience is that English is almost universally spoken in Norway,Sweden,Denmark and the Netherlands too.
 
Old Feb 13th, 2003, 10:31 AM
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Funny, I wonder if Rex misunderstood my Japlish (Japanese/English mix).

I am not opposed to learning the local language. Even the ability to read signs is helpful. The reason I didn't learn Spanish was because I decided to go to Spain only 3-4 days earlier (because of a cheap Easyjet fare). I only had time to look up what to see and didn't have enough time to learn the pronounciation.

I did learn how to ask where the toilets were and surprisingly the man I asked understood and told me. I didn't understand him except the turn right part, but that was enough.
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 11:42 AM
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I don't think I misunderstood, nor did I intentionally try to speak out against anything YOU said, specifically. I was trying to express my own views, which ARE in contrast to am assortment of views on learning language(s), expressed here and on many other threads on this forum.

I'm glad you got the opportunity to make a trip that was a bit on impulse. I'm challenged to think how I do with a trip on short notice to Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary or Turkey. Would I make some effort, given a short amount of time? None? A lot?

I'd love to have the opportunity to see what I would do!
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 11:53 AM
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There's something that is fun about going places where there's a definite language barrier. Suddenly, looking at labels and tags in a local store becomes amusing. Am I purchasing cologne, mouthwash or insect repellant? Also, it is fun to 'accomplish' communication through signs and 'acting.'

But I do agree with you that it is hard to engage in a meaningful, deep conversation with a stranger if there's no common language. Very perceptive of Ardfert to point out the survey that showed how Americans tended to name English-speaking countries as their favorite vacations. You are able to connect more with locals and logistics are facilitated.
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Old Feb 13th, 2003, 12:42 PM
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Hiroshi san
O Genki Desu ka.
No I don't speak Japanese ! but when I go to Japan I do my best.
In case you hadn't noticed; spaniards speak spanish and not English.
Muck
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