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pablopatito

Moving To Germany

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Immersion only helps if you already have a good grasp of the language. Foreigners are not eager to talk to you. When it becomes clear you cannot understand them nor they you, they will stop and not bother to talk to you again. You can turn on the TV set, but you still do not understand because they speak so fast. What is far more likely to happen is you will stick with English internet and watch Freesat in English. Your interactions with the locals will be restricted to simple phrases. When they reply, you will not understand. This idea of sitting in a bar talking to the locals to learn the language is garbage. You will sit in a corner by yourself while they gabble to each other.

I think that is probably true if you make no formal effort to interact. Immersion however is not about striking up conversations with strangers in bars. It's about maximising the situations where you have to speak the language and building up your skills gradually. For example, attending a summer school where you speak the native language all the time, or making friends with natives (in English) and practicing their language with them while they practice English with you.

Edited by Austin Allegro

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This is true however if you make these mistakes people will still understand what you mean - even if they screw their face up a bit. The same cannot be said for other languages like Polish or Hungarian. Say something the 'wrong' way and they won't have a clue what you are saying.

...

I dunno about that. I can still remember my sense of triumph when, after about a dozen previous attempts, the shopkeeper actually understood first time my request for a box of matches:

"Einen Schachtel Streichhölzer, bitte!"

I found it a real bugger to pronounce properly.

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I dunno about that. I can still remember my sense of triumph when, after about a dozen previous attempts, the shopkeeper actually understood first time my request for a box of matches:

"Einen Schachtel Streichhölzer, bitte!"

I found it a real bugger to pronounce properly.

The shopkeeper was probably Vietnamese and didn't have a scooby what you were on about.

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ive thought about leaving with the family to move to Hong Kong, as my wife is from there. but i find Cantonese completely incomprehensible. our little boy is kind of learning it from his Mum. he seems to understand what she says but doesnt speak much.

i like Hong Kong, ive visited it 7 times now, but there work ethic seems upside down, as in they work more than have a life.

Edited by cypher007

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The shopkeeper was probably Vietnamese and didn't have a scooby what you were on about.

Nah, he was German all right. You'd probably have found it easier than me, what with those ch's being pronounced a bit like the ch in Scottish 'loch'.

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If you take that attitude, you'll just end up in an expat ghetto, or totally isolated. Can't understand why people like that go anywhere in the first place.

When I first went to Italy I spoke not a word of it. The locals were incredibly friendly and helpful when I was struggling in the first few weeks. The harder bit was between about 2 and 6 months, when I could get by with more words than pointing-and-asking but was less than fluent, and they all wanted to try their "foreign" on me!

[/quote]

This invariably happens if you're an English speaker. Wherever you go in the world, unless it's a poor, peasant area, people want to practise their English on you.

A Swede or a Thai (for example) doesn't have this to impede them. They have to get on and try to speak/understand whatever it is.

No reason not to try, but it does make it that bit harder.

Mr B was based in Jakarta for a while and did make quite an effort to learn some Bahasa Indonesian. But even in a remote part of Sulawesi he had people eagerly asking him (in English) about the Premier League. And Mr B hasn't a f*cking clue about football. I was there on holiday at the time - it was quite funny really, seeing him pretend he knew what they were talking about

Edited by Mrs Bear

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If you take that attitude, you'll just end up in an expat ghetto, or totally isolated. Can't understand why people like that go anywhere in the first place.

When I first went to Italy I spoke not a word of it. The locals were incredibly friendly and helpful when I was struggling in the first few weeks. The harder bit was between about 2 and 6 months, when I could get by with more words than pointing-and-asking but was less than fluent, and they all wanted to try their "foreign" on me!

Perhaps Italians are more friendly? Certainly I have found that the French show no interest at all in the anglais, nor do they wish to learn English. It is much like you have no interest in teaching English to the Pakistani bloke who speaks Urdu. I know the names of most things, I know lots of verbs. However my French is very limited. Knowing how to say "another beer please" is not speaking the language, discussing the stories on the news is. If you can learn a foreign language in a year, then you have a great talent. Most middle age people will still be restricted after 10 years of immersion. Don't try to tell me they are all idiots. They are ex-professionals and I know lots of them.

