Sunday, March 17, 2013

Daunting?



It's interesting. I was on Borgen's facebook page the other day when I came across some English native speakers discussing this particular exchange from Borgen series one. Interestingly Thomas and I (always being latecomers to anything vaguely TV-related) had only discovered Borgen two weeks earlier (Marcel had got the DVD for Xmas) so we were watching an episode a night, enthralled. We happened to have watched that very episode the night before I came upon the discussion. Those taking part in it were obviously in awe of the speed at which Katrine is speaking. English natives aren't great at foreign languages in general and many have never heard anything other than a little French or Spanish, spoken at schoolchild/tourist speed. It's funny, I live in a house where Danish is spoken every day. I hear it all day long. Rather than learning it from a book as I did with French, German, Italian and Swedish, I've picked Danish up through the spoken medium so it was fun to see how strange my fellow English natives found it to listen to. I take it for granted I suppose. When we'd watched it the night before it hadn't even occurred to me that Danish is spoken quickly and I had no trouble understanding what she was saying in this exchange (yes the English subtitles were off before you think I was cheating!) - I tend to think of French and Italian as much faster languages to parse in their spoken form. It was only when I came across the discussion that I realized how far living this bizarre bilingual existence has taken me from my roots. Maybe that is part of the issue with language teaching in the UK. We don't expose people to foreign languages very much and when we do, we slow them down artificially so as not to frighten the English speakers, but of course when we then come face to face with two natives having a conversation, we can't follow it at all. By making it easier, we are actually making it harder.

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