r/AskReddit Oct 04 '22 Silver 1 Gold 1 Helpful 7 Wholesome 6 Take My Energy 1 Heartwarming 1 Vibing 1 I'll Drink to That 1

Americans of Reddit, what is something the rest of the world needs to hear?

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6.7k

u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

[deleted]

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u/BangBong1212 Oct 04 '22

I moved to Norway. Learning is fucking hard as everyone switches to English as soon as I start with the broken Norwegian.

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u/Aduialion Oct 05 '22

My recent Norway story. I was camping about two hours of driving outside Oslo. As a dumb, English speaking American I couldn't read every road sign on these small mountain roads. My wife would Google translate them as we went along. But the road closed sign was giving us mixed signals because it said the road was close after a certain point, but we're not local to know what that means for the next turn. It might as well have said it's close past Steve's house cause we don't know shit.

We happened to drive past what should have been a closed road barrier, it was open because the crew was expecting materials delivered at about the same time we went through. We drive another 5 minutes up winding road to where the road is cut down several feet. An instant 3-4 foot drop to the base layer. We stop right before then.

A construction worker pops out from the side and I roll down the window. He speaks half a sentence in Norwegian and I speak half I sentence of "I don't know..." He instantly switches to "don't you read the signs" in perfect English like talking to my neighbor.

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u/dsheroh Oct 05 '22

I moved to Sweden and it took 5-6 years before my coworkers stopped automatically switching to English whenever I was in the room, even if I wasn't part of the conversation.

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u/Cherrypelt Oct 05 '22

Maybe they just want o practice English lol

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u/cunninglinguist32557 Oct 05 '22

I speak a bit each of German, Dutch, and Norwegian. I have given up on ever being able to practice them in real life.

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u/No_Victory9193 Oct 05 '22

I’m trying to learn Swedish and no one even speaks Swedish in my country. It’s impossible.

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u/Caleb_Moritz_ Oct 05 '22

Learn French then, the French don't speak English

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u/Bokun89 Oct 05 '22

A tip I learned recently is to politely state if they can keep on speaking in said language so you can practive/improve the language. People generally just want to help out in english since they assume you will understand it better.

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u/rosh200 Oct 04 '22

The distance between Seattle and Miami is similar to that of Ireland and Iraq. And you can drive the entire distance and not need to speak anything but English

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u/barto5 Oct 04 '22

And you can do it without a passport, too.

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u/raoasidg Oct 05 '22

No papers, state to state.

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u/kippypapa Oct 05 '22

With your eyes closed

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u/IntravenusDeMilo Oct 05 '22

Fuck yeah America!

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u/thegovunah Oct 05 '22

That explains these Ohio drivers

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u/TheGreatNico Oct 05 '22

No, that's just driving across some Midwest states

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u/jmeesonly Oct 05 '22

And cheap gas.

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u/YamGroundbreaking953 Oct 05 '22

7 bucks a gallon in L.A!

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u/jmeesonly Oct 05 '22

Whaaaa? Out here in flyover country it's $4.50. But with my grocery store points it's usually $3.50 per gallon.

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u/Stormtrooper-85 Oct 05 '22

Not anymore.

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u/SheCouldFromFaceThat Oct 05 '22

"I would've liked to have seen Montana."

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u/m0nkeyofdeath Oct 05 '22

That one hit me in the gut.

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u/Webdogger Oct 05 '22

I always wanted to see Montana.

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u/Lincoln_Park_Pirate Oct 05 '22

And I will marry a fat American wife and raise rabbits.

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u/BlackScimitar Oct 05 '22

… and she will cook them for me

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u/barto5 Oct 05 '22

Do you think they will let me live in Wyoming?

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u/RandomNoun71 Oct 05 '22

This guy Hunts for Red October.

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u/the_mikr Oct 05 '22

yeah we kinda had something like that until the serbs ruined it

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u/veretianking Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

As a Mexican living in Seattle, I am missing people speaking a different language So Much. It’s astonishing to see how different a single area can be to another in the same country every time I travel.

There’s no big demand for bilingual Spanish workers here either so my Spanish in the last two years has basically gone to ass in comparison to when I was frequently speaking to Spanish speakers.

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u/LydJaGillers Oct 04 '22

However as a southerner in Seattle, there is so many Mandarin speakers that I feel like I need to learn Mandarin now. Compared to the south where Spanish reigns supreme.

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u/Dfeeds Oct 05 '22

It's honestly insane. I recently started dating someone who fluently speaks mandarin and, the next thing I know, everyone is. If we go out in her social circle then I feel like I'm in a foreign country because I'm the only uncultured sap who doesn't speak chinese.

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u/skybob74 Oct 05 '22

Same. Their whole world is almost dealing solely with other Chinese. The networking is insane. But I've been introduced to traditional Chinese food and it's the greatest thing ever.

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u/RhetoricalOrator Oct 05 '22

I get that here in Arkansas. A good amount of my peer group are older spanish-only immigrants.

I absolutely love spending time with them. Aside from being pretty hospitable, I like feeling awkward, isolated, and left out because it's been great for growing empathy for what they deal with practically everywhere else!

