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Experience Survey: Where you did/did not need to know the language

Experience Survey: Where you did/did not need to know the language

Apr 27th, 2007, 08:18 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 169
Great stories, everyone! Here's one of mine:

A number of years ago, my partner and I were driving through the northern part of Spain. We were fine using our high school Spanish or English in Madrid, driving to Seguenza...everywhere, until we arrived in Pamplona. All they spoke there was Castillian Spanish and Uskera (the Basque language). We were doing just fine with our high school Spanish until we came back to our car to find it missing. In shock, all we could manage to say to the police was "Me coche - GONE!"
hiho322 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2007, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,062
The standard of English in Scandinavia is quite phenomenol. Right down to slang, acronyms, abbreviations and swearing! In my whole time there I found just one person who claimed not to be able to speak it - a middle aged taxi driver in Goteborg - and even then he did have a few basic phrases. One of the hotel staff had such a convincing accent that we spent the first three days thinking she was English!

I don't know why the educational authorities in Britain don't take a trip across the North Sea to find out how languages are taught in Scandinavia because however they do it, it works!
RM67 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2007, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,285
I think one thing they do is watch British television. Or no?
tomassocroccante is offline  
Apr 27th, 2007, 02:50 PM
Posts: n/a
Last week in Granada/Spain, I needed directions from the parking we were at to the Al Hambra. I opened the map and approached a well dressed Spanish gentleman in mid-50s to ask him where exactly was I and how to get to my destination! As I fumbled in spanish, I must have sounded better than I thought I did, because he started in spitfire spanish that seemed to last for five lo....ng minutes. I was so fascinated by the man's expressions and rapid hand/shoulder movements (and thought it was impolite to interrupt his rapid monologue) that I waited for him to finish! When I haltingly said "no hable espanol", he looked at me incredulously, shrugged his shoulders, made a very funny face, and actually started laughing with me! Anyway, he pointed me to the attendant who gave directions I could understand. When we came back to the lot at the end of the day, he was still there (I don't know if he worked there or owned it.... seemed too well dressed to work in a parking lot) and came to me as I was paying the ticket. This time he used slower spanish to ask if I liked his city. I said very much so and went my way. Anyway, his expressions and rapid hand/shoulder movements/gestures were totally priceless!
Apr 30th, 2007, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 5
I am currently living in Scandinavia, working on a project. The project has plenty of people from all over Scandinavia, but their English is excellent. Some, especially ,many Norwegians have a stronger accent, but it is definitely understandable for the most part.

Germany is the one place where most people either do not learn or do not want to speak English, especially, if one asks for directions or help at the shops. Strangely, in a work environment, it is not a problem.
Windrider is offline  
May 1st, 2007, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 216
In the Gaeltacht region here in Ireland, they removed all the English signposting. Knowing Irish Gaelic would be a great help..
anchoress is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 04:16 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 89
English is not a European language?
My British and Irish cousins would have a wee bit of an argument with you, but at the same time they tell me I speak American, NOT English. So, to actually speak my own (read native) language, I would have to say the British Isles.
Next part of your question.
Essential to know the local language.
Well I was on the beach in Crimea, two Ladies walked up and asked for the time. I answered that I did not speak Russian (in Russian), they answered in perfect English and a conversation ensued.
I believe a knowledge of the basic local phrases would be serviceable.
Stormin280 is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 04:05 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24
In response to others who have said that it is not necessary to know Greek because they all speak English... this is true. In the Greek school system you are required to pass a sort of English fluency test. Everyone, especially the young people, is perfectly comfortable wtih English. These days it's really only the rural areas of France/Italy/Greece that require an effort for the English-speaker to learn another language. Too bad!
emerald013 is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 29
First thing that comes to mind is riding the train in Switzerland...they make announcements in at least 8 languages...I met a tour guide fluent in all the Romance languages plus some Asian languages. EVERYONE in Switzerland speaks English (at least in Interlaken and in Bern)

On the other hand, I found it incredibly useful to be fairly high-school-fluent in Spanish during visits to Spain. In Andalucia, I had many rewarding conversations that would not have happened in English. In Barcelona, I was pretty frustrated because the Catalan accent was tough to listen to, having had Spanish teachers with Latin American accents. In Prague and Budapest, everyone who grew up in or after the fall of the Berlin Wall was fluent in English. In Austria, I wished I knew more German.

Learning and trying to speak in the language of the land I am visiting is always a rewarding part of a trip for me. Bon voyage!
jcohe2t is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 02:29 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 9
I had a horrible time in Murcia, Spain because I could not speak Spanish.
Judith73 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,056
I find that you do not really need to speak Irish to survive in Ireland. In fact the natives are more receptive if you speak your own (foreign) language.
Lawchick is offline  
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