Fall 2022 #4
October 24, 2022
by Caroline Magolske, MUDEC student
Hello! Moien! Bonjour! All of these are greeting I hear on a daily basis while studying in Luxembourg. When first arriving in Luxembourg, I thought that most people would speak English, and for the most part, I was correct. But there have been plenty of experiences when I struggled because I didn't know another language. I am able to navigate my way, but about half of the time I find myself struggling with conversations.
My host mom does not speak English, and my roommate and I do not speak German, Luxembourgish, or French. So we have had difficulty talking to each other, but we have made it work!
Something that has been extremely helpful while communicating with my host mom has been using Google Translate. It does get the job done but sometimes the sentences don't quite match what they are probably meant to say. However, I am very thankful for the Google Translate app, which I use daily.
It is quite embarrassing when we are at a restaurant and none of my friends or I know what the menu says. The Google Translate app enables you to take a picture of what you want to translate, and then it converts it to English. So, when we are sitting at the table we all have to pull out our phones. But once we have the translation, it is so helpful!
Near the campus there is a café, where I grab a coffee and a pastry every day. When we first arrived, we all were trying to speak broken French or Luxembourgish to order food from Bertos. They do have some staff who speak English, so whenever we come in, they know how to communicate with us.
Students, including myself, also point to pastries in the food case to choose the ones they want. When we try to speak in French, it does not always go so well.
Most students order cappuccinos, or in French “une cappuccino”. I would walk up and say “une cappuccino et un croissant” to order a cappuccino and a croissant. I also love ordering the almond croissant so I say “une almond croissant,” which I do not think is correct, but I still manage to get the right thing every time!
I am very happy to be dealing with language barriers because it has taught me to be patient and appreciate different languages. I am taking French 101 this semester, which has also been a huge help, but I still struggle on a daily basis with language barriers. Sometimes when we travel we get confused about where to go, and it would be very helpful if we were able to talk to someone there who could help us.
When is a time when you encountered a language barrier, and how did you deal with it?
It seems that most students are able to use Google Translate to help with their difficulties in communication. They do agree that it can be difficult sometimes, but there are always ways around it!
“I’m living with a host dad and a host grandma! We love hanging out with our host grandma because she is so sweet and gives us treats like yogurt and cookies. But my host grandma speaks a mix of French and Italian. It can be frustrating since none of my roommates and I fluently speak her language. We dealt with this language barrier by brushing up on our old French skills and of course with the help of Google Translate!”
“When I was in Morocco, not many people that I met there spoke English. Arabic (which I do not speak) was the predominant language in the region I was in. However, a lot of people did also speak Spanish, and I know a little bit of that, so I spoke to them in Spanish! I also used Google Translate a lot, which was a big help.”
“During our first week, my roommate and I went to an Italian restaurant, and the staff did not speak much English. They seemed to be very confused when we asked for a table. They were saying we had to wait for a table, but we did not understand French. Eventually, we realized we should just ask them what was happening through the Translate app. When we used the app they understood us! Normally they have a waiter who speaks English; we just happened to come on a night when he wasn't working. We have gone back to the restaurant many times since. We learned that using the Translate app is a super easy way to ask quick questions and understand others!!”
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