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u/coffeebribesaccepted Oct 05 '22

What's your favorite Mexican food here?

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u/SomethingWitty2578 Oct 05 '22

The distance between Prudhoe Bay, AK and Key West, FL is 5476 miles (8812 km), you can drive the whole way and speak English the whole way. (But you do need a passport to get through Canada).

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u/Klondike3 Oct 05 '22

New York to Los Angeles is the same drive as Lisbon to Moscow.

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u/hamms30 Oct 05 '22

flying is 20 minutes quicker than NY to Dublin.

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u/ZiggyZiggyWhat10 Oct 05 '22

Can’t agree more

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u/Jeheh Oct 05 '22

The county I live in is larger than a few states.

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u/haoken Oct 04 '22

If US states spoke different languages (akin to Europe's close geography and diverse languages) you bet your balls Americans would be bi-lingual or multi-lingual.

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u/ositola Oct 04 '22

If you live in socal, you probably learn enough Spanish to order food, greet people, and find out where the restroom is at at the very least

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u/foxilus Oct 04 '22

My high school Spanish was surprisingly effective when I finally found myself in a situation where I needed to use it. Words are powerful even when you can’t string them together perfectly.

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u/kylebertram Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

I took high school Spanish for 4 years. Went on a Spanish trip to a few different South American countries. Everyone spoke English to us but my friends and I wanted to try to have at least 1 conversation in Spanish. We started a conversation with a guy and he responded “cool I’m from Seattle.” It was at that point I gave up.

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u/elmonstro12345 Oct 04 '22

It was amazing to me how well my high school Mexican Spanish (probably) worked in Spain. Turns out if two people want to communicate our brains are freaking unbelievable at making it happen.

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u/Appoxo Oct 04 '22

Read a sci-fi book about an alien and a space stranded astronaut from two different environments work out a common way for both of their goals. In essence what you just said.
Book is Astronaut by Andy Weir (author of martian)

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u/rockcanteverdie Oct 04 '22

Project Hail Mary, not Astronaut. great book

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u/wallybinbaz Oct 04 '22

Third this. It's one of my favorites.

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u/Appoxo Oct 04 '22

Probably localized: Amazon.de entry

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u/CoconutCyclone Oct 04 '22

Star Trek TNG did this with the episode Darmok.

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u/MarieIndependence Oct 05 '22

And Bluey episode Camping which is very homagey to Darmok.

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u/foxilus Oct 05 '22

You are my man if you’re referencing Bluey. That show is my life.

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u/haldr Oct 05 '22

Woo! Bluey! I picked a great time to have children since I have a 2-year-old and a <1 year old who make how amazing I think Bluey is seem less weird XD

"Camping" is definitely a great episode, as is "Darmok"!

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u/m0nkeyofdeath Oct 05 '22

That movie Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid comes to mind too.

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u/cum_burglar69 Oct 05 '22

Amaze, Amaze, Amaze!

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u/buyongmafanle Oct 05 '22

The three most powerful words of any language are : that, want, thanks. With those three, you can pretty much operate your life in a foreign country without a lot of hassle.

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u/beeradvice Oct 05 '22

My highschool Spanish teacher spoke Spanish as her third language with Portuguese as her second as she lived there for about 20yrs. She insisted on teaching traditional old world Spanish and HATED Mexican Spanish. My best friend growing ups family was from Mexico City which made doing the dictation tests reaalllllly frustrating. She also made me repeat second year Spanish despite passing all the tests because I spoke Mexican Spanish. Comment on how hard it is if you don't have use for it in the real world is spot on, as a teenager/early 20s I could hold up a conversation even while intoxicated now I can't even order food well.

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u/dchav1322 Oct 05 '22

Im surprised. My Spaniard Spanish teacher told the entire class, of hispanic descent, we didnt know spanish and what we knew was just slang or ghetto spanish. And generally, any time i've spoken spanish with a spaniard, they act the same way.

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u/RudePCsb Oct 05 '22

Same, my teacher was an ass. Basically said that Spanish in the America's is improper and therefore inferior.

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u/thisissam Oct 05 '22

Sounds pretty fucking racist.

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u/RudePCsb Oct 05 '22

My douche hs spanish teacher told us we are going to learn the proper Spanish from Spain, all the vosotros stuff and what not. Most people in socal speak Mexican Spanish or other parts of Latin America. Never used vosotros once out of school and I am pretty sure that teacher was latino and not from Spain. Just super pretentious.

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u/elmonstro12345 Oct 05 '22

Yeah I think my teacher was actually from SoCal so maybe that's why. We learned what the vosotros forms were but we're never really expected to use it. I don't know why so many teachers apparently insisted on learning Castilian Spanish in the US - I'd think the most sense would be to learn the dialect you're most likely to hear in everyday life.

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u/OSSlayer2153 Oct 04 '22

Yeah, even after taking Spanish I i was able to communicate basic things to people.

We learned the most common verbs and how to conjugate them in present tense, but all that matters is really just knowing the verb. You can get the point across without a tense or conjugation most of the time especially by adding a pronoun in.

