View Full Version : Study Abroad . . . if you've done it, I want to hear about it
I really have two questions, both assuming you went to a foreign country that speaks a different language.
1. What was it like?
2. Can you speak that language fluently now?
If you DID learn the language, what level were your skills when you went?
good question. i'd like to hear some answers as well. :)
02-09-04, 08:12 PM
ok basiccally when i was 5 years old, my parents moved my family to the usa. I came from poland knowing no english at all zero zip!!. Ok so the first couple of months basically sucked, I didnt know anyone or the language so i couldnt make friends. But then I went to school and theyput me on the asl program. After about 1/2 a year i got the hang of the english language. Now all i can say is that its good to know polish, english, and on my second year of spanish!!:D
02-09-04, 08:42 PM
Not me Personally But a Girl on my University Wrestling team did her co op in Japan,
teaching English, she was a Education Student,
She went knowing only the Japanise she learned from a traslation book, but came back speeking it after 18 months, which sounds kinda funny comming out of a blonde white girl with a soft voice.
hmmmmm . . . 18 months. Let's put a time limit of no more than 6 months . . . I don't know that I'd want to be away for that long. I like holidays and snow and such (we get lots in Boston, though I think this year might have been what they call a disappointment . . .)
Unless you have a base before you go, 6 months will probably not help you. The exception would be an immersion program where you go to school all day to learn the language, and where you actually do your homework.
I taught for 2 years in Japan after studying Japanese for 2 years in University. I was at about the intermediate level when I left. I understood a lot more than I took in and I could have basic conversations. I was not in a classroom any of that time, and I pretty much plateaued out after a year. I did not study seriously.
I had no background in Polish and taught in Poland for a year as well. My Polish never came near my Japanese. Pidgin at best. I could perform specific tasks, like get a haircut, shop in the grocery store, and order a beer. Again, I never formally studied.
The big think in my opinion (as a language teacher) is to get into a program that's focused on your goals. If you want to make rapid progress it will take a lot of work. You will not learn by osmosis. It's also hard because, as an English speaker, you may not be forced to use the target language--a comparitively large number of people speak English.
The main thing I got out of my time overseas was a really different perspective on the world. I am wildly different in my political affiliation, particularly with respect to foreign policy. I really feel like I grew as a person. And of course I had great experiences and made great friends, many of which I still keep up with--next year will be the 10th anniversary of my arrival in Japan.
I recommend the experience to everyone, but recommend immersion in the local culture.
Well . . . background is too non-specific. I've taken Spanish since "Super Saturday" in first grade, skipping onnly 2nd grade and Senior year . . . I know a lot of words, and if I were given a newspaper, I could get a general idea of what's doiin'. What I DON'T know would be conjuguations(sp) and preterite and stuff. It was taught maybe three times, and I simply never picked it up. I don't want to be somewhere where I can't talk to anyone because I can't speak the language, despite the fact that I might learn it faster. I don't think I could handle an immersion program, at least not without taking a look at a few. Know of any good ones with information on the Intarweb? That'd be real nice. If I had no background in spanish, I wouldn't hope to leave speaking it. I know a lot of people don't pick it up simply by going abroad, even with a strong background. I'd say my background is limited. This summer, I'm going to try to pick up some books in Spanish and see what I can make of them . . .
I think it would be fun to be in an immersion program of some sort. But when I truly need something I'd like to use english. Especially if its an emergency.
02-10-04, 10:34 AM
I don't think I have ever seen programs that are only 6 months Abroad, unless you are doing something like Science and went to a Country that was the same language as your native country
02-10-04, 11:30 AM
I assume you talk english only. I moved from germany to the UK when I was 11. I also went to the german school london which meant i spoke all day germany to germany friends german teachers went home with german friends and german parents. after about 2 year I could understand stuff on TV and talk person to person. pretty much I pretty much suckerd. I then left the german school and all my german friends and went to a english college. after 1 year my english was perfect speaking listening. etc
I would say you need at least 1 year to become good at a language that included a lot of speaking and learning. within 2 3 years of really talking listening all day you could speak it fluently.
6 months is not enough.
Do you life in Boston? If you do! DONT LEAVE BOSTON, stay there. god is the nicest cleanest friendliest city I have ever been to. i loved it.
I go to college in Boston. I live in Cincinnati Ohio, and THAT is a nasty place to live. Terrible weather.
I don't have three years to spend learning Spanish . . . I would need something to make my time there worthwhile, (like a job or something) and one would likely need to speak Spanish to have a job.
