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5 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

Well, you could maybe listen to the Australians who've seen enough of it to say yes, there is (some) truth in this stereotype, and that stereotype reflects some ugly parts of our culture.

Or you could continue to ignore what we have to say, because that would disrupt the narrative of American polite, doesn't make judgement.

 

Or you could assume, as I said earlier, I prefer not to use lazy stereotypes and react to people based on what I observe them say/do no matter who they are or where they live or what language they speak.

ETA: OH GIVE IT A FREAKIN' REST ALREADY.

Australian/Canadian/British/Etc. national privilege doesn't give you any particular insight into the nuances of American culture either as many of the misconceptions in this thread indicate.

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The discussion isn't are all Americans like this or do the non-Americans on the board think this is what all Americans are like. The discussion is why do those who generalize think this way. Amer

I am not wasting time on disclaimers, since you all know that lumping people into a group doesn't account for the individual. But here's what comes to mind (and when I say "Americans", I obviously do

Don't shoot the messenger; these are not all my opinions: On a geopolitical level: interfering in the affairs of other countries (friend or foe) and generally throwing weight around.  Dominant co

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10 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

Not  ironically, since we discussed this (deserved) stereotype without defensiveness pages back.  And it does mean something, because their behaviour reflected negative parts of our culture. And anyone is free to discuss that cultural stereotype, and I think you'll find you could do it without any of the Aussies here getting into a tizzie.

I guess the disconnect I'm having in this discussion is that I wouldn't associate loud, drunken behaviour with Australians as a group or as negative aspects of particulary Australian culture. I would think that those particular people were being obnoxiously drunk. Not saying I wouldn't notice their accents as Aussies, but it wouldn't register on my radar as specific to their country of origin since I've seen that sort of stuff from a lot of different groups.

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Just now, StellaM said:

 

Sometimes the things we claim about ourselves are not accurate.

Given that I'm not interested in any more of your bullying on the basis of personal animus, we'll leave it there, thanks. 

 

 

That's really rich. Bullying? Really? Do you even know what that means? There was nothing even remotely bullying about my behavior toward you. You asked me to leave you alone and I did. Follow your own advice.

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14 minutes ago, EmseB said:

I guess the disconnect I'm having in this discussion is that I wouldn't associate loud, drunken behaviour with Australians as a group or as negative aspects of particulary Australian culture. I would think that those particular people were being obnoxiously drunk. Not saying I wouldn't notice their accents as Aussies, but it wouldn't register on my radar as specific to their country of origin since I've seen that sort of stuff from a lot of different groups.

I think this is what a lot of Americans are saying.

And maybe this is partly our individualistic culture.  We assume what people do is individual, unless there is clear evidence of a national pattern.  We don't say "I saw an Aussie do xyz so Aussies must be xyz."

Also, we are not inclined to categorize like that even if we do see more than a few cases.  We kind of don't care if Aussies do / are xyz as long as it's not infringing on rights we hold dear.  Having our environment completely free of silly people is not a right we hold dear.

In fact, if I see an American going off on some other culture because "I've seen xyz," I consider that person a boor (assuming it wasn't triggered by other culture people going off on Americans first).  Not to say we don't have boors here, but they don't represent us.

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22 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

Well, you could maybe listen to those who've seen enough of it to say yes, there is (some) truth in this stereotype, and that stereotype reflects some ugly parts of our culture.

As do all national stereotypes. 

The bolded is your national privilege. 

LOL about national privilege.  I think she was trying to be humble and honest rather than acting like an expert in something when she isn't.  Way to characterize a decent act as a character flaw.

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8 minutes ago, SKL said:

I think this is what a lot of Americans are saying.

And maybe this is partly our individualistic culture.  We assume what people do is individual, unless there is clear evidence of a national pattern.  We don't say "I saw an Aussie do xyz so Aussies must be xyz."

Also, we are not inclined to categorize like that even if we do see more than a few cases.  We kind of don't care if Aussies do / are xyz as long as it's not infringing on rights we hold dear.  Having our environment completely free of silly people is not a right we hold dear.