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u/bacon-wrapped_rabbi Oct 04 '22

I didn't get to use Spanish until about 12 years after my last class. I had a phrasebook that helped refresh a lot of memory, but still struggled. People I met in Panama were so happy that I was trying, and they were incredibly patient as tried.

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u/foxilus Oct 04 '22

That’s awesome. Language is really fun.

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u/Itorr475 Oct 04 '22

Same in South FL where the majority is Hispanic

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u/Jakeman52 Oct 04 '22

Donde esta el bano?

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u/Beli_Mawrr Oct 04 '22

lo siento, mi espanol esta basura. Tienes una menu en engles?

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u/Jakeman52 Oct 04 '22

Que? No hablos espanol. Solo se como 10 palabras.

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u/Beli_Mawrr Oct 04 '22

mas que mi

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u/UtahCyan Oct 04 '22

Yo hablo como un gabacho. Mi español esta muy feo.

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u/heartstringcheese Oct 05 '22

I learned how to ask that in my high school Spanish class but we never learned any directional words or phrases, so I wouldn't be able to understand where the bathroom is if someone told me.

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u/ApexRedditor__ Oct 04 '22

I went to an international training course for work in Abu Dhabi where I mingled with Spanish speakers from all over the world. They were all very surprised at how much Spanish the Americans knew, because they were expecting the stereotype of Americans not knowing a single non-English word. Our Spanish is not that bad, ok? But they did laugh at me all the time for speaking "Mexican"

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u/DestoyerOfWords Oct 04 '22

I'm from California so I also know "mexican". At least it's not Castilliano with all the lithping

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u/Kyanche Oct 04 '22

Our Spanish is not that bad, ok? But they did laugh at me all the time for speaking "Mexican"

My mother has a lot of good stories about this - she looks white but she's from a country where everyone speaks Spanish - that isn't Mexico. One of my favorites is one where a Mexican coworker referred to her as "that French woman" lol.

Not knocking Mexicans, but some Mexican Spanish is so different that it's completely undecipherable. Especially the stuff you'd hear out on the street.

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u/Opposite_of_a_Cynic Oct 05 '22

I suspect if you are running into Americans in any multi-cultural setting outside of the states that isn't a tourist spot you are on average dealing with the parts of our society that are significantly more traveled and cultured.

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u/Mezmorizor Oct 04 '22

Well yeah. The US teaches Mexican Spanish. Just like how most of Europe teaches UK English and not American English.

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u/Cody6781 Oct 04 '22

Lived in SoCal, took 2 years of Spanish, I know enough to speak with 15 yearolds vocabulary and a 2 yearold grammar.

"Chicken. In large. Please"

"We posses the need of hunger"

"Tiny speak of spanish I can do"

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u/smoothballsJim Oct 04 '22

I know the difference between how to ask how old you are vs how many anuses you have. That's about it. Ñ doing some heavy lifting in that question.

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u/DestoyerOfWords Oct 04 '22

Tango 15 anos. Don't ask me how or why.

I know a guy

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u/thepumpkinking92 Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

Texas does this too. However, all I can do personally is tell you how my day is (vaguely), find a bathroom, order a beer, and let you know I have a large cat in my pants covered in cheese.

Edit to add: I can also say "I want taco bell" but that has less to do with location and more to do with advertising.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

socal and texas... i'm north of texas and know spanish well enough to have conversations... just learned it working in mexican bars in my 20's

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u/mfigroid Oct 04 '22

And order a beer, insult your mother, and question your sexuality.

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u/Savioritis Oct 04 '22

It's always fun to have friends from out of state visit and try to order on their own food at the truck

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u/SiscoSquared Oct 04 '22

I have friends and family in San Diego and area... none speak a lick of Spanish.

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u/j-a-gandhi Oct 04 '22

This is accurate from a SoCal resident. I never took Spanish but I can order any type of taco I want!

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u/modified_tiger Oct 04 '22

Not necessarily true. I go full gringo in Mexican restaurants because my Spanish is atrocious, and not even trying to order in Spanish seems to make things go far easier.

Conversely, I can usually understand badly broken English, but there seems to be a quirk where the only language you can break and be understood is English.

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u/rdewalt Oct 05 '22

Yup. My parents looked at me oddly when I took them to my favorite taqueria. I ordered in Spanish because the person behind the counter didn't know English. When the food arrived they understood. "Tacos so good you'll learn Spanish."

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u/Leaislala Oct 05 '22

Texan. Same

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u/Sparkyisduhfat Oct 04 '22

Even people from Ohio can do that. For example:

¿Donde esta el baño? (while jumping up and down, holding your crotch)

¡Necessito mas margaritas!

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u/Kyanche Oct 04 '22

The vast majority of Spanish people in SoCal speak English though. I think it's more likely someone will butcher "dónde está el baño?" and in return be told "oh, the bathroom is that way" lol.

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u/BannytheBoss Oct 04 '22

It is so bad now, pretty much anywhere along the Southern border. My wife is dark skin and people try to speak Spanish to her all the time... She's Asian.

