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Old 03-07-2009, 22:48   #46
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I taught a night school course in American Sign Language. 1st the Alphabet, then words. Repeating the sign for a word instead of finger spelling. REPETITION. Simple sentences that you would use in a classroom (students occupation was as teachers) No oral prompts of any sort. In real life if you are stuck you can't ask the person who is deaf how to do something, they won't hear you. One advantage is you spell the word if you don't know the sign.

I have had to use my highschool French. I sweat bullets when I have to. My verb conjugation is all wrong, I forget words (ie doorknob) so I say "on the door what is the" and make like I am turning a knob. People understand.

I also find that with Spanish, French and English often there is a common (OE. OFr, Latin) origin. Etymology is a wonderful thing. Sometimes just slow down and think!

My first learning of French...a song in Grade 4.
I still remember it and what it means.
Sur la pont D'Avignon

Frere Jacques I make a mess of. I start in Dutch (Vader Jacob), switch to French, then English and end up in dutch again.
English clocks go ding ding dong. dutch ones go bim bam bom!

First words:

Excuse me
Thank you
I am sorry
You don't want to act out this one. Where is the loo?

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Old 26-07-2009, 13:18   #47
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ahh any questions ask me, i speak english spanish, and some arawak, sioux, russian, german and arabic read good, and speak fluent

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Old 26-07-2009, 15:12   #48
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Throwing in a late two cents worth ...

I've done a fair bit of land travel in Mexico and Central America. In the coastal travel or tourist areas I could get away with just English, but once inland or off the track I've really needed some basic abilty to piece a sentence together. We got caught in Costa Rica in last year's big storm while driving most of the country ... we ended up needing to talk to truckers, teenage restaurant help, you name it. Some knew no English, some just a bit, but I think in the end our efforts to speak the language and understand the culture really paid off (*for the whole story see below). I'm no where near fluent, but I think knowing a few of the basic phrases and the ability to follow at least a bit of the conversation is very helpful.

As far as how to learn a language, my girlfriend is my expert on that as she came here from Germany and is more fluent than me in English, with a good grasp of French and quickly figuring out Spanish. Her main advice would second the watch movies and read familiar books post. In my area we get Spanish (mostly Mexican) television on cable. It's a great way to try to pick up the language and tempo. I'd also guess the immersion courses would be good, albeit expensive.

At least in my experience, the effort to be respectful of the culture/people and speak the language is much more important than fluency in a particular tongue. Not coming off as the important American tourist is the essential bit - but if I were going to know one other language for cruising, it would be Spanish.

*If you care to read nuances ... while we were driving Costa Rica there was an unusual event as a forming hurricane hit the country on the Pacific coast. Bridges were washed out, the main pass back to the capital (and airport) was taken out by multiple slides, etc. It effectively shut down the country. In trying to work our way from the south we ran into another American group with a Costa Rican guide also trying to work the 150 some odd miles back to the capital to fly home. We linked up with them and had dinner with them and their guide where the pass was blocked. The guide spoke little English, but I tried to make small talk with him as I was sitting next to him at dinner. In the conversation it came out that he had a wife and kids back in the south and I asked after them, etc., I thought he would likely be concerned for them living in the rain forest area in the south with a hurricane moving in while he was driving the Americans north with no promise that he would be able to return south soon. Pretty basic stuff that any of us would do in a similar situation in the US, but this was in pieced-together English and Spanish. So they then left for a hotel and we slept in our car on the road with the truckers in hopes the pass would open (it didn't). Fast forward a couple days and we were sitting behind a washed-out bridge with 200 other cars trying to figure out our next move. My girlfriend walked up to look at the bridge and see if anyone knew anything and ran into the guide now trying to work his way back south (the wealthy Americans actually chartered a helicopter, and not to make them out to sound bad I suspect the guide got a huge tip - they were very nice people but more fluid than most). Anyway, she chatted with him a bit and came back to say she ran into him, he says "hi" and he's trying to get alternate routes from the locals, etc. Ten minutes later he starts to pass us going in the other direction but waving frantically at us to follow. We pull out of line to follow this nearly total stranger out of town into the hills of Costa Rica (a statement requiring a completely different post regarding safety). Eventually we are in a caravan of about ten cars driving up and down gravel and mud roads barely wider than goat trails through tiny villages of waving kids standing in the rain until finally we cross an intact little bridge and voila' we are on the highway. We have dinner with him and thank him (he bought) and later that night we are back in the capital and flew out in the morning.

I say all that not just to wistfully reflect that some of the best parts of our trip came about through shared hardship with the locals (their hardship was obviously greater than ours') - but because I suspect that at least some of our good fortune came from treating the guide as a real person with his own real concerns in his own culture: both at the dinner and by my girlfriend chatting with him at the bridge about how his trip back was going, if he'd had a chance to speak with his family, etc. Our Spanish was abysmal, but our interaction was meaningful - which is what communication really is about, no?

