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How easy is it to pickup a new language while teaching eng?
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Mena



Joined: 02 Jan 2009
Posts: 19
Location: California

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:35 pm    Post subject: How easy is it to pickup a new language while teaching eng? Reply with quote

If I go to china and teach, I want to learn and become fluent in chinese while I am there. If I go to Argentina, I want to learn and become fluent in spanish while I am there. How easy is this to do along with all of the teaching hours? I am worried about being so tired from work, I will not have enough energy to learn another language. This is my main purpose of going anyway. I want to become fluent in second language and still be able to make some money to pay my bills in the US.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had some colleagues in China who had picked up enough (through immersion/exposure, without any real formal or private learning) by the end of a year to be able to direct taxis, order food, make very basic phone calls, and exchange everyday basic conversational pleasantries. (Me, I'd done a year's postgraduate-level diploma, after which I could speak and read and write to an intermediate to upper-intermediate level, before heading for China, so I was in a position to judge their progress somewhat). If you want to progress faster than them, but fear you won't have the time or inclination even once "immersed" (and bear in mind that you will be functionally illiterate due to being surrounded by hanzi, Chinese characters), you'd be best studying at least a 'Teach Yourself'-style course or two before you go. Remember also that FULL fluency (i.e. to a bilingual level) will probably remain an impossible goal for most.

Some resources for learning Chinese:

http://chinesepod.com/resources/overview
http://learnchinese.elanguageschool.net/
> http://learnchinese.elanguageschool.net/course/view.php?id=6
>> http://learnchinese.elanguageschool.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=32

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=8OT_Sbk0yekC

http://books.google.co.uk/books?q=get+by+in+chinese - This is a nice, very gentle introduction with a good amount of well-recorded listening material. Would just about take you to elementary level i.e. somewhat beyond total beginner, but not quite to pre-internediate level, I guess.

Books by Elizabeth Scurfield, particularly her friendly Teach Yourself (Mandarin) Chinese course, which is really NOT impossibly more complex than both her Beginner's Chinese and Beginner's Chinese Script books, despite what Amazon reviews may say, and which supplies the grammar that may be lacking - and possibly needed! - in the Chinese Conversation course that she was co-author of. My only criticism of this TY(M)C course would however be that the recorded conversations are at least at first just a little too unnaturally slow - "good" for listening, but less so as a model to follow in your own speech, lest you be thought a little slow or pedantic, or just plain strange. (More natural but still clear right from the very start is the Colloquial Chinese course below. One could therefore say that whilst the Scurfield deals quite well with how Chinese may talk to freigners and vice versa - generally slowly, clearly, politely, and rather boringly - the CC course meanwhile attempts to show rather more of how the Chinese actually talk amongst themselves at least, which is obviously what those aspiring to more a "native level" will undoubtedly appreciate). Scurfield from about midway in the book onwards introduces more Chinese characters and explanation thereof (stroke order breakdowns etc) than in most initial courses, going into such detail for perhaps a few hundred characters, and supplying character forms for all the vocabulary listed in the C-E section of the glossary at the rear of the book as well as an appendix of earlier dialogues in character form (for those interested in going back to read everything in characters rather than Pinyin). Also included is a list of common signs.

Chinese in Three Months, by Ping-cheng T'ung and H.D.R.Baker. The accompanying recordings that are available are excellent in terms of amount and quality, and the reduced/simplified grammar explanations and shorter/more numerous (but consequently less sustained and developed) dialogues probably make this a better choice for most people "studying" Chinese than the Routledge Colloquial Chinese course (below) that T'ung co-authored prior to this Hugo one. Hits/reaches about the same or a slightly higher level regarding speech as the Scurfield or Qian courses, but doesn't really deal with characters beyond introducing a few dozen used in public signs.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jMofKEBKQ4AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=colloquial+chinese
http://www.amazon.com/review/R1R6UZML5IH1TV/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
-Thorough long-term/university first-year-level course, with succinct explanations, and more amusing, lively, rich, realistic and extended/well-developed contexts (dialogues) than in most courses (and as mentioned above, the speed/rate of speech is faster and more lively than with most courses, which will help in the long run), followed and built upon with plenty of example sentences illustrating grammar structures and points; that is, this reaches a higher level of detail, depth and sophistication regarding speech than the other courses mentioned above and below (characters aren't taught at all, but an excellent Character Text is also available, which covers about 800 characters, in traditional/full-form and simplified character editions (meaning, the dialogues etc that you'll read will be in one form or the other - but details of the other form and variants are included in the character charts and stroke order diagrams - so I'd therefore recommend that if you do buy this text, you should get the traditional form so that you'll get plenty of practice in at least reading the more complex forms...the simplified forms are easy enough to write and remember in comparison!)).
( > http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jMofKEBKQ4AC
>> http://www.ebookee.com/Colloquial-Chinese-The-Complete-Course-for-Beginners-Routledge-REUPLOAD-_63184.html - what appears to be a free book download, but note it is the less ambitious new/somewhat simplified same-titled 'Colloquial Chinese' course by Kan Qian i.e. this reaches about the level as the TYC and Hugo courses above, but not really the same level of the previous CC title by T'ung and Pollard. Makes a token attempt to teach Chinese character composition and stroke order by introducing about 75 characters singly and in combination (obviously nowhere near enough to achieve any functional level of literacy), and like the Hugo course has an appendix of common signs; a reasonable and certainly not-too-difficult course).

