tirsdag 1. april 2008

Foreign Language part 1

Well, at the beginning of this blog I would like to write some introductions about me so that reader would have a better idea of who I am and what I have been through which in term will allow them to enjoy my posts better (hopefully I would have the energy to keep writing)

I was born in Hong Kong in the early 80s, went to an English primary school for a few years before moving to Norway. Spent a few more years there before moving to USA to continue my education. After giving up on the job market due to outsourcing, my poor grades and the fact that I don't have a green card, I decided to move back to Norway last year. So basically, I have to learn a new language 3.5 times. (Chinese, Norwegian, English and Norwegian again).

Part one of this series will focus on my experience in learning Norwegian from not knowing a single word. Part 2 will focus on my experience in learning English in USA while part 3 will be about me learning Norwegian again right now after spending 11 years in USA forgetting Norwegian.

Learning a new language is difficult, and it always amazes me how the people from ancient time can wander off to a foreign country and learn their language without dictionaries, audio tapes or even a translator.

My first encounter with Norwegian happens the moment the plane is about to land at the Oslo international airport in 4th of January, 1991 (at Fornebu, the airport has moved to Gardemoen in 1998). After the usual announcement by the pilot about "We are approaching the Oslo international airport bla bla bla...." then followed by what was suppose to be the exact translation in Norwegian except I don't understand a word of it.

When I stepped out of the airport with my mom and my sister, I thought the Norwegian people are poor, how just some of the signs have the full spelling of the "OUT" sign. The other ones would have "UT" instead. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I realize that in Norwegian, ut means out (for those who wonders how to pronounce that, it pronounces "üt").

Because me and my sister do not know Norwegian at all, we were placed in immigration schools to learn the language, at least enough to survive in regular school. On top of that I got a book and an audio tape from my dad. It is definitely fun at the beginning, since everybody in the classroom are immigrants and we would have different ways to interact with different people. We would speak mandarin "very basic mandarin" with the 2 sisters from Taiwan, English with the brother/sister from Turkey and a boy from Iraq. As for the older boy from Somailia, I can never communicate with him and our ways of interaction is limited to only fist fighting.

So me and my sister stayed in the immigration school for the rest of the school year and we then transferred to regular primary school after summer vacation. The positive, more children to play with and finally a true classroom environment. The negative, the language problem. I can barely understand what the teacher and classmates say. Of course, it is just a matter of time, and getting laughed at by your classmates definitely helps. It makes me remember the words better.

Overall it took me 2 years to learn Norwegian from nothing to be able to communicate with Norwegian people without having to worry about words. Also because I was little, I could actually eliminate my accent (Study shows that children use different regions of brain for learning different languages while adults use the same region for different languages, thus making it harder for adults to learn a new language).

After taking care of the spoken language, the writting language is yet another challenge. Since Chinese doesn't have past tense, future tense and even English doesn't have different "gender" for nouns. It does took me much longer to learn the grammar. In fact, I wrote my first grammar error free essay for the last assignment before I go to USA to continue my study.

6 kommentarer:

laulong sa...

想知道的是,為甚麽要移民呢?又為甚麽選擇挪威呢?

其實學語言,語言環境最重要,置身其中,久而久之便可以溝通了,但當然不能有深入的掌握。

呀,是了,照片很美,給人一望空闊的感覺!

Angel Asura 天使阿修羅 sa...

Congratulations to your new blog:)

Hope you'll enjoy creating a piece of nirvana here ... despite all the negative or unnecessary comments or disturbances:)

My same question as Laulong ... why Norway is selected? Are Chinese minorities there?

Once i learnt Japanese & Spanish, learning is fun, exploring different culture is bonus!

Keep on writing, show us great pics from Norway & happy blogging:)

BTW, may i put your blog-link into mine?

Angelik (sounds more Scandinavian?)

xiao zhu sa...

I have a relative who's been emigrating to Sweden for over thirty years. I guess not much Hong Kong immigrants in the Scandinavian countries. Am I riht?

>> it always amazes me how the people from ancient time can wander off to a foreign country and learn their language without dictionaries, audio tapes or even a translator.

I have the same questions in my mind since young. How could those people do this?

Desertfox sa...

Laulong, Angel,
My dad was a chef in Hong Kong. In the early 80s there was a demand for chefs (especially Chinese chefs for Chinese food as it is getting more popular, as for why, I will mention it in future posts, but it has something to do with oil.), so my dad was invited to go . Salary is very attractive compare to what it was back then in HK. He went ahead for a few years and then got my mom, myself and my sister over. We united in Norway in 1991.

Not sure if Laulong noticed, but
the left side of the picture is actually a lake. Frozen in winter time and the road just clear enough for me to drive through (this particular road is closed during winter and opens again in spring). I was driving and just have to stop to take this picture. I will show you the pictures of this series soon (need to shrink them first).

Angel,
The name angel is fine without spelling adjustment simply becuase it doesn't contain c, q, w, x, z. Although the pronounciation may be different.

Xiao Zhu,

You are definitely right that Chinese is a minority in that country. I am not sure how many Chinese lives there plus there are plenty of Vietanmese Chinese who are hard to classified to a certain race.

As for how a person learn a language without any assistance, I would turn to the movie "The last samurai" when Tom Cruise was trying to learn Japanese from the children (Although Watanabe already knows enough English to help him).

Angel Asura 天使阿修羅 sa...

Dear Desertfox, when u visit HK in June, must introduce u to try my Dad's food (he's major in dim-sum, minor in Chi cuisine) - he's also a chef!!!

He has trained many young chefs in 70's when he was invited to immigrate to US with them together! Too bad, he can't speak Eng & is not brave enough to make the big move with the whole family (4 kids!). Thus, I've written a similar article in my yahoo-blog telling about the time when we're kids w/my 2 younger sisters. We're eager to immigrate to US & visit Disney all the time, so lovely ~~~

Desertfox sa...

Hi Angel,
It's my honor that you place my blog link on your blog.