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Spotlight City: Cabo Rojo

Don’t Miss Cabo Rojo!

If you are considering traveling to Puerto Rico, are new to the island, or just need a diversion from your daily routine in the metropolitan area, head to Cabo Rojo! Cabo Rojo, located on the very Southwestern tip of the island, is a small community that offers big time views. Those views, and much more, make Cabo Rojo a must-see despite its distance from San Juan.

Although a trip to Cabo Rojo and back can be completed in a day, it’s a long day of driving so most people make a weekend of it, staying in one of the many small hotels or paradors in the area. Grand Bahía Ocean View Hotel, one of these hotels, is sandwiched between the salt flats and the mangroves, providing a secluded area from which to watch the sun set. The chefs and wait staff at the on-site restaurant, Agua al Cuello, never fail to give you an unforgettable dining experience of fresh seafood and delectable desserts.

From the pool deck of Grand Bahía Ocean View Hotel you can see the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse off to the left. This is an ideal place for photographers and travel enthusiasts. El Faro Los Morillos (as it is called in Spanish) was constructed in 1882 to help sailors through the Mona Passage. Today it is one of Puerto Rico’s most picturesque sights. Set high above the Caribbean waters atop limestone cliffs, the Cabo Rojo lighthouse stands as a beacon summoning visitors and residents alike. Be sure to bring your camera because these are images you won’t want to forget. And keep children near you at all times since there are no guardrails to protect them.

On the other side of the lighthouse is Playa Sucia, a secluded beach for a refreshing dip after climbing the hill to the lighthouse. This inlet in the Caribbean Ocean is a favorite among locals, but can be a challenge to get to if you have kids or lots to carry. Our recommendation would be to pack light because the path is not always accessible via automobile. That way you can truly relax beachfront and enjoy the incredible view and warm sunshine.

For nature enthusiasts, the area also features the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. Those up for a good hike will witness native birds and plants while wandering through the subtropical dry forest. In and around the Interpretive Center (open Thursday through Sunday) you can get more details about the history of the area, including the salt flats, as well as the birds that frequent the area. Guides are also available for a fee. Be sure to bring your sunscreen, bug spray, and water and wear appropriate clothing for hiking! The trails are not long, but the sun is hot!

As you can see, for rest and relaxation, Cabo Rojo is where it’s at! Make sure to include it on your Puerto Rican bucket list!

Watch for other Spotlight City posts from around Puerto Rico courtesy of your Relocation Specialist in Puerto Rico, Global Perceptions!

 

 

 

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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Learning to Love What Your Language Can’t Give You (and What it Can)

Guest post by: Laurie Melin

 

Today I spent five hours in a doctor’s office waiting room. During those five hours, my ears worked on overdrive. I overheard people talking about their illnesses, I listened in when the secretary explained the billing process, I tried to catch patient names called over the loudspeaker, I blocked out the music coming from the headphones of the doctor-waiting-roomguy sitting next to me, and I watched the news drone on and on from a TV in the corner. Once my name was finally called, I talked to a nurse about my symptoms and met with a doctor, who advised me about the prescriptions he was writing for me.

It was a pretty normal doctor’s office experience with one major exception: everything took place in Spanish, my second language. If I paid close attention, I could understand most things said around me and to me, although I had to ask people to repeat themselves more than once. But gone are the days of easily eavesdropping, casually picking up music lyrics, or watching the news while multitasking. In my second language, listening to the spoken word is work. It is usually tiring, and sometimes it is discouraging.

Despite the frustration involved in learning Spanish, the process has taught me to appreciate the ease with which I use English. When I write or speak in English, I am not usually aware of the thought process behind my words. Speaking is as natural as walking. When I write, speak, or listen to Spanish, I pay a lot more attention to the nuances nestled within the language.

 

Lost in Translation

I teach ESL, and my students often want to translate their thoughts directly from Spanish to English (think of the literal Puerto Rican translation of “I’ll call you back” – “te teacherllamo pa’trás”). Not everything translates that way, though. Sometimes Spanish and English align nicely, but often the students have to learn a new way of saying something rather than translating sentences word for word.

That is a good thing! Together, we learn more about the richness and variety offered by languages other than our own. The words, phrases, and syntax that cultures use to express themselves provide a window into the complexity behind spoken thought. When I have to learn how other people say things, I discover a new way to express myself. Sometimes I like the new way better than any way I have known before.

 

 

Words and Idioms

For example, at the language institute where I work, my Puerto Rican colleagues often refer to the students’ style of speaking as “pausado.” There are English words that I can use to describe the same idea – slow, halting, jerky, filled with pauses – but I find pausado to be a better descriptor than any English word I know. Lists online compile words like this from a variety of languages that describe feelings and experiences that English can’t quite capture in one word.