In fact, if I see an American going off on some other culture because "I've seen xyz," I consider that person a boor (assuming it wasn't triggered by other culture people going off on Americans first).  Not to say we don't have boors here, but they don't represent us.

 

I think you are on to something. My husband jokes (but not really) that if he told me to run, I'd probably pause to look for danger before taking his advice. This may be a character flaw on my part (DH certainly thinks so) but I don't tend to take anyone's word for something I haven't observed with my own two peepers or been able to verify.

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2 hours ago, kdsuomi said:

 

Honestly, what is this dig about? I don't know any American who doesn't realize that people all over the world differently. I mean, I live very differently than the very wealthy families who make up most of the city we live in. Most Americans likely have a number of actual immigrants who are close friends or family and very well know that people live differently elsewhere. We do also learn about other cultures and are taught that we should be very accepting of them. 

It was not meant as a dig. I was replying to Homeschool Mom on what I feel the benefits are of being exposed to different cultures, not only foreign languages taught in a textbook, that can be obviously limiting, but the culture itself along with the foreign language.

She was saying that there really is no need for Americans to learn another language. Which I totally understood. 

I'm glad you're one who understands that people live differently, and is accepting of said differences.

To compare your living conditions to those whose wealth exceeds yours in the same country is not a fair comparison and is not what I am speaking of. To truly compare, you'd have to compare the living differently to a third world country without the first world resources. Which is what I was referring to. 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Islandgal said:

I absolutely agree with your point that most will never use or need a foreign language in U.S., or for conducting international business.

I feel that the exposure to a foreign language and culture broadens the mind, as well as, teaches empathy, and brings awareness that others live differently. Which I fear is sadly lacking in the U.S.

I agree exposure to a foreign language has the potential to do those things, but it isn't the only one.  It's a very high investment of time and effort with very little payoff.  Most people, like my husband who eagerly studied French for all of high school and into college, still aren't fluent at the end either in the language or the culture. If y really want to learn them, you have to do immersion.

Reading widely, both fiction, and non-fiction can accomplish broadening minds and teaching empathy too and I would argue if done intentionally toward those goals, it can do it so much more effectively.  You can spend years learning one language spoken in a few parts of the world, or you can invest equal time in reading from perspectives from all over the world, with much more depth and with the added benefit of comparing and contrasting more.  Studying a foreign language you aren't actually going to use is probably the least effective approach toward those goals.  We can do far better with a different approach.

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22 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

We've established that anyone who notices and talks about patterns of behaviour in a particular nationality (when visible) has committed the Grand Sin of Guacheness, Impoliteness, Stereotyping and Anti-Americanism, and that American posters do not suffer these sins, so with respect, I've got the message, and while appreciating your clarification, and being relieved it doesn't come with a side helping of personal nastiness, it's not required.

I think, perhaps, that you've had less exposure to the stereotypical Aussie traveller (who tend to go to the UK and Europe) than I (and others) have to the stereotypical American traveller. Because trust me, if you lived in London, you'd have plenty of data points to add to the observed pattern.

I don't understand the defensiveness? I don't even know what you're talking about wrt to anti-Americanism and sin and personal nastiness. I normally like discussing things with you. Genuinely puzzled by your first paragraph. I'm just discussing stuff on the board as per usual, I thought.

In any case, my observed data points are based on knowing and interacting with a fair number of Aussie servicemembers, as well as a handful of longtime online friends. Incidentally, I knew a fair number from the UK as well. I'd say that the Brits could just about drink any of us under the table, if we're going to be competitive based on nationalities. I feel like, ironically maybe, it's the fact that I've had exposure to a lot of different travelers and expats in various contexts that makes me less likely to pin a certain behaviour on a certain country of origin.

I have not lived in London though. 

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2 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

 

How far/broadly have you traveled? The worst behaved people we saw in Mauritius were, ironically, Australians. They were drunken louts and extremely rude with the wait staff. Which means nothing except that THOSE Australians were jackasses. There also just so happened to be a cruise ship in town when we were visiting.

Not nearly as broadly as my husband has! He's always on the go. Personally, I've been to Great Britain a few times and also to France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Mexico, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Canada. I've been to several large cities around the US - east coast, mid-west and west coast. I've been to a lot of mid-size and small towns and even one town that I would consider tiny. I'm not the most well-traveled person, but I have traveled a bit.

