Tag Archives: Urdu

Language learning is THE best way to make friends.

I originally wrote this blog two years ago as a guest post for FlashSticks. I’ve brought it up to date now. It’s exciting to see how my language learning has progressed in that time…

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of language nerd. I’ve been thinking recently as to why people learn a language. I think for me the greatest reason is that it gives me the chance to make friends. I’m a really relational person and language learning is great for this. As Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language it goes to his heart”

As I walk my children in to school I often say good morning in about four languages to the other parents and children. dzień dobry, bună dimineața, jó reggelt, As- Salàmu ’Alaykum, доброе утро, dobrý deň, Guten Morgen, zăo sháng hăo !

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main languages are Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian or French.

In September, my daughter returned to school, after the summer holidays. She had three children in her class who’d just arrived in the country and spoke no English. The children taught each other to say “good morning” in their own languages. I was really impressed by this mutual language teaching at age 7 and also the way the new children were welcomed into the class. I decided I could do this too, and learn to say at least good morning or simple greetings in these languages.

I started to chat to the new families and learned how to say good morning. I thought language learning would be a great way to get to know other families in the school. It’s been a fun journey. I’ve spoken the wrong language to people a few times and sometime pronounced so badly they did not know what I was saying! The Urdu and Arabic speaking mums automatically respond to me with “Wa ’Alaykum us Salam,” then realise it’s me speaking and look a bit confused or giggle! In time they’ve got used to it though!

On the whole people have been really pleased to teach me a few words of their language and laughed with me as I stumbled over the new expressions. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the experts in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and they like the fact that I take the time to talk with them and try to understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages, so I’m patient!

Cup of tea anyone?

I’ve discovered our local Big Issue seller is Romanian and she has taught me:

Hello Buna dimineata

Goodbye La revedere

I’ve been practicing and improving my Polish with the help of the staff at the local Polish Deli. Through spending time with them I’m getting to know them better especially those who only speak a little English. Other customers in the shop are noticing, too, and will speak to me in Polish if they see me on the High Street, which I love.

I’ve a few Thai girl friends so I always greet them with Sawatdee-kah.

We have Greek friends in church so I greet them with Καλημέρα Τι κάνεις: I’ve also discovered a few of my friends speak Afrikaans so I try my Dutch on them, which often works. In my daughter’s new school we have Spanish, Hungarian and Portuguese speakers, so I try to use these languages whenever I can.

I’ve met Russian, Swedish and Tagalog speaking parents at my local mums and toddlers group and am slowly learning words from them.

I’m enjoying building my own language skills and making friends, too. Do you have anyone you can get to know better by learning their language? I’d love to know how it goes!

U Talk Family Frolics

I was asked if I wanted to join the uTalk challenge. I can’t resist a challenge!HelloEurotalk

In January our whole family took part in the uTalk challenge with Eurotalk

I learned some Urdu

My daughter some French.

My son some Polish

My hubby some Latin

So here’s how we got on.. (in our own words)

 

Sarah – was asked if I wanted to join the uTalk challenge. I can’t resist a challenge! Having heard Urdu around me for many years it was a language I’d been thinking of learning for a while and the challenge gave me the perfect reason to. January was a busy month so I did not have as much time as I’d have liked.

On the school playground there are many Urdu speakers who let me practice on them!

I played  Urdu with the u talk app daily and tried out what I’d learnt with others. I had a few comments about speaking very posh Urdu! I said Aap ka shukria – Thank you . They said just Shukria – thanks was fine.

I learned how to say Subah bakhair – good morning and Alwidah -goodbye.

I found learning my first non European language very tricky as I did not have any clues with words I knew! I did like that hello in Urdu is Hello and many foods are the same too.  I’ve a long way to go to fluency but could now identify a question and recognise some numbers colours and a few other random words.

I did not even start to look at script but I have a few words to greet people here in the UK simply by playing with an app. I’m happy with that.

 

Jasmin age 8

I wanted to learn French with Eurotalk to help with the French I’m learning at school. I found the talk now app easy to use. I felt like I learned a lot and it helps me as the app has a better French accent than my teacher at school.