http://www.alphadictionary.com/directory/Languages/Sino,045Tibetan/Chinese/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/7100039339/ref=sib_dp_pt - Manser's bilingual/two-way dictionary seems the standard recommendation, but bear in mind that in the actual examples beyond the very headwords and phrasal subentries - examples in which changes in/of context often introduce the need for new, subtler concepts and thus characters - Pinyin isn't provided, making this a dictionary seemingly more for Chinese learners of English than for English learners of Chinese, especially if the latter is a complete beginner, for whom something like the variants of the bilingual Oxford dictionary by Boping Yuan and Sally Church would be better for the earlier, up-to-pre-intermediate stages of learning; that being said, the Manser does list bracketed traditional variants in the actual radical index, which is a helpful feature. A more comprehensive but correspondingly less-detailed-in-the-basics dictionary than the Yuan/Church is the bilingual completely pinyin-ordered dictionary from Langenscheidt (but a radical index to enable look up of characters whose pronunciation is unknown is still provided). Getting more advanced, the Far East one-way C-E dictionary is a great radical-organized tome, rich in cultural/classical stuff, with not only the usual radical index but one that allows look up by total stroke count of not only those characters with hard-to-identify radicals, but every character included in the dictionary! (A Pinyin index is also included, but this obviously adds an extra, "unnecessary" lookup stage for those who'd prefer Pinyin ordering of the main text (and who doesn't, ultimately!)); meanwhile, the ABC one-way C-E completely Pinyin-ordered dictionary mentioned a little further below is obviously much more comprehensive than the Langenscheidt two-way above, and might be just the thing to get one up to an advanced level potentially more quickly; as for English-Chinese dictionaries, the intermediate student of Chinese shouldn't have too many problems in being able to benefit from the thorough one-way E-C translations/editions available of learner dictionaries such as the Longman Active Study, or the Oxford Advanced Learner's.
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=gQF8kvWmFJkC&pg=PT1&dq=John+DeFrancis+ABC - this link is to DeFrancis' very interesting The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy, but the ABC Dictionary already mentioned above, and on this preview's back cover, again is an excellent dictionary. As with the Langenscheidt, the means are still provided to look up characters whose pronunciation isn't known (i.e. there is a radical index), but the ABC has lots more additional and valuable appendices and information generally; then, compared to the Manser, it has more phrases and compounds, even if they are a bit more spread out (due to the strict alphabetical ordering breaking up what would otherwise be blocks of character compounds listed under just the first character's Pinyin (as in the Manser)). A dinky, truly pocket-sized edition is available.

Two older dictionaries that are available for limited preview:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=NisLLQ_KPT4C
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MzJ3FnI6nAoC

http://www.amazon.com/Mandarin-Chinese-English-Bilingual-Dictionary-Dictionaries/dp/0756634423/ref=si3_rdr_bb_product

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=H6m835BJdbUC

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=njea2LBW4jcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mandarin+grammar

http://books.google.co.uk/books?q=chinese+grammar - The Routledge is certainly comprehensive, and there is an Essential Grammar, Basic and Intermediate workbooks, and a survey of the Lexicon (see below) also available from the same team; then, the Practical Chinese Grammar shown further down the page accompanies and very helpfully expands on the previous edition of the well-known Practical Chinese Reader course.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=s3ya83cTuXsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=chinese+lexicon#PPR5,M1

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CYqFKrihrgMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=ramsey+china

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G8pX7AFFyPgC&pg=PT1&dq=write+chinese&lr=#PPP1,M1 (more likely to be available than http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2sikOgAACAAJ&dq=colloquial+chinese+character+text&lr= )

http://www.shuifeng.net/Pinyin.Asp

http://www.nciku.com/


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:31 pm; edited 22 times in total
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The simple answer is, there is no simple answer.

