Tag Archives: Language Programas

Linguistic hierarchy: How language shows respect

Linguistic hierarchy: How language shows respect

By Jennifer Alvarez and Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

Learning a second language is not only about learning vocabulary and sentence structure. It is also about learning culture. In this post, we talk about forms of respect inherent in different languages. While some cultures are more hierarchical in nature, others are less hierarchical, and their languages reflect those differences. We have taken examples from English, French, Spanish, and Japanese to demonstrate these concepts. While reading, consider the words you use in everyday life. Think about how your native language compares and then ask yourself two important questions: 1) how does your native language reflect hierarchy and 2) what does that say about the importance (or lack thereof) of hierarchy in your native culture?

 

2013-07-13 15.54.04Let’s begin with English! English spoken in the Southern region of the United States shows respect when speaking to others in positions of authority or elders by using Sir (for men) or Ma’am (for women). People in the Northern United States tend to use the terms Mr. or Mrs. in front of the person’s last name instead. However, referring to people simply by their first name has become the norm throughout much of the U.S.

 

           Hello (formal): Hello, ma’am or sir/Mr. Smith.

           Hello (informal): Hello.

 

           You’re welcome (formal): You are welcome, ma’am or sir/Mrs. Smith.

           You’re welcome (informal): You’re welcome.

 

           How are you? (formal): How are you, ma’am or sir?

           How are you? (informal): How are you?

 

The French language also distinguishes between formal and informal settings, showing respect for strangers, those in positions of authority, and elders. The “tu” form is used in informal situations, while speakers use “vous” to refer to people in formal settings. Both mean “you,” but “vous” shows a deeper level of respect for your conversational counterpart. Both the subject pronoun and the verb change to reflect this. Below are a few examples of everyday phrases in both a formal and informal setting in French.

 

          IMG_2184Please (formal): S’il vous plait.

Please (informal): S’il te plait.

 

What is your name? (formal): Comment vous appelez-vous?

What is your name? (informal): Comment t’appelles tu?

 

How are you? (formal): Comment allez-vous?

How are you? (informal): Ça va?

 

A fellow Latin-based romance language, Spanish, like French, differentiates between a formal “you” and an informal “you.” When in an informal setting, such as with friends or family, use the “tu” form. When speaking to strangers, someone in a higher position such as a manager, as well as older adults, use “usted.”  Again, note that the verb ending is also different to reflect the change in subject use. Some everyday phrases that are used in the Spanish language are listed below to show both formal and informal usage.

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How are you? (formal):  ¿Cómo está usted?

How are you? (informal): ¿Cómo tú estás?

 

What is your name? (formal):  ¿Cómo se llama usted? OR ¿Cuál es su nombre?

What is your name? (informal): ¿Cómo te llamas? OR ¿Cuál es tu nombre?

 

Where are you from? (formal):  ¿De dónde es usted?

Where are you from? (informal): ¿De dónde tú eres?

 

Japanese has two types of “respect languages.” The context of the situation and the identity of the person to whom you are speaking are the criteria used to determine which type of language is spoken. The two types of “respect languages” are: “sonkeigo,” which translates to respectful language, and “kensongo,” which is the use of modest or humble language. Following are a few examples.

 

Sonkeigo, the respectful language, is used when talking about superiors and customers.  This type of language is never used to refer to one’s self. This language is only used when referring to someone else. It is necessary to use different verb conjugations when using this type of respect language. To show respect to an elder, for example, one may change the word “suru,” meaning “do,” to “hasaru.” Altering the verb in this way shows deference or respect despite the fact that the two words have the same meaning.

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Kensongo, the modest or humble language, is used to describe one’s actions or the actions of someone in a group such as customers in a business. Kensongo is used to describe situations in which someone is speaking of an action that took place while assisting another. For example, the word carry, which is “motsu,” is changed to “mochi shimasu” because the term is being used to retell a story in which that person helped someone carry something.

 

“I had to motsu the books.” This is adequate because someone is talking about a personal action they did for themselves. Alternately, that sentence would read, “I had to mochi shimasu the books for the customer today” if the person did the action for someone else.

 

Understanding how language shows respect for authority is important for everyday conversations, but is also extremely important for business transactions. Whether or not you make an attempt to speak the other language in negotiations, make sure that you are aware of hierarchical protocol prior to engaging the other party. Showing such deference will go a long way.

 

For more language learning tips to help you through your cultural adaptation process, contact Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico.

