When it comes up in conversation that I can speak more than one language, the most common reaction I get is ‘oh I wish I’d carried on learning xxx [insert language here]’, followed by ‘I was rubbish at languages, but I’d love to be able to speak something else’.
That’s such a shame. Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in my life are as a result of learning a language, or being able to speak to someone else in their own tongue.
- Sometimes it was as simple as befriending the local butcher in a small Normandy village, and him offering us vegetables from his own kitchen, because all the other shops had already closed for the evening.
- It can be as eye-opening as talking to remote Mozambican villagers in cod-Portuguese about their lives.
- As terrifying as ringing the emergency doctor in Germany because my then-girlfriend couldn’t stop being sick. I learned some new vocabulary on that call, I can tell you!
- Or being able to persuade a local woman to offer us a room for the night in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, because we had nowhere else to stay.
I was only able to do those things because I’d learned the language (to varying levels) and felt confident enough to at least try and have a conversation. Continue reading “The joy of learning a language”