Anyway, that's my long-winded two cents worth.
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Old 26-07-2009, 15:57   #49
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Originally Posted by Elzaar View Post
Anyway, that's my long-winded two cents worth.
Great story So you really took the road less travelled (groan )
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Old 27-07-2009, 06:21   #50
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My Spanish is credible - most of career spent in Latin America. My French insults more than it communicates. I can order a beer in German and Russian, say hello in Chinese (Mandarin); and find a bathroom in most any language ...
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Old 16-09-2009, 14:02   #51
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I am italian and people says that the two languages are similar...well..that is not true.
The grammar is closely related but the accent and the different meanings of similar worlds confuses a lot.

I lived in Venezuela and I learned the Spanish (venezuelan spanish that is different from "castellano" of spain.

Definitely learn spanish, Italian is useless.
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Old 16-09-2009, 17:02   #52
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La lingua italiana Ť bella e la bellezza Ť necessaria nella vita.
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Old 17-09-2009, 01:06   #53
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"Italian is pretty and pretty is need for life"

Yes but Spanish speaking people do not understand at all Italians.

And we (as Italian) do not have the perception of the musicality of the Italian language.

Plus Italian has different accents that descends from the different idioms spoken in the country. The Italian of the Italo-american has mostly a southern origin and is (for Italian speaking people) somehow "cant" and unpleasant.
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Old 23-09-2009, 10:42   #54
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Planing a cruise to Mexico and South America need advice

Thursday we bought a SeaWind 1000 Cat. We initially thought we would sail the Bahamas and make our way to the BVI. However, we have reconsidered since we are having the boat ferried to Kemah, Texas (long story). We now are thinking of cruising Mexico and South America and end up at the BVI. My question is where do we get current information about where it is safe and what area's (if any) we should avoid. My husband works Turnarounds at Petro Chemical companies and we are going to work, liveaboard, and sail in-between jobs. Any and all help is appreciated. I have had some difficulty negotiating around this forum but I am sure it is operator error. Thanks in advance.
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Old 23-09-2009, 10:49   #55
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for info on where is safe check this site - also lots of other useful info here

Noonsite: The global site for cruising sailors
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Old 23-09-2009, 11:15   #56
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Africaqueen is absolutely right about Italian being useless in South America. Yes, it's true Argentina, where I'm from, received a lot of Italian immigration in the early 20th century, but Italian is rarely spoken in Argentina.

In general, Spanish will get you the most benefit if you're visiting South America. Of course, there's always Brazil (Portuguese) and the Guyanas (Dutch, English, French, Guyanese Creole, and even Hindi and Javanese), where Spanish may barely get you by.
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Old 23-09-2009, 17:50   #57
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Depending on what you want to achieve. You can go with English alone because most places people speak English. Sure, if you want to make friends with local people the local language helps, and Spanish a lot - Spanish based cultures are all about talk, talk talk (and in result nothing ever gets done ;-)))).

Spanish is not difficult for English speakers. I would not use Rosetta - the real language is the spoken / written thing plus the interactions. Best classes we ever got outside Spain/Spanish places were from Instituto Servantes - they are well present in the USA but I do not know about your location. Google them.

If there are any Spanish speaking immigrants in your place make friends with them and you will promptly pick up a lot of basic vocab and phrases.

You will pick up a lot of language as you go, but if you can get to the conversational level before departure then once you get into the Spanish territories you will just add new vocab rather than spend time trying to understand the basics of grammar. So my advice is go for it.

I hope this helps.

Abrazos (hugs),
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Old 06-10-2009, 21:11   #58

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First the setup.

*I sent my son to Floripa (Florianopolis, Brasil) for his junior year of high school (Rotary). He was extremely shy here at home when he left and miserable there and learning very little portuguÍs and making few friends.
*I studied using Transparent Language's program for which I paid. You watch an oscilloscope trace of your voice and learn to match it to the native speaker's voice. I did not let on I had learned a little portuguÍs as I had no feedback from a person.

So I get off the plane and my son takes me on a tour of Centro. He knows EVERY vendor and bartender anywhere we go. How is this possible says I ? Well says he Dad I was so misserable I went to a bar and had a beer. Then I had another. I went back the next day and did it again and by the end of the week I could speak fluently! His surprize for me.
Then we go to meet his "parents" and when we get to the door I intoduced myself in portuguÍs and everyone was stunned silent by my excellent accent!

The most important lesson I was to learn was how to say in portuguÍs "forgive me I don't speak portuguÍs very well - fala InglÍs?" If you show effort and respect and have made an attempt to speak the local language it will generally be returned with large smiles many times over.

What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks only one language? American.
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Old 06-10-2009, 21:15   #59

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PS for informational purposes only.
Brasilian Portuguese is a very sexy sounding language to an American woman.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:22   #60
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I have travelled the world for over 40 years, and have found that most of the language you need to just get by is printed on the local currency.

Expat life in the Devil's Triangle:
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