I’m living a language slump—since the summer, my Farsi has not advanced much. Learning a language, I explain to people, is like filling a bucket with holes. At this point, more is coming out of my Farsi “bucket” than is going in. I know less on December 1 than I did on August 1. This lack of progress makes me feel defeated—and ultimately fear blocks me and keeps me from moving forward.
The surface sources of my slow progress are clear. First, my schedule changed drastically as I moved to a new state and to a new job with a radically different daily schedule and set of expectations. So I spend little time going through my words during the day or looking for new ones. Second, the foreign language I run into most often is Somali, not Farsi, so that language draws more of my attention. Moreover, beginning a new language (like Somali) keeps my attention much more than the intermediate doldrums of Farsi. Third, I’m working on building a Somali/immigrant language movement in my city, and that takes time for communication and organization, which takes time away from potential Farsi study.
Sometimes I long for a teacher. One reason is I want the accountability of a regular language meeting. Another reason is that I need controlled, intermediate input. The input from podcasts and newspapers can be overwhelming; it takes a lot of chewing to digest it. When I spend focused time on them, though, I get something valuable out of it. I want someone else to help me overcome my slump.
In fact, teachers are waiting for me. Through Livemocha—where I haven’t checked in for months—I have tens of friend requests, many from Iran. Iran is ten hours later than me, which means that at 8 or 9 pm my time, I could have an early morning session with someone in Iran, or at 6-7 am my time, I could meet with someone in Iran at the end of the work day. These folks want to learn English, too, so we could do a language exchange.
To be honest, I’m afraid to make the time commitment. My old job used to have a flexible schedule, and I spent 80% of my time by myself. Now I have to be places at particular times and work with people the entire time. Flexible, alone time—especially if it can be at home—has become a terribly valuable commodity.
I have a fear of shortage; this is the real obstacle to my Farsi progress. I’m afraid that I don’t have enough time. Fear has stopped me, and fear has become my normal state. I need to confront fear and overcome my static inertia, thus moving my self forward again.The next step is to assume the opposite: I have enough time. By making that initial investment, I will overcome the inertia and get moving. Investing in a teacher would work; a 30- to 60-minute per week commitment would improve my Farsi by a lot. These lessons would lead to visible progress—and enjoyment and connection—on a regular basis, so I would feel encouraged to work here and there (e.g., vocabulary cards and podcasts) and to visit my elderly neighbors more often.
What does fear keep you from doing? How do you confront it to overcome the inertia it causes?
- Progress and perseverance in learning langauges (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- فارسی برای همه Farsi for everyone! (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- Learning a New Language – My First Steps in Farsi (peterevansthoughts.wordpress.com)
- Differences Between Arabic and Farsi (differencebetween.net)
- To be American is to be multilingual (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)