Living and learning in a multilingual society

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a friend’s living room, surrounded by English, French, Darija (Moroccan Arabic), and Spanish. It was surreal. It was wonderful. It was mind-blowing.

After weeks of frustrating situations where I had to use my friends to navigate a daily situations, it felt great to be able to use Spanish to communicate.

After studying aborad in South Korea, I’d fantasized about living abroad again, but I’d forgotten how it is to feel so utterly helpless when a language barrier is involved.

It has been a difficult and humbling experience to continually ask for help in the language department. But it has also been exceedingly frustrating and exhausting. I am grateful for everyone’s patience as I navigate this odd realm of language skill development that has always been so difficult for me.

Since the start of the academic year, I signed up for two languages classes: Darija (3 hours once a week) and French (1.5 hours twice a week).

And, because I am required to use basic phrases while navigating daily life i.e. ordering a taxi, grocery shopping, I am constantly practicing my newly aquired skills.

After a few weeks of self-assigned language classes, I began to feel the pressure. Duolingo has become my best friend or perhaps its become a necessary evil (we have our moments).

Despite my personal language battles, my brain has never felt more alive. I love that every time I go out to eat, or I listen to my students rapid conversations in Darija, I am learning. Comparing this experience to learning Spanish in school, I feel as though it was an oddly “dead-end” experience.

All I can hope for is an eventual calm to this language storm in my brain. My goal for this term is mastering the ability to say basic sentences in both French and Darija.

2 Thoughts

  1. Reminds me of Roger Miller’s c. 1960 (or earlier), song title,”You can’t roller-skate in a Buffalo herd, but you can have fun, if you’ve . a mind to it.” What’s the connection? Nothing really, except the image of the challenges of constant motion, and balance. SO good to see the post, and thank you for the update. Let us know the Polish dates in Dec. We’d love to “hear” any time, but I do have a pretty good feel for the pace your keeping. Stay well. You are in our hearts, Grampa

    Liked by 1 person

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