Countries where people dont speak english? | General discussion | Forum

Countries where people dont speak english? | General discussion | Forum

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Countries where people dont speak english?
January 29, 2012
14:19
Olive
London
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Hello,

I am interested in speaking another language as well as the french, german and english I already speak. I would like to learn for business and charity work. What I liked about french is that many francophones do not try to speak english with you so I get to practise. But many germans are always trying to improve their already very good english.

What other language could I learn where some people in business and many ordinary people on the street dont speak a great deal of english? What are your experiences in Spain, China, Russia, Morroco particularly or any other countries?

thanks,

Olive

best wishes, Olive
January 29, 2012
17:46
Stuart H
London

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Native: English Welsh       Upper-Intermediate: Mandarin Indonesian  Basic: Spanish (Spain) French (France)    On the cards: German Hindi Portugese (Brazilian) Swahili
January 29, 2012
18:28
Olive
London
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Hello,

 

This is helpful. Although I found with french that I would mostly just persist speaking french until the other person gave up unless they asked if we could speak english. Then I would usually compromise.

 

I am interested to know for specific countries. For example, with chinese, do you find that most people, particularly young people speak english to you?

best wishes, Olive
January 29, 2012
18:55
Sunlight

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I think this topic is a bit stupid. Do you really speak four languages? I don't think you do. If you were a polyglot, you wouldn't have to ask such a basic question.

You can't force people to speak a particular language with you. You just can't. All you can do is speak THEIR language. I don't know why people don't get it.

 

You don't even need someone else to practice. If you were that motivated, you'd ask questions in the foreign language subsection of this forum.

 

P.S.: I'm French, and you'd find it impossible to make me switch to French during a conversation because I'd simply tell you that you can speak French to me if you want to, but that I'll keep on speaking English. I only make exceptions with people who specifically ask for help with French, or with people I highly respect.

January 30, 2012
05:43
Saim
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Countries where people don't speak English?[/color]

I.e., most of them.

native (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Flag_of_England.svg/22px-Flag_of_England.svg.png); B2 (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Flag_of_Serbia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Serbia.svg.png http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ce/Flag_of_Catalonia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Catalonia.svg.png http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fc/Flag_of_Spain.svg/22px-Flag_of_Mexico.svg.png ); B1 (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg.png http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Flag_of_Pakistan.svg/22px-Flag_of_Pakistan.svg.png); A2 (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6b/Dialects_Of_Punjabi.jpg/300px-Dialects_Of_Punjabi.jpg)
January 30, 2012
06:41
duckshirt
Koblenz, DE

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I think Olive is just asking, in people's experiences (of countries he/she hasn't been to), which countries' people are more or less likely to try to talk to you in English.  Of course in any country, you can get people to speak their language (most people really aren't that stubborn), plus they won't necessarily even find out you're an English speaker.  

Native: English Conversational: Spanish Dutch Basic (on hold): French

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January 30, 2012
10:16
Olive
London
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Hello,

 

I speak english (mother tongue), French (advanced), German (intermediate) but I would like to learn another over a number of years due to an interest in languages and a short attention span.

 

I just meant that, for example, I found in the Czech Republic or Sweden that most people speak English or are really motivated and confident to try. But in France, some people are happy to speak french with you - although I don't force them! Then means that it is easier to practise and more easily applicable. Its clear that in some countries people will be more likely to speak English with you. But I have no experience of how this is in Spain, Portugal, China and many other countries and I wondered what people found on their travels.

best wishes, Olive
January 30, 2012
16:09
kaibri
Beijing, China

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I don't think it's a stupid question.  I do think it's a bad reason to actually choose to learn a language, but it's obviously true that in some places you will find more advanced English speakers than others. No harm in sharing experiences.

I studied in Germany and had the same experience as you - most people just spoke English to me.  I was passionate about learning German, so I found people willing to speak the language with me, but it was often a struggle. 

I recently moved to China, and have found that people would mostly rather speak Chinese.  Many people don't speak good English, but even the ones that do (like most of the people at my company) only speak English with you if they think it's what you want or if you don't understand at all.  They are generally happy to go back to Chinese if that's your preference, even if they have fantastic English. 

 

When I lived in Taiwan my experiences were mixed, but I think that's because I was teaching English so my Taiwanese co-workers were English teachers who obviously really enjoyed speaking English.  Random people on the street would speak Chinese.

Native: English Speaks: Mandarin (HSK 5), German Next up:  Indonesian, Portuguese
January 30, 2012
17:00
Casiopea
Spain

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I don't think it's a stupid question either.

 

I can't talk about my personal experience as a language learner in Spain, but I can tell you what I think as a native speaker. In general, Spaniards aren't good at English, in fact, surveys show that the 65% of the Spanish population doesn't speak or talk any English at all.

 

As an example, not so long ago a poor lost tourist approached me in the tube and asked me timidly "¿habla inglés?" (Do you speak English?). When I answered I did all he could say was "thank God!". He told me he had been looking for someone who could explain him why the metro wasn't working as expected (of course, all the signs warning about the change were in Spanish) for more than 30 minutes. We talked for a while and he said the best he had heard so far was a "sorry, I don't understand".

 

However, English is usually spoken in the most touristic places (at hotels, restaurants, bars…) and it's also true that the knowledge of English is higher among universitary students (and youngsters in general) than in other older age groups.

 

I would like to hear someone's experience as a real Spanish learner or tourist here, though.

