WWOOFing and Language learning

This is a room for the discussion of travel plans or experiences and the culture of places you have visited or plan to visit.
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WWOOFing and Language learning

Postby gallo1801 » Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:30 pm


Was thinking of WWOOFing a little in the fall and learning some French, something else. (was thinking of working on a vineyard to learn more about the wine making process too)

Anyone have experience with learning the local language while WWOOFing?
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Re: WWOOFing and Language learning

Postby Gustav Aschenbach » Sat Jun 11, 2016 8:50 am

I WWOOFed ten years ago in Japan. It was a good experience. Of course you can improve your language WWOOFing. I also learned a lot of other things, e.g. how it is to work on a farm, about daily life in Japan in a (rather unusual) Japanese family etc. If you feel like doing it and you have the chance to, go ahead.
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Re: WWOOFing and Language learning

Postby MCK74 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 1:23 am

I've been thinking about doing this as well, but I want to do it locally before I try to go overseas. There's a farm about an hour or so from me and I'll try to WWOOF there sometime this summer.
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Re: WWOOFing and Language learning

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:55 am

In 2011 I did WWOOFing in 2 locations in Europe- one in southern Spain near Grenada, the other in Northern France right on the Belgian border just west of Lille.

They both had pro's and cons.

In the first location (France) near the twin villages of Comines, it was ideal for language. The farm/gîte location I was staying on/at was run by a farmer who spoke no English (thankfully), but unfortunately my French wasn't as good as I thought it was, still it was a nice experience and DEFINITELY worthwhile doing for a language learner with the opportunity to do so. The farmer's son had spent time in Australia and spoke to me occasionally in English when the language proved too difficult for me. Otherwise French was the only language. The location wasn't stunning. I prefer mountains, forests, something nice to look at. This was FLAT, but the weather was okay that time of year. The food was rubbish. The farmer cooked up mostly rubbish food. Eating white toast for breakfast and pizza or fries for dinner almost every day was not my idea of good health. Still, they were friendly enough and I enjoyed the experience, but as my wife was travelling elsewhere with her mum (through Germany, Czech Rep) it was slightly lonely at times. Actually one interesting anecdote is that on the first day when I arrived after driving from the Netherlands across Belgium and into Northern France in our cheap camping car, the farmer was all excited like a pig in mud, and there quite a lot of people about on the farm with odd equipment in one of the small fields. I was introduced to an American woofer who spoke French about as well as I did at the time or a little better. Anyway, they were filming part of a movie or television series there. I knew none of the actors/actresses unfortunately but apparently some of them were very well known indeed. That was kinda surreal. I spent a lot of time sanding and painting windows and doors of the gîte accommodation. Tedious, but at the same time somewhat peaceful. I must add as far as language went that it wasn't the kind of situation in which you would be talking a lot throughout the day. Language was a brief means of communication to provide you with instructions for the day's work or a way of being social at meal times. Still this would've been good for any French learner imo almost no matter what your level.

In southern Spain there was next to no Spanish spoken during the Woofing stay (unfortunately) except with the neighbour occasionally and if I ventured into the local town. I did stay here with my wife this time. The location was really beautiful (mountainous) and the host (an English woman) was absolutely brilliant. She cooked absolutely beautiful meals and was very social and made you feel welcome and brought everyone together. There were other 'woofers' from Japan, England, South Africa, USA and Belgium and my wife and I really really enjoyed our time there. We said we'd go back one day, but finances and starting a family haven't really allowed for it to occur. Although I find it really disappointing to have a practically English (only) speaking host during such an experience and being in an English bubble in Spain, I wouldn't take this experience back. It was really a very nice time. The type of work we did was collecting rocks to pile over a driveway, clearing blackberries and other such scrub that had gone wild and burning it all off. But Spanish didn't feature at all. However I didn't mind too much as my Spanish was even weaker than my French at the time and when I did attempt to speak to a neighbour I was very much put off by his very strong dialect- and it was really only the odd chance meeting once or twice with him.

Some other woofers at the Spanish location had mentioned some really ordinary experiences in other locations. One told me about an experience in Denmark in which the farmer had very strong racist views. On other stay in Italy a woofer informed me of a host who was practically treating them like slaves and did not respect them at all. This could happen anyway. I would make sure you look thoroughly into your chosen woofing location- reviews etc and ensure that the host is a native speaker of the language. I would even go as far to inform them of your intentions- you want to work/help them in order that you get to speak the language as much as possible. This way no-one is under any false impressions of what to expect out of such an arrangement.
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