How easy is it for you to "pick up" any foreign language? The more different it is from your own, the harder it will be.

Do you plan to just self-study? You will have to be pretty disciplined to ignore the allure of sightseeing, the friendly calls of your coworkers and foreign friends, and any other daily chores you might have to do (including lesson prep/checking).

What sort of teaching will take up your work day? The hours may leave you only with evenings or early mornings. Is that going to be enough, or are you diligent enough to squeeze in 30-60 minutes every day?

Do you want spoken fluency only? Or do you want to be able to read and write, too? And, just how fluent do you intend to be? Enough to order coffee, talk about the weather or political news, give lectures, run for office, pass a certain exam, etc.?

The main issue, as I see it, is self-discipline. It is hard for anyone freshly dropped into a country to ignore the surroundings and set aside time to study. The newness of the surroundings, including everything I mentioned above, attracts you and distracts you.
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Lhenderson



Joined: 15 Dec 2008
Posts: 135
Location: Shanghai JuLu Road

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer.

How easy is it for you to "pick up" any foreign language? The more different it is from your own, the harder it will be.

Do you plan to just self-study? You will have to be pretty disciplined to ignore the allure of sightseeing, the friendly calls of your coworkers and foreign friends, and any other daily chores you might have to do (including lesson prep/checking).

What sort of teaching will take up your work day? The hours may leave you only with evenings or early mornings. Is that going to be enough, or are you diligent enough to squeeze in 30-60 minutes every day?

Do you want spoken fluency only? Or do you want to be able to read and write, too? And, just how fluent do you intend to be? Enough to order coffee, talk about the weather or political news, give lectures, run for office, pass a certain exam, etc.?

The main issue, as I see it, is self-discipline. It is hard for anyone freshly dropped into a country to ignore the surroundings and set aside time to study. The newness of the surroundings, including everything I mentioned above, attracts you and distracts you.

Glenny, I have to object to your post for its' negativity and harshness.

I ask you: how long have you been in Japan and at what level of Japanese have you acheived?

To the OP, learning the language as an FT can, in fact, be done. And quite quickly.

One method used by many who have achieved success to turn your lesson plan prepared earlier than the lesson into the language of your students. Thus you have have a lesson x2...for your students (in class) and for you (before and after class!)

Whilts I always focus on the lesson to my classes and demand this in the teachers I hire (I AM IN A HIRING POSTION!) there are many ways that ESL can assist you in language acquistion!
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Lhenderson



Joined: 15 Dec 2008
Posts: 135
Location: Shanghai JuLu Road

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer.

How easy is it for you to "pick up" any foreign language? The more different it is from your own, the harder it will be.

Do you plan to just self-study? You will have to be pretty disciplined to ignore the allure of sightseeing, the friendly calls of your coworkers and foreign friends, and any other daily chores you might have to do (including lesson prep/checking).

What sort of teaching will take up your work day? The hours may leave you only with evenings or early mornings. Is that going to be enough, or are you diligent enough to squeeze in 30-60 minutes every day?

Do you want spoken fluency only? Or do you want to be able to read and write, too? And, just how fluent do you intend to be? Enough to order coffee, talk about the weather or political news, give lectures, run for office, pass a certain exam, etc.?

The main issue, as I see it, is self-discipline. It is hard for anyone freshly dropped into a country to ignore the surroundings and set aside time to study. The newness of the surroundings, including everything I mentioned above, attracts you and distracts you.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhenderson wrote:
Glenny, I have to object to your post for its' negativity and harshness.
And I object to your total childish use of my name. Use it correctly, or I won't bother to answer you.

I'm negative? Yup. Do you see what facts I wrote as being incorrect, though?
Harsh? Perhaps, but am I incorrect?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9513
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski's right. It's tough to 'pick up' a language while teaching abroad, particularly if one is in a country for just a year or two. It takes commitment, and it's not easy. That's realistic.
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tedkarma



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 1595
Location: The World is my Oyster

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've lived and worked in five different countries over twenty years and never found it "easy" to learn the local languages.

You do pick up what you need, but if you are an English teacher and take your work seriously - everything you do at work will be in English.

