Where everybody knows your name (and that’s about all they can say in your language)

Language school is an interesting beast. On day one you are placed in a classroom with a group of 15-20 other people and you know absolutely nothing about them. It’s not until they write their name on a placard that you even know their name and then you might not be able to pronounce it.

Then class starts and it is completely, 100% in the new language. So in the first day you learn how to say what your name is, where you are from, where you live, etc. So now you know a little bit about each other, but can you ask them anything in specific? Nope, sure can’t! If you want to ask what city they come from in their country, that might be a stretch. Maybe a little more info about their family? Well, you haven’t even learned the word for family yet, so good luck!

As the days go on you begin to learn more and more words and you can piece together, what I am sure sounds like some of the worst sentences ever to native German speakers. You get to kind of know the other people in your class and yet something is happening. You are becoming friends. You are suddenly involved in these people’s lives and yet you barely can have a decent conversation with them. You spend more time stumbling over remembering the little vocabulary that you have that it takes 10 minutes to have a 2 minute conversation. And yet, you take those 10 minutes to have that conversation.

There is a bond, a bond between people who do not speak the same language, but are trying to learn a new language together.

I am Yacob in class (German way to pronounce Jacob with a short a, not a long a) and I sit next to Olga and Denis. Denis comes from France and Olga comes from Portugal. They both speak about as much of English and I speak of Portuguese and French (pretty much none). Every day, we talk though. We talk about our family, we talk about the classwork and we talk about anything that we have the vocabulary for. Five weeks into class we are beginning to be able to have decent conversations, but it is still uncomfortable.

There is a bond, a bond between people who do not speak the same language, but are trying to learn a new language together.

We want to say so much more to each other. We want to share what we care about with our new-found friends. But so far, it is a slow process. So we take it day-by-day and every day it gets a little bit easier to communicate. Every day we get to know each other more and more. Every day we get closer to a point where we no longer have to use the Google translate app to translate something from our native language to German and then the native language of the person next to us.

There is a bond, a bond between people who do not speak the same language, but are trying to learn a new language together.

We have struggled together, we have had victories together, we have had fun together and we have laughed together. Soon, we will be invested in each other’s lives and hopefully my life will shine with the light of Christ so that they might now Him more.

Posted on June 14, 2013, in language school and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hey Jake, – Well written blog. It brought back lots of memories of language school – we when through 2 different language schools for Hausa and French and tried (and failed!) at a third language! One day, not only will you be able to laugh and struggle and be victorious together with your class, but you will be able to cry together too. That’s such a deeper level of bonding…

    Keep on keeping on.

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