Friday, 3 February 2012

Languages and Emigration

Pouletbrustgeschnetzeltes = Diced chicken breast

It's not often I post about very personal topics, but I have been giving this a lot more thought recently.

As a not so recent immigrant in Paris I had the benefit of speaking the language, and not just speaking but being able to make jokes and just feel within my comfort zone. However now the situation is reversed and the very comfortable French shoe is now on the other German foot.
These language skills however did not the result of diligent hard work in school, but rather a diverse family background.

Struggling with languages is something most people will go through in their life, the brave will stick it out and struggle though different tenses, vocab and genders in an attempt to integrate, the weak however will only give a basic holiday attempt at other languages for ordering beer, before reverting back to the traditional Anglophone approach of just repeating the English version of the word louder  until something happens.

However as the mass exodus of Ireland continues it becomes more and more clear that having a second European language is possibly the greatest asset that you could hope for. The appeal of a second language is however completely over looked by the school system and more importantly the students them selves who often don't make a genuine effort to learn. Well let me assure you; paying a minimum of 500€ a month for the classes you got for free in school is indeed a shocking learning incentive.

As the job situation in London hits saturation point what will become of the immigrant who refuse to leave their comfort zone of the English language? Already horror stories are coming to the fore of former school mates working in America on long expired holiday visas who are trapped; unable to return for Christmas, birthdays or funerals.

Long gone are the days where Irish people could simply think that "I'm sure someone will speak English", as we now live in a society where minimum of 3 international languages is the norm, and these people are also applying for the same jobs as you.

Recently I have started using the Rosetta Stone language learning programme which is supplementing 1 months intensive German classes at a school. To what avail? Well the hope is that by seriously investing in the language I will make myself a more appealing candidate to potential employers.

The main downside of learning German in Switzerland though is that no one here really speaks "high" German, opting instead for the local dialect of Swiss German. This  frustratingly means that you never hear any of the words or phrases you learn and even when you speak German you will be speaking a "foreign" language.

For those of you who arrive to a Country and can't speak the local language I would encourage taking classes as soon as you arrive. Not only does it help improve your confidence but it also gives you a new group of new people, who are usually also new to the country and eager to make friends.

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