Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Learning a foreign language

As my girlfriend is Slovak and I am off to visit the country for the first time in my life in just under 3 weeks, I agreed to try and learn the language.

A friend of mine, very good friend, ensured I have help, by getting a Eurotalk learn Slovak cd. Thank you to him, much appreciated.

Now I am trying to get through the disc, oh my god. Firstly being deaf doesn’t help matters when trying to learn a language, it seriously adds to the complications, it really really does.

Secondly, I wish I knew Slovak is an aggressive language, a bit like German, though not quite so aggressive as that.

I am truth to be told, struggling to learn it. I have managed to learn 6 words – Yes, No, Good Morning, Ball, Bowl, Mouse. 3 of which as you can aren’t really going to help me when I am there. Feels like an Eddie Izzard sketch coming on, only I am not in France.

If I can master – Yes, No, Good Morning, Thank You, Please, and some other good manners properly, then I will be bloody grateful. Of course, one is worrying that one might just say something that comes out wrong, because of the way they pronounce words, and offend my girlfriend’s parents. Which would be a seriously bad thing to do especially in Jan/Feb, Slovakia is known for being a tad bloody cold. One doesn’t want to spend the nights on the streets for bad mouthing someone.

It has made me think, why don’t we as a nation, and we are very bad at this in this country, teach language earlier. On the continent, they know many languages, you hear the Dutch know 4 languages, and they smoke marijuana so what is our excuse in this country. I didn’t learn French until I was 9, then I suffered it for 6 years, and I can’t recall a word of it. Yet when I had the chance to learn German, I took it, and did well until a French teacher tried to teach me it, and that was it gone then. I am not sure what agreement we have with the French, but when do we get to be force fed this, against languages that are used much more in business like Spanish, German, etc

Make it second nature to be bilingual and then people learn the skills to speak other languages. My girlfriend can talk 4 languages at least, which impresses me no end, especially given I know English only, not much use when you enjoy travelling. You can’t shout at people hoping they understand you……


ian said...

I learnt
"too much"
"I don't want that"
"3 beers please"
"white rice"
"thank you"
in mandarin for my trip to Beijing.
I now firmly believe that if you can ask for 3 beers and white rice you can survive anywhere. 3 seems to be the optimal number. just order in multiples if there's more than one of you ;-)

Please and thank you and handy but a smile and a wave/head nod work.

you gotta eat and drink though..

Dazissimo said...

I do empathise with you - being deaf and trying to handle a new language. I studied Latin few years back with the Open Uni - found it fairly straightforward as people rarely speak Latin nowadays (except Vatican, of course!). But as for Italian which I've been studying (on and off for several years) is rather different - I guess one of reasons is that I cannot hear the lingo when I go and visit Italy. However it's still fun trying to string italian words into an intelligible sentence!

Good luck with your study!

Klite said...

try malay which has no past or future tense!
its a simple language, but pronouncation can be difficult for them to understand with an english accent
i learnt food- makan, eat - makanan
drink - minum,to drink minummum
elephant -gaja
and worse of all
fat - gomak!

Speakers Corner said...

I have managed to learn some words now. Still not much mind, but getting there.

I have learn to say

thank you - Dakujem
Please - Prosim
The bill please - Platim

which is a major improvement of the other day.

After reading other comments, maybe I am wrong that us English don't learn other languages. Okay not so we can speak fluenty, but enough to get by and not insult the locals, which is always a bonus.

I just haven't got my head around the idea that items have gender attached to them, what the hell is that!!!????