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Nah, he was German all right. You'd probably have found it easier than me, what with those ch's being pronounced a bit like the ch in Scottish 'loch'.

Aye !

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I am in a similar position to yourself an we are planning on leaving the UK next year.

I also work in engineering / IT in software development.

Where are we moving? We are planning on moving to the Republic of Ireland as there are many IT jobs, the cost of housing is low, we like the countryside and don't mind the rain.

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Perhaps Italians are more friendly? Certainly I have found that the French show no interest at all in the anglais, nor do they wish to learn English. It is much like you have no interest in teaching English to the Pakistani bloke who speaks Urdu. I know the names of most things, I know lots of verbs. However my French is very limited. Knowing how to say "another beer please" is not speaking the language, discussing the stories on the news is. If you can learn a foreign language in a year, then you have a great talent. Most middle age people will still be restricted after 10 years of immersion. Don't try to tell me they are all idiots. They are ex-professionals and I know lots of them.

We've found Greeks very helpful if you make an effort. As someone said, they don't mind you doing your damnedest to murder their beautiful, ancient language. :)

Outside Paris, we've always found the French fine, too.

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This obviously makes it hard to process. As a simple example:

'I cannot find the key' would translate as 'I cannot the key find'

Same often with Polish, a Slavic rather than Germanic language. English is a Germanic language, so German is actually much easier than Polish

A lot of the time in other languages it's topsy turvy - sentences would literally translate to Keys, to cut a new one, where do I go? or Please, hospital I ask of you sir/madam, tell me the way to it

Once you get used to that, your're half way there

My time in Germany was the one and only time in my life when I had a telly: watching it helped with picking up the language!

Top advice, watch the news channel and comedies, anything that helps your brain recognise the general phonetics and where words begin and end.

The first words you will learn apart from the courtesies will be for foodstuffs, money, emergency service names. It takes about a year to be basic, 3 to 5 to be reasonable.

You can also try www.busuu.com as they have a community teaching languages to each other.

My favourite Polish sitcom btw, can't resist including it here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLLXL-aI5J8&feature=related

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...

A lot of the time in other languages it's topsy turvy - sentences would literally translate to Keys, to cut a new one, where do I go? or Please, hospital I ask of you sir/madam, tell me the way to it

Once you get used to that, your're half way there

In highly inflected languages such as German, where the articles and the endings of words indicate their function in the sentence, word order is usually quite flexible and is often changed for emphasis. This contrasts with English, where the word order usually dictates the meaning of the sentence.

For example:

"The dog bites the man."

could be simply rendered in German as

"Der Hund beisst den Mann."

or, if you wanted to emphasise that it is a particular man being bitten:

"Den Mann beisst der Hund."

It's the "der/den" that is important, not the position in the sentence. We don't have this freedom in English.

Edited by snowflux

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This is true however if you make these mistakes people will still understand what you mean - even if they screw their face up a bit. The same cannot be said for other languages like Polish or Hungarian. Say something the 'wrong' way and they won't have a clue what you are saying.

This is why I thin languages like German and English are probably so much easier to learn to get by with. You may sound like a bit of a divot - but the other person will get the jist of what you mean. Do the same in Hungary or China and they won't have the faintest clue what you are talking about.

Correct. It is a double edged sword. In Hungarian every letter of its 44 letter alphabet is pronounced in one way only. So you always know how to pronounce a word, which makes reading aloud quite easy. However, there are very subtle differences between some words so you have to get it right or you will be misunderstood, sometimes spectacularly (the words 'bus stop' and 'f*ck off' are very similar for example). You can't do the French trick of letting your voice trail off at the end of verbs if you can't remember how to conjugate them!

They also don't understand things being abbreviated, so if you point to a tram and say 'station?' which most people will take to mean 'does this go to the station?' they will think 'no, it's a tram' because you have to say the full sentence which is something like 'this the tram to goes the station to?' with exactly the right intonation and emphasis!

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This invariably happens if you're an English speaker. Wherever you go in the world, unless it's a poor, peasant area, people want to practise their English on you.

Up to a point, missus copper!

