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SGSpouse and I are packing for a trip to Taiwan, so I have been trying to learn some Chinese phrases. It really is difficult for me, but I know that learning just a handful of phrases and the numbers is incredibly valuable.

Based on my travel experience, my opinion is that you need to learn to say at least a handful of things in the native language: Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank-you should be learned just because trying at least that much buys a lot of good will. If you get in a jam and need help or guidance, good will is incredibly valuable. Next you need to know how to ask "How much is it?", "Where is the . . .?", "How far to . . . ?" and a few other questions. Last, but not least, you need to know how to count.

The difference that these few phrases can make in your success at finding what you want to see in a country where English is not spoken is significant. I learned that lesson a long time ago when I first traveled to countries that didn't speak English, Spanish or Italian (the only languages I ever studied and learned the basics).

But recently, I've gotten lazy and it has had an impact. When we traveled to India earlier this year, I didn't bother to even try to learn the language. SGSpouse and I had traveled to India about 4 years ago and during our stay (in New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra) never had even the remotest opportunity to speak anything but English. Virtually everyone we encountered and dealt with spoke English fairly well while we could barely utter even a few simple Hindi phrases. But this trip, we traveled to Bhopal and Pachmarhi and it was rare that we encountered anyone who spoke even a word of English. We found ourselves having a very difficult time negotiating transportation. We had trouble communicating both the destination we wanted to arrive at and the price to get there. Some days we spent quite a bit of our time struggling with communication issues that would have been simple with even a tiny amount of language skill. Purchases in shops and restaurants were also difficult.

Similarly, last month we took our second trip to the Netherlands and did no language preparation because our previous trip had been to Amsterdam and den Haag where English was spoken by almost everyone we encountered. But this trip we drove into the countryside and stayed in Emmens, far from any large cities. We traveled across the countryside through a myriad of small towns looking for the 56 known Hunebeddens. (By the way, I've seen them all now). Again, communication was often poor.

So, I am listening to Cantonese phrases and trying to repeat them tonight in preparation for our trip. I'm hoping to be able to at least speak the basic pleasantries, ask a few questions and be able to count.

Hunebedden: http://members.home.nl/jbmeijer/frntpage.htm

https://www.google.com/search?q=hunebedden&hl=en&tbo...
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Isn't there an app for that?

I got a little 'translator' 5 or 8 years ago...from a swap meet....translates phrases in 10 or 12 languages into English and from English into the language....it has like 200 canned phrases in it.

I'd think by now there'd be an app for your smartphone or tablet PC that you picked the phrase in English and it would speak it in whatever language you came up with.


Depends if you want to speak Cantonese or Mandarin...

here's one that popped up


https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/medspeak-cantonese-translato...




have fun


t.
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With all my Dutch relatives still living there, I'm ashamed to say I had NEVER heard of the hunebedden, SG! So glad you taught me about them....It's great how much one can learn on the boards, even before breakfast.
Thanks.

And good luck with your Chinese...or rather Taiwanese.I've been trying to learn Mandarin for several years..but as I don't have any regular classes right now, it is all out the window.And I have given up traditional characters ( still in Taiwan) for simplified.

Big Momma
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Based on my travel experience, my opinion is that you need to learn to say at least a handful of things in the native language: Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank-you should be learned just because trying at least that much buys a lot of good will. If you get in a jam and need help or guidance, good will is incredibly valuable. Next you need to know how to ask "How much is it?", "Where is the . . .?", "How far to . . . ?" and a few other questions. Last, but not least, you need to know how to count.

That will get you most of what you need to get by. The other thing I've found handy is knowing the names of food, so you can look at a menu and order.
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I have to travel with my laptop because of the requirements of the technical meetings I'm attending and all the presentations and information I have to provide. So I've never really embraced ipods, tablets or smartphones. I have a tablet that I've played with but never used. But SGSpouse is devoted to her ipod and has searched for a good translator app. She had one the last time we traveled to Germany, but we both found that our rudimentary abilities to speak a few phrases and count was far more effective. We really never found a good use for the translator. The German translator allowed you to type in sentences that it would translate. SGSpouse never found one for Chineses that did this. They only came with canned phrases which is even more frustrating to use.

I don't know if you've ever actually tried to use one of these when traveling in another country, but they tend to be more frustrating than useful. If you're really stuck and can find someone patient enough to allow you to key in sentences or look up phrases to play, they can be helpful, I guess. But you still have to understand the response. And obviously, they don't really accomplish the same thing when it comes to basic politeness and pleasantness. Being able to say please and thank-you etc. lets people know you have some respect for them. Playing the same thing through your iphone just doesn't get the same point across.
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And good luck with your Chinese...or rather Taiwanese.I've been trying to learn Mandarin for several years..but as I don't have any regular classes right now, it is all out the window.