In every language, we blend our words into sayings and idioms that are often fun and always nuanced. Idioms take time to learn in a new language, and behind them often lies real history. Lately, my Dominican students have taught me that “the devil gives you devilnieces and nephews,” and Colombian students have taught me that “love plus distance leads to two happy couples.” English sayings do not offer exactly the same meaning: think of “out of sight, out of mind” – it does not have the same offhanded humor as “amor de lejos, felices los cuatro.”

 

Music and Literature

Music and literature blend words in a beauty that usually cannot be equaled in translation. After moving to Puerto Rico, I tried to help a friend translate the lyrics of a song she wrote, but I found that I could not capture the poignancy and perfection of her Spanish phrases within the same time signature in English. Growing up, I remember noticing that Shakira’s songs in English were not direct translations of the Spanish lyrics, and I wondered why. It is hard to grasp the undertones and intricacy of a meaningful thought when translating it.

In literature, translations also lose the tone of the stories’ speakers, especially the accents and sayings that illustrate characters’ personalities and backgrounds. Many of my Spanish-speaking friends prefer to read English-language novels in the original language rather than read the translation into Spanish.

Now when I use English, I am grateful for the effortlessness involved in manipulating my words and sharing my thoughts. As I continue learning Spanish, though, I love the way new vocabulary and idioms add to my understanding of other people’s experiences and cultural history. I am more aware of both the fun and the challenge that are part of using any language – or combining languages – to express myself.

 

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For further information on language learning in Puerto Rico, visit http://global-perceptions.com/. Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, works closely with you, your family, and your company to assure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

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.

 

Cultural Training in Puerto Rico: Global Perceptions Offers the Whole Package

Are you new to Puerto Rico? Have you participated in a cultural training program yet? If so, your cultural training experience likely consisted of theoretical knowledge about one of the many cultural adaptation models, basic tourist information, and some highlights of the host country. When the adaptation program was over, did you feel any more comfortable or confident about living in Puerto Rico? Major corporations invest thousands of dollars in your adjustment process, yet most people walk away from those cultural training programs without the practical knowledge that they need to deal with the day-to-day life.                                      

What if there were a company that not only offered a more application-oriented cultural training program than that mentioned above, but also assisted you with establishing your phone, cable or electric service, getting your driver’s license or buying a car, finding service professionals like doctors, dentists, hair stylists or housekeepers, obtaining government documents, making appointments, and provided on-going coaching services? You’re in luck! Global Perceptions, your Puerto Rico Relocation Specialist, offers this and more. We don’t believe in leaving you high and dry post-cultural training. Instead, we are there to assist you through every step of the challenging adaptation process. Whether you need a little or a lot of help, our staff welcomes the opportunity to help you through this cultural transition.

Not a Spanish speaker? We can help with that too! Our innovative Spanish-language curriculum is custom-designed with the individual and his/her specific needs in mind. We help you get around town, make formal business presentations, and everything in between. You will learn at your pace from bilingual education professionals who are committed to your progress.

There you have it! Global Perceptions is your relocation solution in Puerto Rico because we offer the Whole Package. We will be there with you every step of the way!

If you have been through a cultural training program, but still feel lost in Puerto Rico, contact Global Perceptions today by calling 787.455.7764 or visiting www.globalperceptions.net

Back-to-school Spanish Tutoring from Global Perceptions

 

 

Help your child feel comfortable and confident with private Spanish tutoring from Global Perceptions!

 

 

It’s back to school time across Puerto Rico! It’s an exciting time for you and your child! If your child, however, has never attended a school in Puerto Rico, going back to school can be daunting. Your child may ask, “Will anyone be my friend? Where will I sit in the lunch room? What if I get lost? What if my teacher is mean?” These are normal responses. After a couple of weeks in the new school, your child will know how to navigate the system, where to sit, and will begin developing friendships with other students.

Once your child begins to adjust, you may still be wondering “How will my child communicate with classmates if s/he doesn’t speak Spanish?” This is an important issue and unfortunately requires much more adjustment time than your child’s other concerns. You may opt to avoid that issue altogether by registering your child in English-language schools. There students are welcomed by English speaking teachers, staff, and classmates. But even in those schools what happens between classes, at lunchtime or at recess? Many of native students in those schools grew up speaking Spanish at home and therefore, are accustomed to playing in Spanish. They speak English quite well in class, but when outside of class, they revert to Spanish or a combination of Spanish and English. In this crucially important social setting, how will my child fare? How will my child develop the friendships that s/he needs to adjust to this new school and culture?

The answer is simple! Enroll your student in private Spanish tutoring sessions with one of the bilingual education professionals at Global Perceptions. Our innovative curriculum can be custom-designed to fit the specific needs of your student no matter if s/he is 5 or 15. We offer age-appropriate study sessions, games, and crafts that help your student master basic Spanish skills needed to survive and thrive in everyday kid-friendly situations. Your child will have fun while learning about the language and culture of Puerto Rico!

 

Contact your Puerto Rico Relocation Specialist NOW to find out about back-to-school offers including FREE CONSULTATIONS until September 15, 2012. Visit www.globalperceptions.net or call 787.455.7764 TODAY!

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!