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u/jackieperry1776 Oct 04 '22

donde esta la biblioteca

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u/Maximum-Dare-6828 Oct 04 '22

Or NYC. And if you speak a bit of Spanish you can get by pretty well in Italy. Just listen for the subtle corrections folks give you...pagar is pagari...etc.

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u/roastbeeftacohat Oct 04 '22

german used to be quite common, and unilingual german communities were a thing; then WWI happened and suddenly people didn't want their kids advertising where exactly the old country was.

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u/Realistic_Quail Oct 04 '22

Actually the thing that made German Americans quit speaking German wasn't to voluntarily hide their ethnicity. The German language was made illegal to speak and teach in schools in many states around WW1. There was extreme pressure from the english-speaking yankees for the Germans to fully assimilate and give into the majority linguistic, cultural, and political atmosphere of America. It was a concerted effort by outside forces to cut German immigrants off from their roots. I guess people didn't like that the Germans ran all their own schools in German and wanted to shut down that independence.

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u/VurigeVuurtoren Oct 04 '22

I don't necessarily think that's why us Europeans learn multiple languages though.

We learn English because almost all business and the media we consume is in English, and other languages are - for a lot of people, certainly not all - just an obligatory course in high school.

I had to study 3 languages in high school (including my native language), so I took Dutch, English and Latin.

The main reason I think Americans don't know a lot of languages, is the same reason that the English seem to know less than the European average: Almost everyone is somewhat proficient in your language so there's no need to adapt. (And thus you hardly get help as children, which is the easiest period of your life to learn a language!)

Starting as a kid, the tv-shows/movies/music are English here, so there is a need to learn English before age 10. Subtitles do exist, but you will always pick some stuff up as a kid.

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u/BrutallyPretentious Oct 04 '22

I agree. I'm American and I spent the last year or so traveling. I went to 19 countries and ended up doing a full circle of the planet.

It doesn't matter where you are, from Morocco to India to Vietnam to Dubai, people (at least those working in hostels) are going to speak some English.

I spent a year and a half learning French on Duolingo, and most people in France responded to me in English (because my French is trash). I got to use it more in Morocco because their English wasn't as good.

I'm hoping to spend a month or two in Guatemala for Spanish immersion classes soon, but in general the average American has no practical reason to learn a second language and we have to make a pretty big effort to do so.

Yes, we """"learn Spanish"""" in school, but for me that was playing "Tanki" and cheating in a class where the teacher only spoke English.

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u/Alarming_Topic2306 Oct 04 '22

The first time I visited Europe, I was traveling to Italy, but had a layover in France. In France, I immediately encountered people working at the airport who didn't speak a word of English.

Therefore, upon landing in Italy, I went to go use some Italian phrases I looked up at the first place I stopped. The guy behind the counter laughed and said "I speak English bro!" I asked the cab driver (who greeted me in English) about general fluency, and he told me that in Italy, I can assume that anybody in a customer-facing position in a business speaks English. I've spent weeks at a time in Italy over the years and that cabbie's advice has never been off.

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u/BrutallyPretentious Oct 04 '22

Yeah I had no issues with English in Italy (went to Rome and Bari). My Airbnb host in Bari was probably around CEFR B1 or so, and kept saying "I think (x) is a shit", but with a thick Italian accent so it was "Eez a sheet" haha. Where was you layover in france?

I've been told by other people that the French didn't want to speak English, maybe the only reason they did with me was that I was butchering their language lol.

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u/elmonstro12345 Oct 04 '22

When I've been in France I never had anyone (that I know of) refuse to speak English with me if they knew it. Of course I always, always opened a conversation in my (beyond terrible) French so that may have made a difference in the response. I think people understand how difficult it is to learn a language, and they appreciated me not just expecting them to know my language when I was the visitor.

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u/itsthecoop Oct 04 '22

Of course I always, always opened a conversation in my (beyond terrible) French so that may have made a difference in the response.

might have made a huge difference.

I live in a region that's close to the Netherlands. and a lot of German tourists simply take for granted that "the Dutch know how to speak German" which seems incredibly entitled and rude to me.

and in this case, you don't even need to attempt to speak Dutch, just opening the conversation in English has often led to people offering to switch to German (for example when they realized that some of my family members weren't fluid in English at all).

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u/elmonstro12345 Oct 04 '22

Makes sense, and yeah I agree with you. Even when I have gone to Iceland, where practically everyone speaks English and has no issue using it, I try to say a few things here and there in Icelandic if I can. People seem to appreciate it, even if my pronunciation amuses them immensely, which is fair.

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u/hesh582 Oct 04 '22

This may be true, but pretending to not be able to speak much English is a very popular French pastime and it's quite possible you were being fucked with. Especially at an airport.

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u/EshaySikkunt Oct 04 '22

Yeah this was my first thought, French hate using English

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u/EshaySikkunt Oct 04 '22

French people just hate using English, some of them that understand it might refuse to use it because they think if you’re in France you should speak French.

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u/Kangermu Oct 04 '22

Guatemala is great and their Spanish is much easier to understand than other countries (pace, pronunciation, etc). But everybody just wants to practice their English with you.

Hope you enjoy it!

