When living abroad the topic about learning the language of the place comes very often in the conversations. What I have realized recently is that the topic which everyone can handle very quickly in and outside of  the classes with having a very well equipped vocabulary is exactly about how difficult it is to learn that particular language. You know precisely to say why you don’t progress as fast as you wish or it is written in statistics, why grammar seems complicated, why words are difficult to memorize, why you can’t understand people around, why the classes are not successful and so on.

So basically the first things we know to say in a language are the reasons for which we can’t speak it (good, properly, yet …). It is like somebody who wants to avoid speaking English by saying “Sorry, I don’t speak English”. Which obviously is a lie.  That was English.

I wonder why we do that. Why we learn first justifications or excuses? Is it that dangerous to let yourself be lost in language mistakes?


Those awkward moments

… happening infrequently since 2007:

when you take notes in Romanian during classes – in the first three months of living abroad – even though the lecture is in English

when you prefer to stay at home instead of going out – in the first three months of living abroad – and avoid talking even to yourself as is too tiring to think in any kind of language

when you meet a Romanian – after a year living abroad – and you can’t really make a coherent dialogue in Romanian even though during Skype conversations with your family or Romanian friends you speak perfectly fine the language

when in Spain – this summer – you can’t really make a sentence in English, as all the words are coming in German

when your relatives are telling you – this month: Hey, you have an accent (when speaking in Romanian)

when you travel back to Vienna from Bucharest – last Sunday –  and at the passport control counter you receive a: “Calatorie placuta!” (Have a nice trip!) and you answer back with: “Danke!”

to be continued

We speak human

Last week I had the best conversation ever. Coming back home from my German classes I traveled for few subway stations with one of my colleagues. We didn’t have any common language other than the beginner level of German.

But the will to communicate went beyond the little vocabulary we had at our disposal. Smiles and gestures made stories flow. I still smile remembering her sweet complain: “Ich, babuschka …ohh… nein… ich, Oma… Deutsch lerne heute”.

The whole class is like a laboratory where communication is reinvented. A candy or a photo becomes a more meaningful exchange than the most beautiful words.

Yes, communication is beyond language.

And I wonder… why are we still using it?