English Class – When you don’t speak the language – English Class Podcast 2018

English Class – When you don’t speak the language – English Class Podcast 2018


Hello and welcome to another edition of
Camino English podcasts my name is Colleen and I’ll be your host today I
have with me Aresia say hi Aresia hello everybody
Aresia is a resident here in Madrid like I am and I thought today we would talk
about what it is like to move to a foreign country when you don’t
understand or speak the language and so Aresia you have experience with this
don’t you I do have experience with this so you moved here what was the first
time you moved here I moved here originally the first time I came to
Spain I came in 1982 okay and where were you moving from because you have a
lovely southern accent thank you so much I was moving from Mississippi from
Greenville Mississippi Wow okay and so when you got here you came here for work
correct I came here for work in 1982 and I lived
here a year and did you speak Spanish I spoke no Spanish at all so what was
that like landing here and not speaking a word of the language how did you get
by how did you communicate well what I did was there was a lot of pantomime
and I would add oohs and ahhs onto the end of English words that that’s
absolutely a very clever trick because we share over a thousand common words
really we do between English and Spanish so that’s actually a very clever trial
that’s what I did so the pantomime pantomime is what it’s it’s using your
hands to communicate gesturing the symbol in gestures creating the symbol
like you would flap your arms up and down and act like a chicken if I wanted
chicken for dinner I had flap my arms and try to act like a chicken that’s
well now I did use that when I went to France
I only know you know some words in French and I was trying to say you know
the train station and I just people did not understand I did not have the right
word so I just went choo choo choo choo that wasn’t right so yeah so did people
understand you what they did they did they were very helpful and how was it
finding like an apartment or it was difficult it was very difficult but I
the good thing about Spain and for me was its Spaniards
are really friendly and wanted to help okay and you did find I did of course
find some English speakers and through them was able to find a flat and an
apartment you know a place to live and was able to buy my groceries but it was
very difficult I didn’t like it at first so now Aresia that’s a good that
brings up another good point I find that sometimes when people move to a country
where they don’t speak the language they tend to find people that speak their own
language their native language and then they don’t venture out or they don’t
learn the language of the country where they are yeah I think that’s true but in
in 1982 there was nothing there were not a lot of English speakers now and
certainly not fluent and there weren’t a lot of the clubs and the groups you have
now so it was very difficult I couldn’t isolate myself with just English
speakers I had to get out there let’s go into the Spanish culture and Spanish
language and eventually you learn you know it starts with it would start for
me with recognizing one word in a sentence or in a paragraph mm-hmm
someone was speaking to me when I could start to isolate words and that I
thought well I’m learning something and then it’s time went on I started to
learn more and more but I don’t think you can learn a language without
studying right and and don’t you think the fastest way to study is to throw
yourself into the situation absolutely knows to be there so that I like the
isolating the one word at a time when my son visited me here he does not speak
any Spanish and so as we were taking the bus I would say okay look at that word
and what do you think that means you know and he was even as simple as
restaurant oh you know cafeteria and different I would show him different
words on signs and say now tell me what that means and he started to see that
yes we do have a lot of similar if not the same words yeah that’s true dates
yeah that’s right in there and that helped me a lot was example you use to
restaurant mmm you know of course I could I could muddle through that one
right less that I don’t think in a restaurant right and so I knew our
cafeteria right no these were little words that I started and then little by
little you begin to pick up a vocabulary they should pick up a vocabulary you
begin to you know I could I could grasp the gist of a conversation I could
understand what someone was trying to say to me and little by little it
progressed but the important thing was immersion in the culture and it was
difficult because I didn’t like it when I first came here now what was that what
were the differences that she didn’t like oh there were so many there were so
many I mean one was the the schedule of breakfast lunch and dinner you know was
completely different very I couldn’t think of waiting until 10
o’clock at night to eat dinner right yeh Dinner was supposed to be at 6 and
Lunch here is around 2 and I couldn’t you know I
it was difficult to get into the rhythm it was very difficult for me when
everything was closed from two to four thirty and I mean in in 1982 and in the
80s everything was closed I remember I was here yeah
from June to 4:30 it was closed and I couldn’t you know I couldn’t grasp that
I couldn’t adjust to that I was young then and going out to the discotheques
you know people in the United States normally go out to dinner at say eight
o’clock you go to a discotheque at 9:00 or 10:00 here the discotheques didn’t
even open until 1:00 in the morning right and I couldn’t you know it was
very different difficult to get into the into the culture and to accept that this
culture was just as valid it was just different
and what’s familiar is comforting what’s unfamiliar is disconcerting and you know
at that but that’s a good point I tell people who get homesick I tell
them that you know it’s and I went through this myself so I’ve lived in
Spain two different times also and for me the difficult part has been to not
compare mmm what you automatically want to you know I’m sure you’re the same I’m
you accustomed to having air conditioning you know all of the
electronic conveniences you know and the different things the different cultural
identities the different things that we do differently I compare a lot mm-hmm
and and that’s one of the things that if I when I once I stopped comparing it was
easier to fit in or feel more at home was that your case case too
no absolutely I mean one of the things that was extremely difficult for me were
the sizes of the apartments and the houses I mean to me they were incredibly
