Language Learning and Contact Lenses

As I have been having eye problems recently and haven't been able to wear my contacts, I have been thinking a lot about eyesight and what happened when I got contacts. I lost my eyesight rather suddenly during November/December (the doctor said it was because I studied too much--I personally think it was from the tiny fonts Dil used for my Arabic homework) and didn't realize what a problem it was until I got contacts.

The day I got home from the doctor, I stood in my apartment and looked out the window and was amazed at what I saw. I could see a stop sign a block away! It was absolutely amazing. The whole world was transformed because I could see now.

Language learning, at least for me, is not like this at all. I keep waiting for some miracle to happen, something to snap into place so I can finally understand conversations or I can make my wishes known without stumbling over every word.

Instead, learning Arabic is painful, tedious work. It takes 2+ hours of speaking to Arabs every day and not understanding half of what they say. It takes days and weeks of awkward conversations where I have to think about each word before I say it, and then saying several of the words incorrectly, or saying the wrong words. It takes hours of translating newspaper articles and memorizing vocabulary and writing pages and pages of Arabic...and still I struggle.

And each morning, I get up, already exhausted, and I don't want to do it for another day. I am tired, my eyes hurt, I hate awkward conversations, I don't like Jordan, and I am about to learn Mandarin Chinese. And I lose motivation, fast.

And then I kneel down and pray and tell Heavenly Father than I don't want to learn Arabic. And He tells me that He wants me to.

And somehow, that is enough. That gets me out on the streets and talking to people and translating newspaper articles and memorizing vocabulary. And mostly, it gets me to class, no matter how much I dislike my teacher.

In any case, language learning is hard. It is hard to be pleased with the little successes--but I am. I am pleased when I can argue with a taxi driver over five cents. I am pleased when I can give a prayer in Arabic. I am pleased when I can carry on a conversation for an hour with someone and understand most of what they say. And mostly, I am pleased when people don't speak English to me because my Arabic is better than their English.

And this, I guess, will have to be enough, at least for the next six weeks!

1 comment:

The Paradox said...

Thanks, Breanne-this is just what I needed to read! :)

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