2 hours ago, MEmama said:

I wonder this too, and if your community is pretty isolated. Totally not a dig—as you said, we all have our own experiences and I’m totally not discounting yours. But I am surprised that you’ve never encountered a rude tourist, even?
 

 I’m fairly well traveled and have lived in many different states and types of communities and this does represent what I’ve experienced * at all*, whether in North America or overseas. I mean, it’s just never been true anywhere I’ve lived or traveled that only Americans are rude.

Fascinating.

Nope, not isolated at all. I live in a fast growing, urban area with countless "transplants" from within the US and many immigrants from around the world. We have three major universities, several smaller colleges and numerous international companies. We personally know & are friends with people from around the world. I grew up near a large city, my husband grew up in a tiny town. He is now a world traveler due to his profession.

I have seen tourists from other countries visiting here in the US that are rude according to US standards, but in other countries (including major cities), they don't stand out to me. Perhaps they are overwhelmed by the Americans and don't stand out as much, or perhaps what is rude in the US isn't rude in other countries, who knows. Maybe I'm more attuned to the Americans in other countries because people from other countries blend in more in those particular cities/countries.

We all do have different experiences, don't we? It is fascinating.

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57 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I agree exposure to a foreign language has the potential to do those things, but it isn't the only one.  It's a very high investment of time and effort with very little payoff.  Most people, like my husband who eagerly studied French for all of high school and into college, still aren't fluent at the end either in the language or the culture. If y really want to learn them, you have to do immersion.

Reading widely, both fiction, and non-fiction can accomplish broadening minds and teaching empathy too and I would argue if done intentionally toward those goals, it can do it so much more effectively.  You can spend years learning one language spoken in a few parts of the world, or you can invest equal time in reading from perspectives from all over the world, with much more depth and with the added benefit of comparing and contrasting more.  Studying a foreign language you aren't actually going to use is probably the least effective approach toward those goals.  We can do far better with a different approach.

I agree. 

I said exposure to foreign language and culture, but everyone seems to only be picking up on the foreign language part .😞

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On 1/17/2020 at 9:46 PM, Melissa in Australia said:

A bit confused here, are you saying the non US citizens are bigots because we have a different view or are you saying the US citizens ripping us to shreds for having views are bigots?

or are you saying that the rest of the non US world are all bigots? 

I have never had a conversation where that word has been used. I have only read it In literature. I am not sure if you are trying to be insulting or not. I have checked the dictionary def and are still  confused.

I am saying if someone has an opinion of an entire country of people based on..just being from that country...then that is being a bigot. So, anytime someone says an entire large group of people are a certain way (that has nothing to do with the qualifier for the group, so, a group of women being labeled as women, is fine. But saying something like all boys who take ballet are gay, is bigotry. All Americans are <fill in the blank> is bigotry. If a person thought all people from Australia are like Crocodile Dundee, that person would be a bigot).

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5 minutes ago, Islandgal said:

It was not meant as a dig. I was replying to Homeschool Mom on what I feel the benefits are of being exposed to different cultures, not only foreign languages taught in a textbook, that can be obviously limiting, but the culture itself along with the foreign language.

She was saying that there really is no need for Americans to learn another language. Which I totally understood. 

I'm glad you're one who understands that people live differently, and is accepting of said differences.

To compare your living conditions to those whose wealth exceeds yours in the same country is not a fair comparison and is not what I am speaking of. To truly compare, you'd have to compare the living differently to a third world country without the first world resources. Which is what I was referring to.

The original comment that US folks don't "need" a foreign language appears to have been misunderstood.  The person was not saying US folks don't study foreign languages or that we don't care about it or that we don't care to know what happens in other countries.  She was simply stating we don't "need" to know a foreign language in order to get by.  The USA is geographically big, English is almost universally spoken in business and government, and even if we travel, most destinations have people whose English is better than our [insert their local language].  So we are not likely to starve or get lost unless we are on a really unusual adventure.

