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Losing native language...
Thread poster: Lucy-Jane Michel

Lucy-Jane Michel  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:53
French to English
+ ...
Nov 10, 2005

Has anyone got any tips or ideas on how to refresh native language skills? I've lived in France for seven years, return to the U.K very little and realise that my English is getting worse and worse...it's idiomatic expressions in particular that I've lost, as well as sentence structure, which starts to pose a problem in this profession! Any ideas would be much appreciated.

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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:53
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Buy a satellite receiver Nov 10, 2005

and watch British tele.

Regards,
Gerard


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Elena Pavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:53
Member (2005)
French to Italian
+ ...
That's what I have done! Nov 10, 2005

I am Italian and I live in France. I bought a satellite and I only watch Italian TV as soon as I can.
I still have all my family in Italy and I regularly talk to them on the phone.
I speak Italian as much as I can with my children.
You can subscribe to a magazine or a newspaper (it's very easy to find English books, magazines and newspapers in France), buy books.
My homepage on the Internet is one of the main Italian newspapers and I always check "last minute news" on it.
Regards
Elena


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Catherine Brix
Local time: 21:53
Swedish to English
+ ...
Language attrition Nov 10, 2005

would appear an inevitable side-effect of living "away from home". I'm planning on taking a distance course in Copywriting in English offered by a business/marketing school in Stockholm. The course is held by an American and is basically only for native English speakers - or put it this way - you have to have native-speaker skills in English to participate. Maybe you can find something similar where you are. I'm hoping this will bring me up to speed on the latest marketing/business lingo and other new tidbits I can pick-up from fellow "classmates". Reading and watching movies/tv programs are fine, but feel rather passive - this feels like a more "aggressive" approach to a very real problem, at least for me.
Good luck!


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:53
English to German
I know exactly what you mean... Nov 10, 2005

...having lived in the UK for 15 years!

I don't get German telly but I try to read books in German, newspapers (online these days). If you have broadband, you might be able to watch some (recorded or live) TV shows online. Just as an example, the German news programme "Die Tagesschau", for example broadcasts its news programmes via the internet so I can watch either live or recorded news. Another good way to at least passively work on your language is listening to the radio, again many radio stations broadcast via the Internet. For starters, you could try the BBC radio stations.

Other than that, I try to speak as much German as possible -unfortunately, phone calls to friends and family at home aren't very useful to keep my command of the German language up to scratch because we speak in dialect. And it's impossible to speak to your mum in High German all of a sudden!

You could also try to find out if there are other native speakers from the UK living in your area. Who knows you might make a couple of friends that way, which could enable you to speak your mother tongue more often. When I meet up with other Germans living here I try to avoid speaking a "Denglish", a mixture of Deutsch (German) and English, which is all too easy. Can't remember a word in your native language, just use the English one 'cause the other person understands - definitely not conducive to keeping your language alive and kicking. In fact, we try and spot common mistakes, i.e. Anglicisms instead of the correct German idiom, weird sentence structures, grammar errors etc. Most people I know aren't translators so they aren't as bothered about the language issues but they appreciate how important it is to me.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Rebekka



[Edited at 2005-11-10 15:29]


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Bob Kerns  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:53
Member (2002)
German to English
Listen to radio while you're working Nov 10, 2005

If you have a broadband Internet connection you can listen to online radio (for free) while you're working, for example at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/

You can even choose to listen to what used to be your local radio station (I'm listening to Radio Ulster while writing this). In that way you not only keep in touch with your native language (and dialect) but also with the local news.

Good luck !!

[Edited at 2005-11-10 15:53]


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cello  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Listen to the radio and teach... Nov 10, 2005

http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/nation?ccode=uk&sid=&go.x=7&go.y=3

This link takes you straight to the first page of UK radio stations, but the same page has hundreds of other stations, many of which can be listened to over Internet. If you have a broadband connection you are spoilt for choice - you maintain contact with the language and current affairs/culture etc and it is certainly a cheaper option than satellite TV (where you'll probably have to pay to watch anything halfway decent, at least in English).

Another idea to keep in touch with the language is to give classes, especially at an advanced level, it keeps you on your toes. I've lived in Spain since 1989 and I have other translator friends who have lived here longer. We've often talked about this subject and have come to the conclusion that it has helped us not to lose our English.

Happy listening!

PS I'm listening to Classic FM at the moment

[Edited at 2005-11-10 15:29]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:53
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Write in your language Nov 10, 2005

Reading and listening are fine, but I think writing intelligent prose in your native language also deserves a mention. It can always be done over the internet.

As for listening to TV and radio... During my college years in the U.S. I found that as I was making English my primary language, my command of Russian (mothertongue) was slipping rapidly. I was able to keep it up by traveling back home as often as I could afford and hanging out with fellow speakers of Russian. That did a lot more than passive listening or reading.


