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What'S A Good Language (Or 2) To Learn?


simon43

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I'm deciding on what additional languages I should learn (to conversational level)

Assuming that one is living in Thailand and already speaks English and Thai, what is another useful language (s) to learn, to enable better conversation with foreign tourists?

For my part, I find that most European tourists can converse in English, (not necessarily fluent), but that many Russian and Chinese tourists completely lack any English language skills.

How about Koreans and Japanese? Are they regarded as usually competent in spoken English?

Simon

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I thought that you should be an expert on this, as you are running 2 hotels. What countries does your customers come from. Take the majority of your guests, and learn their language. :)

Edited by Semper
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The optimist learns English, the pessimist learns Chinese, the realist learns AK-47.

the pessimist learns Chinese

I would say the realists learn Chinese. :rolleyes:

Yep. That would be the one.

The international lingua franca of the future.

Best get on the bandwagon....

English is dying..

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@Semper, indeed - I already know from my customer data what languages they speak, and I have a fair idea what would be the best languages to learn - I'm after other peoples' opinions.

But I have to say that Mandarin is right up there

Simon

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To my humble opinion, deciding to learn a language with only in mind "how much money" their native speakers will bring to you, and this without any other cultural interest, is wrong.

Just Methinks...

But, I am old school, not I need of money and more or less fluent in six languages (English being the fifth on the list)

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The optimist learns English, the pessimist learns Chinese, the realist learns AK-47.

Nobody learns nor speaks Chinese.Why ? They cannot. There is no such thing as an official Chinese language. The official language of China is MANDARIN.Each and every province ,as a minimum has its own language. But the official language of China is MANDARIN.

Edited by afarang
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The optimist learns English, the pessimist learns Chinese, the realist learns AK-47.

the pessimist learns Chinese

I would say the realists learn Chinese. :rolleyes:

Yep. That would be the one.

The international lingua franca of the future.

Best get on the bandwagon....

English is dying..

There's more Chinese learning English than foreigners learning Chinese.

SC

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The optimist learns English, the pessimist learns Chinese, the realist learns AK-47.

Nobody learns nor speaks Chinese.Why ? They cannot. There is no such thing as an official Chinese language. The official language of China is MANDARIN.Each and every province ,as a minimum has its own language. But the official language of China is MANDARIN.

Chinese is a written language, which can be written with two scripts - Traditional and Simplified. The most commonly learned form of spoken Chinese is some form of the Beijing dialect - Huayu (Mandarin) in Singapore, Guoyu (Mandarin) in Taiwan, or Putonghua (Mandarin) in the mainland. I don't know the Cantonese for Mandarin. Most British people who learn Chinese learn Cantonese, because that is the language that their parents speak, but gweilo generally believe that one of the versions of Mandarin is more useful, since a) it is the national tongue of the People's Republic and the Republic, and because they believe that HKers and Malaysians should be able to speak English anyway.

Anyway, my advice to the OP would be to go for quality, not quantity

SC

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To my humble opinion, deciding to learn a language with only in mind "how much money" their native speakers will bring to you, and this without any other cultural interest, is wrong.

Er yes ... I agree 100% with your comment. My intention to learn more languages, (over the 4 or 5 languages that I already speak), is to ensure that I provide a good service to my customers, and an understanding of their culture goes hand in hand with that.

My father was a language professor and a polyglot ( he was able to converse in about 20 languages - I never knew the exact number...), - so I probably have inherited the same ability to learn languages.

I learnt some Mandarin about 8 years ago (written/spoken), and I found it easier than learning Thai. I have never tried to learn Russian, but an increasing number of my hotel guests speak Russian and nothing else. Also, the number of Arabic speakers is increasing, and I can read/speak some Arabic and Farsi - again I find reading Arabic easier than Thai.

But it looks like Mandarin is top of the pile right now... :)

Anyway, my advice to the OP would be to go for quality, not quantity

In the situation of a hotel, I would not agree. My customers come from many different countries, and so the ability to converse in multiple languages is more important than being fluent in one or two languages. So one should be able to converse in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as Thai, Mandarin, Russian and then Korean, Arabic and Japanerse helps also.

Simon

Edited by simon43
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Chinese will take the average man forever to master.

With an English background, a good and easy language to master will be bahasa Indonesia.

It is romanised pronunciation similar to English and very useful in south east asia, indonesia alone is massive and you can use it in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

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I learned Thai and Lao and then started dating a woman from Surin and she speaks Khmer on the phone to her mother. Her mother is old and has forgotten which is which and mixes up all three languages. So I still don't really know what anyone is saying. Surin does have great tasting rice though. They say it is because they only get one crop a year. It is more fragrant.

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I personally don't specially like it when people in hotel speak my own language / or say something about my "culture" to me.

I realize the other person is making an effort to make me feel comfortable.

But It usually involves sport, politics (ah Thierry Henry good! ), or some other stuff I don't care to much for, or worse some embarrassing fact about my country (ahah Dominique Strauss Khan, French men, oohlala!), to which I end up having to make an effort also to come up with something vaguely relevant or polite.

I am on holidays and make forgetting home as much as poss and tell me about the place I'm in, rather than reminding me of what I just left, is the best I could expect from hotel staff.

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I personally don't specially like it when people in hotel speak my own language / or say something about my "culture" to me.

I realize the other person is making an effort to make me feel comfortable.

But It usually involves sport, politics (ah Thierry Henry good! ), or some other stuff I don't care to much for, or worse some embarrassing fact about my country (ahah Dominique Strauss Khan, French men, oohlala!), to which I end up having to make an effort also to come up with something vaguely relevant or polite.