I manage to lose all memory of the phrases and things I learn within a matter of days after each trip ends. I don't expect to communicate more than the most rudimentary of concepts in Taiwan and I know I won't remember any of it within a week of my return.

Even for languages I've studied, I've found I forget them when I don't use them. It takes a little longer to forget and it comes back quicker when I visit countries that speak that language, but I still forget. I did post-doc work in Italy and at one time spoke Italian well enough to get around fairly efficiently and even have fairly basic conversations. I probably couldn't come up with more than a handful of words or phrases right now. I studied Spanish for a few years in high school and then in adult education courses after my undergraduate work. Then I spent months at a time in South America and traveling through Mexico about 30 years ago. Yet I would have to study for weeks to get back to rudimentary conversation.
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The other thing I've found handy is knowing the names of food, so you can look at a menu and order.

Yes. I actually printed out a table of food/restaurant vocabulary to take with me on this trip.
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That will get you most of what you need to get by. The other thing I've found handy is knowing the names of food, so you can look at a menu and order.

Thanks to my Chinese ex, I know the names of a lot of food, but no idea of the Chinese characters.

Count Upp
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I don't expect to communicate more than the most rudimentary of concepts in Taiwan and I know I won't remember any of it within a week of my return.

You also mentioned being able to understand the response. I think the Cantonese dialect sounds like an argument, even if it's just a quiet conversation between friends. (again, thanks to my Chinese ex and her relatives.)

Count Upp
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Where are you getting your audio cantonese phrases?

I agree that actually speaking a few words goes a long way to having a pleasant expeerience. :-)

I've been using the Pimsleur Language Approach ... but, it isn't something that one can do in one day/evening.

have a GREAT trip :-)
ralph
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I've been using the Pimsleur Language Approach

I used Pimsleur to learn Czech. But everyone in Prague spoke perfect English so I really didn't get a chance to use it much.
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SG,

I worked for an Indian manager many years ago. One of my co-workers said it must be nice to be able speak your native language when you meet fellow countrymen. He replied that that doesn't happen too often, since there are over 100 different languages used in various parts of the country.

The main reason the British made everyone study English was because it was too difficult to employ enough translators to cover the country. The natives maintain the use of English for the same reason.
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Based on my travel experience, my opinion is that you need to learn to say at least a handful of things in the native language: Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank-you should be learned just because trying at least that much buys a lot of good will. If you get in a jam and need help or guidance, good will is incredibly valuable. - salaryguru

I wholeheartedly agree! I love traveling to foreign countries and I'm acutely aware that I'm merely the visitor. Showing respect by trying to master at least a few phrases (especially "Thank You") goes a long ways towards creating amity.

I've had plenty of people laugh at my feeble attempts at speaking their language, but those very same people inevitably show their appreciation for the fact I even tried.
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So, I am listening to Cantonese phrases and trying to repeat them tonight in preparation for our trip.

Oh, dear! In Taiwan, they speak Mandarin or Taiwanese. Not Cantonese.
I'm sorry I wasn't here in time to mention it before you left.
How was your trip?

Vickifool
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Oh, dear! In Taiwan, they speak Mandarin or Taiwanese. Not Cantonese.

I never even noticed that I had typed that. It was a brain phart on my part, Vicki. I was studying Mandarin. I wondered why tele had referenced Cantonese software when I was studying Mandarin. Now I know it is because I wrote the wrong thing.

My language work didn't help me too much, as it turns out. I was able occasionally to hear a price or a number that I understood, and managed to make a few people happy to hear me butcher a greeting or thank-you, but mostly, I had a very difficult time understanding anyone and even when I tried, my pronunciation left most people in the dark.

It turns out that we took pictures of various maps of the city with the names of places we wanted to visit using an iPod. The photos could then be used to communicate where we wanted to travel. Taxis were all metered and very affordable in both Kao-hsuing and Taipai. The subways were very easy to use with enough English to get the job done. Buses were more difficult to use, but we managed when we needed to use them.

Our last day in Taiwan started in Kao-hsiung. After breakfast, we took a taxi to the Taiwan High Speed Rail Station, the fast train to Taipai, a bus to the airport where we checked our luggage about 8 hours before our flight. Then we took another bus to northern Taipai, walked about 10 blocks to the metro station, took a metro several stops, and finally a cab to the National Palace Museum (http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/home.htm) where Chiang Kai-shek stored all the loot from China. After about 4 hours in the museum (not nearly enough time) we undid the last part of that to get to the airport and catch our flight back to LAX and then on to Phoenix. It makes for a very long 30 + hours of travel, but because of the magic of the international date line, we got home only a few hours after we started. I can't imagine a region in the US where that kind of public transportation option exists. It is very impressive.
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