7 Comments
Apr 18, 2022Liked by Do Good Better

My husband and I have worked for 20+ years with global workers (missionaries, humanitarian aid, etc.) and language learning is a common discussion theme (not a surprise). In any given work team, people learn at different rates and it can become a bone of contention when the learning rates (and strategies) mean that some folks connect in the community more quickly than others. After all these years, my favorite language advice still comes from my brother, who moved to a new country 30+ years ago with a spouse who had a masters in that language and he had not a word. His advice? “You have to speak a language to learn it.” And related comment: “you have to be willing to look the fool to learn a language.”😊 Sounds a lot like “whatever it takes” alongside pointing & grunting until words begin to appear (alongside hilarious vocabulary errors that are not funny in the moment but provide a lot of laughter later!) Thanks for this practical & helpful blog!

Expand full comment
author

Yes! Most definitely agree with your brother's advice - you're going to get embarrassed, that's okay. You're going to look foolish, learn to laugh. You've got to use it and stumble through it.

Expand full comment
May 28, 2022Liked by Do Good Better

On this topic, I've also found that - not always, but often - the mistakes and humility and sense of humor that we display after making them can help build and strengthen relationships with those we're interacting with, perhaps because these demonstrate openness and vulnerability.

Expand full comment
Apr 19, 2022Liked by Do Good Better

Yes! Whatever it takes. :-) My favourite method is to listen to audio books and read along. That's fun for someone like me who loves books. Unfortunately, it focuses on input and not output. My incoming comprehension levels are way beyond how I usually speak. I'm going to go back to classes, though. One of the main things on my "after the war" list is to learn to actually speak Ukrainian. (I'm completely comfortable and conversational in Russian, like you said about your languages. In Ukrainian, though, I can comprehend whatever I hear, read, fill out forms, etc, but I can't TALK, and I need to.)

Expand full comment

I have struggled to learn languages. My most recent project is Spanish. But when forced beyond my ability I find myself dredging up French, Swahili, even Uzbek- the vast detritus in the linguistic closet of my brain. The sad truth is that I’m unlikely to learn another language until I live in a foreign country again.

Expand full comment
author

So true that living in the country makes things vastly easier!

Expand full comment

In addition to the great examples and suggestions already offered, I have found that talking with children in particular can be quite helpful - not to mention fun - when at a more beginning level in a language, as generally they speak more slowly and with more basic vocabulary and grammatical structures than do many adults.

Expand full comment