Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

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Egwene
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Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Egwene » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:20 pm

Hi everyone!

I have been lurking around for a very long time on the old and also on the new forum here. I love reading all your logs about your language journeys, but I never really had the courage to start my own. But then I thought: maybe it is interesting to tell you all about my language journey while I work abroad in hotels. I have already been working in the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Spain. Right now I am in Greece.

Which languages do I speak?
Dutch is my native language. After many years of using it, reading difficult articles and perfecting it during my study (Law) I can say that I have a C2 level.

English is my second language. I come from the Netherlands. Around the age of 10 we start to learn English and this doesn't stop. All the films and series we see on the television are in English with Dutch subtitles. Also the games we play are most of the time in English. It is part of our daily life. I never did an official test for this, so I guess it is around B1/B2. It is good enough for everyday conversations.

German is the last language I would say that I am sort of fluent in. I learned this language during my job as entertainer. When I started 2 years ago, I could only say Guten Tag, Wie geht's?, Gut et cetera. By being forced to speak the language every day I learned it very fast. Even now I am still learning new words and ways of saying things. The level is also around B1/B2. It depends a bit on the subject of the conversation.

What do I want to achieve?
French: we have quite a few French speaking guests in the hotel. Right now I can most of the time understand what they are asking, but I have difficulties giving them a good/fast answer. It also happens sometimes that I don't understand the question at all. It would be nice to slowly improve my vocabulary.

Italian: this language.. I started working abroad in Italy. I fell in love with the sounds, the culture, the food. Sadly I don't have time to focus more on this beautiful language, but I do what I can.

Modern Greek: right now I am working at Kos. A beautiful, small Island with lovely people. This is the language I will focus the most on, when I actually have time to do some studies.

How will I do this?
Most of my study time is in the hotel when I speak with the guests. Some of you will agree that speaking is the best way of learning a language and I can agree with this. But it is also a very tough way of learning, since it is difficult (at least for me) to make mistakes and being laughed at. That's why it is nice to have some time at home too, to focus on words and grammar. Sadly, I have hardly time to do this. My work hours are not the best. Every day, except Wednesday (my day off), I work 10 hours or even more. The little time I have outside of the hotel in my room I must use to relax and rest.

For Greek I have a notebook where I write down words I would like to learn. For example, today I focused on fruits. For me the most important ones are: φράουλα (strawberry), μήλο (apple), ανανάς (pineapple) and ροδάκινο (peach).

I hope to be able to regulary update my log with nice stories about my work, people I meet, new words I learn or sometimes funny mistakes I make while speaking with guests.

What happened today?
Today I am lucky to have an evening off. Together with my Flemish colleague we decided to cook dinner together. We went to the local super market here for some pasta (ζυμαρικά), green and red peppers (πιπεριά, πράσινο, κόκκινο) and pesto (πέστο). It tasted wonderful. I bought some other necessary things too. During the daytime I did my classes in English as usual. There were some guests asking me questions like 'Where can we get towels?' or 'When will ... (name an activity) start?'. These kind of questions I can answer in four languages by now. The hardest thing is guessing what language the guest speaks. We have to say hello to everybody we meet and preferably in their mother language. Unfortunately they don't have a name tag with their language attached on their shirts(I have, so guests know which languages I can speak). Sometimes this can give awkward situations. I can tell you: speaking German to an English guest is not the best way to start a conversation. The other way is alright.

In the evening I watched some YouTube videos from Domtendo, a German "Let's Play.." youtuber. I really enjoy his videos, because his speaking is clear and understandable. He also has good humor.
6 x
Corrections are always very welcome.

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iguanamon
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby iguanamon » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:13 pm

Welcome to the forum, Egwene.Judging by your writing, I'd say your English is at B2 or even C1, practically flawless. Good luck with your languages :)
1 x

Egwene
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Egwene » Tue Jun 14, 2016 3:06 pm

Thank you for the welcome! It is difficult to judge your own language abilities without doing an official test.

What happened today?

German
I had a really nice conversation with a German girl. We were talking, in German, about fitness, while we were sitting in the outdoor fitness area. I was pointing at the different fitness equipments/machines we have in the hotel, but for some reason I couldn't remember the German word for ' fitness machine'. Turned out to be Fitnessgerät. We had a good laugh together. The rest of the conversation was almost fluently.

Another time I heard something interesting: Ich mache es schon von Kindesbeinen an. I know the Dutch variation of this "van kleins af aan" or "van jongs af aan". It was nice to hear the German equivalent of it. Good to remember, when I want to speak about how I started doing fitness and dancing.