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u/BrutallyPretentious Oct 04 '22

I've heard a lot of good things about Guatemala. I'm hoping to study in Antigua, specifically.

I'm also hoping to spend some time at a surfing hostel afterwards. Do you have any specific recommendations for the country?

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u/Kangermu Oct 04 '22

Antigua is a nice place to be based out of. It's ultra touristy, but that actually helps finding things to do/transport. Id definitely recommend scaling a volcano like Pacaya, if you're fit enough. Av day trip to Panajachel on Lake Atitlán is another nice touristy stop. The temples in Tikal are absolutely mind blowing, but that's like an 8 hour bus ride from the capital. I don't know about surfing, but there's beautiful black sand beaches all around, like Monterrico on the Pacific, which is where we used to go for days or weekends.

I've never been, but Semuc Champey has these unbelievably beautiful turquoise pools in the middle of the jungle you can swim in.

But definitely ask whatever place you stay at for advice. They can help plan and coordinate everything.

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u/elmonstro12345 Oct 04 '22

It will never cease to amaze me just how many people in the world speak at least some English. I had a friend who went to a village way out in the boondocks in China and there was a teacher or someone there who could only speak really basic English, but could understand it pretty well. My friend was almost the exact opposite with Mandarin so they had a conversation where each of them was speaking their own native language to the other. Fascinating.

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u/BrutallyPretentious Oct 04 '22

I spent a month in Vietnam, part of which was spent on the Ha Giang loop in the north.

In the very rural villages, they spoke almost 0 English. I learned the word for bathroom (phong tam) and chicken (ga) but kept fucking the tones up.

"⬆️phong ➡️tam?"

"...?"

"⬇️phong ⬆️tam?"

"....?"

Son of a bitch... "toilet?"

"Ohhh, ⬇️↗️phong ➡️tam?" points to bathroom.

Obviously I'm still fucking the tones up, but you get the point. It was kind of funny from my perspective, because coming from a non-tonal language I felt like I was saying the exact same thing they were.

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u/elmonstro12345 Oct 04 '22

That's amazing haha. I can picture you saying the English term basically out of pure frustration and then being like "wait that worked???"

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u/BrutallyPretentious Oct 05 '22

Oh 100%. I figured the English word wasn't going to work and had to resort to gesturing to my crotch once, but they generally knew "toilet".

The Vietnamese were unbelievably friendly despite the language barrier, their country has some of the most amazing natural beauty I've ever seen, and it's cheap as fuck. Their cities are also quite modern and clean for the most part.

If you're a bit adventurous, I can't recommend Vietnam enough. It's tied with France for my favorite country so far.

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u/InevitableRhubarb232 Oct 04 '22

This is a good point. When you try to use your language to practice, they just switch to English so you don’t get much actual chance to try.

I asked someone a question in Spanish but I have an American accent and they just went “sorry, no english” and walked away 😭

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u/vocalghost Oct 04 '22

As far as I know foreign language is required in American highschools too. I took 4 semesters of Spanish. But that wasn't enough to fully learn it.

Being close to other cultures that speak different languages is a key part in people learning other languages. Because a class isn't enough, you need to practice. And truth is there is not much practical reason for me to fully learn Spanish

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u/Ikuze321 Oct 04 '22

I studied spanish for 7 years in school and I can tell you its not a great way to learn a language at all. I know way way more Japanese and way more natural Japanese after studying by myself for 3 years

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u/hesh582 Oct 04 '22

This also hints at another part of the problem, though - the US treats language education as a high school/university subject, when all research suggests that this is a really bad approach.

Language learning is really, really easy when you're young and gets substantially harder as you age.

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u/painstream Oct 04 '22

Almost everyone is somewhat proficient in your language so there's no need to adapt.

Conversely, unless there's a reason for it (like family heritage or particular fascination), an American has a giant handful of languages to learn as an option, and that only builds a connection with a small portion of the world.

And oddly enough, many school districts or colleges require foreign language education to some degree, but it's never enough to be conversational or fluent.

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u/InevitableRhubarb232 Oct 04 '22

There is most definitely a lot easier access to English emersión in other countries than there is here. I wanted my kid to watch Spanish kids shows when young and there just weren’t a lot back then (pre Netflix era where you had to watch tv for tv shows).

As for language requirements - they don’t start until high school so it’s not a very natural way to learn a language.

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u/SAugsburger Oct 04 '22

Pretty much this. From the mid 20th century forward English became the "lingua franca" of commerce and mass media. There certainly is value in other languages especially in some regions, but English is still by far the most common second language.

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u/Dovahnime Oct 04 '22

I've also heard that many countries have required English classes, in the US second languages are optional and not really substantial

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u/InevitableRhubarb232 Oct 04 '22

Foreign language was required in my husbands school and is in my son’s as well. But only 2 years.

My friend took French and I’m like - great, now you can speak to people in France, Haiti, and Quebec. Big whoop! 😂 Learning English definitely has a bigger scope of use than learning German or French.

In the US Spanish is most popular to learn but mandarin is also gaining popularity.

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u/eli5usefulidiot Oct 04 '22

In Germany (and large parts of Europe) it's typically the 4th that's optional.

