Yoga in French? Oui!

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Ready for yoga

Attended my second yoga class in the nearby village yesterday, and enjoyed it this time too. I understand next to nothing, the teacher only speaks high-speed French and I realized already last week that the best thing to do is to relax, just let the words pass and be in my own bubble.

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Last night before dusk

Since I have practiced a lot of yoga before, I know most of the postures and have worked myself through not being caught in “showing off” or “have to get it right”, which certainly helps in this setting.

Every now and then teacher Max comes to correct me a little, showing and pointing, and then letting me get back into my own space. And yes, I do get out a lot of it.
Many people believe yoga is all about body postures, breath or spirit. But really, it’s a mix between all of it, and that’s why it’s possible to get something out of a class even if you don’t understand more than words like “slowly”, “inhale”, “exhale” and “meditation pose”.

When we first arrived in France, a little less than one year ago, I would never have dared to go to an activity like this, I was frightened by the French language and that I could’nt make myself understood, or understand what others say. Glad to have gotten over that phase!

//Wivan

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It’s so French!

The minute I stepped out of the shuttle bus from the airport, arriving in Toulouse, I could recognize the sense of France I remember from last winter and spring that we spend in this region.
All of a sudden it was clear that I actually do know and remember quite a lot of French words (in writing), and I was even able to order my lunch in French, with a little translation help from the English menu.

The lunch was a French love story in itself with taste of rosemary, fresh locally grown vegetables and a superb coffee afterwards. High quality products and good cooking does make a huge difference.

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Green grapes

Now I’m back at one of the places we were house sitting at last winter, with people who have become our friends and now host me while I help out with a little work on the farm. Here are horses, cats, sheep and chicken, and today I get to work on a renovation project in the old stable.

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Fresh eggs every day

These people are so sweet, hugging me time and making sure I am doing good all the time. And they too serve food to die for! Lots of it is grown here in their own vegetable garden.

Next week Anders arrives, and then we’ll be house sitting at this place for two weeks. It’s very quiet and calm out here, and a lovely view over the Pyrenees and I am so happy to get to see this view now, when it’s green, sunny and beautiful in another way than last winter.

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French country house

When living a nomadic lifestyle it’s wonderful to come back to places and people, to recognize and be able to actually continue a conversation and not always start a new one.

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Work outfit

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Four new eggs per day

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The sheep love beeing fed grain

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Hills and valleys

Take care and enjoy this day. Who can you take up a conversation with today?

//Wivan

Undskyld, pardon, disculpe

German, English, Portuguese, Arabic, French, Spanish and some Danish. Oh, and Swedish of course.

There are many languages circulating in our heads after meeting with different people, cultures and places over the last eight months. And some phrases seem to stick extra hard into the memory in each language.

We had no clue what we ordered for lunch that day

We had no clue what we ordered for lunch that day

Like the word undskyld, which means ‘pardon’ in Danish. That’s one word that use to come out as an excuse if I don’t hear what someone is saying or if I want to walk pass somebody in a store or on the street. Doesn’t matter where we are, that’s the word that’s glued into my head when I’m outside of Sweden.

In French the expression Bon weekend soon became my absolute favorite when wishing someone a nice weekend. I would actually be a bit disappointed on Mondays, having to wait several days until I could use it again!

Back in Sweden, all of a sudden we understand what people are saying around us

Back in Sweden, all of a sudden we understand what people are saying around us

There have been many times when all of those languages became a mush and were all mixed up. Not to talk about the dialects and pronunciation… A different story! Let’s just say our former ‘proper’ American accent went down the drain in France and our Swenglish is blooming like never before. At least mine. And the funny thing is that I am ok with that, there is no language shame any more.

In Flores in the Azores I met a sailor who speaks Spanish and just a little English. For me it’s the opposite, and we did our best in talking and listening with words, body language and examples. It worked out ok, no long discussions or really deep talks about life, but we were able to understand and practice some basics.

