We recently celebrated 1 year of living in country.
So I wanted to write a quick post to acknowledge the occasion here too.
We had a little party and celebrated the milestone. Our time here so far has been dedicated to learning the language. It has been good and valuable to have dedicated time to language studies. It is cool to see my youngest child easily obey local instructions with complete comprehension. It is fun to play language learning games with my older kids and set little language challenges for them.
It is kinda cool to discuss our plans for the day with my husband, in front of my kids again.. should we all go to the market? The kids won’t want to, but we need to find shoes that fit, what if I go now and you meet me there? What if… etc.
it’s nice. I like speaking a 2nd language. I know millions all over the world do it easily; they speak 3rd and 4th and endless multiples of different languages.
But learning the 2nd has been quite enough for me, thanks.
I’ve found language acquisition to be a big, time-consuming, brain-frying, and rewarding though hard to measure, beast of a task.
It can be deflating, like climbing a mountain that just keeps getting steeper and steeper, with the summit stretching further and further away. The more I learn, the more there seems to be to learn. However well I express myself; I could always say it better, faster, or pronounce it clearer.
It is however, gratifying when you are met with someone’s face that just lit up in response to your local greeting. It’s encouraging to look back and see how far we’ve come in just 12months. It’s nice to say a sentence in class and get the nod – yep you said that right, first try. Yea, fist pump! Heck yes I did.
Language: It is a constant lesson in humility and also lots of fun.
The one thing that is certain is that language is important.
It is so nice to speak English and I always feel a little touched when nationals try to use the little English they know with me. They are speaking my heart language. That is sonice of them. Someone’s heart language, living in a non-English speaking country, I’m learning the value of that term.
I was also reminded that it is a beautiful message we have to share, and we want to share it well.
That involves a commitment to language.
Now my language is nowhere near super awesome. I mean, I can speak and explain myself and hold conversation. Sometimes it goes really well and then on other days, well, I’m shooting words out here and there without thinking and I know I’m getting muddled. Then whoever I’m talking to tilts their head in confusion and says,
Like… that sure was a cool 5 minutes of rambling lady, but what you actually meant by that, is…?
So, a couple of months ago, I go into the little store down the hill from our home.
I’m on my way home from Language Class so my language is flowing pretty well after 2 hours of practice. I think I bought a few small items, like UHT milk and bananas and stuff like that maybe. Whatever it was, I remember it adding up to about 25 thousand (about $2.50AUD). I took my stuff to the counter and paid the young cashier. This young cashier is always slightly embarrassed to serve me, you know, due to the awkward whiteness of my skin. She avoids eye contact with me and giggles with nerves while she punching buttons on her calculator.
Somehow when she bags up my groceries, she also hands me back too much change.
“Oh, I’m sorry, it’s too much, I paid you 40” I said to her.
“No, it didn’t cost 40 it only cost 25” she replied.
“I know but I paid you 40 so I only need 15 change”
“no it cost 25 not 15”
“I know, I paid you 40 so I don’t need 25 change”
She slowed right down, speaking each word carefully and slightly louder,
“the cost is 25. 25 is the change for you. Now you take this 25 home with you. Yes. Take.”
I nod with comprehension. “Yes I understand but I paid you only 40. Not 50. 50 less 25 is 25.”
“Yes,” she said, relieved, “yes. 25. Good. Thank you for shopping with us. Goodbye”
I felt silly and embarrassed. I felt ever so slightly offended and patronised. I felt confused and concerned that maybe my language was really something terrible. I was amused and awkward and actually… no, I’m confident that I was being clear.
Maybe… or maybe I said it wrong. No, I did it right. Right?
Oh man, I dunno.
And that my friends, that is language learning.
So, I still don’t know if it was a langauge issue or a mathematical issue.
I just went home with an extra 10 thousand in my pocket (like 90cents) and laughed about it with my husband.
Happy first anniversary everyone –
and thanks for reading, praying and standing beside us throughout the last year.