It’s easy to get discouraged about language learning, especially when you still don’t speak the language after five years! During our fifth year, Turkish neighbors asked my husband, “So you’ve been living here a long time now. How come you don’t speak any better than this?” They didn’t mean to be unkind, but we were left speechless and discouraged.
|My Husband and Daughter|
It’s been a long road, and we've learned some things together about language learning:
Determination is Key
After five years Javier could hardly speak a grammatical sentence, but he didn’t let it stop him. He has carried on daily language study for 11 years now. He still devotes one hour a day to reading the newspaper and the Bible in Turkish and to reviewing grammar and vocabulary. The pay-off is that he can now preach a short message in Turkish, something relatively few foreigners can do.
A Humble Spirit Speaks Louder Than Words
My dear husband speaks imperfect Turkish, but Turks love Him because he approaches them with a humble, gentle spirit. His limitations with the language don’t stop him from demonstrating God’s love and father heart in this country where many never had good fathers.
Friendship is a Door to Learning
Most of us would rather wait until we’re comfortable with the language to reach out to people. You may feel intimidated by your lack of language, but try making small gestures of friendship. Take the first step. Walk up to the person at the park and start talking. Take a deep breath and just do it. Take some cookies to a neighbor. Invite someone over for tea or coffee. While you make friends, you learn more language.
Here’s what a fellow blogger in Solomon Islands says about her experience:
“When I began to learn Lavukaleve, I decided to focus on people and narrow domains of garden, cooking, fishing, mostly things women do. Now, even though my language is about even with a two-year-old's vocabulary, I have great friends. And language learning is still difficult, but it's more fun because I'm with friends!”
Children Are an Asset
Most of us mothers view children as a hindrance to our language learning, but they can be a great asset. When my kids were small and we were newly arrived, I could barely speak but I knocked on doors to meet other mothers because I was anxious for my kids to have friends. I took them to the park often, and it was natural to start chatting with other women. Soon I was part of a small community of mothers which proved to be a living language school for me.
So that’s a little bit about our language learning experience. What about you? How long have you been in country? How are you doing with the language?