Anders outside "The green store" in Flores

Anders outside “The green store” in Flores

Now over the summer, not really knowing where we’ll spend the coming winter, we’re practicing Spanish on Duolingo again, and I listen to the French course we have on our mobiles. For the time being it feels rich to learn bits and pieces of languages and we both look forward to when we’re able to master a third, fourth and maybe fifth language!

Summer walks inspire to listening and learning more

Summer walks inspire to listening and learning more

Hej då // Wivan

Turning barriers into bumps

After six months in countries where we don’t speak the language, we’ve met quite a few situations where those language “barriers” could have stopped us. Sometimes we have let ourselves be stopped by the lack of ability to speak fluently, but we’ve also trained ourselves in overcoming those barriers and turning them into speed bumps instead.

At the market in Thiviers

At the market in Thiviers

When we first arrived in France, back in November last year, the very first day we arrived in the small village where our first house sit was, we walked around, looking for a place to eat. It had been a really intense period of moving out of our house, selling it and then driving for 24 hours straight through Europe. We felt tired and insecure, not at all ready to try and order food in a restaurant. We gave in to the “barrier”.

Instead we went to the local supermarket and got some things to eat that first afternoon.

From the supermarket: baguette, wine & toilet paper

From the supermarket: baguette, wine & toilet paper

After a few days of rest, settling down to that new way of life, and starting to accept that we didn’t know any French whatsoever, we started going to markets and found out we were able to make ourselves understood anyways. And when it comes to buying things, Anders’ take on it is that someone who sells really should want to “help us out” to get what we want, meaning we shouldn’t be ashamed but try our best and rely on the other person wanting to sell us something. If that’s not the case, we simply take our money and go someplace else.

At Au Fil du Temps in Brantôme in November: it was a surprise to see what we had ordered!

At Au Fil du Temps in Brantôme in November: it was a surprise to see what we had ordered!

We also downloaded an app with an offline French dictionary, to be able to look some words up, and we have been using Google translate a lot to find out single words or understanding certain phrases. After those first days of language barriers, we set up a strategy to ask the person we wanted to talk to if they speak English, instead of just starting to talk – we thought that was a more polite way of meeting people. And later we’ve of course learned phrases in French to ask just that, and have at times written down the essentials for remembering what to say or ask for in the butcher’s shop or at the post office.

To us, who like learning languages, and have quite a good sense of it too, it certainly has been a mental challenge not to be able to speak freely and say what we want.

In Cairo we used an online home-delivery at times

In Cairo we used an online home-delivery at times

It’s been helpful to meet travelers totally without shame for not speaking a second or third language, who just go ahead and try their best, failing forward and expecting to be caught when falling. Always with a smile on their face.

So that’s what we do now: always smiling, trying with whatever little words we know, then smile a bit more, and expecting some help. It goes a long way! And with our Swedish and English as main languages, we also speak a little German, understand some Spanish and practice a little French. Let’s just say that we don’t intend to learn any Portuguese at the moment, though Wivan’s new found “friend” whom she meets daily at her walks is quite disappointed when he starts taking up conversations about the weather, his moped and whatever it might be. That’ll be a barrier for a bit longer!

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Moped in Flores

// Anders & Wivan

Learning a new language

It’s challenging to realize that we will be foreigners in countries where we don’t yet speak the language.
And at the same time we’re enjoying our language studies and the new ways of learning that have become avaliable thanks to our modern technology.

Spanish books, movies and audio courses

Spanish books, movies and audio courses

We’re using a very good app in our phones called Duolingo. It’s a playful and fun (and free!) way to learn words, phrases and some grammar. Basically you get to take different lessons and work on translating from English to Spanish and vice versa, you get to listen and talk – so it’s integrating all different parts of a language, except for talking to a human being 😉

Duolingo correcting

Duolingo correcting

Beside the Duolingo app we’ve also watched some movies with Spanish dialogue, listened to Spanish courses on CD and have been playing word-games with each other at home. Now we’ve broadened the span an added French and Portugese as well.

Improvement

Improvement

What’s your best way of learning a new language? Any tips or suggestions on getting ahead are welcome!