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January 30, 2012
17:48
Sunlight

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Still, I think it's ludicrous to choose a language based upon the level of a group of people in English. Here's how I see it: speak to the person in English if you want to, and use another language when you feel like it. There are much more interesting things to talk about, like language methods.

And as I said, the language the other person speaks is not something you can control, but you can control which language YOU choose to speak.

For a long time, I thought that I had to find "monolingual" English speakers. I couldn't have been more wrong. Most people are "inherently" monolingual, and your showing them that you kind of speak their language is usually enough to make them switch to their native language.

 

Let's face it, most people are lazy. If you offer them the opportunity to have a nice conversation in their native language, they're usually happy. Benny wrote a whole blog post on that issue. Also, you'll find English speakers everywhere, even on remote islands of the Pacific.

Again, the fact that you asked such a question in English worries me a bit. Maybe the answers you got are super helpful to you, I don't know, but I don't think you're dealing with this "problem" in the right way. This is a non-problem, by the way.

 

Oh, and if you speak the language, you'll find a way to use it. I only speak English to a couple of French people because it just happened. If they switch back to French for some reason, I'll do the same for a bit, then go back to English. If you sound English in the foreign language, find a way to deal with it, then lie about your nationality. (Say you speak some obscure language like swahili.)

January 30, 2012
18:22
fluorescence
Dublin, Ireland

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Sunlight said:

Still, I think it's ludicrous to choose a language based upon the level of a group of people in English. Here's how I see it: speak to the person in English if you want to, and use another language when you feel like it. There are much more interesting things to talk about, like language methods.

And as I said, the language the other person speaks is not something you can control, but you can control which language YOU choose to speak.

For a long time, I thought that I had to find "monolingual" English speakers. I couldn't have been more wrong. Most people are "inherently" monolingual, and your showing them that you kind of speak their language is usually enough to make them switch to their native language.

 

Let's face it, most people are lazy. If you offer them the opportunity to have a nice conversation in their native language, they're usually happy. Benny wrote a whole blog post on that issue. Also, you'll find English speakers everywhere, even on remote islands of the Pacific.

Again, the fact that you asked such a question in English worries me a bit. Maybe the answers you got are super helpful to you, I don't know, but I don't think you're dealing with this "problem" in the right way. This is a non-problem, by the way.

 

Oh, and if you speak the language, you'll find a way to use it. I only speak English to a couple of French people because it just happened. If they switch back to French for some reason, I'll do the same for a bit, then go back to English. If you sound English in the foreign language, find a way to deal with it, then lie about your nationality. (Say you speak some obscure language like swahili.)

Way to be incredibly insulting and offensive. She was just asking what other people's experiences were in various countries, not necessarily basing her decisions on the answers. It's actually quite an interesting subject. Some countries (like Scandinavian ones) tend to have populations with near-flawless English who like to practise, whereas other countries like France prefer to speak French. Other countries have populations with very little knowledge or passion for English and you would definitely be required to speak the native tongue there.

Get off your high horse and try to be a bit more open-minded about other people's language learning ventures. Just because this is all so obvious or unnecessary to you, doesn't make it a topic unworthy of discussion or debate.

Native: English (UK) (Hiberno) English Studying: Swedish Swedish Speaks poorly: Irish & French French [Going to work on these after Swedish] Wish List: Mandarin Japanese Japanese Farsi Farsi  Dutch Dutch
January 30, 2012
19:10
Sunlight

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Way to be incredibly insulting and offensive.

I didn't insult anyone. This is "trololol" as some would say. Sorry if you're so easily upset, I don't think I was being mean.

January 31, 2012
09:59
Olive
London
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Hello,

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I like that kaibri said that many people in China will speak chinese with you even if you are not fluent. I have only met chinese people in england, and they really wanted to learn english (because they came to study).

 

I will still learn a bit of Czech because I am going there on holiday, even though I found that most people spoke english anyway. I also met an irish guy who had tried to learn Czech but everyone wanted to practise their english on him. My dad has spent a lot of time in the Czech republic and found the same thing, although he quite liked it because he isn't into languages.

 

When I met spanish people in France, and also worked with some, I found that they spoke spanish with each other quite a lot so I would expect that learning spanish would be directly applicable.

 

In germany whilst young people always insisted we spoke english, and I could just compromise by asking them to speak german sometimes  - this was even the case in a small town with few students! However, some friendly people who weren't so interested in languages would speak german. I found that spending time with families was useful because of course they would speak german to each other. Also, the older generation tend not to speak english or just some words. They were very patient with my german speaking!

 

Still, there are many countries and languages about which I have no idea, such as portuguese, japanese and chinese. Very interesting languages and cultures. Please don't jump to conclusions about my language learning choices. I am sure some of you will have totally different views from living in or visiting the same countries - its good to hear it!

best wishes, Olive
January 31, 2012
11:25
NKellyEmerald
Dublin, Ireland

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Sunlight said:

And as I said, the language the other person speaks is not something you can control, but you can control which language YOU choose to speak.

If it didn't matter what language was being spoken back to you, couldn't you (by this logic) just practise by talking to a wall in your target language for a couple hours a day? I mean, my friends aren't particularly into languages but I could spend all day speaking to them in Polish but I doubt I'd really get anywhere with it...

Native:   Gaeilge,  English Studies:  Polish On Hold:  Spanish Next:  Italian
Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
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