“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.” – H. Jackson Brown Junior
How many languages do you speak/understand? Well, I can make myself clear in 5 languages…
- Dutch, which is my native language
- French: I’ve learned French at school during 11 schoolyears
- English: I’ve learned English at school during 9 schoolyears
- German: I’ve learned German at school during 6 schoolyears
- Spanish: I’ve learned Spanish at school during 5 schoolyears
I must admit that my knowledge of these 5 languages differs a lot. Some of these languages I hardly use any more and that’s when you forget all the vocabulary and grammar of course… (now isn’t that a pity after all that hard work at school?!)
Of course I am fluent in Dutch. After my graduation a looooong time ago, there have been several spelling changes in the Dutch language, so I must admit that I do make spelling mistakes, but I try to reduce that to a minimum! Every year in December, there is this extremely difficult dictation test on the Flemish and Dutch television and every year I participate 🙂 I have learned a lot from it I must admit!
I know a fair bit of English (well… I’d like to think so…), I can make myself clear in French, I cope when I’m in Germany and I understand just a tiny bit of Spanish.
I will however always try to speak the language of the country we travel to. I don’t think it’s a disgrace to make mistakes. I believe that when visiting a country you just have to try to make yourself clear and do your best and most of the times my efforts are appreciated.
But sometimes it just causes extremely funny and utterly embarassing situations… Like that time I was in Luxemburg… such a tiny country in which they speak several languages. It happened to me more than once that I started my sentence in French, continued in German and ended up speaking Dutch as many people in Luxemburg know their way in Dutch apparently!! But hey, I always got what I needed 🙂
And then there was that time in Malaga… where I ordered diner in “fluent” Spanish… but didn’t understand a single word of what the waitress was rattling on about after my order…(she must have thought “that bloody tourist thinking she can speak Spanish… I’ll teach her a lesson” :-D).
But anyway… embarassing moments or not… I will always try… I think speaking another language broadens your mind. You link several languages to eachother. I don’t know Italian, but I sometimes understand that language, just because I can relate it to French or Spanish.
So yes… I will speak different languages and yes I will make mistakes, but at least I’m not too proud to try!