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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Problems With English

Posted by Raul on September 27, 2010



These are some situations that happen when you are in a new place without knowing the language; some happened to me, some happened to friends from different nationalities that also didn’t know the language at the beginning.

-After asking for directions in a store, she was told the place she was looking for was in Colorado Avenue in thirty seconds. She thought: “That Avenue cannot be just thirty seconds from here!” It was Colorado Avenue and 32nd.

-A friend just arrived to the States was lost after going out for a walk to see the new place he was going to live in. After finding a public phone and calling home he was asked where he was so someone could go get him.

               (in Spanish)

            -Where are you?

           -I don’t know where I am, I’m lost!

           -Read the street signs to me so I’ll know where you are.

          -I am in “One Way” with “No Parking”

-Another friend had a hard time with hot and cold water. Every time he wanted to use water from the sink he got burned.

In Spanish cold is “helado” and hot is “caliente” so, forgetting things were in English here he always looked at the knobs and chose “H” for cold (Helado) or “C” for hot (Caliente). It took him a couple of months to get in his memory the real meaning of those letters in the knobs.

-I was told the story of a guy who was very happy with all the money saved in food after he found some specific cans in the grocery store; he didn’t know English so he couldn’t read, but he recognized the food by the picture of a dog in the labels.

-When they say Cowgirl, are they saying she is fat?

-How can I Get Lost if I’m standing in front of you without moving and I know my way around?

-Raining cats and dogs! Do the clouds get a lawsuit from PETA? (Just the thought of those poor creatures hitting the concrete floor! Bones, blood and flesh spread everywhere…yikes!)

Training: (noun) The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior

Your: (possessive determiner) Belonging to or associated with the person or people that the speaker is addressing.

Mind: (noun) The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think…

So “Training your mind” could be: “Teaching your dog for him to be aware of the world”

Strange indeed!

It is my belief that a language creates the way we think, so people who learned English as their first language think slightly different from people who learned Spanish as their first language, from people who learned German as their first language, etc.

The brain works in a different way moving the elements to associate in a different order, so conclusions and ideas take a different perspective and meaning.

That could become a barrier and a problem, but also can be a possibility to give ourselves the opportunity to see the world from other people’s perspective and learn something else from them.

Since living in the US I had the opportunity to meet many people from different countries and with different languages, and although some times it has been complicated to understand the way of thinking, it has always been a very rewarding experience.

The human brain is such an amazing thing!


Me Talking English!

Posted by Raul on November 16, 2009





It’s been a long learning process that has extended for the past eighteen years and still today remains as a continuous task to apply myself at.


I never had formal training in the study of the English language other than some courses while at the equivalent of high school in my country some thirty years ago, and I still don’t understand how I manage to pass those courses!


Mostly what I’ve learnt throughout these years is while at different jobs, listening music and watching TV, together with the normal interacting with people that occurs in everyday life.


Perhaps the most difficult part has been when trying to retake the writing of my observations and tales since the common talk in the streets is different from the written word.


One thing that helped me in this process was the mutual challenge we had with my son on how long it’ll take us to read some books.


As a way to motivate him in reading and practice myself in the English language several years ago when he was about ten years old I challenged him to read faster than me the stories of books like “Animorphs” and “Star Wars” We read those books by turn and compared the number of hours it took us each; needles to say that after just a couple of books my son became the permanent winner in our little contest.


Another element that helped me in my learning process was a formal training I had at college here in the US in the program of Airframe and Powerplant; a program that I took mostly as a way of learning in several areas of aviation mechanics with the intention of applying that knowledge in the area of car restoration.


This program was provided in English and by the end of it (seventeen months) there were practical, written and oral tests, which I can proudly say I passed with an average of 96 percent and several gallons of sweat!


So now, with a still basic knowledge of the English language and in the process of improving it a little more everyday I undertake the task of writing posts for this blog.


For that reason don’t be surprised if the grammar aspect of my writing doesn’t quite fit some times, and if noting those mistakes you feel up to write me a quick note to let me know I’ll be thankful for your help.






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