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Old 07-07-2014, 08:26 AM   #21
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At least in my experience, knowing how and when to use a few select curse words is an invaluable tool when visiting a foreign country. It helps to negotiate, especially with taxi drivers and some people of authority. Most other locals take you much more seriously, and no matter what you are doing, you are much more likely to get more respect and a better deal.

Learning how to order food and drink in a foreign language is another critical skill that can open the doors to lots of possibilities. Add to that the ability to compliment the cook and establishment and the sky's the limit.

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Old 07-07-2014, 08:40 AM   #22
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Some of us are utter idiots at learning a new language. I got A's in Junior College French classes but was completely flummoxed in France. There are people who have a natural aptitude for conversational skills and then there are people like me. I think that's why I'm a bit slow on the English listening skills too. One can have good abstract reasoning skills that do not translate into good language skills.

Luckily the French appreciate a few words thrown in to show you really care. And they appreciate your understanding the simple ways to say hello and goodbye in their culture. After that they are happy to switch to English, especially the younger ones. The Rick Steve's French phrase book is a good resource with transliteration available there.

I do admire those that can wade in and survive. It's just not for me.

There are some decent French and German publications available in English. Here is one for French:
Latest news reports on FRANCE, French politics and culture - France 24

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Old 07-07-2014, 08:52 AM   #23
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My manager made me. Said he couldn't get a p.o. for a C compliler approved. Convinced me it couldn't take more than a couple of weeks to learn to talk to the chip on some bizzare system.
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Old 07-07-2014, 09:58 AM   #24
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Lsbcal: Don't let classroom failure convince you that you aren't "good at languages". College and high school classrooms are good for learning grammar and vocabulary, but unless it is a small class situation (6-8?), you will have limited speaking time which will also affect your oral comprehension. French provides some unique challenges to comprehension, too. The best way to improve comprehension is to read a passage, then listen. "Shadowing" by reading out loud while listening is also used by a lot of people.

Choosing a language that you want to learn helps a lot too.
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:58 AM   #25
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Hi AllDone, I'm sure that you are at least partially right on this. I would have needed to have more conversational practice to get better. But when DW and I took a conversational class at the JC, I could see that she was much more proficient at picking up the verbal stuff. I also noticed that my audio memory is very poor. Same with remembering bird calls but I still try.

I do not regret my classroom experiences at all. It was fun and challenging. It stimulated my interest in other areas such as European history and cultural aspects. So I don't want to discourage anyone here from pursuing some language classes.
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:16 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by UnrealizedPotential View Post
...what would be your reason for trying to learn a new language?
So I can communicate my needs to the nurses in my LTC facility in Mexico.
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:31 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by AllDone View Post
Spanish is definitely easier than French to learn. French does not stress syllables the way English and Spanish do, plus words are deliberately elided together, so separating a spoken French sentence into words takes a lot of practice.
Plus Spanish (and Italian) are relatively easy for English speakers to sound out after learning just a pronunciation rules, whereas French throws so many combinations where you are ignoring silent consonants dépêcher, vous dépêchez, je dépêchais, elle dépêchait etc.

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