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Developing a Personal Language Learning Plan

Developing a personal language learning plan

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

You have rung in the New Year and written your list of resolutions. Like many others, your list includes lose weight, exercise more, and learn a new language. After a week into the New Year, we ask, how are you doing with that list? How have your daily practices changed? Are you still committed to those resolutions?

 

If you are still doing them, terrific! Stick with it! If not, we want to help. People often decide that they are going to make sweeping changes in their lives, but do not really contemplate all that goes into making those changes happen. Ask yourself when, why, where, and how to get on the right path. When do I have the time to exercise? Why do I want to make this change? How do I find the support that I need to stay committed?

Change Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.

www.englishandculture.com

As language learning specialists, we want to help you develop a plan that will help you achieve your language learning goals this year. We believe that there are five main obstacles to learning a new language (or making other significant changes in your life). Those obstacles include: time, energy, money, commitment, and support. Though many people will use these obstacles as excuses not to do something, we believe they are the resources that make all the difference. Consider this…we all have time for the things we enjoy doing. They are important to us so we find time. Our jobs, kids and other activities drain energy from us, but yet we find more energy to forge ahead. We are a little short on cash this week, but if it is important to us, we always find a way to get the funds. We simply need to be committed. If the commitment is not there, we will never follow through. However, if we clear our minds and stay focused on the goal, nothing will deter us.

 

Learning a new language requires the same mindset. It requires changing the way we think about those so-called obstacles. By turning the challenges into small hurdles to jump rather than mountains to climb, we alter our brain chemistry and turn them into possibilities instead of limitations. That alone opens up our mind to thinking in a new way—something that is critical for learning a new language.

www.aischool.org

www.aischool.org

To learn a new language, we recommend establishing a learning plan. Start by determining how much time you can realistically set aside for learning. The key word there is ‘realistic.’ If you only have 10 minutes per day, then set that as your goal. Next, decide what time of day you can consistently set aside those 10 minutes. Set an alarm to remind yourself and actually use that 10 minutes to study. Now you cannot say you do not have the time.

 

Find yourself a proper study space. Make sure you have enough light and are comfortable in the space. Bring your materials (pens, notebooks, dictionaries, etc.) so you do not have to get up from the space during those 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes are for you to study. Do not let yourself be distracted by other things. Maintain your focus. Now you have the materials and location. They are no longer obstacles.

office design

There are many language programs out there that report incredible results, but many come with an incredible price tag. If your bank account is not very deep, start with some of the free apps like Duolingo or 50languages.com. Start to learn the basics with these programs before investing large sums in programs that often end up on your shelves or hard drives, never to be opened. See, money was just a small hurdle to jump.

 

Select a method that works for you. If you are an auditory learner, use CDs, podcasts, and other online programs where you can listen and repeat. If visual learning is more your style, write the words in your notebook. Highlight important things with bright colors. Use flashcards to repeatedly see the words. If you prefer to move around while studying, make sure you have some space. Act out the words. Stretch, strike a pose, dance, or get on your elliptical machine. Now you know how to make this happen.

 

Whichever method you choose, stick with it. Remember, learning a language does not happen overnight. You have to be committed for the change the take place. For many people maintaining that commitment is the biggest challenge. One of the best ways to stay committed is by having a support network to help. Get a language coach or tutor who can help you along the way. Family members may know the language and be willing to help, but our experience has been that students often prefer to learn from someone outside the immediate family. In that space students can make mistakes and learn from them without the embarrassment of being laughed at in front of their family.

www.1stopwellness.net

www.1stopwellness.net

With a dedicated time and study space, money in your pocket, a method that works for you, and a support network around you, you can do this! You can learn a new language! Make 2015 the year that you follow through on your resolutions by taking these steps. We will be here to help you along the way!

 

For more insight into learning foreign languages, please contact Global Perceptions. We are relocation and language specialists who want to help you and your family transition smoothly from life in one culture to another. Contact us TODAY! 

 

 

 

Top Five Tips for Learning Spanish in Puerto Rico

To make the most of your stay in Puerto Rico it is important that you make an effort to speak basic Spanish. To accomplish this, you can invest in any of the audio programs available or take classes designed to teach Spanish in a short time period. Many people learn basic terms and phrases this way, aiding their initial transition.

However, if you want to interact competently among Puerto Ricans, learning to speak Spanish like the locals is imperative. Those who already speak some Spanish upon arrival will likely discover that they are not understood and they don’t understand what others are saying either. Puerto Rican Spanish is not like other Spanish. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that you’ll have to work harder to communicate. But how do you learn to speak like the locals?

