Saturday, March 20, 2010

Talkin' Double

This from Lena:

Do you ever dream of traveling to the French Riviera and rolling out an impressive French accent when you order your grape juice and cheese with a baguette (we are Assemblies, you know!)? How about just being able to converse with the Latino worker who is fixing your driveway?
Being fully bilingual is an awesome thing—and truly, after 3 years of study and practice, I can honestly say that there are STILL moments when I don’t have a clue what is going on around me. The truth is, there is a ton of work that comes after 2 or 3 years of high school Spanish to get you off the ground and conversing. Every day I find challenges to my Spanish mastery. The punchline to the joke gets choked out in the middle of bursts of laughter, and I am lost. The announcements at church are garbled and important location and time info is given, and I have to ask afterwards. The cashier is 17 years old and speaks Spanish like a ventriloquist (did he even move his lips at all when he said that?). I am the gringa, once again.
So for all you who think you would like to some day go for language number 2, I have some reflections that will be helpful down the line. Becoming fully bilingual means….
1. Developing a sense of humor about the fact that sometimes even you don’t know what you just said.
2. Accepting that you are not going to get all the cultural cues is because you didn’t grow up there! (I don’t get all the jokes Americans make, either.)
3. Working hard to convince yourself that the reason you sound like a dolt trying to speak is that you just now are realizing how bad you were speaking before.
4. Getting sneaky about slipping in your new phrase that you picked up from the newspaper so you sound like you’ve been around a while.
5. Avoid using extremely cool words that will make you look ridiculous and makes teenagers laugh so hard that they snort their soft drink.
6. Loving people God loves to the point that you are willing to do what it takes so you can effectively share the gospel with them, or to just even be able to pray for them, so that it touches their heart and they understand-- even if that means you have to spend a lot of time looking foolish and botching it.
And THAT is what it is like to be bilingual… OK, like 85% bilingual.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Where's the "like" button? I love this.