That said, most people do study a second language as youths, but the use-it-or-lose it kicks in for many.  Some of us keep a fascination for languages throughout life, but mostly it is a hobby, and like music or needlework, it's not going to interest everyone.  And learning languages is a talent that it not evenly distributed.  Some will remember much more than others even given the same exposure.

As for the different cultures, a US education does teach that we are not all the same, either within the USA or around the world.  We have learned that since KG if not earlier.  I don't think anyone said anything in this thread to imply otherwise.  True, actually being there is a whole different level of awareness, but that is true for folks in every country.  Lots of people worldwide haven't ever walked the non-tourist-ready streets in a developing country.  That's not a sign of a poor public education.

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4 minutes ago, Islandgal said:

I agree. 

I said exposure to foreign language and culture, but everyone seems to just be picking up on the foreign language part .😞

Probably because you're overestimating the amount of culture in a typical foreign language class in the US.  I took Spanish in Phoenix, AZ.  What little was in the textbook didn't really apply to the Chicano and immigrant culture I was surrounded by, and some of the language taught in the textbook didn't even apply. And don't get me started on the thick Alabama accent of the teacher.  She was kind of rigid in her thinking, so she couldn't handle the teasing some of the kids gave for it.  If she had just joked along it would've been fine, but the Mexican kids who took the class for the credits made it clear to us we weren't getting pronunciation we could really use.

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53 minutes ago, EmseB said:

I guess the disconnect I'm having in this discussion is that I wouldn't associate loud, drunken behaviour with Australians as a group or as negative aspects of particulary Australian culture. I would think that those particular people were being obnoxiously drunk. Not saying I wouldn't notice their accents as Aussies, but it wouldn't register on my radar as specific to their country of origin since I've seen that sort of stuff from a lot of different groups.

believe me as an Aussie. it is a very negative aspect of Australian culture. it isn't just a loud  few either.  

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17 minutes ago, Janeway said:

I am saying if someone has an opinion of an entire country of people based on..just being from that country...then that is being a bigot. So, anytime someone says an entire large group of people are a certain way (that has nothing to do with the qualifier for the group, so, a group of women being labeled as women, is fine. But saying something like all boys who take ballet are gay, is bigotry. All Americans are <fill in the blank> is bigotry. If a person thought all people from Australia are like Crocodile Dundee, that person would be a bigot).

That isn't what people are talking about.  Everyone saying this is changing the subject.  This topic and the original post were very clearly specific about American tourists abroad and the resulting views of the locals.  Not Americans in general. There's nuance here. And that's why we're focusing on Americans in this thread.  It's off topic when people bring up badly behaved tourists from other countries.  Feel free to start a spin off topic to discuss that there. I can contribute to that conversation with another nationality.

And not every culture abroad is careful to avoid generalizations.  It's not as ingrained in their culture as it is in ours. That's what people mean when they say you need to know other people live differently-not just lifestyle and material goods, but values and thought patterns.  What's different about many other cultures is more tribalistic (in the sociological sense of the word) in nature.

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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1 minute ago, Melissa in Australia said:

believe me as an Aussie. it is a very negative aspect of Australian culture. it isn't just a loud  few either.  

OK I will take your and Stella's word for it.

But that still doesn't mean I'm going to see an Aussie and think "that must be one of those Aussie drunks" or if I see one acting the fool while traveling, I'm not going to say "well see, Aussie tourists are obnoxious drunks, I've seen it with my own eyes."  I mean what would be the benefit of that, even if every Aussie traveler was a drunk?

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17 minutes ago, Islandgal said:

To compare your living conditions to those whose wealth exceeds yours in the same country is not a fair comparison and is not what I am speaking of. To truly compare, you'd have to compare the living differently to a third world country without the first world resources. Which is what I was referring to. 

 

I think this is another misconception about the U.S.. Poverty is just as real and deep here as it is in many third world countries. People in the U.S. also have long walks to clean water and no access to sanitation https://www.al.com/news/2017/12/un_poverty_official_touring_al.html and https://www.topic.com/the-last-days-of-the-appalachian-poverty-tour. The shanties may look a bit little more sturdy and the homes may have electricity (if the occupants can keep the bills paid, many can't), thanks to a rural electrification initiative that's 100 years old, but the reliance on charitable donations and assistance is no different...and then you layer on the drugs. There is no national health care provided. The safety net is weak and frayed. Whatever resources exist, they are not evenly distributed. These towns could be in Tanzania, Cambodia, or any other number of 'third world countries'.

