Do I need to speak the language to work overseas?

Discussion in 'After Culinary School' started by nicko, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @William Kuch  asked the question "Do you need to speak the language to work over seas?" The short answer is no. When I went to France I did not speak the language but you have to be able to put 2&2 together so you know what the person is asking you to do. It will hinder your learning ability but you will still have a great experience. It is worthwhile to take some basic language course just so you can move around in the kitchen without getting frustrated. Pimsleur languge tapes offer a 10 lesson intro course for download that are outstanding. They are all language driven and easy to learn.

    Don't let the language barrier scare you off. So many people told me "don't go to France you don't speak the language" but I did just find with my Culinary French that I learned when I attended the    
     
  2. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Very true - I got work in many kitchens in Asia specifically because I didn't speak the local language.

    They wanted their staff to get better at English so I was required to always speak English to everyone.

    Lots of fun on a few occasions when even charades didn't help the situation!  

    One guy was always mad at me, I had no idea why for several months.  

    Eventually I found out that one of the gestures I made when asking what size to cut something was insulting the size of his man-hood.

    (make sure you learn about any rude gestures before arriving)

    As noted above  though you do have to have a fairly good knowledge of cooking and be quick on the uptake.
     
  3. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @MichaelGA  That is funny. When I ended up in Greece working on the island of Santorini at Selene restaurant  I was excited to practice my Greek (being half Greek) and everyone spoke English. That is really excellent you got to work in Asia where about exactly?
     
  4. michaelga

    michaelga

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    It was a rather round about route... started in Australia (Sydney) then got my foot in the door in Manila - Philippines, Bangkok - Thailand then eventually HongKong and finaly Tokoyo. 

    Most of them were 3 month work-study type visa's (some I was just a tourist with strange 'vices).

    There wasn't really any kind of plan it was all word of mouth and meeting/making friends. 

    Lots of the places I got work at were places that a co-worker had previously worked at or their family owned (usually in a different city or country).

    Other places were ex-pat clubs or private resorts, a couple of International Schools and some of the bigger tourist traps (where my English was more important than my cooking).

    While I learned a ton in the kitchens most of it was just 'production' work - being a foreigner meant I was never getting promoted or paid well.  I did learn and see many things but most of all when I wasn't working I was poking around at other restaurants either eating or watching, sometimes both as there might be no walls!  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    I had originally only planned and set aside enough money for a year but it turned into just over 3.

    Mostly by not spending money unless I could avoid it and working for room and board way more than I thought was possible. 

    I also tutored English on the side if possible. 

    No apartments or flats, just rooming houses, hostels, dorms, friends floors and those scary sleeping coffins in Japan. 

    Got lice... twice... avoided crabs and amazingly was never mugged.  Seldom carried cash just travelers cheques and spare change.

    Oh to be twenty years old again - although in this day and age I'm not sure that it could be done.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  5. william kuch

    william kuch

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    Wow sounds awesome! I lived in Tokyo for 2 years when I was in fourth and fifth grade. Absolutely loved it, and I've wanted to return for quite some time. How hard is it to get a job there?
     
  6. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Back in the early '80s damn near impossible if you didn't know someone.  

    Currently I haven't a clue.
     
  7. william kuch

    william kuch

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    I'm assuming it might be a little easier these days since almost everyone's on the net