The same situation for my wife - who is also an English teacher and spends her day communicating in English - and comes home and talks to me in English.

These days we do pick up some restaurant Thai, but even that is limited.


Last edited by tedkarma on Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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denise



Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 3419
Location: finally home-ish

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhenderson wrote:

Glenny, I have to object to your post for its' negativity and harshness.

I ask you: how long have you been in Japan and at what level of Japanese have you acheived?

To the OP, learning the language as an FT can, in fact, be done. And quite quickly.

One method used by many who have achieved success to turn your lesson plan prepared earlier than the lesson into the language of your students. Thus you have have a lesson x2...for your students (in class) and for you (before and after class!)

Whilts I always focus on the lesson to my classes and demand this in the teachers I hire (I AM IN A HIRING POSTION!) there are many ways that ESL can assist you in language acquistion!


Glenski's posts are always informative. Sometimes newbies want to hear that everything will be perfect, they'll save scads of money in their first year, become fluent in the local language, find the love of their life, have some some of major revelation, etc., etc., and it's just not like that in this job.

I also agree with spiral78 and tedkarma. Simply living in the country will not make you fluent, and as an English teacher it is basically your job to speak English 40ish hours a week. Outside of your classroom and office, it's simply a matter of priorities: will you spend your free time at the gym? learning a new hobby? chatting at the pub with your friends? exploring the country? studying the language? Some activities (e.g., traveling around the country) lend themselves to language acquisition better than others, of course.

Personally, I'm not good at learning the local language. Studying it, sure... but the only place where I could ever fully conduct myself in the language was in South America, because I had already studied Spanish off and on for several years (several years before I moved down there, so I was very rusty and still made tons of mistakes). I'm a far better classroom learner than on-the-streets learner. I function far better when I have assignments, exams, and deadlines than I do if I'm just left to my own devices. With Czech and Japanese, I took some classes, did a bit of homework on my own, and had some scattered language exchange partners, but I never advanced beyond a beginner's level. Why not? Priorities. I did other activities in my free time.

d
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tedkarma



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 1595
Location: The World is my Oyster

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I support what Denise has to say.

As mentioned earlier, part of the issue is the time and discipline required to learn a language. In the Peace Corps I was required to get semi-decent with Setswana and also Ikalanga (for the specific area where I lived). In Korea, Korean was actually easy to learn for reading and speaking but the grammar was difficult. In Taiwan, I really enjoyed studying Mandarin.

But . . . by the time I got to Saudi Arabia and then on to Thailand . . . frankly, I grew tired of studying language all the time. There are other things to do with one's time than memorizing grammar and vocabulary.

I have to confess that I have never cared if I was "fluent" anywhere or not. Though I have always learned just enough to get around, to negotiate as needed and to solve common problems. But - I am pretty self-contained and don't need a lot of friends in any one location, thus never needed languages beyond the necessities.
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Never Ceased To Be Amazed



Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 3500
Location: Shhh...don't talk to me...I'm playin' dead...

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lhenderson wrote:
Glenski wrote:
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer.

How easy is it for you to "pick up" any foreign language? The more different it is from your own, the harder it will be.

Do you plan to just self-study? You will have to be pretty disciplined to ignore the allure of sightseeing, the friendly calls of your coworkers and foreign friends, and any other daily chores you might have to do (including lesson prep/checking).

What sort of teaching will take up your work day? The hours may leave you only with evenings or early mornings. Is that going to be enough, or are you diligent enough to squeeze in 30-60 minutes every day?

Do you want spoken fluency only? Or do you want to be able to read and write, too? And, just how fluent do you intend to be? Enough to order coffee, talk about the weather or political news, give lectures, run for office, pass a certain exam, etc.?

The main issue, as I see it, is self-discipline. It is hard for anyone freshly dropped into a country to ignore the surroundings and set aside time to study. The newness of the surroundings, including everything I mentioned above, attracts you and distracts you.

Glenny, I have to object to your post for its' negativity and harshness.

I ask you: how long have you been in Japan and at what level of Japanese have you acheived?

To the OP, learning the language as an FT can, in fact, be done. And quite quickly.

One method used by many who have achieved success to turn your lesson plan prepared earlier than the lesson into the language of your students. Thus you have have a lesson x2...for your students (in class) and for you (before and after class!)

Whilts I always focus on the lesson to my classes and demand this in the teachers I hire (I AM IN A HIRING POSTION!) there are many ways that ESL can assist you in language acquistion!


