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Author Topic: Language learning  (Read 1655 times)


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Language learning
« on: November 02, 2013, 05:53:24 PM »
One of the two things I fear the most is learning a foreign language.  They say it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks and I am afraid that might be true.  Current or returned Volunteers... how was your language learning experience?   How hard is it, and how good of a job does the Peace Corps trainers do?

Offline shawn

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Re: Language learning
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 07:43:05 AM »
Obviously, the difficulty depends on the language to a certain degree.

Peace Corps has spent the last 50 years getting really good at teaching language. Through the whole training process, it felt less like I was learning a whole new language and more like, well, something a lot more straightforward. You'll have several local language facilitators that are real good at what they do and whose sole job is to get you speaking.

That said, it is something you'll have to work on. It doesn't come easy, but it will come. In 3 years, I've never seen a trainee, of any age, fail at the language. Peace Corps will work with you no matter your ability at learning languages.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Language learning
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 12:36:50 AM »
Different posts also have different standards when it comes to learning languages.  Perhaps in the country you are placed in, you can get by with a combination of English and the local language, so you won't feel pressured to know too much of the language.  All depends on where you are placed.  But I know the most successful language learners are the ones who really dive into it and are passionate about it - at any age.  If the staff can see that you are trying, they will let you become a volunteer.  The will swear you in after training as long as you have a plan to continue to improve.  The only problem is if you don't care at all.
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline chebeler

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Re: Language learning
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 10:27:09 PM »
I agree - learning the language sounds daunting but you are not expected to be fluent immediately. You will learn greetings and polite ways to ask for the basics easily. Then lots of smiles and gratitude when the people in the country help you and you do learn - even if you are old like me. Also - many countries are realizing that English is valuable in the international business and computer worlds, so you can trade helping them with English while they help you with their language. I recommend taking a good sized notebook just for your language stuff (an 8 1/2 x 11 spiral bound with some pockets for loose papers).


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Re: Language learning
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 12:43:30 AM »
Language teaching is one area the Peace Corps really excels. My initial thoughts were that we would learn conversational Macedonia so we could at least carry on a half-way intelligent conversation. However, language is taught from the ground up, with basic grammar, sentence structure and learning conjugation of verbs. At first i kind of fought the system, but after a year of tutoring I have come to really appreciate the system PC has developed. I have resigned myself to the fact I will never be fluent in Macedonia, however I certainly can understand a conversation and get my point across when I need to. I can buy groceries, order in restaurants, understand the soap operas on TV and express my wishes for meals. I think I have learned more about English language structure than Macedonian, so if you have a good, solid understanding of English it will help in understanding a foreign language. I have looked for ever conceivable method of learning a foreign language and finally gave up as there are as many methods as there are languages. My advice, don't sweat the language thing, it will come. Take advantage of any tutoring you can get and (the hard part) don't be afraid to make mistakes or that you will be laughed at, it is part of the process and you will find the HCNs will be more than helpful in correcting you or even indulging your mistakes.