Tag Archives: language

10 Tips for Talking with Someone Who’s Learning a New Language

An example of a potentially challenging environment for a non-native speaker.

An example of a potentially challenging environment for a non-native speaker.

The first call was an honest mistake – I told the girl who asked for Laura that she had the wrong number. The second call was a little more suspect. As the request was repeated, the voices of other girls – they sounded like tweens – twittered in the background. By the third call, I knew this had turned into a prank. My reiteration that they had the wrong number was followed in Spanish by, “You talk really funny,” “Where are you from?” and “We’ve never heard anyone that talks weird like you.” Much laughing ensued. I hung up and asked my husband to answer if the phone rang again.

Fortunately, when it comes to being made fun of for an accent, I’m a seasoned old-timer. I grew up in the Deep South, in a north Georgia town where monosyllabic words became two or even three syllables (I stretched my high school boyfriend’s name, Jeff, to Juh-ay-efff), certain letters were eaten or substituted (“At ‘er tree is gonna fawl,” “This war seems to be about ‘awl’,” and “Are you ‘fur’ it or ‘agin’ it?”), and colorful phrases were the norm (“My dog ain’t in that fight!”). While I could do a mean impersonation of an aristocratic low country accent, my accent was more Appalachian hillbilly. I was hounded mercilessly when I went to Connecticut for college and had to battle the age-old assumption that people with an accent are somehow dumber than those without.

Fast forward to Colombia, where I speak solid Spanish but, alas, with an accent. Continue reading

Part 3: Ten Ways that Parenting in Colombia is Different than in the U.S.

It’s a rule of lawyers and interior designers that you must have three elements in your argument or decorative arrangement, not two. If both lawyers and home stylists do it, there must be something to it! Okay, that makes no sense, but at least now I feel justified in having divided my top ten list of parental surprises into three parts.

Who's ready to party?!

Who’s ready to party?!

In this third and final installment, we’ll tackle that mother of all stress-inducing events — the event from which all other stress-inducing events are born — children’s birthday parties. Plus, we’ll take a look at language and transportation.

For those of you who missed the first posts (or who need a refresher because it’s been so long!), in Part 1, we explored sticky (ha!) food-related issues. In Part 2, I took you on some child care adventures and exposed my own cluelessness. As it turns out, my cluelessness is a good place to start for this current post. Continue reading