Originally Posted by Kitsa
I guess I don't understand why it seems to be so damn hard for people to know more than one language. On the Continent it's a given. You can understand and do way more if you at least have one Romance language under your belt, and not live in utter paranoia of linguistic collusion.
When I was traveling with the family in France about a decade ago I tried like the Dickens to speak and think entirely in French - which was difficult considering I only mastered the equivalent of High School level 3. Anyhoo, I was actually understood, and got a few good-natured language lessons on the way. It seemed that the people were actually pleasant and friendly (maybe because I was obviously making a serious effort to speak their native language). (I was actually complimented on my accent once. Imagine that!)
As the vacation wore on it became easier to think en Franšais,
right up until I almost ran over an elderly woman on my way into a rest stop. I immediately said Excusez-moi, madame
to which she responded Je vous en pris
- and I couldn't for the life of me figure out if she just said "no worries mate" or "fuck you and the horse you rode in on". It was then I realized I would really like to go back home and speak "Amurikin" again.
I guess if you are forced to interact with a variety of people where the language is unfamiliar, eventually you will develop a natural facility. But that's just my opinion.