“Do You Speak Ride-share?”

A few nights ago, I used a ride-share app to book a trip to my office. From the driver’s name and profile photo, I guessed that he was South Korean. And if he were, that would be really impressive: to be a ride-share driver in the Philippines, you have to know both Tagalog and English really well. Many South Koreans come to the Philippines each year to learn English, but they usually ignore Tagalog, Bisaya, and the other local languages.

Then the driver arrived and I saw that he was South Korean! And the music he was playing on the radio was all in . . . Tagalog!

It was a great opportunity to talk to another language learner about strategies, methods, and other things. Unfortunately, I felt too shy to say anything. I have a little speech for introducing myself to German speakers, but nothing for meeting fellow learners from other cultures.

Meanwhile, on another ride . . .

When I told my best friend about this, she told me about a ride-share encounter of her own. She had booked a pooled ride, and the two people who got with her were chattering in Spanish. My friend has been learning Spanish for years! But she’s also the shy sort and would have been perfectly happy just to listen to them, if the driver himself hadn’t needed to tell them something.

One of the Spanish passengers hadn’t shut the car door properly, and the driver wanted him to do it again. But the passenger didn’t understand him in English or in Tagalog.

So my friend said: “Otra vez!”

The Spanish passengers were surprised . . . and delighted! The one nearest the door finally closed it properly, and the two of them spent the rest of the shared trip talking with her and assuring her that her Spanish was great.

And just last night . . .

I might not have remembered my latest ride-share driver if it weren’t for his traffic app. The service that I use requires all its drivers to use it and to take the route that it recommends. Most of them use the standard version, which gives directions in English. Last night, my driver’s app was giving him directions in Tagalog.

I hadn’t even known that this setting was possible! Language learners who have to drive a lot could really use it for language immersion. You wouldn’t need to follow its directions if you didn’t really want to, but it would add more of your target language to your life! Even I could use an app like this: I may not own a car, but giving directions is currently one of my weak spots. If the app has a German-language setting, I should download it myself!

Do you like ride-share or traffic apps?

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