My Italian experience of that was a little different: people would practice their "foreign", regardless of whether it was English (the young), French (middle-aged people) or German (the elderly - and yes I'm generalising). Mostly I had trouble understanding any of the three, despite speaking two of those languages!

Of course, on the beaten track for tourism is a different story, where decent English is the norm.

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Correct. It is a double edged sword. In Hungarian every letter of its 44 letter alphabet is pronounced in one way only. So you always know how to pronounce a word, which makes reading aloud quite easy. However, there are very subtle differences between some words so you have to get it right or you will be misunderstood, sometimes spectacularly (the words 'bus stop' and 'f*ck off' are very similar for example). You can't do the French trick of letting your voice trail off at the end of verbs if you can't remember how to conjugate them!

They also don't understand things being abbreviated, so if you point to a tram and say 'station?' which most people will take to mean 'does this go to the station?' they will think 'no, it's a tram' because you have to say the full sentence which is something like 'this the tram to goes the station to?' with exactly the right intonation and emphasis!

Oh Lord. No wonder it took me two days to just work out how to ask for two pints.

Up to a point, missus copper!

My Italian experience of that was a little different: people would practice their "foreign", regardless of whether it was English (the young), French (middle-aged people) or German (the elderly - and yes I'm generalising). Mostly I had trouble understanding any of the three, despite speaking two of those languages!

Of course, on the beaten track for tourism is a different story, where decent English is the norm.

I suppose to get around this if you really wanted total immersion - you could just pretend you didn't speak English.

See that outside the box thinking. :D

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Perhaps Italians are more friendly? Certainly I have found that the French show no interest at all in the anglais, nor do they wish to learn English. It is much like you have no interest in teaching English to the Pakistani bloke who speaks Urdu. I know the names of most things, I know lots of verbs. However my French is very limited. Knowing how to say "another beer please" is not speaking the language, discussing the stories on the news is. If you can learn a foreign language in a year, then you have a great talent. Most middle age people will still be restricted after 10 years of immersion. Don't try to tell me they are all idiots. They are ex-professionals and I know lots of them.

My french experience is limited to traveling through, and I don't speak the language. But on the couple of occasions I've been in France I've made the effort and found the French friendly and helpful, too. Seems to me much more a matter of attitude.

Come to think of it, something like that happened just a few months ago in Brussels, of all places! Went into a Turkish-run restaurant and found they spoke not a word of English, so I struggled with my nonexistent French and eventually enjoyed a decent meal in a friendly place.

Likewise, if I found myself in the company of an Urdu speaker struggling with English but making an honest effort, I like to think I'd be helpful there. Not impossible, as I have family connections to Pakistan.

Edited by porca misèria

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Oh Lord. No wonder it took me two days to just work out how to ask for two pints.

Recently I was in a bar here that had only one draught beer. I said to the barmaid in Hungarian 'can I have a pint please?'. (well they use the metric system here, it's called a korso, but anyway) I had to ask three times and eventually she said 'a korso of what?' in English. I asked my girlfriend what the problem was and it turns out you can't just say you want a pint, you always have to say 'a pint of beer'. But to my English mind it was completely obvious what I wanted! Some of these foreigners are just stubborn! ;)

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There are some comments I would echo here.

In an international environment, particularly somewhere like Holland or Belgium, not too difficult to get by. Even doing an English language job, you need native speak to keep up with the office politics and so on.

I learned Dutch when I was 40. Easy grammar. And I was surprised how much better languages are taught now than when I went to school. You can learn quite quickly.

France is very sniffy if you're not fluent. I could work in Brussels with my French, but it wasn't good enough for Paris.

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There are some comments I would echo here.

In an international environment, particularly somewhere like Holland or Belgium, not too difficult to get by. Even doing an English language job, you need native speak to keep up with the office politics and so on.

I learned Dutch when I was 40. Easy grammar. And I was surprised how much better languages are taught now than when I went to school. You can learn quite quickly.

France is very sniffy if you're not fluent. I could work in Brussels with my French, but it wasn't good enough for Paris.

Paris is not France.

Beautiful city, tosspot population, whose only saving grace is that the women wear very expensive knickers.

Mind you, to find that out, you have to be fluent.....

