The desire to learn a second language can be born of necessity or personal circumstance. I had the all American childhood. My parents, like most other first generation Mexican immigrants, came to this country for a better life. They left behind a culture of poverty, unemployment and cartel violence; the country that they loved couldn’t offer them any hope of financial security.
Archive for Italian
Let’s assume you have learnt a new language up to an advanced level, and now are facing your first serious presentation in your language of study. Here are a few points to keep in mind to make your presentation a success.
Style figures and expressions. If you have held the presentation in your mother tongue before, make sure to have a sharp look of how you make your point. Many style figures and expressions don’t translate well in another language. Don’t just look at cutting out expressions that won’t make sense for your audience. Also see if you can add some new ones that will help liven up your presentation.
Explanations and metaphors. Sports is used as a metaphor in all parts of the world, but not the same sports are popular. If you’re an American presenting in Italy, you’ll be wise to trade your basketball and baseball metaphors for something similar in football. Talking about ‘home runs’ and ‘slam dunks’ will likely draw blank stares, or at least they will emphasize you’re an outsider. No matter how good your Italian is. The same goes of course for a Singaporean who delivers a presentation in the USA. Better not to put things in football terms or you will come across really odd.
Language level of your audience. Does your audience consist mainly of native speakers, or are you speaking to a group of which many do not have the language of your presentation as a mother tongue? No matter how fluent you are, there is no point of flaunting it of your fluency goes over the head of most of the people in the room.
Content. Then there are cultural preferences as to what should be in your presentation. Some cultures like to refer more to history, so they will appreciate it if you make your point by putting things in a historical context. It is typically said that this goes for the French. People from other backgrounds may be bored by lengthy historical references and prefer to go straight to the point. Or look at future plans. Don’t blindly assume what you need to do based on the nationality of your audience, though.
Conclusion: know your audience! You may have given your presentation before in a different language. Never blindly translate, but ask yourself how your message will be picked up by the people you will be presenting to. There is more to this than simply being fluent in French, Italian, Japanese or whatever language you are presenting in. They key is to know who you are facing and adapting your message to your audience.
If you’re in Singapore and learning a European language other than English, you’re part of a select elite. After all, you’re much more likely to find use for languages such as Japanese or Mandarin in Asia. Here are some of the challenges for major European languages.
For most European languages…
- You’ll have to deal with the fact that each noun has a ‘gender’. Depending on whether the noun is male, female or neutral, it will have to be accompanied by a different article (an article is the word that precedes a noun, such as ‘the’ or ‘a’ in English).
- What article to use also varies based on singular and plural.
- In some languages (notably German) nouns in a different case will also have different articles.
- Like English, most European languages inflect verbs. However, whereas in English this is normally only needed for the 3rd singular form (‘he walks’) most languages have a more elaborate system, in particular the Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian).
While this may scare some of you from trying to learn a European language, you can also see it as a way to challenge yourself to learn something new!
Planning a holiday to Europe and wondering what language would be most useful to speak? Here is an overview of which languages will be most helpful for you to speak.
English is most widely spoken in the North Western part of Europe. It is the first language in Ireland and the UK, and the second language to most people living of countries in the North, such as the Scandinavian countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark) as well as the Netherlands and Germany. It also plays an important role on the Mediterranean island of Malta where it acts as a language of administration.
In more Southern countries of Europe, such as France, Spain and Italy, you will find many people who speak English as well, but you cannot assume that everyone you meet will speak English.
French is natively spoken in France, and parts of Belgium and Switzerland. You will also find that some people in Southern countries like Spain and Italy are more comfortable with speaking French than with English, because French is a Romance language just like Italian, Spanish and Romanian. Others, especially younger people, will prefer to speak English.
Thinking of learning French? Find the available French courses in Singapore here.
If you count by native speakers, German is the most widely spoken language in Europe. Besides Germany, it is also spoken by Austrians and a good portion of the Swiss. Besides, many people in the Netherlands, Belgium and Eastern European countries such as Poland and Czech Republic speak German as a second or third language.
If you are thinking of learning German in Singapore, see here for available German courses.
Spanish and Italian
If you’re planning to visit mostly Spain or Italy, you can consider learning some holiday Spanish or Italian, respectively. While these languages aren’t widely spoken in other European countries, Spanish is the most important language in South America, and Italy in itself is a large country with 60 million inhabitants, many of whom do not speak a second language.
While you can get around quite well with English in Europe, you’ll get more out of the experience if you speak even a little bit of one other European language, especially if you are planning to visit Southern European countries such as Italy and Spain.