Christ! We're all happy for you! How often and on how many boards are you going to make this self-depreciating statement? At least, I know who NOT to inverview with! I AM NOT IN A POSIION TO BE HIRED!

NCTBA

P.s.- Learn how to spell you over-achiever!
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never Ceased To Be Amazed wrote:
Christ! We're all happy for you! How often and on how many boards are you going to make this self-depreciating statement?
Perhaps it's his way of (Internet-)shouting out that he wants applicants (without paying for the advertising).
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Never Ceased To Be Amazed



Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 3500
Location: Shhh...don't talk to me...I'm playin' dead...

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Never Ceased To Be Amazed wrote:
Christ! We're all happy for you! How often and on how many boards are you going to make this self-depreciating statement?
Perhaps it's his way of (Internet-)shouting out that he wants applicants (without paying for the advertising).


Well, Glenski, could be, but methinks that he is, what he considers, an underappreciated "pro" who has finally achieved a level of distinction that represents what he considers his life's attainment. I mean, it is HE who calls the shots here, right? I mean. I AM IN A HIRING POSITION is all the hallmarks of success, doncha think?

NCTBA

P.s.- Again, I AM NOT IN A POSITION TO BE HIRED by the likes of him!
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Justin Trullinger



Joined: 28 Jan 2005
Posts: 3110
Location: Seoul, South Korea and Myanmar for a bit

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skipping some of the polemics, how hard it is to "pick up" a language isn't quite the raise I would phrase it.

"Pick up" just sounds awfully casually to me. I've picked up the guitar pretty casually, which is probably one of the reasons I suck.

I've learned Spanish, which sounds hard and was. Have done likewise with a few others, though never for as long, or as well. But it can be done. With a SERIOUS effort, that takes up most of your free time, I'd say you can hit funtional in most situations somewhere from six months to two years. If you really want to be correct and "fluent," take however long it took to get "functional," and double it.

This isn't negativity. I'm saying it can be done. I'm in a partially administrative position, and do all my admin work in Spanish, including writing proposals and giving presentations. I also sometimes lecture in Spanish at local universities. I know it can be done, because I've done it.

It was hard. Very hard, and takes discipline. I've seen many expats become fluent in the local language, and I've known at least as many who didn't, though they had been in a country long enough to.

It depends on how hard you work, and how much you want it. (Funny, that's about what I tell my students about learning English, too.)

Best,
Justin

PS- I also am in a hiring position. Crying or Very sad I have been in a hiring position long enough that I realize that it's a heck of a lot of work, under difficult circumstances, for not that much more compensation. Hiring others also is synonymous with taking responsibility for things you can't control. Shocked And being answerable to everybody for it. I'm doing it. But I'm not going to brag about it. It's a job- and all other things being equal, I'd rather teach all the time.
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Never Ceased To Be Amazed



Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 3500
Location: Shhh...don't talk to me...I'm playin' dead...

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Justin Trullinger wrote:
Skipping some of the polemics, how hard it is to "pick up" a language isn't quite the raise I would phrase it.

"Pick up" just sounds awfully casually to me. I've picked up the guitar pretty casually, which is probably one of the reasons I suck.

I've learned Spanish, which sounds hard and was. Have done likewise with a few others, though never for as long, or as well. But it can be done. With a SERIOUS effort, that takes up most of your free time, I'd say you can hit funtional in most situations somewhere from six months to two years. If you really want to be correct and "fluent," take however long it took to get "functional," and double it.

This isn't negativity. I'm saying it can be done. I'm in a partially administrative position, and do all my admin work in Spanish, including writing proposals and giving presentations. I also sometimes lecture in Spanish at local universities. I know it can be done, because I've done it.

It was hard. Very hard, and takes discipline. I've seen many expats become fluent in the local language, and I've known at least as many who didn't, though they had been in a country long enough to.

It depends on how hard you work, and how much you want it. (Funny, that's about what I tell my students about learning English, too.)

Best,
Justin

PS- I also am in a hiring position. Crying or Very sad I have been in a hiring position long enough that I realize that it's a heck of a lot of work, under difficult circumstances, for not that much more compensation. Hiring others also is synonymous with taking responsibility for things you can't control. Shocked And being answerable to everybody for it. I'm doing it. But I'm not going to brag about it. It's a job- and all other things being equal, I'd rather teach all the time.


And, this is why, I'd never accept my Chair's psoition. She's a great lady, but as my wife has implored me to get outta teaching, management, in my mind is NO solution.

NCTBA
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