Utilize the Language while Travelling

Ahoj! Remember when I said that you need to be living in the country where your preferred language is being spoken? I still stand by this assertion. Travelling is also a splendid way of checking what the current state of your knowledge is. Adopt the locals’ way of conversing if you truly want to blend in. Take into consideration the fact that you might be exposed to a regional accent though.

What should you be talking about with the locals? Asking for directions may not be the best idea if you are only a beginner. I’ve experienced this myself during my first visit to Poland, when I proudly asked a policeman where the nearby bus station was. His detailed answer left me absolutely clueless. Naturally, I was too embarrassed to admit to him that I had not understood anything and that he should try this time in English. Instead, I just continued in the direction that he was pointing to – and eventually got lost. A language should be used to transfer information in both directions, not to impress strangers (once again a note to myself rather than the reader).

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How languages are intertwined

Olá! Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but I did not find advancing in Portuguese troublesome at all. In fact, my results were almost instant. How did accomplish this? Easy – I already knew Spanish. You should always consider the possibilities that open to you, once you have concluded the long process of apprehending a new language. For you Swedish could be a basis for Norwegian, German for Dutch, Czech for Polish and so on. Now what you have to do is concentrate on the differences between the ‘cousins’, because the similarities are often way too many to be taken into account.
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Using Contemporary Slang

Kaixo! Keep in mind that languages change throughout time and it is the people that set the rules and not the other way around. Even if they sound to us far away from what we’ve read in the books, we should be absorbing everything by the native speakers like a sponge.

Another ludicrous situation that I experienced in Poland (I have plenty of those) gave me a good lesson regarding this topic. My grandfather, who had been travelling throughout the Eastern Block in the 60s, handed me as a present an old Bulgarian-Polish dictionary, when I shared with him how enchanted I was with this Slavic language. I spent many hours going through his gift, devouring its contents with fascination. Once in Poland, I started speaking in a manner that made people burst in laughter – I was using the same vocabulary as the 19th century poets, which made me sound completely out of touch with reality. Although such expressions can be an ice-breaker, you should be aware of the fact that some of them have been completely dropped off nowadays.
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Chinese Language Barriers Part 2

Wènhǎo! I don’t think that there is a harder way to express your thoughts than through hanzi – the Chinese characters. It takes months of firm dedication just to start reading simple texts, which may turn out to be a bit discouraging to many people. My recommendation to remembering their meaning is to make stories with each and every one – after all, they are a visual depiction of the word. While the logic behind some of them is easy to grasp, such as fire or forest 森林, there are many where you have no idea what their creator had in mind.
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Chinese language barriers Pt. 1

sNeih hou! I know it has been ages since my last article and I offer my sincerest apologies to the most ardent and loyal readers. The fact is, I was for some time in China, on a business trip. Before some of you start feeling anything, resembling jealousy, please do know that I had some horrendous time there, due to the fact that I was robbed and left without a passport. So, communicating with the local authorities became a painful necessity, which drove me closer to the realization that not knowing the language perfectly would only get you into deeper troubles. The percentage of people, who speak English there is surprisingly low and even if they do, for some odd reason, they cannot comprehend what you are saying to them and often ask three or four times the same question to you. So, it would be quite handy, if you have the desire to visit this rapidly developing country, to learn the language.
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Be strict with yourself

Sain baina uu! Everybody gets to a certain point in the learning process where you look confident enough when having conversations in a foreign language. Outsiders may even congratulate you on your accent and make you feel as if you’ve accomplished what you have initiated months or years ago. Alas, it is not true and you are quite aware of this grim fact. Far more important than what others assume that you know is what you actually know.
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Doing things consciously

Chomreabsuor! Today’s topic may seem a bit abstract at first glance, but in fact it is a very important subject for the apprentices and it’s a dear one to me. Many people are disheartened by the fact that someone has been born in a bilingual family and is a master of two tongues since the very beginning of his childhood. Although I would never question the advantages of being raised in such an environment, there is a negative side of it that the rest of us will never experience. It is the lack of appreciation and pleasure of using a second language. Continue reading “Doing things consciously”