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LEARNING FOREIGN LANGUAGE
I think it’s really important to learn any language no matter how few people speak it. It broadens your mind, you learn about other cultures and about other ways of thinking. A lot of people, I know, in England, when I said I was learning Hungarian, would say, “What’s the point? Nobody speaks it outside Hungary”. I remember telling my mum I wanted to learn Swedish and she said, ‘Nobody speaks it outside Sweden”, but what if I wanted to go and live there? It would be essential that I learn it. You can’t expect people to speak English.
People have the attitude in England that, you know, the whole world speaks English. They stop the American guy who works here in the stock market and he said, “Oh, in five years time everyone in Budapest will speak English. Budapest will be an English-speaking town’. I think that’s incredibly arrogant. Of course, if people want to learn it as a second language that’s their right, but you can’t force them. You can’t force a language down somebody’s throat, you have to want to learn it.
I saw a film recently, called “Nell”, about a hermit. Jody Foster played the hermit. She only shared her language with her mother, but then her mother died and she was left with no-one in the world who could understand her. There was quite a good line when someone said, “How are we going to communicate with her?” and someone else replied “Well, someone’s going to have to learn her language”, not “She’ll have to learn English”. I quite liked that bit.
I think language learning is very important for literature, as there’s some literature that we cannot translate. Some works by Pushkin, for example, Eugene Onegin, they say are impossible to translate because Russian has very different endings, which can make very complex poetry which just doesn’t work in English.
When you’ve learnt how to learn a language, when you’ve learnt one language, I think you can easily learn more languages, although I don’t know how many languages I could keep in my head at the same time. I am not totally fluent any more, I think, in Russian, not having used it for a couple of years, because I am now concerning on Hungarian, but if I go to Russia I remember it immediately – well it comes back after two or three days. If I meet a Russian man, it’s much more difficult. The Hungarian words come into my head.
Once you’ve learnt how to learn a language, I think you can learn others. You know the tricks, you know how to use the appropriate part of your brain. I know people who have parents from two different countries, half Russian, half Hungarian, or half English, half French and they’ve brought up bilingually. They can learn other languages, because they have that kind of skill already quite well-developed inside them.
I always try and get a phrase book if I go anywhere, because I think it really opens doors, it really helps to establish contact, if you know a few words like ‘thank you’, ‘please’, and ‘good-bye’. It shows that you‘re interested and that you care about the country.
English people are so used to foreigners speaking English that they accept all accents, and understand even when foreigners speak English very poorly, but I think Hungarians are quite picky. I always find that there are a lot of people who try to correct every single word, which can make communication very difficult.
I’ve studied five foreign languages now, French, Russian, Spanish,, Czech and now Hungarian. Sometimes I have studied on my own, sometimes in a class. I think it’s definitely easier in a class. I tried to learn Hungarian on my own, but you really have to live in a place if you are going to have any idea about the language. For example, when I went to Spain, I could hardly understand anything at first, as people spoke ten times faster than anyone ever spoke at school.
I think it’s really interesting to meet people from other cultures and to communicate with them in their own language. I think of my best friends, only a few are native English speakers. I have good friends in Russia, France, Holland, Iceland, Czech, Slovakia and Slovenia, all over, and it really gives me the opportunity to travel and broaden my mind. I think I will probably learn another language at some point. I think it may be Swedish, but only because I’ve heard that it’s really easy, or may be Italian, I suppose.
Найдите в тексте ответы на следующие вопросы:
1. Is it possible to learn a foreign language if you don’t want but you are forced to?
2. What opportunities does the knowledge of a foreign language give to anybody?
3. How is it easier to study a foreign language?
4. Will it be easier to learn the second foreign language after you’ve learnt the first one?
5. Is it difficult to study a foreign language?
6. Are there different compartments in brain where you store foreign languages?
7. Is it more difficult to learn similar or quite different languages?
8. Does the ability to speak a foreign language depend on your self-confidence?
9. Is it useful to learn a foreign language if it is spoken only in one small country?
10. What is the best way to study a foreign language?
11. Is it easy to speak a foreign language if you haven’t practiced it for a long time?
12. How is it better to establish contact in a foreign country?
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