lundi 11 juillet 2011

Language Learning is Like Taking a Shower When You're Covered in Crusty, Slimy Mud

I've had better days.
Yep you read that right, sloppy muddy mud. You're going to need a strong water flow, a sponge, and some soap. So what could this metaphor possibly mean? How does this relate to language learning and why am I still reading this post? Good questions, I'm glad you asked. Head on past the break to find out how to get that flow going at the perfect pace and temperature.

Students across the world are told by their language teachers and professors that learning a language will "open doors" and bring about "better opportunities" in life. While both of those things are very true, they fail to resonate with young people, even myself. Our perspective lies more in the present and we lack the ability to understand how foreign language skills could possibly help or affect us. In high school as well as college, language classes are easy to pass over and forget about. Most of us just move on. There's no fault in that, especially when everyone you know speaks, sings, and laughs in the same language. It's common knowledge all international professionals speak English anyway, right?  Your ability to read this post already gives you a unique advantage. Worldwide, people struggle and dream of one day communicating in English so that they can communicate with someone like you. Will you be ready to communicate back? Knowing the same language only gets you about halfway there,  washing away the crusty muddiness of monolingualism (speaking one language) will place you in unique and rare company. Even if you must continue speaking in English with your new friend, at least now you can share a common bond in the struggle of learn another language.

In your foreign language class, you have the shower on drip, the water is barely flowing. Your might be learning new vocabulary, maybe some grammar and your instructor is struggling to build up a conversation, but who cares right? It is far more fun to chat, giggle, and flirt in English. Like I mentioned before, there's no fault in that. Just like it would take you days to wash up with your shower set to drip, it will take years to learn Spanish when going to class without fully engaging yourself.

Check it out, French soap! How clever.
Get that SOAP, by participating in class. I know this is lame and if you refuse to look goofy in front of your friends I can understand. I never really tried to speak French in class either. Other options are available, but understand that the rest of these tips are cumulative, to get completely "clean" you not only need water, you need some soap and a sponge too.

Get that SPONGE, by engaging privately in your target language. You can do this in baby steps at first, such as changing your Facebook account’s language settings or by watching a French movie with French subtitles. The next step up is dropping those subtitles and finding a pen pal from your target language’s home country. Now start scrubbing, you’re looking cleaner already.

The shower head is China and the
water is Mandarin! Get it?
Get that water FLOW, by getting immersed in the language. Go abroad and reach out, by becoming surrounded in your target language you quickly become soaked in the language. Everywhere around you people are listening, singing and laughing, not in English, but in Spanish, French or maybe even Japanese. There’s no escaping the classroom now, the world is now your classroom. At a language school you'll be learning and talking with people that might not even know English. All for the better I say, now the embarrassment or “goofy” factor is gone, everyone is struggling with the same language, all coming from different parts of the world.  Before you even realize it you’ll be completely clean and fresh, like a the smell of a newly blossomed tulip field in Holland.

So where does this put you? You’ve cleaned yourself off, you’re now clean as a whistle, but you still speak English! You might be asking yourself, “Did I use the wrong soap?” Nope you’re good, the sad truth is that I’ve been lying to you this whole time. The dirt never washes away, it just becomes thicker and thicker like a bear’s coat in winter. In reality, this metaphorical shower adventure we just took together didn’t clean off any mud at all, it only become a nice, luscious warm coat of fur!

Chill out dude, we're happy for you. No need to yell.
Did this post pump you up at all? We’re here to help. We offer programs in many languages including Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Chinese and even Japanese. Check out our website to go get super fresh and “furry!”

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Photos: (1)Liam Q, (2) Nicholas Smale, (3) gfpeck, (4) memegenerator.net