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6 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

believe me as an Aussie. it is a very negative aspect of Australian culture. it isn't just a loud  few either.  

I totally believe you. I am saying it is not a singularly Aussie thing that would make me associate drunks with Aussies (or Aussies as drunks) in particular. I'm probably not explaining myself well.

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7 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

That isn't what people are talking about.  Everyone saying this is changing the subject.  This topic and the original post were very clearly specific about American tourists abroad and the resulting views of the locals.  Not Americans in general. There's nuance here. 

 

There is nuance in your post. There was no nuance in many of the sweeping generalizations about Americans (not just tourists) that were made.

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18 minutes ago, SKL said:

I actually hung out at the Hard Rock Cafe in Sydney for an hour or so, and I don't recall anyone acting like a drunk fool.  Maybe I'm just not observant enough. 

I'm trying to remember where we were on New Year's Eve (do more people get drunk then?) ... I think it was New Zealand by then ... we were in a small restaurant waiting for freaking ever for our food ... finally went back to our hotel and ordered room service.  Sigh.

 

We went to a couple of out of the way places, an amazing Greek restaurant, an Indian one, and a sports bar kind of place. We even did a wine tour where you'd expect a few shenanigans. Nada. Oh yeah, and the fleet was in town b/c I was dropping DH off to ride an Australian ship as part of joint exercises.

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3 minutes ago, StellaM said:

I'm curious.

Given this thread is apparently allowed to continue to infinity even though posters are calling other international posters bigots (the new discourse?), I may as well ask the question.

What do the 'polite' American posters on this thread, who would never dream of acknowledging any form of national stereotyping, because it's dreadful and rude, make of the 'rude' American posters on this thread who disagree ? Are they also bigoted ? Or are they just wrong, but in a polite American way ? Or do they have inconvenient opinions, because they co-incide with that of the international bigots and so are ignored ? Or are they allowed to criticise other Americans because they're family ?

I mean, the convo is pretty evenly split between Americans and internationals who acknowledge there is a sterotype, and some tourists fit it, and the rest of you..so for the rest of you, what do you think motivates those Americans who seem to take no issue with any of the international answers in this thread ?

As has been discussed, US folks are all individuals, and we have all had different experiences.

Personally yes, I disagree with the stereotyping of US folks by US folks.  I do understand joking and all that, but in a serious way I feel it is unfortunate. 

I especially find it unfortunate that some nice US individuals intend to act differently overseas lest anyone guess they are Americans and brand them as ugly.

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That said, I have no problem with the information that doing xyz is not appreciated in country A (preferably received prior to traveling, LOL).  A nice person can make mistakes such as handing over a gift with the wrong hand etc etc.  To people in other countries who are not familiar with the diversity of the world, that can really give a wrong and lasting impression.  But that does not mean said wrong impression is the truth.

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43 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

believe me as an Aussie. it is a very negative aspect of Australian culture. it isn't just a loud  few either.  

So much so that one of the Australian Open players had to ask his own fans to tone it down, because it was football field manners not tennis manners

https://wwos.nine.com.au/tennis/tsitsipas-eases-into-aussie-open-2nd-round/3b7712bc-fd4f-4666-b603-b142db1cfb3e

well... I’m assuming they were Australians 

 

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38 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

 

There is nuance in your post. There was no nuance in many of the sweeping generalizations about Americans (not just tourists) that were made.

The question was about American tourists abroad and that was what I at least was responding to.  I couldn’t make statements about Americans in America because I don’t have any experience with that.  

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1 minute ago, Ausmumof3 said:

The question was about American tourists abroad and that was what I at least was responding to.  I couldn’t make statements about Americans in America because I don’t have any experience with that.  

 

There were MULTIPLE subsequent posts about Americans, in general, including a request to leash/muzzle the POTUS.

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48 minutes ago, SKL said:

OK I will take your and Stella's word for it.