Did you have any background in English before you moved? Also, I think that if you went to a German school and spoke mostly German, then saying that it took you a few years to learn English is a little misleading. Not that I'd be speaking Spanish all the time either, but I think studying abroad might make me speak the language a little more frequently . . .
02-10-04, 04:32 PM
I was an exchange student in the Netherlands. I speak only English fluently. The Dutch love to speak English though (for practice) and almost everyone speaks english what I would consider fluently.
Many Europenan countries are the same way. In Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic (places I went) I had little trouble finding people that spoke english. I could have lived there and been fine.
f you are looking to LEARN a language, en exchange program will help, but if you are just looking for a fun time (and MAN was Holland fun), pick a country where english is a major second language.
I HIGHLY recomend the Netherlands. They are very friendly people, its easy to communicate, and central for travel. Their train system connects almost every community, so you have no need for a car.
Looking to learn if at all possible. I'm not happy with school right now. . . thinking studying abroad and learning spanish might change things around for me. Maybe an intensive program . . .
02-10-04, 09:02 PM
Originally posted by germanjulian
Do you life in Boston? If you do! DONT LEAVE BOSTON, stay there. god is the nicest cleanest friendliest city I have ever been to. i loved it. lol
I did 2 months in Greece (summer vacation) and it was almost immersion as a few of my cousins and one uncle spoke almost fluent English. If they all didnt speak so much English I would be much more able to speak Greek. My cousin is a good example since his side of the family doesnt speak English and he speaks Greek fluently.
I would definitely pick up as much of the language before you go if I were you. Then when you get there distance yourself from English speaking people and talk talk talk. Eavesdrop if you have to.
Ever notice when you speak English to someone who doesnt speak it well? Usually you slow your words down and even use incorrect English (at least I do). Thats bad. Last thing you want is for someone you are relying on learning the language from to do that to you.
Sidenote do we capitolize English and Greek?
Methinks only if you're referring to a person . . .? I honestly have no idea
02-10-04, 09:21 PM
I took French while in Europe and now I speak that badly but fluently. In fact, I have taken a language course in most countries I have been too. I can get around, eat, and live in most places now. Languagfe classes help alot!
I speak: Japanese, Greek, Italian, English, German, Tai, Korean, and French with varying degrees of profeciency.
P.S. My Girlfriend just got back from Italy after spending 3 months there taking Italian. She now speaks it near extremely well.
02-11-04, 05:43 AM
When I was 5 we moved to england for 5 years. I started my school there, and ofcourse had to study in english. When I got there I did'nt speak a word of english, when I left it was more fluent then my finnish. (which needed work)
At an older age I moved to Lebanon for 4 years. I learned enough arabic to get by, and enough french to make myself clearly understood. At this point I also learned that it's not enough to want to learn the foreign language, you need to be around people who let you speak it. Most of the people I encountered where thrilled with the chance to practise their english or french, meaning I could rarely get to practise my arabic even if I tried. I only learnt french there because I went out with a girl who did'nt speak english.
I have alot of foreign friends here in finland, and especially the ones living in Helsinki compain that they don't learn finnish due to people allways speaking in english to them. Everybody loves the practise! :)
I think I can speak fluent finnish, english and french. I can get by in arabic and swedish, and have previously spoken fairly good danish, german and russian. (now mostly forgotten)
That's a lot of languages! I'd be happy with just two :)
02-11-04, 07:23 AM
Ofcourse it's one thing to learn to speak a language, and another to learn to write it. I can only write in finnish and english, and "sort of" read french.
I think it's easy to learn to speak a language if you are somewhere where you get to use it alot. It's just as easy to forget it once you stop using it...
What do you mean by "forget" it? I understand that one might need practice after having not used it for a while, but does one truly forget it? That seems like an issue . . .
Any word on intensive programs?
02-11-04, 10:46 AM
Well... After not using a language for a while, I start mixing them all togeather :)
If I start using it again it comes back though.
That's good. I'd hate to go abroad, learn a language, and then forget it :)
02-12-04, 04:15 AM
I think you can remember 2-3 languages pretty easily without mixing them up togeather. :)
Once you decide where to go, I'd advice you to take some short language course, or just get a book and read it through before even going there. Being able to, and really trying to speak the native language from the start, (even if only a few words) will make learning alot faster.
That's what I intend to do if I go. I don't want to take a language course in school unless I have to, because I always got bad grades in them. But I agree that I should try and prepare myself as well as possible.
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