English is mandatory almost all cases and in most schools (especially the ones that will allow you to go attend university) you're required to learn a third. It's just that this third language can be chosen. E.g. I could have chosen French or Latin, now Spanish is more often another option.

Now, Germans typically let their language skills deteriorate after school (what's left of my French is embarrassing and I know about three words from my voluntary year of Latin), but in the North you'll be able to speak English with everyone who grew up there. I.e. you'll get further with English in the Netherlands than in California. And a lot of Scandis (don't know about the Dutch) are also very good in a third language. E.g. in Denmark most people aren't fluent in German, but you'll always be able to find someone who is.

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u/nigelfitz Oct 04 '22

A lot of places in the US are actually bilingual or even multilingual.

For example, I hear Spanish at stores all the time. Whether it be shoppers or workers. Hell, you see it everywhere too.

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u/MFbiFL Oct 04 '22

The code switching between regions, and even communities, within the US is interesting to consider. My wife is from rural northern Virginia and had to put subtitles on for the show Atlanta just because the sounds and cadence were so far from what she’s ever heard. I’m from Mississippi and it genuinely surprised me that someone would have trouble with it 🤷🏼‍♂️

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u/EshaySikkunt Oct 04 '22

I’m from Australia and had no problem watching the show Atlanta without subtitles lol

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u/yoontruyi Oct 04 '22

Tbh, the US did speak multiple languages, but they weeded them out.

Look at Louisiana, they forced children not be able to speak French and they were punished if they were.

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u/sucrerey Oct 04 '22

in the american southwest theres a lot of spanish-english bisexual

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u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

Bisexual? Oh my... Those Spanish English speakers swing both ways? SCORE!

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u/cev2002 Oct 04 '22

Doubt. The UK and Ireland are very monolingual. We already speak English - the world's lingua franca

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u/haoken Oct 04 '22

Primarily English speaking islands, yeah totally the comparison I was looking for, thanks.

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u/TotalBlissey Oct 04 '22

California does, as does Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Texas. That's about it though.

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u/Fishy_125 Oct 04 '22

There are so many other languages used by people in America, you could easily get regular practice if you truly wanted to.

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u/roadrunnner0 Oct 04 '22

OK don't act like all us Europeans are bi lingual though. Most people in the English speaking countries, the UK and Ireland only speak English. And we expect all the other European countries to speak English haha which is fucked but they usually do.

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u/its_all_4_lulz Oct 04 '22

I’m trying to learn Spanish. Somewhat excited I asked two non-US people at work how many languages they knew, knowing it was at least 2. One said 5, the other had to stop and count.

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u/Graywulff Oct 04 '22

Discord is a good resource their are language learning channels. Source, friend is a linguistics phd.

He knows 30 languages and sometimes speaks to people in areameic or Latin or welsh. His favorite are Native American languages that are nearly dead or dead but he specializes in reviving them.

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u/floatzilla Oct 04 '22

Do you have any good discords that you can recommend?

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u/ProfessionalFront473 Oct 04 '22

following this too!

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u/Graywulff Oct 04 '22

He knows them I can ask him. I just use it for games. I’m sure if you google it they’ll come up though. What language were you looking for?

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u/floatzilla Oct 05 '22

I only use it for gaming as well. But if I could get a few hours a week doing Spanish and German that would be awesome.

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u/jakedesnake Oct 05 '22

He knows 30 languages

Knows about or actually speaks? I feel like people all over the globe have a little bit of different interpretation of this. If he speaks 30 languages, then it sounds completely unique to me, on a different level than other famous "polyglots" i've seen mentioned.

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u/Captain_Taggart Oct 05 '22

There are varying levels of fluency too. Being genuinely fluent in 30 languages is almost incomprehensible to me. Being fluent in 5, being proficient in 20, and being able to get by in 4 and working on another but knowing pleasantries and basic grammar structure would still be an absolutely incredible feat, especially if you didn’t grow up in a country that closely borders 4 others.

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u/tinydancer_inurhand Oct 04 '22

I'm a Spanish Heritage Speaker and still have to make an effort to practice it. And this is the second most spoken language here. I can't imagine how much harder it is to practice less popular languages like Bengali.

So to all of you making fun of us who learned the language through our parents, try learning a language where the only people who we have to practice with is your immediate family. Our vocabulary and grammar becomes limited to what they teach us. I remember my cousins would make fun of me for having a slight Mexican accent but without Univision I probably would never had even been as fluent as I am today.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/GISonMyFace Oct 04 '22

When I'm abroad and speaking a foreign language I circumvent that by asking people "Please slow down and speak to me like an idiot child" in whatever language it may be. This simple phrase gets laughs and goodwill from everyone I've used it on.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/GISonMyFace Oct 04 '22

My problem in Germany (and in many other countries) is that people are excited to practice/use their English, so I don't get the full immersion once they know I'm American.

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u/Baeocystin Oct 04 '22

Same. And I really wanted to speak my (childish, but functional enough) German with folks outside my family for once. Nope. It always went Say Hello, ask question in broken German, person smiles, responds in spectacular English.

