My husband and I are both Australian, the closest we have to any understanding of other languages would be the thick accent my Irish FIL speaks in and of course any basic Spanish attempts I made when I was in South America, or the very basic French used in France, French Canada and New Caledonia. Which I can confirm did not go beyond “hello” “yes” “no” “no more” “stop” “how much” “thank you” and “cheese” (not a joke – cheese is life).
So with our incredible holiday next year being planned and including France, Copenhagen, the Faroe Islands and Norway – we really need to devise some kind of plan here. I did minimal French in early high school and G did Italian but so far the phrases we both seem to remember from school is “Pardonnez-moi” and “apri la porta” (excuse me and open the door, respectively).
Where do we start? Where do two Australians, in their 30’s start to learn a new language? I am well aware that Scandinavian’s are likely to have a better handle on English than most Australian’s, but still – we want to make the effort. We want to try and we don’t really want to be laughed at or be mistaken as ignorant travellers, not having a go at the local language!
We have bought our Lonely Planet translation guide, we’ve downloaded apps to our phones and we are ready to give this everything we’ve got. Do we switch it up? Do I focus on French and Norwegian and G learns Danish and Norwegian? Meeting somewhere in the middle? Apparently Danish and Norwegian are virtually identical, so that’s good! French is its own beast and of course it’s all well and good to learn another language, but after my dismal attempts at Spanish – once I got to South America and saw how quickly everyone was speaking it – I pretty much gave up!
Have you learned another language later in life? What are your tips? Did you learn online, with audio, books or in person with a tutor? Do we just learn the basics? Our greetings, our please and thank-you’s?
When a tourist stops you in the street and communicates with you and English is clearly not their first language, how do you help them? Do you help them? Share with us your tips and tricks!