26 October 2016

477: Be Willing to Walk your Talk! 30 Days of Blogging - Day 11

Currently I am studying Spanish, a little bit each day. I started learning Spanish in middle school, and then also in high school - four years in total. I had a very small foundation of the language, but I enjoyed using it here and there throughout the years. The last few months, I wanted to study another language again. I initially considered french, due to me living in Canada now, though after a few days of that, I realized why not work with the foundation I already have, so Spanish it was.

The consideration to study a new language was in part from my co-workers who were learning English. Living in Whistler, there are many people from all over the world that come to work, and live here. I work in Japanese Steakhouse, and so majority of the staff is from Japan. There are many different levels of their English ability, but what I find within all of them is the willingness to put themselves into a new country, with a new language and just learn.

One of my co-workers in particular was quite eager to get better at her English, so she organized an 'English conversation group', and asked if I would be the native English speaker to assist. Of course I agreed and so we've been meeting every week for the past month and a half, recently adding another day to the week.

I've said it so many times to them before, but I must say it again - I applaud them so much for willing to step out of their comfort zone and learn a new language - that is quite a task. It's nothing I've ever done where you are so immersed in the language, you really have no choice but to get it. So I've been impressed with those I've been able to get to know since living in Whistler. I see such an advantage to knowing more than one language - really, a whole new world can open up to you, because as with a new language, you are going to learn the culture, and tradition, and perhaps even some history. So while Spanish has been my main focus for language, I am also getting some lessons in Japanese simply through spending time with so many from Japan.

Though now the tables have been turned. There is another member of our English conversation group that happens to be from Spain! And he has offered to do the same for me, and a couple of others that want to learn Spanish, that I am doing for him. Initially I was hesitant, really not even considering it seriously because I feel as though I'm not ready. I hardly can form sentences, and I couldn't even imagine being able to carry on a conversation. I really was not eager to go for it.

The catch - there are a few in our English group that are not at all fluent in English, and they also struggle speaking sentences, but there are some key fundamental vocabulary they work with... and I always say just being there, listening and hearing the words is going to assist in the development. And so - the same should apply for me right? I mean it really comes down to vocabulary - you get those in, and you can expand from there. May not be an over night process, but through time, and consistent practice and application - anyone can learn a new language. And probably anything else for that matter.

It's almost like now I have the opportunity to actually walk in their shoes - those that I admire so much for being brave, and willing to learn a new language. It is intimidating speaking a language that is not your mother tongue - worried about the accents, or saying the word properly, or heck - even making sense. Though as I hold no judgments for those that are learning English, so too I should be willing to withhold judgments from myself, and not expect others to judge, for wanting to do the same.

So it's been a few weeks planning, but we've agreed for our first Spanish group to meet up this Thursday. I thought the hell with it - dive in the deep end, right? How else am I going to learn? Why not be willing to walk through the same points those that I assist with English walk through? If I can say "this will assist and support you" then I damn sure better be willing to walk that myself. Walk your Talk!

Yes - as mentioned, there are points of intimidation, fear, insecurity but like with all skills, it takes practice to develop, you simply must have the willingness to put in the work to reap the reward. And to me, being able to communicate in a language other than English is definitely a reward.

I am quite grateful for the transient community here in Whistler - many people willing to open their eyes, and minds, and life to something outside of what they've always known. To me, this is real growth and expansion.

Don't sell yourself short if there is a desire to learn something new. Just because you arent good at it, doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing it... in fact it means the opposite! Do it as much as you can to get good at it. Practice Makes Perfect. So squash the fears, the insecurity, and the doubts, and go for it!

OH - and for those also interested in learning a new language, I've been using duolingo.com - there are tons of languages to choose from, and easy to work with material and lessons. And it's Free!

Enjoy :)

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