But that still doesn't mean I'm going to see an Aussie and think "that must be one of those Aussie drunks" or if I see one acting the fool while traveling, I'm not going to say "well see, Aussie tourists are obnoxious drunks, I've seen it with my own eyes."  I mean what would be the benefit of that, even if every Aussie traveler was a drunk?

 

1 hour ago, Sneezyone said:

 

That's really rich. Bullying? Really? Do you even know what that means? There was nothing even remotely bullying about my behavior toward you. You asked me to leave you alone and I did. Follow your own advice.

I think many people take typing in all caps as equivalent to shouting when you’re online

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Just now, Ausmumof3 said:

 

I think many people take typing in all caps as equivalent to shouting when you’re online

 

When you post several respectful/decent replies and get back an edited post with some jackassery about national privilege, you can assume the reply was delivered with exasperation.

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2 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

 

There were MULTIPLE subsequent posts about Americans, in general, including a request to leash/muzzle the POTUS.

I didn’t want to get involved with the political posts because that’s outside the scope of the thread.  I reckon that post was a New Zealander but with many Aussie’s being rude to politicians is pretty much a national sport it’s nothing personal.  I’ve a few rude things to say about our PM if it makes you feel better.

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9 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

The question was about American tourists abroad and that was what I at least was responding to.  I couldn’t make statements about Americans in America because I don’t have any experience with that.  

[Ausmum, I know you didn't say the below so please take this as tongue in cheek. I'm just enjoying some friendly irony at your expense.]

That could be national privilege talking ....  😛

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3 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I didn’t want to get involved with the political posts because that’s outside the scope of the thread.  I reckon that post was a New Zealander but with many Aussie’s being rude to politicians is pretty much a national sport it’s nothing personal.  I’ve a few rude things to say about our PM if it makes you feel better.

 

That doesn't negate their existence, or the tone they set, or the approval they received and I don't even like the guy. I don't think it's my place to suggest ALL Australians agree with their leadership anymore than the reverse.

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1 minute ago, Sneezyone said:

 

That doesn't negate their existence, or the tone they set, or the approval they received and I don't even like the guy. I don't think it's my place to suggest ALL Australians agree with their leadership anymore than the reverse.

It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing though.  I don’t think all Americans agree with Trump.  It’s about the tone and style we do it with.  But that’s hard to convey.

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2 minutes ago, StellaM said:

 

Yes, this is a cultural difference that I think is not well understood. 

We do not feel compelled to show respect for authority or position, unless it is very clearly earned. 

Our national character, which is no better and no worse than any other national character, places some value on an ability to mock those 'above'.

I honestly think what the entire thread demonstrates is that Romans (whomever they are through history) don't feel any need to understand and comprehend what lies outside Rome. 

#notallRomans

 

Must every post include a dig?  You have some interesting points to share, but sharing information does not require attacks on individuals or groups.  Attacks naturally trigger defensiveness and counter-attacks, and make it less likely that the people being attacked are going to hear or remember your substantive points.

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8 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing though.  I don’t think all Americans agree with Trump.  It’s about the tone and style we do it with.  But that’s hard to convey.

 

I am not sure what you mean by this.

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I think most foreign language instruction here isn't going to do much because students don't get the chance to use it often. A lot of that has to do with who's teaching it as well.

I learned really nothing from my high school Spanish but my older siblings did because their teacher was a native Spanish speaker. They were given so many opportunities to truly use the language that I wasn't given. My ds took four years of high school German and got very little out of it. He chose to take ASL as his language in college and all his ASL professors have been deaf, so he actually uses it often. He runs into one professor often on campus and is able to have conversations. It's much more exciting and easier to learn another language if one is given lots of opportunity to truly use it. Most of just aren't given that opportunity here.

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31 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

I think part of the problem is that in the US, we leave, for the most part, foreign language classes until students are teens. I’m sure many can take it in middle school, and there are immersion schools but those are probably more available in larger cities. 

Do the other major countries begin second language instruction at a younger age? 

The vast majority of people from other countries I’ve known through college and work started a second language around third grade as a full course. Many added a third in high school. These are primarily European and Asian countries.

