Learning a language is difficult. It has proven to be one of the most difficult things I have tried to accomplish.
The last time I admitted to something being this difficult was in the middle of completing the written portion of my doctoral project. I did complete the project and was able write about my findings in a satisfactory way for the professors who were guiding me through the project. The research, the project and the writing was painful, very difficult and time consuming for my work and my family. There were times when I didn’t think it would be completed. There were thoughts of quitting the on many occasions, whether it was because of my desire to move on to something else or just laziness. But, the project was completed and the relief was sweet. I would add it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have walked through in my life. I am a better man and leader today because of the struggle.
I now find myself in the middle of another challenge like the doctoral project. Attempting to learn a language at my age (43) has not been an easy task. Learning a new language at any age is difficult. I never studied languages during my academic career, not in high school, university or seminary. It wasn’t required for my degree tracks so I “slid” by them all together.
I live in a city in Europe where English is a major language player. It is not the dominant language but someone could “survive” if that was the goal. It is not my goal. Therefore, I must study and learn how to communicate in a way new. I am learning that I will never be fully fluent, but I will learn to communicate one on one with people to accomplish the task I am here to do.
I have learned that I am an active learner. I like to have other people involved in the process of learning with me. I need to be able to ask questions and have people interact in the learning process. I am also the type of person that needs a little time “to process” what I am learning.
With that in mind I sat down recently and made a tool to help me in my quest to learn this new language. I am in the beginning stages of learning and I am sure it will be a long time before I am comfortable or confident to speak with some sort of clarity to the locals. I still go out and try each day. I fumble and bumble the words. I speak with one or two words and in very simple phrases not complete sentences yet. This shouldn’t be a surprise to most of you since it was my M.O. even in my native English tongue.
So for the record this is my feeble attempt to retain what I am learning.
I created a board game so I could get the family to help me practice things like vocabulary, grammar and sentences.