The Ups and Downs of Language Learning

I just got home a few minutes ago.  After dinner, I met a good friend for coffee, but after he and I parted ways, I had to pass by a particular parking lot on the way to our apartment that I was hoping to avoid.  I know the guys who work at this lot because I sit and practice Arabic with them almost daily. I didn’t feel like practicing Arabic much at that moment.  And…I don’t like all of the guys who work at this particular parking lot. And it just so happened that tonight one of the guys was working that I’d been especially hoping to avoid.  I know, I know.  That’s probably not a very “Christian” thing for me to admit feeling.  But, it’s true. Here’s the background

A couple weeks ago, this new guy showed up at the parking lot and almost right away, I realized that I really didn’t like talking with him very much.  He told me that he was from Mosul, Iraq…all I could tell though is that I had a REALLY hard time understanding his Arabic.  Now, I’m not very good…but I’m alright and getting better every day.  But I had a really hard time understanding him.  And when I told him this, he got really annoyed with me and our “conversations” went no where.  [There are some significant differences in the vocabulary and pronunciation between the Iraqi Arabic dialect and Lebanese Arabic dialect that only complicated things for us.]  Basically, by not being able to understand him, and telling him that, I humiliated him.  And in response, he would try to show me how little I knew.  Kind of a vicious circle to get into. And plenty of motive to keep on avoiding him.  And I had been successful up until tonight.

Tonight, as I was passing the lot, I greeted him…because I know him and he knows me, it’s just something you have to do.  He invited me to come hang out (at 9:45p in an abandoned parking lot) and I said “thank but I’m heading home.”  I really didn’t feel like talking…but I didn’t want to be unfriendly, so we chatted a bit. For some reason, he didn’t try to humiliate me as much…and today just happened to be one of those days when my Arabic was flowing a little more freely.  So, with that combo working for us…a few pleasantries between acquaintances turned into a 30 minute conversation. Nothing deep. But we talked…and I was able to understand better than I have before, so he didn’t feel as humiliated.  So, in a way, we patched things up a bit.  And then I took my leave.

I’m still struggling with understanding probably 1/4th of the words that I can distinguish in a given sentence/conversation. But, I’ll do better soon!  At any rate, I  came home and am now working on my vocab words before I go to bed, so my mind can process them while I sleep.  And that’s it from me for now.

posted by: Caleb

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3 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Language Learning

  1. Son,God will accomplish his plans through you and Nikki, of this I am confident. I know this may be out of the context in which it was written, I think it says something to your training Ephesians 6:19-20. Go and continue to be fearless.

  2. I am so impressed by the diligence and hard work it must take to learn a new language – especially one that is so different from english! you guys are an inspiration!! Thanks for sharing your lives with us!

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