  1. Make the commitment: If you are going to learn anything in life, you have to make a commitment to learning it. Learning a language is no different. Consider how you learn best and go with that. If you are a visual learner, use flash cards. If you’re an auditory learner, get CDs that you can play in the car or download podcasts. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, try doing something active that allows you to immediately apply concepts.
  2. Get involved: Take classes, go to the gym, find a congregation, learn to salsa dance, or find another more suitable activity. Whatever your personal interest, feed it while getting involved in the local community. You can learn body parts during yoga class and watch what others do. Listening to the lead chef of a cooking class repeat words for stir, mix, or bake will amplify your vocabulary. Observe what’s going on around you. You’ll be amazed at how much you pick up after the first few weeks by getting involved.
  3. Make friends with the locals: Don’t be shy. Get to know your neighbors and others around you. They are a great source of information and you can practice your Spanish with them. Locals can keep you informed of upcoming events, tell you what’s new around town, and help you avoid unsafe places. It’s fine to make friends with non-locals as well, but try to balance between the two so that you get perspectives from both sides.
  4. Tour the island: Get out and see the island. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with some priceless treasures. You can go surfing, play golf, ride a horse, and see ancient ruins all in the same day. The further away from San Juan you go, the less people speak English so this makes for a great way to practice and learn new words. Don’t stay holed up in your house. Go out and explore beyond the shore!
  5. Party: Yes, PARTY! Participating in the many festivities that take place year round is a terrific way to observe cultural customs and learn words for local foods and beverages. If you get invited, be sure to go. You may feel overwhelmed, but go anyway. Look for small opportunities to add to the conversation or simply listen to others and attempt to pick up a few words. It’s not easy, especially when music and seven simultaneous conversations drown out your immediate conversation, but keep at it. You’ll get the hang of it and have fun at the same time.

Overall, don’t give up! Learning Spanish will get easier. Take advantage of all possible opportunities to put yourself out there. You’ll be amazed at what you learn! Mistakes will be made, laughs will be had, but you’ll learn much more than vocabulary along the way. This is key to having the best possible experience you can on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

Don’t forget that we are offering FREE CONSULTATIONS for Spanish lessons for both adults and children until September 15, 2012. Contact Global Perceptions TODAY for an appointment! Visit www.globalperceptions.net or call 787.455.7764.

 

Is Spanish Necessary in Puerto Rico?

Depending on who you ask, posing this question can land you smack in the middle of a highly contested political debate. Is English enough? Should English be spoken at all? Should Spanish be the official language of Puerto Rico? Each of these questions can be answered in different ways. With that in mind, the ensuing post should not be construed as a political statement. Rather, this post is representative of the personal and professional experiences of Global Perceptions’ President since moving to the island in 2006.

The simple answer to whether or not Spanish is necessary is “Yes!” The complicated answer is that the extent of Spanish necessary depends on where you live, what you do on a daily basis, your sense of adventure and interest in local culture. Many foreigners decide to live near other non-natives, forming an English-speaking enclave in which they can function. These English bubbles offer support and advice for newcomers and provide a sense of home away from home. Being a part of one of these groups is critical for most newcomers.

As helpful as these enclaves can be for establishing connections, they should not be the only connections that you make. Living in these spaces may be ideal in the beginning; however, you should work to branch out into the local community as well. This is where Spanish becomes increasingly important. Many people you meet have some English skills, but they much prefer to speak Spanish. To put gas in your car, answer the guards when they call your home with a delivery, make a bank deposit or get a haircut, you need to speak basic Spanish. If you have the time before your arrival to learn Spanish, do so. If not, make it a priority once you arrive. Look for an instructor or program with a positive track record that focuses on local conversation skills. You live in Puerto Rico, not Spain or Mexico. Learning to speak like Spaniards will only help you on your vacation there. It won’t help you much here.

Once you have basic skills learned in a classroom setting, put them into use. Make an effort to use your Spanish even if it’s not very good. Local people will appreciate the effort and will be more apt to help you as well. If you really want to practice, make sure you keep speaking Spanish even if they switch to English. They want to help you, but you can’t learn if you don’t practice so stick with it. If you truly have the desire to learn, you will. If you don’t make learning Spanish a priority, you will never make the leap and will miss out on a lot of the experiences you could have had.

If the idea of learning Spanish seems intimidating, consider private classes with Global Perceptions. We focus on teaching students to interact in the local community and function on a day-to-day basis whether as executives, students, military personnel, athletes, or accompanying partners. Our custom-designed materials are innovative and interactive for all ages.

 

FREE consultations for adult and youth Spanish tutoring sessions are being held until September 15, 2012. Contact us TODAY for your FREE appointment! Call us at 787.455.7764 or visit our webpage at www.globalperceptions.net.

