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View Poll Results: Could you?
Yes 77 85.56%
No 13 14.44%
Voters: 90. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-01-2009, 03:52 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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To those from an English speaking country like the US, UK, Australia, could you live in a non-English speaking country long term?

I probably could, but not permanently or for longer than a few years...it'd be too weird speaking another language for that long, although of course I'd learn some of the language if I did move.

If I did, maybe somewhere in South America, Italy, Greece, Japan or even China.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:56 AM
 
Location: Sweden
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I am actually.
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Old 04-01-2009, 04:11 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
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Well I'm French and had no trouble living in various different non Francophone countries so it can't be that hard to abandon your Native tongue !

Learning new languages is to me anyway a great joy and part of learning about new cultures and I personally relish it. And once you are immersed in a new country there are no reasons why you can't learn a new Language. People do it all the time.

English has now become my easiest language ( I hardly ever get to speak French nowadays) and trust me , your second languague becomes a second skin really quickly ( if you are actually trying ) and I started dreaming and thinking in English within months of living in the US . French is now my second language despite being my native tongue.

Languages are what we make of it. It's a question of diving in and the will to adapt.
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Old 04-01-2009, 06:41 AM
 
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I have, with no problem. I've lived in Switzerland (Schweitzerdeutsch/German area) and France. If you make an effort to learn some of the language, the residents are always grateful.
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong
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When I found out we were moving to Hong Kong, I never thought twice about the language aspect. I just saw it as a chance to learn to speak another language - even though Cantonese wouldn't have been my first choice (definitely would've preferred French or Spanish!), I still love it. No-one expects you to be able to speak or understand Chinese so when you do, you certainly get some interesting reactions.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:00 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,544 posts, read 56,060,466 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
Well I'm French and had no trouble living in various different non Francophone countries so it can't be that hard to abandon your Native tongue !

Learning new languages is to me anyway a great joy and part of learning about new cultures and I personally relish it. And once you are immersed in a new country there are no reasons why you can't learn a new Language. People do it all the time.

English has now become my easiest language ( I hardly ever get to speak French nowadays) and trust me , your second languague becomes a second skin really quickly ( if you are actually trying ) and I started dreaming and thinking in English within months of living in the US . French is now my second language despite being my native tongue.

Languages are what we make of it. It's a question of diving in and the will to adapt.
Really? I read somewhere that you'll generally think and dream in your mother tongue, the language you first learned in your formative years.

I can't imagine thinking in another language, actually. Forgive my seeming pride, but English is as much a part of the world to me as gravity or the sun.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:01 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,544 posts, read 56,060,466 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkgal View Post
When I found out we were moving to Hong Kong, I never thought twice about the language aspect. I just saw it as a chance to learn to speak another language - even though Cantonese wouldn't have been my first choice (definitely would've preferred French or Spanish!), I still love it. No-one expects you to be able to speak or understand Chinese so when you do, you certainly get some interesting reactions.
Was that (learning Cantonese) fairly rare among the ex-pats in Hong Kong? I went to Hong Kong once, in 2006, and actually was surprised by how few understood English. I was expecting maybe 25-30% could, it seemed closer to 5-10%!
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong
339 posts, read 1,169,242 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Was that (learning Cantonese) fairly rare among the ex-pats in Hong Kong? I went to Hong Kong once, in 2006, and actually was surprised by how few understood English. I was expecting maybe 25-30% could, it seemed closer to 5-10%!
Many expats make a half-hearted attempt to learn and give up at the first hurdle (and there are many hurdles!). I would guess that we'd be talking only a handful of expats who are fluent in Cantonese. In fact, its so rare that they made a TV series about them!! More try to learn Mandarin, for obvious reasons, however that's a bit silly since hardly anyone speaks that here either.

As for English here, you'll find it spoken pretty well in specific pockets i.e. Central or the expat enclaves, however in most of Hong Kong you're lucky if you can make yourself understood. That's a misconception that so many visitors have, that everyone knows english here. It's nowhere near the level of Singapore, whose diverse population requires a common language. 95% of the HK population's mother tongue is Canto. I live in a Chinese area near the border so I can forget relying on english to get around.

As for dreaming...I don't dream in Cantonese (I wish I were that advanced), rather I dream about it...particularly if I have a lesson coming up and I haven't done my study!!
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,026 posts, read 24,628,555 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Really? I read somewhere that you'll generally think and dream in your mother tongue, the language you first learned in your formative years.

I can't imagine thinking in another language, actually. Forgive my seeming pride, but English is as much a part of the world to me as gravity or the sun.

I haven't dreamt in French in over 20 years now. I lived in the US for 3 years before moving to the UK and was fluent within 3 months or so. It was a sink or swim situation and survival is a great incentive !

I actually find it much harder speaking French nowadays, perhaps because apart from reading "le Monde" and other French papers , and watching TV5 the International Francophone channel I have little to do with the language on a daily basis. I tend to Anglicise a lot of French words which used to bother my beloved late Grand -Mother.
I can switch between two languages easily and don't get me wrong I am still perfectly fluent but French is definitely harder than English now. All my thinking is in English and has been since I lived in the US. French people always compliment me on my perfect fluent French because they think I am English or American, so I guess i have a slight English accent... It's quite amusing to see them look impressed . I was told many times that I could be a Native which is hilarious !

But then again regarding thinking and dreaming in English, I have always read a lot , have a reasonable ear for languages and I also have a great interest in the spoken and written word ( such as going to plays or films a lot) which helps immensely.

And English is a ludicrously easy language IMO. I took German and Russian at school and that was much, much harder !

I love the French language ( I recently went to a French play in Oxford and it brought it home to me what a beautiful language it truly is) but it is not who I am.

I always try to learn at least a minimum of the language whichever country I visit, because to me languages are so fascinating and give you such a great insight into new cultures. Languages are as much a window into a Nation's soul as the eyes are into a human being. Anyone who has ever read Russian or German novels will attest to that I am sure.

I really ought to keep up my French better , I have a few French books on my bedside table at the moment but English is definitely now my first language.

Sometimes I think I just make my life easier because English is so much easier and chastise myself for being lazy.
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Old 04-01-2009, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
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My only experience is a couple of very extended stays with relatives in Germany....but I think I could adjust to living there on a permanent basis fairly well. I have found that even if you do not necessarily speak the language well, most people, I think, appreciate the fact that you do make at least a good attempt to try. Its really not too difficult though for an American in Germany.....most everyone I met spoke English extremely well The funny thing I did discover was that most had never heard English spoken with such a thick Southern accent - ha! My German was even more "unique". It made for some interesting conversations....I must say that I highly recommend visiting there. The people are really great!
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