Saturday, March 31, 2018

Overcome The Language Barrier To Travel With Confidence

Being a foreigner in a foreign land is likened to existing in a bubble. It's like the naiveté and wonder of being a child all over again. It's a glorious time because all the human griping is suddenly just white noise because, well, it does not make any sense. It's gibberish. Yes, many travelers are giddy over this.


There are some people who will be like this for life. No matter how hard they try they cannot pick up the slightest nuances of the tonality, rhythm and "music" of the other language. They may have no self-awareness of the pronunciation, structure, and are honestly not putting in the work to communicate.


Other people seem naturally born to learn a language because they are able to pick up the basics and hold up their end of a conversation almost immediately.  They seem to not only find the structure, but their efforts are not lost on the execution of speaking and communicating.


For most people, the truth is it takes 10 years of study to become fluent in a language. It's a long haul. And, for people simply going abroad to Spain, the few years of Spanish study from 20 years ago will hardly help. It's a scary situation for those who travel little, and have no idea what details to grasp first.


First off, remember that everyone has the ability to communicate. The smartest and wisest to the least academic of all in every society picks up their native tongue. Instead of worrying, realize there are simple phrases that are germane and relevant to get along when traveling suggest Immigration Solutions.


The problem with school Spanish is that they were teaching with a focus on grammar and book learning. While that's great for learning analytical skills and vocabulary for SATs or writing scientific papers in Spanish, it's not the set of vocabulary that will make for a success when ordering food, checking into a hotel, or even telling the driver from the airport "where to".


For anyone who has taken "conversational" Spanish and successfully applied it when traveling, there's honestly no bigger excitement and relief speaking and having a native actually understand and engage in a conversation. Sure, it might be, "May I have the check" or "I want cold water", but it takes a lot to get to that point.


It expands the world in which a tourist travels. This is because the perceived safety of the bubble is pierced, allowing the thinking of the locals and their cultural experience to permeate, and reach the tourist.


The reality for most people is that they think back to school. They did not like high school Spanish and gave up after that. Maybe they have tried to engage Spanish-speakers back home, but it was only to a small extent, never really grasping more than one or two words before giving up again.


It's as if there are already two strikes, and the third attempt to really learn Spanish in a useful and rewarding manner might be the last somehow. The truth is that school is a very bad experience for many people.


In school, if the attitude was that the student either has a natural inclination for learning the language or is tossed aside as garbage, then it created an automatic "can't-do" attitude in the psyche. Though, remember, 99.99% of the people in any society speak the language, including toddlers, to an extent.


The idea is that it takes a knowledge of enough relevant vocabulary to make relevant conversations happen. In some languages, it might be several hundred words. Think of the most common words, not what odd-bird words that high school teacher kept drilling on quizzes and tests. It takes enough practice speaking to build the mouth muscles to consistently and accurately create the sounds of the language -- called fluency.


However, know that people go through a phase where they learn a language more and more but are prone to repeat whatever they hear, or are too afraid to speak. Be sure to honor each of these phases and allow them to be. In time speaking will happen. 


There is a focus on useful and applied grammar, not on academic grammar. No one wants to sound stuffy and, well, strange, so stick with phrases and structure that natives actually use every day. Learn the word combinations and phrases that they use.


Sufficient exposure to the language is what will help introduce how they think in Spain, for one. It shows a different way of putting together thoughts to express ideas. It's a unique way that only that country has, even if it's similar to other languages.


Language is part of the "magical key" to understanding a language. For people in the USA, Canada, or even the UK and Australia, it's easy to find a wealth of people from Spanish-speaking countries. Even more than that, there will be enclaves from Spain. Practice makes it possible. Do not expect perfection.

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