 

¡Aprende a hablar inglés en Puerto Rico con la Dra. J!

 La Dra. J es una mujer norteamericana del MidWest.  En 1995 comenzó a ofrecer clases de inglés en todos los niveles estudiantiles.  A través de los años, ha ayudado a personas de diferentes partes del mundo a mejorar sus destrezas de inglés de varias formas y maneras.

En el año 2006 se mudó a Puerto Rico, y desde entonces ha continuado dando clases en la Universidad de Puerto Rico y a domicilio, trabajando con ejecutivos, estudiantes, y cualquier otra persona dispuesta a aprender el idioma inglés.  La Dra. J disfruta ver cómo estas personas mejoran su nivel de vida a través de sus destrezas con el inglés.  Estas clases han ayudado a estos estudiantes a pasar satisfactoriamente el examen TOEFL, graduarse de la universidad, mudarse a los EEUU y a alcanzar otras metas personales, como por ejemplo trabajos a nivel federal.

¿Cómo es que sus estudiantes han alcanzado tantas metas?  Primero, la Dra. J evalúa cada persona para saber a qué nivel se encuentra y cuáles son sus intereses y metas.  Luego, ella diseña un currículo, por temas de interés del cliente, para lograr estas metas.  Estas clases privadas proveen a cada persona la oportunidad de desarrollar sus destrezas y practicar con una experta en la materia.  La Dra. J puede ayudar tanto en destrezas de inglés conversacional, escrito o comprensivo, todo esto sin importar el nivel de conocimiento de la persona.  Ella lleva a la persona paso a paso, a su ritmo, reforzando los temas de interés señalados anteriormente.

Además, la Dra. J sabe lo difícil que es aprender otro idioma.  Cuando llegó a Puerto Rico tuvo muchos problemas para hablar español con los puertorriqueños, y aún más para comprenderlos, pero a través del tiempo se ha adaptado al idioma español.  Por eso ella entiende muy bien qué quiere decir cuando comete un error al hablarlo, y puede explicar la razón por decirlo así.

¡No dejes pasar otro año sin aprender inglés! Toma la decisión de salir de la vida cotidiana y atreverte a enfrentarte a una vida con más oportunidades. ¡Aprende inglés hoy! Sé parte de los billones de personas del mundo que hablan inglés como primer, segundo o tercer idioma.  ¡Matricúlate en las clases con la Dra. J, y toma el primer paso hacia un 2012 lleno de nuevas oportunidades!

¡Aprende ingles en 2012! Llama hoy al 787.455.7764 o envía un correo electrónico al clasesdeingles@globalperceptions.net. Consultas GRATIS hasta el 10 de febrero.

 


Top Five Reasons to Learn Puerto Rican Spanish from a Native English Speaker

My family moved (AGAIN!) the summer before eighth grade, forcing me, a 13-year old girl at the time, to try to fit into yet another school and community. It wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad we made that move now when I look back because the new school only had one foreign language option—Spanish. I had already started taking French classes prior to the move, but now decided that I would add Spanish too. I continued studying both Spanish and French in high school and college. After obtaining my Ph.D., I made the move to San Juan, Puerto Rico where I immediately put my vast knowledge of book Spanish to the test. There was just one problem with this. Book Spanish is NOT the same as practical, everyday Spanish. And Puerto Rican Spanish is even more different than what was in the books. I began to seriously doubt whether I was ever going to be able to communicate effectively in my new home. Luckily for me, I’m a very determined woman and wasn’t going to let this stop me from getting the most out of my Puerto Rico experience.

To get to where I am today, I made a lot of mistakes, got lost numerous times, and paid more than I should have on several occasions. After more than five years, I have reached a point where I can speak fluently with natives and have them ask me how I can possibly speak Spanish so well. It’s comforting to know that they approve of and appreciate my efforts. Now I use my experiences to teach other non-Spanish speakers to speak local Spanish so that they can complete daily tasks with minimal stress.

So why should you take Spanish classes with me versus a native Spanish speaker? I’ll give you five reasons!

  1. I have been in your shoes and know the feelings that you’re experiencing.
  2. I know the mistakes that English speakers make when speaking Spanish and can help you avoid them.
  3. I can explain things in ways that you understand using examples from English.
  4. I provide speaking opportunities with someone like you so that you can build your confidence.
  5. You need practice, not perfection!

To take advantage of your FREE, no obligation consultation, call me at 787.455.7754 or send an email to jparenteau@globalperceptions.net. Hurry! Free consultations last until January 31, 2012!