As I just moved to Minnesota, my linguistic situation has changed dramatically. Significantly, I’m personally confronting some of the major topics I blog about: overcoming fear and learning languages in everyday situations. Time for me to put my money where my mouth is. Despite a good situation, fear is impeding my language progress. I moved to the ‘burbs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but within 48 hours of arriving, I found that three doors down lives a Persian family from Tehran. And they don’t speak English so well. I’d been excited about such a situation in the abstract; now, in the concrete, I’m afraid. The typical questions go through my head: What will I say? What can we talk about after the first 5 minutes? In our first exchange I feel like I already went beyond what I’m able to do.
I know the solution, though I haven’t acted yet–Just go talk to them, ask “What?” a lot, learn something. These people were so excited to meet me on that first day, and demonstrated typical Persian hospitality. When words didn’t work, they held my hand and patted my back. By getting over my fear I will do everyone a favor.
I’m really excited to start a new language: Somali. In my new job, the opportunity has arisen to learn Somali in everyday conversation. The system is working well. I’m starting by using phrases I can use multiple times a day. I learned how to say “Good morning,” but not “Good evening,” because I don’t see him in the evening. I asked how to say, “How was your weekend?” because that will come up more times. Because we’re doing IT work, I learned to say, “Is the computer ready?” and “Are you ready? Let’s go!” as we move from task to task. Then he taught me, “Wait a minute!” So we have mini conversations every day. So even though my vocabulary is small, I maximized the practical. I cannot say, “The table is yellow,” because we have no yellow tables in our office. So far, so good.
A lingering danger is the plateau. I’m at the plateau in Farsi, and am losing motivation. I’m in the early, quick-learning stages of Somali, so I’m easily motivated. I need to focus on staying motivated in Farsi as I pick up Somali.
Any suggestions for staying motivated? (I know that’s supposed to be my job, but any help is appreciated.)
- FBI looking to hire linguists ()
- Problem of Intermediate Language Learning (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- How can we establish the friendship between West and East again? (ireport.cnn.com)
- Best motivation to learning a language. (teescale.wordpress.com)