The last thing for German today was something I read on Facebook: Ein unbeschriebenes Blatt, which means something like a person without knowledge / being unexperienced / an unknown person or organisation.

French
I didn't speak French today in the hotel, except Bonjour, comment allez-vous? Bien, merci. The standard greetings. But I have to remember three words for transportation: le bateau (the boat), l'avion (m) (the airplane), le vélo (the bike).

Italian
Italian is a language I hardly use, except with one of the reception girls, because she wants to keep practising the language. Today we were complaining about the bad weather together (It was a very cloudy day with lots of wind). On the internet I found a quote with this sentence: "Imparare a tacere" (Learn to be quiet). Tacere is a new word for me.

Greek
After working already for 1,5 month in the hotel, I discovered today that the Anemos bar is actually Greek. άνεμος (ánemos) means 'wind'. That will be easy to remember now.

Ελλάδα! Η πιο όμορφη χώρα του κόσμου! = Greece! The most beautiful country of the world.
This means that the superlative is formed by: article + πιο + adjective, followed by the noun. This seems the same as in French.

Lastly I finished track 1 from CD1 of the Michel Thomas Greek Introductory Course. Later today I will do track 2. There was no new information in the first track.

English
Every evening I stand at the entrance of the restaurant to say hello and wish everybody a nice dinner. Something funny happens when English people leave the restaurant. They see me standing there and they say "Thank you". I didn't understand why they say this to me, so I turned to my English colleague with this question. He also wasn't sure why the English say this, but he thought it was to say thanks for the great food and service. But I am not part of the restaurant.. Maybe one of you who reads this is able to explain this to me. Why are they saying Thank you?
1 x
Corrections are always very welcome.

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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Tomás » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:55 am

Same custom in the US. It is a courtesy but does not carry much meaning. In Mexico, they say "gracias, muy amable" as a similar reflex.
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Egwene
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Egwene » Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:03 pm

Thank you, Tomás. Can you also tell me what the best response is to it? I always say 'Thank you' back or I wish them a nice evening.

What happened today?
Today I had my day off! Finally after more than one week, because of a change in our program. I met with one of my fitness colleagues from another hotel. She is German, but normally we speak in English with each other. Sometimes we don't know a word in this language. When this happens we use all languages we know to fill in. This can be German, but also Dutch. This can give very funny situations. One moment we speak in English, then quickly turn to German, and back to English. For other people it will be hard to follow the conversation.

Greek
I finished track 2 of Michel Thomas' CD. I learned some things about verbs (how to say 'I want' and 'you (formal) want') and yes/no/not. The word for tea is τσάι (n).

Το πρωινό μου (n): Έφαγα ντόνατ (n) με ζάχαρη (v) και κρέμα (v) = My breakfast: I ate a donut with sugar and cream.
And it was delicious.

κάνω ντους = I take a shower. I love how the Greek language listens to the sound of foreign words and write it down in Greek letters. This is also with the word 'sandwich': σάντουιτς.

French
Since I have been sleeping a bit longer this morning, I think this verb is appropriate: faire la grasse matinée
J'ai fait la grasse matinée ce matin.

Italian
I learned some new words while I was looking through my Facebook groups:
- la gravidanza = the pregnancy
- incinta = pregnant, with child
- fingere = to fantasize, pretend, fake
- il trattamento = the treatment, therapy, service

English
I finished reading chapter 6 of 'You are a Badass' by Jen Sincero. When I read with my E-reader I try to look up words I don't know. In this chapter I found 8 words:
- to waddle = to walk with short steps, moving the body from one side to the other
- to dwindle = to become smaller in size or amount, or fewer in number
- conceit = the state of being too proud of yourself and your actions
- resentment = bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly
- verbiage = language that is very complicated and contains a lot of unnecessary words
- heinous = very bad and shocking / morally wrong and evil
- crowbar = heavy iron bar with a bent end that is used to lift heavy objects off the ground or to force things open
- sojourn = a short period of time when a person stays in a particular place
1 x
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Tomás
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Tomás » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:26 am

"Thank you for coming" is the standard response when a departing guest thanks you for the evening.
2 x

Egwene
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Egwene » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:30 pm

What happened the last two days?

Busy. Some days are really busy. Every Thursday I stay in the hotel, because I don't have enough time to take te bus home and be back on time in the hotel. This also means that I don't had a lot of time to do some studies. Being an entertainer can be great and lots of fun.. But sometimes it is no fun at all, when everybody recognizes you, even when you wear your normal clothes. Hopefully it will be better next week.

