Avoiding the pitfalls of learning a new language

Whether you just want to make conversation on holiday or are looking to move to a country that has English as a second language, learning to speak in a different tongue can seem a daunting task but is ultimately very rewarding. What many Brits fail to realise, however, that just like in the UK there are many local dialects and this can cause you problems if you are taught by someone in their local dialect rather than the pure language.

Take Spain for example, which is one of the most popular languages that Brits want to learn to speak fluently. There is the what they call the King’s Spanish and then there are the numerous different accents around the various regions such as Catalan, Galicia and the Basque Region. Castilion, or Castelano is the true Spanish and you should ensure that when you are learning Espanol this is what you are being taught to avoid a lot of problems down the line.

It can be very tempting to learn a few basics then stroll confidently into a restaurant and order the entire meal, and drinks, in your new language. The problem here is that the waiters may think you are fluent and come back at you with a barrage of questions spoken at 50mph. This can arise from a dish you want no longer being available or coming with different accompaniments.

To avoid this one of the first things you should learn is “I only speak a little…Spanish, French etc”. The staff will appreciate both your honesty and your willing to learn their language as they go to a lot of trouble to learn ours and, particularly if you are going to live there, it is common courtesy to learn the native tongue of the land you have chosen to call home.