Moving out of Yourself through Language

The Immigrant
The Immigrant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To improve our problem-solving capabilities, we all need to see things from a new perspective.  We may be successful in our careers and relationships.  But our successes possess some parts that are not working as well as they could.  We can’t see them, though.  When we live inside our mind, the mind that has figured out how to be successful, we learn to skim over the gaps in our lives.

Learning a language forces us to struggle for success.  We can’t live under the illusion of inevitable success in our lives; our constant failures in basic communication remind us of our shortcomings.  We sit in front of someone who has great success in speaking this language; the native speaker’s every at-bat appears to result in an inevitable home run.  In stark contrast to the native speaker, we struggle just to hear the crack of the bat.

The other person has a different complement of successes and failures in their experience.  When we build a relationship with that person, we enjoy the opportunity to learn.

When we struggle with a language, we can plug into a new world of success and failure.  An immigrant, for example, has struggled with great loss, moving away from their entire support system in order to support themselves in a new way.  This movement brings loneliness through separation.  Immigrants also likely struggled with languages, leaving them trapped in their poorly-expressed thoughts.  When we move into their comfort zone, we leave ours, and we are ready to learn: about a new person, a different life, a foreign way of thinking.

Have you had such an encounter learning a language or a new way of thinking?  How did it affect you?

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One thought on “Moving out of Yourself through Language

  1. Pingback: What I learned about language-learning: 2012 « Loving Language

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