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14 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Probably because you're overestimating the amount of culture in a typical foreign language class in the US.  I took Spanish in Phoenix, AZ.  What little was in the textbook didn't really apply to the Chicano and immigrant culture I was surrounded by, and some of the language taught in the textbook didn't even apply. And don't get me started on the thick Alabama accent of the teacher.  She was kind of rigid in her thinking, so she couldn't handle the teasing some of the kids gave for it.  If she had just joked along it would've been fine, but the Mexican kids who took the class for the credits made it clear to us we weren't getting pronunciation we could really use.

What I am trying to say and am obviously doing a poor job of it, is that even though you may never use the foreign language again in this lifetime, the exposure of it along with immersing bits of a foreign culture has value and enriches the mind.

Like carrying our children to any museum, or play, etc. They don't need it, but we all see the value in doing so.

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1 hour ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

I think part of the problem is that in the US, we leave, for the most part, foreign language classes until students are teens. I’m sure many can take it in middle school, and there are immersion schools but those are probably more available in larger cities. 

Do the other major countries begin second language instruction at a younger age? 

Not a major country, we begin at the primary level (grade one).

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20 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I'm not saying that zero Americans use a second language.  It's just that we don't need it to get around most of North America.  If I lived in Europe and wanted to travel around, knowing a language other than my native tongue would be more useful and necessary. But I can live my whole life in the US and never, ever need to speak anything other than English to get around.  

According to google, only 20% of Americans are bilingual, while 56% of Europeans are bilingual. My opinion, (for what that's worth), is that it's probably much more useful and necessary to be bilingual in Europe than it is in the US. 

I have had to use Spanish in a number of situations in the US.

I am to some extent quadrilingual.

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On 1/19/2020 at 3:59 PM, Frances said:

At least when I was growing up in IA, high school athletics were also a very big thing and almost everyone did at least one sport,  but it didn’t matter what size high school you attended because at least for conference, district, and state championships, you were competing against schools of similar size. You might compete against larger schools during the regular season to hone your skills, but all of the championships were based on school size. For cross country and track, we had at least 25% of the school population competing and we didn’t even have a track. But we won numerous championships, including many state titles.  Similarly for baseball, they had enough players and pitchers to field several teams and to this day my hometown, with its Field of Dreams ball field surrounded by a cornfield, regularly wins state championships.

That is the way it is in my state, where there are very large schools and very small schools and lots of medium sized schools.  We have 7 categories of school size now.

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7 hours ago, TechWife said:

I see quiet considerate people of all nationalities, including American. But, I don't see loud, obnoxious people of other nationalities. That isn't to say that there aren't some, but it's noteworthy that the loud, obnoxious people that I have seen are Americans. I'm relating my personal experience, and my personal experience leads me to conclude that our reputation for rudeness in other cultures is understandable.

 

 

 

We have had lots of bad experiences with loud, obnoxious Germans,  We have had bad experiences with maybe not so loud but even more obnoxious Russians.  We have had bad experiences with loud, drunken British men who were flying on cheap airlines to foreign places to get drunk (I guess maybe the price of liquor in England was such that it still was chaper to fly Ryan Air, get cheap lodging and get drunk in foreign lands????)./   I was on a plane with a large schoolgroup of Argentinian girls who were plenty loud and annoying.  But you know what- I have met nice, quiet British people, quiet Germans who were not obnoxious, and quiet Argentinians too.  (haven't met too many Russians on my travels).  I have also met loud, obnoxious Americans but I have met more completely nice Americans or at least Americans acting totally non offensively.

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8 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

Well, you could maybe listen to those who've seen enough of it to say yes, there is (some) truth in this stereotype, and that stereotype reflects some ugly parts of our culture.

As do all national stereotypes. 

The bolded is your national privilege. 

 

A problem though I think may be that Australians think they know America, and that they cannot help but know America—but may actually really only know American movies and TV.

 

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13 hours ago, MEmama said:

The book goes into great depth about historical migration patterns and how they continue to shape our cultures today. It doesn't attempt to detail every last influence, but paints a broad—and very accurate—brush across the continent.

