She was trying hard to get the verbs right.
He is tall.
I am tall.
They are tall.
It was a struggle. English is a difficult language to pick up as an adult.
But we kept working through our ESL lesson together.
I’m brand new at teaching English as a Second Language. This was only my second week. I was discovering there were many words I take for granted that she couldn’t understand.
Between her minimal English and my minimal Spanish, we were struggling to communicate.
A Different Tongue
When we speak different languages, it’s sometimes easier to just ignore each other and walk away.
And different languages don’t have to be tongues like Spanish and English.
- Our different language may be Christianese.
- It may be technical work jargon.
- It may be a series of private sayings within a family.
Within our own subcultures, these languages work. We can communicate well when everyone knows the same words.
But once we step outside our boundaries, we have to broaden our vocabularies.
Learn someone else’s language. Then teach them yours. Do it with intention. Do it with frequency.
The English lesson with my student may not have been super successful that night. She eventually called in her 8-year-old daughter to help translate and bridge the gap.
But we did have fun along the way. We laughed a lot. She tried telling me a story in Spanish about either her husband or her brother. Her speech was so fast I couldn’t understand the details, but maybe I got the gist of it. Body language helped fill the gaps.
I hope in weeks ahead we’ll be able to laugh more when we look back at how far we’ve come.
Because when we learn new words, not only are we picking up a new language, we’re also making new friends.
Here are our three questions of the day:
(1) Did you learn pig Latin as a child?
(2) What foreign languages do you know or are you around?
(3) How has God used voices from others to reveal a different part of his character to you?
* * *
What are your answers? Please share in the comments.
(1) Esyay, igpay atinlay asway unfay.
(2) The foreign language I hear the most consistently in Alabama is Spanish. I’ve been trying to learn it for years, but I’m slow.
(3) Spending time in El Salvador and Guatemala showed me how God can inspire contentment in people who live on far less than I could ever imagine. If they can be happy with God in their lack, I have no excuses in my comparative wealth.
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