small and then as time has gone on I mean this is my home now I don’t live
anywhere else in the world mm-hmm and what a comment was made to me when I
said well everything’s so small and they said the person responded why do you
need so much space right and I realized it wasn’t something I needed it was
something I’d become accustomed to right and because I’d become accustomed to it
it was difficult to adjust to something different right very different and even
the portions on how we eat you know what we eat how eat we can be different you know for
for me this time coming back I really realized you know in the United States
our coffees are bigger and we have the free refills
there are soft drinks and here you get one drink and your coffee is tiny but
your coffee you see and here’s the thing and this is where I’ve changed the
the coffee I was used to the coffee in the United States which to a lot of
Spaniards is like watered-down coffee correct it’s not real coffee now they
serve in the States expresso which of course is Spanish coffee mm-hmm and now
I’d much rather have my tiny little cup of Spanish coffee then 30 cups of
American coffee I feel the exact same way well the funny thing was when I’ve
gotten so accustomed in Spain that you can go into any bar and get a cup of
coffee at any time during the day and stay as long as you want well
but in the United States they don’t have bars with coffee that’s right
you have to actually go to a coffee shop that’s right and it’s usually you know
we’re used to paying you know 150 170 for a coffee where there you’re going to
pay three or five for a coffee they I didn’t even think about that but that
that’s absolutely right but you can’t even go into we had to I had to look when
I was in the United States to find coffee but another thing that really
irritates me now about going to the States is when you go into a restaurant
you order a meal before you’re even finished eating they bring the check yes
and in Spain they don’t bring you can sit there for two hours your you have to
ask them you have time to ask for the check before they bring it and now as time is passed to me I find it rude for somebody to bring a check before I
finished even eating well you know why they’re doing that
No so you know you have they want more they turn the tables we call it turn the
tables over meaning that they they get fresh tables in so the restaurant makes
more money well yes so that they get you out of there so they they what we call it we used
to call it turn and burn but also the waitresses move you through because they
count their money there their wages are tips mm-hmm so the more tables they have
the more tips they make the more money they take home whereas in a lot of
European countries the waiters are given a salary that’s right so they don’t care
they’re getting paid either way but if you’re staying for two hours
that’s money but the waitress in the United States is not getting does that make sense
yeh, it does make sense no I’d rather sit for for awhile myself and enjoy and savor yeah exactly so now let’s go back to learning when did you decide
or when did you consciously or formally start learning Spanish did you take
classes I took very few classes I took a few classes I’ve met and married a
Spaniard and I took probably about two or three classes because I had my own
teacher in the house I had a Spaniard who helped me with
Spanish and then like I said it no didn’t interrupt you I’m sorry did he
speak English not very well okay so you were really
this was sink or swim it means you really had to I had to learn and he had
to learn right so you had to because sink or swim is a saying meaning if you
throw somebody in the water they’re going to either sink or learn how to
swim that’s right so that’s you know we can apply that to learning the languages
right and and I had to like I said then it was different there were not so many
English speakers and I was in Spanish society and so I had no choice really
but to learn otherwise I would have been totally isolated and the amazing thing
about learning another language is you what I discovered is that it opens up an
entire new world for you hmm there’s a whole new world because there
are some things that just don’t translate completely from one language
to another I had to speak right I didn’t really have a choice hmm and because I
had to speak I would try me I would just make an effort
the wonderful thing was that people were so good to me
people were understanding they would listen they would help me if I had
trouble expressing myself people were really at you know I think
they’re very helpful when you don’t speak the language remember so don’t you
think that’s true for wherever you go I guess you’re trying that people will
help you I do I do – I do they help you and they listen intently
you know they try to understand and if they don’t they tell you right they tell
you and then you try again and eventually you learn how to say it
correctly right or you learn how to express yourself enough to be understood
right it may not be grammatically perfect but you know for me becoming
fluent was being able to communicate right right and until you felt until you
reached that point where you were um you know flan where you could have a
conversation and understand what did you feel isolated
there were times I did there were certainly times that that I felt
isolated but that passes mm-hmm you know it passes you use like I said you start
to identify words then then with words you start to identify phrases then when
you start to understand it’s a wonderful thing because it really does open up
this whole world it before it didn’t exist for you Hey and you’ve got a whole
new world of experiences and a friends you know friends who are more than
willing to help mm-hmm that’s true so what were look so there’s two things I’m
going to talk about the first one I know for me is that it’s easier for me to
speak the language than to understand it do you have any tips you
said isolating words whether we’re there any other tips or just you know like
trying to understand in the context or what for me it was easier I understood
before I could speak interesting so I understood what people were saying to me
and I used to get very frustrated because the vocabulary that I understood
I couldn’t always Express I couldn’t parrot it back I’m gonna
understand what they were saying but I couldn’t speak fluently enough and
so for me if that was the frustrating thing to not be able to use the
vocabulary that I did understand and not one thing that helped me a lot was
watching television shows and to watch the news in particular because the news
the Spanish was grammatically correct and the pronunciation was correct right
