Posts Tagged ‘language learning’

Nintendo DS Games Got Japanese – Save Some Calories And Embarrassement

February 13, 2010

While you travel abroad, have you ever been in a situation at a restaurant in which you don’t know what / how to order food but feel a bit shy to say anything else except ‘yes’?  In places particularly in Asia where exotic food choices are served, they might offer something completely out of ordinary and that you might not even feel comfortable looking at or touching, not to mention about eating – well, chicken feet or fish head might not be that bad afterall .  

Or in other situation, you might be asked to choose from myriad options and side dishes to go with your burger.  If you said yes to all, you would end up with a super jumbo burger with load of extra unwanted calories .   To avoid situations like that, you should to pick up a few practical vocabulary and phrases before you go or during your trip using LangLearner Web and Mobile products.  And check out:

In addition, to spice up your learning, you can also brush up your Japanese or other languages by playing the new Nintendo DS Language Games such as My Japanese Coach; should be fun -.-

Check out the TV Commercial.  Hope you wouldn’t run into a bad situation like this.  Until then, Bon Appétit.


Body Language, Lost in Translation in Lin Heung Hong Kong (蓮香樓)

February 11, 2010

Before getting into the meat and funny part of the story, let’s start with food (and touristy info)…

Lin Heung Hong Kong (蓮香樓)

Each city is famous for different style of food.  When it comes to Dim sum which by default refers to the Cantonese style unless noted otherwise, Hong Kong probably is ranked the highest in authenticity, quality and variety.  There is one old style Chinese restaurant situated on a fairly narrow street on the quiet side of Hong Kong Island between Central and Sheung Wan.

蓮香樓 Lin Hueng Waiter

It’s called Lin Heung (蓮香樓) and has been around for about 80 years.  It is famous for dim sum and other traditional Chinese dishes.  Its old brand, legacy, traditional setting gives an old world feel.  Because of that, it has attracted both locals and tourists of various nationalities.  It’s almost as if you went to a living antique tea museum with fresh dim sum dishes.  Lin Heung is probably one of the few remaining old Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong after many years of renovation and urban redevelopment.  Perhaps, that is why it has received many good reviews and wide coverage in the media and travel publications (carried by most tourists visiting the restaurant).

Now comes to the important part of ordering food – especially the kind you want and like to try or crave for.  Unlike more modern restaurants there are no updated menus, no pictures, no displays, nor order sheets.  Most who work there do not like to speak English or even interact with their customers.   So what happens if you don’t know what’s inside those hot bamboo steamers?  Most would just ask.  But since the old dim sum lady does not speak English, probably your best bet would be body language.  That’s exactly what happened in my observation.

One afternoon a French couple came to the restaurant while I was there.  After they sat down, they asked the old waitress for beer and noodles.  The waitress simply placed their order for a large bowl of noodle and a bottle of beer.  Then, the couple saw an order of freshly steaming dim sum coming out of the kitchen.  The French man rushed to catch the old waitress and asked her about the dish.  She seemed to understand what he asked but couldn’t reply in English.  She chuckled and started talking to her colleagues.  After his insistence, she finally paid attention and tried to respond.  But rather doing so in words, she stuck two fingers up above her head and moved them sideways repeatedly.  While it was fun to watch, it was not easy to guess.  After looking at the dish, I had this “Ah-ha!” moment and a lightbulb lit up.  She was trying to say it’s ‘beef ball” – the fingers were supposed to be the horns!  I don’t think the French guy had a clue!   Actually he was becoming annoyed and insulted.

cattle without horns

Whether it was because French cattle don’t have horns, the waitress was making an insulting gesture as a devil, or he just did not get the body language – there was the possibility of a cultural barrier on top of a language barrier.  Here is a lesson learned: it’s probably beneficial to learn some basic phrases or words of a new language before traveling abroad or serving foreigners.  Afterall, it’s easier to learn the word “beef” than taking an acting class…   @.@

>>> Do you have any funny travel stories and interesting experiences on language communications, travel tips, culture lessons?  Let’s share with us and get a chance to travel around the world FREE…
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