Our language woes continue.
Yes, woes. Perhaps it’s a day where it’s not feeling like language successes are abundant, but also just that language learning continues to be so much of our life is woe in itself. Many years of efforts and woes!
And now, it’s two for one! Two language for one person. Every week.
In hopes of being placed with our adopted child soon, we wanted to learn some basic Thai phrases, specifically helpful for working with children. We began taking Thai classes at the end of April.
Here’s what this looks like: every Friday morning we have two teachers come to our home for two hours. Stephen starts with Burmese for one hour, while I take Thai in the next room. Then we swap.
While this is happening, three ladies are making bread in the kitchen, often listening to Burmese music and occasionally popping over for questions. For the first half-hour, a ten-year-old comes to do his daily guitar lesson on the iPad, so we hear chords being strummed (…this is too gentle a word for this guys’ passionate playing). And one woman sews in the Housewares room on an industrial sewing machine that sounds similar to a jet engine, while she also listens to Burmese music from her phone.
It’s a bit of an intense couple hours.
But, here’s what we’ve learned:
Kids learn language faster than adults, so our hope is that our child will pick up Burmese & English very quickly. That’s a good thing, because we aren’t too fast at it. (Coming from the two of us in year five and six of Burmese language study, that seems obvious.)
Your third language IS easier. People always said that, and I was skeptical. But now that Burmese really does have a place to go, so does Thai! The best way I know how to describe it is that my brain finally created a card catalogue for languages, and it now knows exactly where to put that. I’m not forcing it in: it just eases right into the system. So that’s nice.
With Burmese, we started from the alphabet, which just takes awhile. Not only are you learning sounds that your mouth struggles to make, but you’re drawing swirls and trying to memorize them and give them meaning. While incredibly difficult, I think this was the best way for us to learn Burmese: I love that we can read and write, and I’m a strong believer that it makes us more accurate in our pronunciation, understanding, and communication.
That said, we aren’t doing that with Thai. Honestly, we don’t believe we’ll be in Thailand forever. We feel a more long-term commitment to Burmese, and we mostly just want the capacity to communicate at a basic level in Thai.
So, all that to say: we’re figuring out what works for us, what we need, and what we have capacity for. Language teaches you so much on so many levels. It can show you how dumb you are and how smart you are, nearly at the same time!
And we’re going for it! Here’s to two-for-one language learning.