We know that language is one of the most important tools of engagement, and has further significance to almost every aspect of life as we know it. To me, languages are becoming an increasing fuse, but it was only recent when I began to identify with the benefits of having more than just one language to speak, beyond any social, cultural or even financial gain.
My mother tongue is Arabic, and that was the only language I used to speak till I was twenty years of age, writing however, is a different story. In Jordan, where I was born and raised, there was two ways to learn good English, movies and MIRC chat program, I used to spend most of my time watching, or repeating a movie, matching subtitles with spoken words, I would watch a movie, repeatedly,sometime only by looking at the subtitles. Other times, I’d be online chatting, I used to stay up till Four or Five in the morning, just chattering my time away, and the great thing about MIRC is that there is no profiling, statuses to update or links to share, no real names and most importantly no boundaries, you could pick up whatever nickname out there and instantly begin chatting about all kinds of stuff, and that was my world of engagement, communication, even some fiction.
But in those days, internet was charging by the minute, and after several months of excessive abuse, lets just say, I got a real kick in the ass. Anyhow, that was all in English, I couldn’t yet write proper Arabic with a flow, and I was still searching for keystrokes when typing it in, I even thought English was more approachable and easier to deal with when it comes to explaining emotions, with Arabic it was more difficult to do so, especially after all those years of schooling with nothing but traditional poetry, which needed books of explanation and definitions to understand a dimension or two, but mostly, it was absolutely boring. But with English I was able to express without judgment, it felt more approachable and engaging, most importantly I was able to do it, but after a few crushes and a little bit of maturity, with failed choices in scientific path high-school degree, I had to turn to literature in an attempt to pass high-school without really studying, and engaging more with language as a natural cause of life. Funny enough! it worked, and I passed.
But my affiliation with language ended by the time I accomplished my limited benefits with it, and moved on to the world of assurance, in this world, there was all kinds and varieties of languages, not by ethnic differences and its variations, but by a racial, more egoistic pronouncing and always with a means to an end, stuffed with limits, boundaries and rules, and I couldn’t play by the rules, I tried, but I just couldn’t, so I moved on…
I migrated to a world themed with languages, and where egos didn’t matter, and rules were meant to be broken, life started to be more ironic, and by all means interesting. An Arab, married to a Japanese, studying Thai, communicating with each other in English as a first language, and both never learned each others language, we’re trying! But lets just say it may take a good while, in the meantime, we created our own yammer language.
This year, is my second year trying to learn Thai, and aside from being able to identify with most of their consonants and vowels by reading or pronunciation, I still can’t make out one full sentence, other than ‘Hello, I speak a little bit of Thai’ and that is the only bit I have. This language is just not sinking in me, not that I have tried much, and to be honest, with my Arab tongue, whichever consonant or vowel I try to pronounce, I have to move most of my facial muscles, and that makes people laugh their lunges out. Eventually, I realized that this language needs to be approached differently, I was trying to understand and relate to it with languages I already have, and other than acting funny to write Thai with Arabic and English, it was not working.
Another issue I faced with Thai, they seem to not have or use grammar to compose a spoken sentence, but that was good, because I never understood grammar in any language I have.. (this moment of writing, I have absolutely no idea how my grammar is, but as long as its making sense, then, I guess am doing fine, am sure you’ll do too
Do not even get me started on Japanese, Three years with my wife, and I barely can remember how to say: Hello, was it ‘Arigato’? (Correction, she say: it means THANK YOU).
I’ve tried many techniques, but they all had to be paralleled with my slow learning methods, I like being lazy, and I also like to think that am a slow learner by definition, this way I can take my time, and once it sinks in, believe it or not, it can never escape, and until that time, I’ll enjoy developing each language with its own pace and time, like everything else, those languages need their time, to me, this is the exact definition of education, because with language comes cultures, with language comes experiences, with language comes emotions, and with language comes destinations.