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Subject: Foreign language learning among coworkers... rss

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David C
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On a given day I may hear one or more of Korean, Tagalog, Swahili, French, Tamil, Hindi, Cantonese, Spanish, and Mandarin spoken in the office. I was curious about asking if someone would put on a small workshop or two, just to learn a thing or two about each language.

Now, I don't know how to approach this, or even if it should be approached.

1.) Is this inviting coworkers to greet those language speakers with "How do I get to the library"? At which point, this is bad.

2.) Is this something they would be interested in being approached with?

3.) Is this kind of pointless, because no one learns enough conversation in 2-3 hours to be worth any time at all.

...and can I expect folks to show-up?

Bonus: Who here has practiced Spanish when ordering fast food, and how has that turned-out?
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Key Locks
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Sounds like a good idea. A little more cultural awareness never hurt anybody.
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If you think they're talking about you, then it's a good idea.
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午餐先生
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As a former educator that specialized in teaching a foreign language, I have two thoughts.

1. Some of those languages are going to be difficult in varying degrees to learn due to their relative linguistic distance to the primary languages of the participants.

Huh?

Basically, lots of language groups there with different roots. Lots of different sounds, lots of different grammar, lots of different concepts. and the more 'foreign' in sound or grammar they are to a person, the more difficult it may be.

2. Some people really don't know how to teach. Like, at all.

Now having said that, I think its a great idea if you can come up with a structure that makes sense. For example, cover basic greetings and maybe some foods. Maybe introduce some famous actors or singers and tell folks how to pronounce those names.

Using stuff that is relevant to people (food, pop culture, etc) is automatically engaging and makes it easier for folks to want to share things they care about.

My 2¢.

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午餐先生
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Oh and 3 phrases I think are indispensable are:
Hello.
Thank you.
Where is the bathroom?

Bonus if you can learn: "I cannot speak X" where X=the language being spoken. It causes the greatest looks of confusion if said correctly.
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Andy Andersen
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mister lunch wrote:
Oh and 3 phrases I think are indispensable are:
Hello.
Thank you.

Where is the bathroom?

Bonus if you can learn: "I cannot speak X" where X=the language being spoken. It causes the greatest looks of confusion
if said correctly.


Anything else is a bonus. whistle
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Peter Brichs
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While the idea is good, maybe it would be better to consider having each person tel a bit about their cultural background, and explaining a few customs from their homeland. This type of cultural udnerstanding can be indispensable for understanding why dolleagues does things the way they do.

We had this at a palce I worked, and it was awesome. So much understanding.
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Mark Finch
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Rule changes for tonight's game:-
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Brichs wrote:
While the idea is good, maybe it would be better to consider having each person tel a bit about their cultural background, and explaining a few customs from their homeland. This type of cultural udnerstanding can be indispensable for understanding why dolleagues does things the way they do.

We had this at a palce I worked, and it was awesome. So much understanding.


Perhaps start off with food? Some kind of 'bring a culturally-significant snack' day. It's a bit of an icebreaker and is likely to draw people in.
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Peter Brichs
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MFinch wrote:
Brichs wrote:
While the idea is good, maybe it would be better to consider having each person tel a bit about their cultural background, and explaining a few customs from their homeland. This type of cultural udnerstanding can be indispensable for understanding why dolleagues does things the way they do.

We had this at a palce I worked, and it was awesome. So much understanding.


Perhaps start off with food? Some kind of 'bring a culturally-significant snack' day. It's a bit of an icebreaker and is likely to draw people in.


Yes, that is a great idea.
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Michael Tagge
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Test
Maybe it's jus
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David K
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mister lunch wrote:
Oh and 3 phrases I think are indispensable are:
Hello.
Thank you.
Where is the bathroom?

Bonus if you can learn: "I cannot speak X" where X=the language being spoken. It causes the greatest looks of confusion if said correctly.


I'm from Toronto but I used to visit Montreal several times a year, and one of the first things I learned to say in French was "I don't speak French". I often saw the look you're talking about, as if to say "You just told me in perfect French that you don't speak French. Are you taking the piss?".

One time when I lived in Montreal I was on the subway when two guys got on who let everyone within earshot know that they were from the US (which is irrelevant, I have nothing against Americans) and that they thought speaking French was the neatest thing ever. They then proceeded to make themselves look like idiots by succeeding in mis-pronouncing everything they tried to say in French. From the looks of the people around them I could see that they were thinkiing the same thing, so when one of these guys spoke to me in English I told him in French that I didn't speak English. After they got off, people on the subway were laughing at the stupid Anglos. Then one the other passengers, who had heard me say that I didn't speak English, spoke to me in French, and I had to explain that I was actually an Anglophone, and I had told the other guys otherwise because I didn't anyone to hear me speak English and then associate me with them. Which I imagine could have made me look like another idiot.

When I lived in Japan I stopped answering the phone in Japanese because when I did whoever was on the other end would lanuch into mile-a-minute Japanese that I couldn 't make heads or tails of. Then I'd have to explain that I didn't actually speak Japanese. Of course, when I answered the phone in English people would often respond by saying "Ah...ah...ah" and then hang up without me ever knowing who they were.

In response to the OP, start simple. I can say things like "hello", "goodbye", or the all-important "you're beautiful" in about 20 languages precisely because I like to ask my co-workers how to say these things while we work together. (Tamil was the most difficult--lots of vowels and it's spoken really fast). In my experience, most people don't mind being asked such things unless they're busy, and it establishes basic things, like that you aren't a bigot for one. They might think you sound funny at the beginning, but if you show genuine interest and at least make an effort to do it right, you'll get respect for the effort.
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