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Never too late to learn a language as long as the desire is there. Few years ago wife's cousin learnt German for work, he was in his early 40's. He's now so fluent that when in Germany people think he's German! Apparently he even dreams in German. He does have the brain the size of a small moon though.

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You could try Malta or Cyprus, which are Commonwealth countries and EU, so English is spoken officially.

Do not go to Cyprus. There is no work out there, and the economy is flat-lining badly, and there is a lot of unemployment. I go out there regularly because my huband's family are Cypriot and it is noticeable how many businesses have closed in the last twelve months. It is also very expensive, very nepotistic and you will need Modern Greek to get any work outside the British expat sphere (and the British expat sphere has shrunk massively since 08). The additional problem is that Cypriots speak a strong dialect, to the extent you could call it another language, so even if you are fluent in Modern Greek, you will not necessarily understand what people are saying on the street.

Also salaries outside the public sector are dreadful. You cannot live on them, especially with a family. With IT, your best bet would be to try for a banking job, but you will need Modern Greek and probably, these days, MS Arabic for the Arab bank branches out there. Again, house prices are shocking: they are on a par with prices where I live in the North.

Also you will probably have to pay for your kids to go to a private school where some -- not all -- classes may be taught in English. This can be about £3/4K a year per child. If you send your child to a local state school, every lesson will be taught in Greek (and in some private schools, you still get teachers that will speak Cypriot) and they won't understand a thing. I also have to say that English children can be badly ostracised at Cypriot schools, especially girls (boys get on better because they play football, which is a universal language everywhere).

There is also a fair amount of animosity towards British expats (though many expats are so ostracised from the Cypriots, they do not realise it). A lot of Cypriots do not like the British bases, or do they like the flood of British expats that pushed land and housing costs beyond the reach of the average young Cypriot, and they are also a bit funny about British tourists -- British soldiers and young tourists have been involved in incidents that have killed young Cypriots in the past.

Unless you can secure a job before you go, I would say: strike Cyprus off the list.

However, even though it is not the the EU, I might be inclined to take a look at Turkey (though maybe not if I had a small family). The language is simpler as it has no irregular verbs, and the economy is stronger.

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ive thought about leaving with the family to move to Hong Kong, as my wife is from there. but i find Cantonese completely incomprehensible. our little boy is kind of learning it from his Mum. he seems to understand what she says but doesnt speak much.

i like Hong Kong, ive visited it 7 times now, but there work ethic seems upside down, as in they work more than have a life.

You won't need Cantonese to work in Hong Kong if you are in a multinational.

I learnt enough Cantonese to get by in standard situations with a few years of casual evening classes.

For a long term strategy, I'd recommend going with Mandarin which has only four tones rather than nine and will serve you well in China away from HK and Guangdong.

With the influx of mainlanders, you'll find Mandarin becoming more accepted in HK these days.

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I'm 39, have a young family, work in IT, live in England and have no foreign language skills. I'd like to learn German and move to Germany. Has anyone done this and how hard is it to do? Learning a foreign language in your forties to a level that will allow you to apply for jobs seems a tall order. Is it unrealistic? I don't have specific enough IT skills that would allow me to get a job abroad without speaking the language - basically I'm not that big a draw for employers. Even if I could speak fluent German, what are the chances of a German company employing a foreigner instead of a local?

Everyone talks about leaving on this forum, but I've never been optimistic about how practical it is.

I recall a (very) long dinner with a french family that ran to about seven courses over as many hours.my understanding about doubled in that time.i think that being thrown in the deep end like that is an excellent way to learn.

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France is very sniffy if you're not fluent. I could work in Brussels with my French, but it wasn't good enough for Paris.

I don't get this? French is French in Brussels or Paris!

Next door in Geneva they speak French its the same language

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Paris is not France.

Beautiful city, tosspot population, whose only saving grace is that the women wear very expensive knickers.

Mind you, to find that out, you have to be fluent.....

I learned fluent Chinese to discover most Chinese people are immature and materialistic on a scale Westerners can't imagine. Although I did eventually have a Chinese girlfriend who is neither of those things but more like a needle in a very large haystack.

My plan now is to use my Chinese skills to do business in China in future, but start learning Japanese so I can live in Japan for when I'm successful :lol:

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