Hear A Different Voice – Day 30 of Handmade


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.

Hear a Different Voice

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.

Three Questions

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.

My answers

(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.

Get the whole Handmade series here


6 thoughts on “Hear A Different Voice – Day 30 of Handmade

  1. Char Geletka

    1. Nope, I just jibber-jabbered when my friends spoke Pig Latin!
    2. Just a tiny bit of spanish – oh so pequena
    3. God used a lady I walked with around my neighborhood every day to reveal to me that He was personal and intimate. Something I had never realized before!

  2. David

    Being forced to explain oneself without one’s usual jargon can be very revealing. I’ve had one or two friends through my life who have pinned me down like this, and my wife is relentless (in a nice way ofc).

    1. I think I first came across it in a Top Cat cartoon;
    2. I love learning languages but I don’t keep it up, so I speak a handful very badly (Cymraeg, Русский, 中文). Currently learning Deutsch.
    3. Listening to Christians (online mostly) has been amazing, learning to appreciate the sensibility and not just the theory.

  3. Betsy de Cruz

    1. No, I didn’t learn pig Latin until I was an adult with kids!

    2. I speak Turkish, Spanish, and a bit of French.

    I have just started teaching ESL too, Lisa! My students are Afghans, so one is a Dari speaker and the other speaks Pashtu.

  4. Laurie

    My dear daughter-in-law is an ESL teacher. She teaches college-age students who are usually immigrants trying to get into college classes, but need to improve their English first. I am now trying to learn Spanish from an app on my phone. It’s a slow, difficult process. I am amazed at how quickly English-learners pick up our language.

  5. Lois Flowers

    Lisa, what you said about jargon reminds me of an editor I had when I was a newspaper reporter covering business. She would send back any story that had the slightest bit of jargon in it. It was kind of annoying at times, but she always made us write so that the everyday person who didn’t know much about business would know what we were talking about. I’ve never forgotten that lesson, and yes, it absolutely applies to Christianese!

    I learned pig Latin as an adult; my husband taught me. 🙂 I frequently hear other languages spoken when I am out and about (our areas is pretty ethnically diverse) and I’m also hearing more and more Spanish at home as my daughter is in Spanish 3 at her high school. Great post!

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