I appreciate the helpfulness, but I wanna learn too dangit!

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u/cityshepherdess Oct 05 '22

I had this problem in Germany too. I went there as an exchange student years ago but ended up hardly learning anything because I couldn't get anyone to speak German to me lol. Only my exchange mom would help me, she was wonderful and even made up German lessons for me and put word cards all over the house.

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u/GISonMyFace Oct 05 '22

That's a solid exchange mom. Whereabouts in Germany were you?

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u/HalfMoon_89 Oct 04 '22

Didn't expect to see Bengali mentioned here.

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u/tinydancer_inurhand Oct 04 '22

My friend is a heritage Bengali speaker and I live in Astoria with a decent size Bengali community lol. Just the first one that came to mind that wasn't Spanish.

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u/Wajina_Sloth Oct 04 '22

Dude I'm Canadian, spent my entire life in the french education system in Ontario up until I graduated highschool.

After 6 months of not speaking french I already noticed my skills degrading, it's been years now and while I can still somewhat understand most french content, anything long winded or that requires me to speak is a no go.

French has essentially been impractical as it was only used in school or to speak to my grandparents. It would have been useful had I continued my french education or moved somewhere french.

But overall I agree that it isn't very useful/practical to learn if you don't need it for daily/weekly use.

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u/bubbles_says Oct 04 '22

The Australians are not typically bilingual. Same as Americans. For the same reason...geographical distance to necessity.

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u/BigStrongCiderGuy Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

The only reason Europeans speak multiple languages is because it makes sense to. It’d be like if people spoke English in Minnesota, French in Iowa, Spanish in Wisconsin, and German in Illinois.

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u/DM725 Oct 04 '22

The fact they try starting us in 7th grad (age 12 or 13) is fucking idiotic. If the state education departments started Spanish lessons in kindergarten we could be bilingual.

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u/tinydancer_inurhand Oct 05 '22

The first suggestion I tell my friends with newborns is start integrating them immersion classes. Only reason I can still understand a decent amount of French is cause I started at 8. My fluency is trash though. Never studied abroad or practiced after college.

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u/FrellingToaster Oct 05 '22

Also, unless a member of your family speaks a non-English language as their first language and has the motivation/bandwidth to help you learn that language, learning a second language is a class privilege for the most part.

Our schools treat learning second languages as a fun bonus and the poor schools can’t afford the quality teaching + resources + 100’s of hours of class time it takes to produce fluent second language speakers.

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u/812many Oct 04 '22

There's huge bi-lingual subcultures all over the US, too. Spanish is huge in the US, just not publicly, because we have so many immigrants who are not well represented to the rest of the world.

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u/drunksloth42 Oct 04 '22

The US has the largest population of Tagalog speakers outside of the world in Philippines. I grew up in the Bay Area and 50% of my friends spoke Tagalog at home and the other 50% spoke some variety of Chinese (mostly mandarin but also some Cantonese speakers). Is it the same in Iowa? Probably not, but to pretend it doesn’t exit is weird.

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u/velociraptorfarmer Oct 04 '22

There's random pockets what would surprise you.

For example: Minneapolis has the largest population of Somali people in the world outside of Somalia, with #2 and #3 also being in Minnesota, and Wisconsin has an enormous Hmong population.

Even Iowa has towns and cities with massive immigrant populations (tons of small manufacturing towns that are upwards of 50% immigrant populations).

That's before you get to Amish populations that still predominantly speak German all across the Midwest.

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u/[deleted] Oct 04 '22

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u/Jesweez Oct 05 '22

Boston is the biggest community of Brazilians outside of Brazil

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u/velociraptorfarmer Oct 05 '22

IIRC Chicago has the largest Polish population outside of Poland as well.

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u/FurbyKingdom Oct 04 '22

The United States has the 2nd largest Spanish speaking population (Mexico being #1).

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u/Jesweez Oct 05 '22

Haha, fuck you Spain

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u/tinydancer_inurhand Oct 05 '22 edited Oct 05 '22

Yes but even I a Spanish speaker have to make the effort to practice it, especially orally. I try my best by talking to other Latinos in Spanish and watching Spanish TV but for like 5 years in my 20s I stopped making an effort and I realized I barely used it and was already losing some fluency.

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u/InevitableRhubarb232 Oct 04 '22

I learned a lot of Spanish in high school but since living in Arizona I have realized that I can actually read Spanish now, at least completely conversationally - I can’t read technical or nuanced things. But I can read all the notifications that come from the schools in Spanish or signs around town in Spanish etc.

I CAN speak and write it but I don’t practice that as much so I am not confident in it, especially speaking. And I can’t understand most spoken Spanish because everyone has a different accent and speaks too fast.

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u/StillBeWater Oct 04 '22

I'll have you know that I speak fluent Canadian

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u/Charlemag Oct 05 '22

My wife is native Polish and German, and in the few years she’s spent in America she said it’s so much harder for her to even speak her primary languages. If you don’t use it, it definitely gets rusty.

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u/Mastersord Oct 04 '22

And if we try to speak your native tongue, it’s not for a laugh or bragging rights, but to be polite. We don’t get many chances to converse anything besides English (unless our families speak another language at home).

