Hey folks -
This is Lisa Gibson coming to you from San José, capital city of the central American country Costa Rica. I’ve been studying her for about a month, and I have about two more to go. The first few days were quite tiring – as I went from theoretically speaking Spanish, to actually using it 24/7. Right now, my favorite part of the day is my 4-hour conversation class. It is with an extremely patient professor who helps me and the five other girls of the class as we stumble along with verb tenses and vocabulary. After class is my best moments for conversation, because I’m at the “top of my game”.
I came to Costa Rica with a high school level of Spanish, and I quickly realized that I knew a lot less than I thought I did. In practice, I realized that I had gaping holes in my vocabulary knowledge, and my grammatical skills were more like guesses. This is not to scare you from heading to a country to learn the language! As the title of this post could be translated, “We learn through mistakes.” However, with the prevalence of English around the world, you may be wondering why it’s worth it to go through the sometimes embarrassing struggle of a new means of communication. (For example, the other day I accidently said “I eat cats” instead of “I feed cats”… a bit awkward!) In this post, I’d like to share a bit more about my experience with language learning and why I feel it’s important for you to learn a new language as well.
Learning a language entails a lot more than memorizing verb forms; you also have to learn when to use certain phrases and their connotations. It’s really tough to meet new people without that subconscious knowledge… I miss using English at those times because I’m still learning to understand and project subtleties through the elements of language not found in a dictionary: vocab choice, tone of voice, stress on words, slang, etc. However, I am gaining a newfound appreciation for language learners everywhere, especially those millions of people learning English. My intended career is to teach English to language learners, and as I stated, now I can truly empathize with my hypothetical students. I also have a reason to teach English: communicating through a common language brings about relationships. Through the many positive and negative outcomes of globalization, one result has been the rise of English as a worldwide lingua franca. The beauty of this is that more people than ever are now able to communicate on a common ground. However, English is still not the heart language of every person on Earth, meaning that their most comfortable mode of expression may be Tagalog, Mandarin, Bulgarian, etc. To build a relationship, we ought to stretch ourselves to learn to communicate on someone else’s level. Nothing is forcing us to learn another language, except the urgency to live in peace with our neighbors. When we challenge ourselves to do so, we reject self-serving complacency… and the world benefits.
So start picking up Somali or Urdu or Azerbaijani today! As for me, I’ve going to keep on trying to get the knack of Spanish so I can stop eating cats.
Chau y buena suerte!