I am on holidays and make forgetting home as much as poss and tell me about the place I'm in, rather than reminding me of what I just left, is the best I could expect from hotel staff.

Very astute observation Aneliane !

Yermanee :jap:

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Chinese will take the average man forever to master.

With an English background, a good and easy language to master will be bahasa Indonesia.

It is romanised pronunciation similar to English and very useful in south east asia, indonesia alone is massive and you can use it in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Yup - fully agree, I really struggled with Mandarin Chinese (and Thai) due to the tones, but Bahasa Indonesia is really, really easy to pick-up and it goes a long way in SE Asia.

If you do not fancy Indonesian / Malay then have a bash at Hindi - I enjoyed learning Hindi and you'll find that a lot of people from S Asia can speak it.

Londo

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When someone is talking about Chinese language they mean Chinese Mandarin (Guoyu, Putonghua, Hanyu) as default as this is the main language spoken in the People's Republic of China. If you are looking for more exotic versions of Chinese like Cantonese, Shanghainese etc which are considered dialects and far less foreign people are learning them unless you are not going to speak to people of Hong Kong or Guangdong exclusively. Of course you can learn Sichuan, Guizhou, Shandong, Hunan, Anhui or any other form of Chinese language (dialect) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_varieties_of_Chinese and impress local people who would in any case understand Mandarin or written Chinese.

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I'm taling about Mandarin because most of my 'Chinese' guests come from mainland China and are speaking Mandarin (not Cantonese).

As to learning Mandarin, I find it easier than Thai. I use a Mandarin-Thai dictionary and phrase book, which is much better than using a Mandarin-English pair, since the correct tone for the Mandarin words can be easily written using Thai letters/tones.

Bear in mind that I am only looking at conversational Mandarin, and a small set of written words and phrase that are relevant to a hotel, such as:

You have not paid your bill

Our guest rooms are for 3 persons, not 33 persons

Please ask your ladyboy 'friend' to stop shrieking

... and other such useful phrases :)

Simon

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Chinese will take the average man forever to master.

With an English background, a good and easy language to master will be bahasa Indonesia.

It is romanised pronunciation similar to English and very useful in south east asia, indonesia alone is massive and you can use it in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Yup - fully agree, I really struggled with Mandarin Chinese (and Thai) due to the tones, but Bahasa Indonesia is really, really easy to pick-up and it goes a long way in SE Asia.

If you do not fancy Indonesian / Malay then have a bash at Hindi - I enjoyed learning Hindi and you'll find that a lot of people from S Asia can speak it.

Londo

Yep I'm learning the Bahasa Indonesian currently, it's quite easy to pick up. This will be my third....beside the Thai and English.

I have heard after china, Indonesia is suppose to be the next big thing, so I'm learning it now........and along with how to cook their diff types of SATElicklips.gif

I don't know about learning the Mandarin, most chinese businessmen/ tourists nowadays can speak and understand english quite well actually.

Edited by doji
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I'm taling about Mandarin because most of my 'Chinese' guests come from mainland China and are speaking Mandarin (not Cantonese).

As to learning Mandarin, I find it easier than Thai. I use a Mandarin-Thai dictionary and phrase book, which is much better than using a Mandarin-English pair, since the correct tone for the Mandarin words can be easily written using Thai letters/tones.

Bear in mind that I am only looking at conversational Mandarin, and a small set of written words and phrase that are relevant to a hotel, such as:

You have not paid your bill

Our guest rooms are for 3 persons, not 33 persons

Please ask your ladyboy 'friend' to stop shrieking

... and other such useful phrases :)

Simon

You have not paid your bill

Our guest rooms are for 3 persons, not 33 persons

Please ask your ladyboy 'friend' to stop shrieking

I take it that your Chinese clientele are not in the HI-So category. :lol:

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The optimist learns English, the pessimist learns Chinese, the realist learns AK-47.

Nobody learns nor speaks Chinese.Why ? They cannot. There is no such thing as an official Chinese language. The official language of China is MANDARIN.Each and every province ,as a minimum has its own language. But the official language of China is MANDARIN.

No Chinese language? And what about this?

post-105598-0-93917500-1314078743_thumb.

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Chinese will take the average man forever to master.

With an English background, a good and easy language to master will be bahasa Indonesia.

It is romanised pronunciation similar to English and very useful in south east asia, indonesia alone is massive and you can use it in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Yup - fully agree, I really struggled with Mandarin Chinese (and Thai) due to the tones, but Bahasa Indonesia is really, really easy to pick-up and it goes a long way in SE Asia.

If you do not fancy Indonesian / Malay then have a bash at Hindi - I enjoyed learning Hindi and you'll find that a lot of people from S Asia can speak it.

Londo

Conversational wise, Thai has 5 tones compared to Mandrain/Chinese with 4 tones....tonal languages are very difficult to master.....imagine a single word having few different meanings all because of the tone.

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Yep I'm learning the Bahasa Indonesian currently, it's quite easy to pick up. This will be my third....beside the Thai and English.

I have heard after china, Indonesia is suppose to be the next big thing, so I'm learning it now........and along with how to cook their diff types of SATElicklips.gif

I don't know about learning the Mandarin, most chinese businessmen/ tourists nowadays can speak and understand english quite well actually.

Good on you - I'm sure you will not regret learning Indonesian.

However as for the next big thing - I would be tempted to learn Hindi rather than Indonesian for business purposes. I think that India is approx 1.2-1.3 billion people vs about 300 million for Indonesia. Plus the Indian middle class is growing at a tremendous rate and starting to travel internationally. I have seen some Indonesian tourists in Thailand but not that many compared with the growing Indian sector.

Hindi is also pretty easy to pick-up compared with other tonal Asian languages.

Simon

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