Today was alright.

French
I helped a French guest by telling him that his postcards will be send on Monday. For me that was a special moment, because normally I don't speak French. It is not part of my conversation languages. Slowly I hope to improve this. At home I watched a short film about clothes in French to refresh.

Greek
I listened to track 3 of the first CD of Michel Thomas. I learned:
Τι (What),
έχω (I have), έχετε (You (formal) have),
το (it), το θέλω (I want it), δεν το θέλω (I don't want it)
ένα ποτήρι κρασί (a glass of wine)
ένα ποτήρι νερό (a glass of water)
ένα μπουκάλι (a bottle)

German
Das ist ein Unterschied wie Tag und Nacht = ein großer Unterschied

I have been speaking with a lot of German guests and it is going very well. Sometimes it happens that I don't know a word. For example, I wanted to say that the daily program can be found on the back of the Morning News. I didn't know the word for 'back. I had to change the whole sentence to 'one of the pages of...'. I just looked it up: der Rücken. Maybe next time I will remember it and say it correctly. With a few guests I have also been speaking about soccer and the fact that the Netherlands are not participating this year, which is hilarious for the Germans. One joke after the other. But, I understood it, which is a small triumph for me.

English
I finished chapter 7 of my English book. Only 1 word was unknown to me: to trickle down. It means that liquid is slowly flowing without force in a thin line.
1 x
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Iversen
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Iversen » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:05 am

Excuse me for being slightly inquisitive, but what is a hotel entertainer actually doing? During all my travels I only remember having once met a person with a similar title - and that was in a mountain hotel in Malaysia, where my assumption was that he proposed walks in the vicinity and activities within the hotel, but the word 'entertainer' makes me think in terms of shows as on the cruise ships. But outside those ships, nah... not something I have ever seen anywhere.
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Egwene
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Egwene » Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:29 pm

No need to excuse yourself. Many people ask me what my job exactly is. It is different per hotel and per concept, so I can only say what I am doing. I do all the fitness activities in an all-inclusive hotel in the day time. In the evening I organise quiz nights, support the live music or just chat with the guests. I work together with three other entertainers. They do all the non-fitness activities, for example volleybal, boccia and cooking classes. The name already gives it away: we entertain the guests in our hotel. But only if they want it. When they just want to relax, we are not disturbing them. It is an option to join the activities and never a must.

What happened today?

Kάνει ζέστη (It is hot)
Today it was so hot here. We reached 42 degrees Celsius. Fortunately it was not humid, otherwise it would have been a really bad day. For me it is nice, because I had a lot of people for the aqua gym, which is always nice.

Greek
I got some corrections of one page I wrote in Greek about the weather. One big lesson: είναι is almost never used to describe the weather.

I re-listened to track 3, and listened for the first time to track 4 with these new words:

αγοράζω = I buy, αγορά = market
περιμένω = I wait (for) -> περιμένω ένα ούζο = I wait for an ouzo, περιμένετε = you want
ξέρω = I know, ξέρετε = you know
καταλαβαίνω = I understand, καταλαβαίνετε = you understand
γιατί = why + because

English
I have been reading a lot in my break time in the hotel. I finished three chapters of my book (8, 9 and 10) and found new unknown words:

abundance = the situation in which there is more than enough of something
expansive = very happy to talk to people in a friendly way
veal = meat from a very young cow
flaccid = soft or weak
grouchy = easily annoyed and complaining
audacity = courage or confidence of a kind that other people find shocking or rude
jagged = rough and with sharp points
to whittle = to make something from a piece of wood by cutting off small, thin pieces

French
Still not a lot of French. Most of the time I am not allowed to help French guests, because they can sometimes complain about the bad French of an employee.. Trying is not enough for them. But today I helped a Frenchman with his mobile phone to connect it to the internet and he was very happy, so you always have nice exceptions.

German
I taught my last class of today in German, because I had only one for a certain class and she was from Germany. It was a nice practise for me and I learned some new things, like "Ein bisschen weiter runter gehen" or something like that. I also explained some activities to interested guests. It always gives me a good feeling when I succeed to explain something in a foreign language. Two years ago I would not have been able to do this.

der/die Spitzenreiter/in ➡ jemand, der auf einem bestimmten Gebiet/in einem Wettbewerb der/die Beste ist
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Re: Egwene's log - Learning languages as an hotel entertainer

Postby Elenia » Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:35 pm

Interesting log. It's really cool that you get to use your languages at work and it is interesting to read about, too.
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