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Sara Biavaschi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:53
English to Italian
+ ...
LRSW Nov 10, 2005

I've recently spent one year in the UK teaching German through English (my mothertongue is Italian). It has been a very intensive time with little contact to my home country. After only 9 months I realized I was forgetting my own language!
Before going back home I tried to practise using the skills a teacher normally uses during a language class: listening, reading, speaking, writing. I found online radio stations and papers very handy, tried to ring friends a bit more often but I was very lazy with writing and still needed to double check my spelling a long while after coming back!
Good luck!


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YelenaM
Local time: 15:53
English to Russian
+ ...
Stay in touch with friends and family Nov 10, 2005

I agree with Mikhail. Writing can definitely help. It can be as easy as e-mailing your friends or family members. I have been in the United States for almost 10 years now. I listen to the Internet radio at work, speak Russian only with my family and Russian friends, send e-mails in Russian and even write letters.

Also, set your homepage on the computer to your favorite news website in your native language. This applies to the rest of your Internet browsing - choose localized versions of websites in your language. This should be particularly easy with English.

And try to visit your home country once in a while. I'm finally going to Russia after almost 10 years!


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:53
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Role play Nov 10, 2005

Hi LucyJane! After a period of almost exclusively studying, talking and reading the foreign language (Dutch) there comes a moment that you feel a bit of a stranger in your mother tongue. Not writing but talking:" Hey, funny you got a Dutch/French/English etc. accent!" An old friend says to you with a big smile.THAT can be frustrating.

I found a solution: I talk sometimes with absent friends in some sort of role play. "Guess what! I have found a clump of trumpet daffodils beneath the paper-bark cherry!"
You must sepcially tell about the things you've never done/seen in your home country. Imagine his reaction:"For god's sake: how does a paper-bark cherry looks like?"
And so on....


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:53
English to Dutch
+ ...
After almost 30 years in the US Nov 10, 2005

I still have a trace of Dutch in my English, but (I've been told) no American in my Dutch.

In my case, writing and broadcasting in Dutch helped, talking to Dutch friends in the US and editors in Holland and Belgium, also contributed.

But I also noticed my Dutch is stuck somewhere in 1976, when I left the Old Country. Which is why I don't translate computer stuff into Dutch (they weren't around then and now I don't know what is translated and what isn't. Is it 'hard disk' in Dutch or 'harde schijf,' 'file' or 'bestand,' 'print' or 'uitprinten.'

I write about agriculture in Dutch, and that is almost a foreign language to me, never having had much contact with the soil (not too many farmers in downtown Amsterdam). So I occasionally have to ask my editors what the correct Dutch farm term is.

Growing up before much Dutch TV (one channel, later two channels, but only a few hours every day), I read a lot. Which still serves me well, I occasionally amaze myself by dragging up words from my memory that I didn't knew I knew.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:53
German to English
+ ...
Internet radio... Nov 10, 2005

cello wrote:
you have a broadband connection you are spoilt for choice - you maintain contact with the language and current affairs/culture etc and it is certainly a cheaper option than satellite TV (where you'll probably have to pay to watch anything halfway decent, at least in English).

Another idea to keep in touch with the language is to give classes, especially at an advanced level, it keeps you on your toes.[...][/quote]

Yes, internet radio is God's gift to translators (and any foreigner abroad - IMHO). I listen to NPR (National Public Radio) while I work and it really helps me keep on top of things. I agree that teaching at an advanced level helps too. Go home once in a while!


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 14:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Direct language benefits, enclave and integration Nov 10, 2005

Bob Kerns wrote:
If you have a broadband Internet connection you can listen to online radio (for free) while you're working, for example at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/


Indeed, and vocabulary, too! You'll learn what names people are giving to concepts and items that weren't even around when you emigrated. You won't be left out from the latest catch phrases and slang.

Today, access to our native home through the internet means that the "inevitable" language attrition of the expat is no longer inevitable. Sitting all day at the computer, listening to radio and reading newspapers from home, you can build yourself such a comfortable little expat enclave that you hardly feel you left home. It can even get to the point where you need to make the deliberate effort to get away from the computer and integrate into your adopted country, too.


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LindaMcM  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:53
Swedish to German
+ ...
Audio books Nov 10, 2005

Beside radio, TV and talking to Sweden as often as I can (daily) I get daily newsletters from (to me) interesting organisations and I am collecting Swedish audio books. I am a member of different clubs and today you can even download a lot of MP3 books (Swedish books cost about 7 Euro).

I listen to them while doing things where I don't need to "think" (ironing, cooking). I just listen to them and enjoy the familiar sound of my native language and at the same time I refresh my vocabulary.

I am also a member of different Swedish "real" book clubs. I get three books per month delivered to my letterbox (and sometimes I find the time to read them).


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