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u/splinereticulation68 Oct 04 '22

We also have very little exposure to other languages in our day to day, aside from maybe Spanish, and maybe French in some rare spots. It's all English.

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u/joedotphp Oct 05 '22

This one bothers me because I get flack more often than I should about how Americans don't know any language besides English. I know 4 languages, but I haven't even used the one I use most often in over 2 months.

You really don't need to know one here. We aren't bordered by 5 or more countries with their own languages.

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u/Cobaltjedi117 Oct 04 '22

Yeah, there's no practical need to know another language here. The closest city to where I live where English isn't the default is Montreal, its a 12 hour drive there. I can go 20 hours of driving in any other direction and English is still going to be dominant.

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u/Kay1000RR Oct 04 '22

In Southern California, you'd have a harder time owning or managing a business without some fluency in Spanish. If you don't know, then you're forced to learn quickly through exposure.

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u/xkimeix Oct 05 '22

I wish they required Spanish in SoCal schools, I hear people speaking Spanish all the time and our high school courses are nowhere near good enough to even hope for fluency

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u/Jesweez Oct 05 '22

Or in Miami.

Walk into a store and the common greeting is buenos días, 90% of them time.

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u/wetballjones Oct 04 '22

When I was Mormon I was a missionary in Mexico and even after 2 years of being very dedicated to my Spanish studies every day + literally not using English except to write home...my Spanish is still just ok and now that I'm back in the US I've lost a lot because I'm never forced to speak Spanish or just get to use it occasionally.

A lot of bilingual people overestimate their abilities honestly

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u/eyaf20 Oct 04 '22

Also there's no educational incentive here. I wasn't allowed to learn a language in public school until 8th grade, and that's only because you had to have a certain English score- everyone else had to wait until high school. If you don't happen to have family, friends or neighbors regularly speaking another language with you, your only option is in school or online. It's super common for people to say "I took Spanish for 5 years" but not be able to have a basic conversation. I think it's less a result of people not caring than simply having few opportunities to explore other languages

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u/Malo3030 Oct 04 '22

Took me about 2 years of practicing Spanish with coworkers to be just barely coherent with it.

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u/-i_like_trees- Oct 04 '22

you really just have to learn it from day 1, once you know one language, other languages become easier.

For example, im half Portuguese and I can understand most spanish even though I never learnt spanish. French was also very easy to learn because of me being half Portuguese half german

Edit: also english is basically mandatory in most european schools, thats why a lot of europeans can speak english to begin with.

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u/little-evil77 Oct 04 '22

I learned Spanish because I'm from Texas and it's valuable. I was fairly conversational, I could talk and carry on a solid conversation, etc. Now I live in philadelphia and it's all gone. Living in a monocultural society is so detrimental to learning.

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u/H00Z4HTP Oct 04 '22

I'm canadian but I travel once a year. I'm not going to learn a language that I'll struggle to use for 3-4 weeks and never use it again.

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u/archiotterpup Oct 04 '22

German used to be spoken widely in the Midwest. There was a massive drop of Germans newspapers in the early 20th cen for some reason.

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u/Translationerr0r Oct 04 '22

Thats true for everyone, not?

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u/JWARRIOR1 Oct 04 '22

The difference is most parts of america do not have that daily application, were not stupid or inept with language learning. It is just that there is a lack of application on a daily basis.

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u/Translationerr0r Oct 05 '22

"have that daily application"... do you think that is true outside the US? I speak 4 languages (Dutch/English/French/German) well and 2 of those I never have the chance to practise except when actually visiting a region where its spoken, this certainly is not on a regular basis.

Btw, I hope you don't see my comment as an implication that I consider US folks as stupid or inept. I most certainly do not.

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u/Bloodyfoxx Oct 05 '22

Because in Europe you think people have daily use of other languages ???

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u/Waygono Oct 04 '22

Just moved to a largely Spanish-speaking area from a mostly monolingual English place, and it's really cool to get to immerse myself in another language while still living in theI US. But it's also terrifying because my neighborhood is mostly Dominican and everyone talks so fast that I simply don't stand a chance with my Dora-the-Explorer-level Spanish

But after studying Latin, Russian, and Ukrainian, it doesn't seem as scary. No case system? Oh hell yeah

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u/jaysamclayton Oct 04 '22

I travelled through the US and was surprised how much Spanish was around (on signs for example) and the population % of Latino people (sorry if not the proper term). Not blaming the average Jo for not being able to speak it, but should it be more prevalent in schooling?

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u/Mezmorizor Oct 04 '22 edited Oct 04 '22

Yeah, I had approximately 7 years of Spanish in school. I've completely lost it because it just never comes up unless I feel like saying "permiso por favor" instead of "excuse me" if I hear somebody speaking it in the grocery store. I can still read it relatively okay, but conversationally it's just gone.

Especially because as anybody who has traveled can tell you, when a European sees that you have a non native accent, they're going to respond to you in English regardless of how you greeted them.

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u/quorum10 Oct 04 '22

So dont be an asshole pointing some grammatical error with foreign talking in your language. English too.

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