 

Josh age 15

I enjoyed doing the uTalk Challenge as it helped me learn Polish which I used to to talk to a Polish guy at my school. I found it hard to do it all in one month as I didn’t have much spare time on my hands as I am doing my GCSEs this year and I am preparing for mock exams by doing revision and also having a lot of homework to do, as well as revision. The uTalk Challenge helped me learn some useful Polish phrases to greet people in Polish. After doing the uTalk Challenge I not only started speaking Polish, but also started talking and greeting people in other languages as well such as German and Arabic.

 

Maik age – better not mention that!

I guess I had to enter the uTalk challenge, as I couldn’t let my wife win …  But seriously, my Latin, which I spent five years learning all those years ago in school, had lain dormant for a good while. One thing I had found difficult, being a polyglot, was how differently Latin is taught compared to other languages. As it is supposedly a dead language, little emphasis is placed on speaking it. This is why I liked the Usborne “Latin for beginners” book, with which the uTalk challenge tied in rather nicely.
I did struggle with a lack of local native speakers though, who appear to be mainly resident in the Vatican. However, with uTalk taking the “Conversational Latin” approach, which I had only recently discovered myself, this way of getting to grips with the language worked really well in my existing multilingual framework and was great fun, and therefore easy to maintain. I’m not sure whether I will ever need to ask where I can park my car in Latin, but I am now in a position where for the first time I am starting to think in Latin rather than approaching it with the typical analytical mindset that tends to come HelloEurotalkwith reading a (supposedly) dead language.

What language learners can learn from actors

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My gorgeous, talented husband @lingotutor

Last weekend our family were on stage in The Magic Toyshop by Andrew Willment.

I was helping backstage and it got me thinking. Acting is a lot like language learning. Here is why I think so.

 

Actors learn lines and phrases. They use cues and context to learn their lines.  Many polyglots start a new language by learning key phrases and build from there. When I started to learn Mandarin in January 2015, a  phrase I picked up quickly was:

Wǒ xiǎng yào yībēi kāfēi xièxiè. – I’d like a cup of coffee thank you

It was not long before I figured out how to ask for a cup of tea.- Wǒ xiǎng yào yībēi chá xièxiè.

 

Actors learn a script 

Benny Lewis in his book Fluent in 3 months talks of the value of writing a script in the target language, and learning it to start basic conversations. I’ve been learning Urdu with Eurotalk this month. I’ve learned to say  good morning – Subah Bakhair, Thank you – Shukria, goodbye- Alwidah. With these simple greetings I’ve been able converse with Urdu speaking parents and build up more Urdu as the speakers helped me.

 

Good actors are able to improvise when dialogue goes off script.

Good language learners are not flummoxed when they do not know a word in another language, they simply explain using word they know and communicate their point. I use this a lot when talking to my mum in law in German!
Acting is a lot of fun and allows to you be another person (or simply a more confident you!)

A Turkish proverb says

“One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people.”

I’ve taught my first Chinese New Year class of 2016 this week. When I can communicate and sing in Mandarin it’s an amazing feeling; as I get into the swing of the class I feel I’m flying!
My favourite part of the Magic Toyshop play was these lines…

No look up there, he’s flying …. up… in the air!

Heavens above that’s impossible!

Yes, and someone needs to tell them that or they are going to carry on doing it!

So I tell you… go and do the impossible. Go out there and have a go at communicating in another language, and let me know where it takes you.

Singing four languages in forty minutes.

Yesterday as a family we went along to a multicultural, multinational event called Go Fest.

As a family we think it is very important for our children to see and experience different cultures.
We went along to a multicultural concert by Resonance
Resonance

In forty minutes we had learned and sung along in Farsi, Hindi, Bemba and Urdu. My young girls were soon singing along and shaking their shakers. They loved the Indian drum and handheld Indian cymbals. We found a few phrases we recognised like “Jai Ho” There was a lot of repetition of phrases which really helped us pick the songs up quickly. Us older ones had a lot of fun as well!

One of the group, Rob Baker is an Ethnomusicologist. He studies music in it’s cultural context and spent a long time in West Africa capturing local music and helping people compose songs in their own language. Exciting stuff!

Music is a brilliant way to engage with other cultures and languages. Is there an event you know about your family can join in? Let us know how it goes!

Resonance
run song writing workshops encouraging groups to write songs in their native language and so strengthen their cultural identity. The band are from Singapore, Britain, Italy and Germany. Some of the band members have spent a lot of time in Mali and Tibet and so studied the culture and music of the countries.