where you know in Spain in particular you have a lot of different accents and
of course you have slang and you have a lot of different expressions right
idiomas we cover a lot of those okay yep then reduction and that’s you know when
we do that in the United States where we squish our words together Oh are we
shorten the sentence so what we write is different than how we say it that’s
right so it’s the same thing in every language course in the south everything
is brought elated yes it’s not so short right well and as somebody who was
raised by New York parents I can speak very quickly and when I would go to the
South I would say oh please just speed up what are you saying that’s exactly right we
put five and six syllables into one syllable words I know
we do right well that’s you know what do the same here though somebody
from the south of Spain I I know they’re speaking the same language but I don’t
understand a word they’re saying we’ll see the funny thing is in the
south of Spain is they speak very fast hmm they speak very very very fast and I
don’t understand hmm I get completely lost and then the accent yes is so
different that that I don’t understand and I have people who’ve studied English
I have both sets I have people who understand me easier because I speak
slower but I have people who don’t understand me at all because I put so
many syllables into one work but the other thing Aresia about that is that
if the accent is pretty people don’t care as much I don’t know and they
understand because you know the these southern accent at least in the United
States is very singsong II it’s it’s almost like a song it’s a melody and
it’s very it’s it’s very pretty whether you understand it or not it’s not as
harsh as say in New York accent or not to pick on New Yorkers but a New York
accent or a Boston accent it’s say I like a boss do they accent
well my daughter’s did not understand one when she went to Boston she did not
understand really the Boston accent no hmm yeah and I think you know that’s
that can be difficult I think that’s why it’s a good thing with students learning
English to hear a lot of different accents yes I think it’s important
mm-hmm because and again they they might understand just one word initially but
eventually they understand all of them and I do I think it’s a good
for them to hear different accent yes an English accent is completely different
well yes and let me tell you when I was in Ireland um I’m not gonna tell you
what town I was in but I was listening to somebody speak and I thought to
myself I know you’re speaking English but I don’t understand a word you are
saying I didn’t understand a word in Ireland i under WelshI can follow I
can follow Scottish almost all British but I think the interesting thing is
once you start to tune your ear to that certain accent you can you can
understand it better so for example there was a Scottish
television show on in the United States I used to watch and the more I watched
it the more I understood them that makes sense now I understand a Scottish accent that
makes sense so I think that is it’s like you were saying it’s exposure it’s
listening to television or watching the television listening to podcasts
listening to people on the bus and trying to hear one word they’re saying
I think that’s right well I was in Ireland for a month and when I got there
initially I mean I literally did not understand a word that was being said
it I didn’t I did not understand after a couple of weeks I begin to understand
right because your ear does become attuned what they’re saying mm-hmm and
all of a sudden you fall into the rhythm the rhythm that’s that’s the thing that
we I was actually thinking about that that there is a rhythm to the languages
or the accents and it’s almost like a flow you get into that flow of the
rhythm and it’s easier to understand the ups and the downs the tone the the
cadence how quickly they speak once you start to
feel that it’s easier to understand it almost unfolds doesn’t it I think it
does yeah so I think patience is a is an important word for learning a new
language I think it’s extremely important because it was very easy for
me to get extremely frustrated with myself and other people were not
frustrated with me mm-hmm other people I were more than willing to
listen and help mm-hmm but I am the problem was I would become frustrated
and the more frustrated I would get the less I could speak I find that with my
students as well that they get more frustrated with themselves than other
people do and I think that that that frustration does put up a block rather
it does because we think we have to be perfect and that’s not true we do not
have to be perfect that’s right you know it’s it’s the step toward fluency is is
really just learning how to speak to that person getting your thoughts across
and understanding giving the back and forth of the conversation and then you
start to improve but you know listen to Americans we don’t have perfect grammar
not not at all right not at all right and it’s gotten worse as the years have
gone by yeah and we use a lot of slang yes and slang changes is that’s what
they took the words out of my mouth the words the words and the slang change
over time they do and the dictionary keep has to keep changing it that’s
right you know so I think that and are there any final thoughts on getting more
comfortable in your adopted country like at tips on joining things or how to meet
people I think the main thing is above all to be patient
and I think what you said to not compare which is is much more easily said than
not mmm-hmm but as time goes on and as you’re patient with yourself you begin
to accept you know the your country of choice and as far as getting to know
people you know if you just try to speak to them to the grocer in your
neighborhood well Aresia you seem to know every waiter
everywhere I go you use their first name so yes you you start to know people you
ask them mm-hmm you know what’s your name and you use it yeah and then when
they see you coming they’re happy to see you I know and then they’re more than
they’re patient with me so I should be patient with myself and I think that’s
the main thing that is a great great thought to end on arisha thank you so
much for joining us today at Camino English podcast and hopefully we’ll get
to do this again soon that sounds great Thank You Colleen welcome to Camino
English whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced English language
learner we have something for you in addition to videos and podcasts
we also offer blogs a chat forum and lessons to help you on your journey
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