It does illustrate—again, broadly— modern migrations, explaining that  *most* people move (when voluntary) within similar, familiar cultures. New England to the the upper Midwest, coastal west coast or southern Ontario makes cultural sense as they share strikingly similar historical patterns. Coastal California to Alabama, on the hand, share few historical cultural similarities. Perhaps the same is true of your city, perhaps its influences are different from its surrounding greater area.

Several posters from western states have commented that western Canada feels comfortable to them, that there are clear ties that transcend the border. It’s not a surprise, given that both were settled similarly and for similar purposes.

 

 

Specifically , whai is verymisleadin about the Deep South description is that while most of my state was pro-slavery and pro-Confederaly, rhe mountain area of the NE part of my state was not pro-slavery or Confederal and specifically my city was a mixture of pro and con.  Also, in the 60's, while the more Deep South areas were having horrible civil rights violations, my city peacefully integrated in 1963, which was earlier than my probably labeled mid Atlantic county in Northern VA which was still segregated when I started kindergarten in 1968.

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6 hours ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

I think part of the problem is that in the US, we leave, for the most part, foreign language classes until students are teens. I’m sure many can take it in middle school, and there are immersion schools but those are probably more available in larger cities. 

Do the other major countries begin second language instruction at a younger age? 

Lots of countries do.  But what I have experienced in a few European countries is that even though English is a required language from young elemantary ages, many to most of the people do not speak it.  They may very well be able to understand written language (as I can read more languages than I can speak), but apparently language instruction in general is often difficult.

Belgium, where the country is divided between French and Flemish speakers with a very small minority of German speakers, did have almost everybody speaking at least 2 languages.  I think it was the early introduction to 2 languages that made language learning easier.  

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16 minutes ago, TravelingChris said:

Lots of countries do.  But what I have experienced in a few European countries is that even though English is a required language from young elemantary ages, many to most of the people do not speak it.  They may very well be able to understand written language (as I can read more languages than I can speak), but apparently language instruction in general is often difficult.

Belgium, where the country is divided between French and Flemish speakers with a very small minority of German speakers, did have almost everybody speaking at least 2 languages.  I think it was the early introduction to 2 languages that made language learning easier.  

I still think it's use it or lose it, regardless of how young you start.

My kids have always had exposure to Spanish since birth, both at home and at school, even including some full immersion and travel to Spain & Latin America.  But in grade 9, they will have to take Spanish 1 just like those who never studied Spanish before.  They will find the first couple chapters easy, maybe, but that's it.

In countries where kids learn the language AND have reason to speak it outside of school, they retain a lot more than those who simply take a required course.  I've known people who studied English most of their childhood but still really couldn't speak it because they didn't use it outside of school.  (And who knows how well the teachers themselves actually know the language they teach.)

Of course there is value in the courses.  I found that taking Spanish grammar helped me to better analyze English grammar, for example.  But fluency as a goal isn't going to be met that way.

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

I still think it's use it or lose it, regardless of how young you start.

My kids have always had exposure to Spanish since birth, both at home and at school, even including some full immersion and travel to Spain & Latin America.  But in grade 9, they will have to take Spanish 1 just like those who never studied Spanish before.  They will find the first couple chapters easy, maybe, but that's it.

In countries where kids learn the language AND have reason to speak it outside of school, they retain a lot more than those who simply take a required course.  I've known people who studied English most of their childhood but still really couldn't speak it because they didn't use it outside of school.  (And who knows how well the teachers themselves actually know the language they teach.)

Of course there is value in the courses.  I found that taking Spanish grammar helped me to better analyze English grammar, for example.  But fluency as a goal isn't going to be met that way.

Absolutely.

We've met quite a number of Europeans who don’t speak any English or a second language at all, including family members.

And while Canada is officially bilingual (all federal forms must be in English and French), according to a quick google search only around 10% of non-Quebecois are fluent in French. Only one province is officially bilingual, but when we lived there our schools didn’t teach a French and I couldn’t find anyone within a couple hours of us who could speak it, never mind tutor my son (who was desperate to learn it). Outside a French dominate sliver of the province, English was overwhelmingly predominate.

According to same early morning search, around 20% of Americans are fluent in Spanish. The American west has the highest percentage—something like 40%— because they get to use it regularly far more than those of us in other areas.

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