If any of you have worked in a foreign language (meaning of course ONLY using that foreign language and nothing else) more than once, how did you feel before doing so the first time, and what was your experience doing so for the first time?
I haven’t “worked” in a foreign language but I remember being in Spain as the only foreign student in three classes at the University of Granada surrounded by Spaniards. It took like a month to really get settled in partly because the Andalusian accent is so different from Latin American and standard European Spanish. And I remember the teacher kept on telling us about a “bulletin” board that we could look at to check on course announcements…I thought that he meant a physical bulletin board but he was talking about the message board online!
Interesting question. If you are fluent or have working knowledge of the language you’ll be speaking, then it should be no problem at all. The main problem might be the local culture, if it is too different from what you are used to.
When I started working in Denmark my Danish was poor (intermediate 1 level, I’d say). In the beginning there were many misunderstandings, there were things I wanted to say but I couldn’t - due to lack of vocabulary or problems with pronuciation - and this frustrated me. In addition I had problems following meetings and seminars (sometimes when I had questions or comments, when I finally had finished processing the information and found vocabulary to ask my question, it was too late, they were already talking about something else). It took me years to be able to follow and process the information fast enough. It also took some years to start thinking in Danish (rather than translating it in my mind from English or Portuguese).
If you’ll be speaking a difficult language, then get prepared that you might never speak it perfectly. Even now, 12 years later, I still have problems with Danish. Misunderstandings still occur, some people have problems understanding my accent, certain words are impossible to pronouce and I avoid them as the plague…things like that.
On the other hand, in the beginning, my Danish skills improved dramatically because I was working and had this daily contact with the language, heard native speakers all the time and I had to do an effort to convey my message.
I don’t know if this is the kind of information you were looking for.