I ran into an Iranian guy yesterday that I used to share an office with. Though flustered, I managed to do two important things: I used what I know and made up a couple new sentences. I did not follow the Irish Polyglot by making 100 mistakes, but I made several. In the end I benefited, and the encounter was not terribly awkward.
I greeted him–correctly. Good! Then when I tried to say, “I speak a little Farsi,” I was getting a couple words mixed up, so I started speaking too quickly, and then he finally said what I was trying to say. As a good student of Pimsleur, I repeated after him.
I also used a phrase wrong. When contradicting someone who says “no,” you say “chera,” which means “yes” in this context. When he said I spoke well, I said this. I confused him.
Finally, I made up a sentence, “I have a Farsi book.” That worked well.
The lesson I learned is that I have what it takes to start having conversations. These conversations will be short now, but they will get longer–and more fluid and less awkward. I also learned about holes in my vocabulary. I need words like “use” and “like” to talk about my learning methods. I need to re-learn to say “work” so I can find out where he is, now that I no longer share an office with him.