I grew up being told I had no head for languages.
Besides English, which my English teacher mother, drilled into me, day and night. (And even then, something I make roaring bloopers!), I had trouble with other languages, all my life.
My sister on the other hand, is amazing, in a lot of ways, but is also fantastic at understanding and picking up languages with ease. (It is a different thing, she does not want to learn them… she can, but she won’t.)
I guess, the constant comparison, as well as continually being told, this was not a skill set I had, that I wasn’t born with the innate talent… pretty much wrecked any chance I had at learning something new, or even wanting to.
So I stopped thinking about learning languages. And then, as I got older, strange things happened.
Somewhere along the way, I started to understand Tamil, Hindi, Gujrati and Marathi. (All Indian Languages). Somehow, just being in an environment, where I was exposed to spoken languages, made a lot more sense to me, than trying to read out of a book.
I can read Hindi and Marathi now. All thanks to one teacher I had, who refused to give up on me. She was determined that not only would I pass Hindi, but I would speak it, and speak it well.
For this, she kept putting me on stage speaking to prominent people….(Thrown into the deep end, Jeepers… A cattle prod might have been kinder)
I am surprised I did not die of a heart attack the first time around, but I survived that time, and the next and the next.
The strange outcome is, that I enjoy pure Hindi now. I did not as a youngster, but given time and the space for everything I learnt, to get assimilated and incubated, now, I enjoy the language. I can practically see and sense its nuances and what makes it special.
Tamil is my mother tongue. That I learnt, simply because my grandmother stopped talking to me in English at all! And everyone else followed suit! Thank God for my sister, else I would have just died of despair at that point.
After months of being exposed to Tamil, day in and day out, I woke up one morning, groggy headed and wandered down, and asked for my coffee in pure Tamil.
I realize now, that my conscious brain had not exactly woken up yet, so my subconscious mind had time to make its presence felt. All those filters telling me I could not do it, they had not had time to boot up and get running in time to stop me from hitting the mother lode within my subconscious.
Once the initial barrier was down, it became so easy. At times, I would relapse into Tamil while talking with others, simply because I was thinking in Tamil.
My new challenge for me, simply because I want to, is to learn Spanish.
My last few languages were learnt, because others wanted me to… This time, this is for me.
So let’s start with why I want to learn Spanish.
Because it sounds so good. I think it is sexy.
It is that simple. I love the way it sounds.
Also, I want to believe and prove that I can learn other languages with ease.
So, am trying to break my old programming here. This is the second reason why. I want to prove… to myself, that I am not limited. That language learning is not something that you are born with. It is what I do with it. Simple.
There are other practical reasons, Of course…. just that they do not count as much.
I want this, I want this badly enough to make the leap.
I am going to learn Spanish, because I know I can.
I have a few tools along the way.. Am using Duolingo, which is an amazing app, and am reading Children’s books in Spanish (Google Translate to the rescue), and yes, listening to a lot of music in Spanish.
An other method I came up with is this…
The sentences I use a lot in daily life, say for example, “I am happy!”, “My dogs are amazing!”, “My Spanish is not very good, but I try.”
I am writing them out, speaking them out, trying to think of them in Spanish.
What worked for me, in getting fluent in Tamil, was learning to think in the language. Same goes for Spanish.
So here it is. My challenge to myself, and my promise to myself. And the WHY behind it.
The real reason is very simple… I am an unlimited being, If I allow myself to be.
I am spending this year, and the rest of my life, deprogramming myself from a lot of things. This is one step in my journey.
And another language in my head. 🙂