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Language Beauty and an Amendment

Because my husband and I decided that we weren’t busy enough, juggling two jobs each, we decided that we would like to teach an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. I also decided that, in order to increase my effectiveness as a Spanish translator and interpreter at the library, I should take a Spanish class.

We have been busy, and I have felt positively immersed in language ever since our ESL class and my Spanish class began. I don’t think that it was wise for us to take on so many responsibilities at one time, but I am blessed, and I am learning.

Learning to budget my time wisely so that everything gets done without tears.

Learning that it’s harder to teach my own language than I thought it would be.

Learning the intricacies of Spanish grammar.          

Learning to appreciate the diversity that God has nurtured in languages.

Really, re-learning Spanish and spending time communicating in it on a regular basis, while teaching native Spanish-speakers to appreciate and feel confident in English has made me feel passionate about the beauty of language, especially the beauty of being able to communicate in another person’s heart language.

Learning another person’s language is a powerful way to love that person. You are, in essence, saying, “I want to meet you where you are at. I want to know you. I want to help you if I can but also learn from you. You are important enough to me that I am willing to be the first to reach out.”

This is what I see in our ESL class. I feel honored that our students are learning English, and I can see in their faces that they feel honored when I am not afraid to re-explain something in Spanish when the English explanations just don’t do the trick.

I realize that not everyone has the time or the resources to spend on learning another language. But most of us can learn a few important phrases in the language of a people we meet constantly:

Hello, how are you?

My name is….

So nice to meet you.

Most of the immigrant community in our town is Spanish-speaking, so the highest language need here is Spanish. There are also a few Chinese families, but not many. If I ever feel ‘done’ learning Spanish, I might tackle something Chinese, or something less applicable like Swahili. But we’ll see.

And an amendment is in order.

In my last post, I listed the rules that I was implementing for myself to tackle the challenge of reading all the books my husband and I own. What I forgot was that I am a part of a book club.

I love my book club, and I love the ladies in my book club.

In order to participate, I need to read the same book that they do.

Because the book club meets only once a month, I don’t think that reading the one book that the book club does will affect my book-reading challenge too much.

Therefore, I am making Amendment # 1:

I may deviate from my own collection to read my book club’s book of the month.

Hopefully those of you who are planning on holding me accountable will be merciful about my amendment.

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