About doing, rather than thinking about …
My Japanese is pretty rubbish really, but long after I stopped learning I still find myself resorting to Japanese words in my head when the English phrase is not quite right. And having studied teaching second languages at Uni, I was across all the research that indicated how valuable it is for people to learn to see the world through the lens of another culture / language. We mono-lingual Skips miss out really.
So in the spirit of living with no regrets, I reckon its time for me to get learning. Given that I hope slow travel will feature heavily in the coming years, I found myself wondering how good it would be to have at least a basic understanding of the major languages of the world. My realistic aim is to be able to have basic, travel oriented conversations in at least French and Italian (to add to Japanese) If I do that, then in the years to come I’ll add more, this will be a lifelong project.
But for me there has been a psychological hurdle. One of the reasons my Japanese is crappier than it might have been was my failure to embrace failure. I am one of those people who used to hide behind a ‘natural ineptitude’ – which is probably code for “too gutless to make a fool of oneself”. Unless I figured I knew how to construct the sentence perfectly I would baulk at even starting it. So one of the things I had to take on board in embarking on my new language journey is the inevitability of feeling inadequate.
And it got me thinking again about the learning process. I realise how easy it is for us to stay comfortable in the areas in which we are competent. As we go through life we get recognised for our expertise in certain things and it is both affirming and comforting to stay within that community. Well bollocks to that … if we are fair dinkum about lifelong learning lets always be putting ourselves in situations where others are better than us, and lets embrace the inevitability of feeling inadequate and embarrassed by our elementary knowledge and skill.
… he says gulping, realising he is talking to himself.