22 good reasons for (in) relocation: Reason # 8 Learning a new language
I would like to clarify that the purpose of my posts is not to produce an ideal image of relocation and certainly not to encourage leaving everything and moving to a new country.
I have conducted a complete study of the problems and difficulties during immigration and I am fully aware of them. Nevertheless, I would like to show that even when we experience difficulties, one can find something positive in the existing situation and maybe, maybe ... it can give a little comfort to those who need it.
I have always loved languages. Languages sounded interesting and full of mystery to me. Words can express so many things, they store enormous content and contain a lot of power. When I can talk to someone who understands me, I have power: I can persuade or be persuaded, agree or disagree, I can make social connections, buy what I want at the supermarket and be part of the social fabric where I live. I know what's going on around me and more.
Language is a central component in culture. It enables interpersonal communication, understanding, and growth of relationships. However, lack of knowledge of the language can lead to embarrassing situations. For example, in one of the lessons I wanted to tell the children "take out the glue from the schoolbag" but I said "take out the tights" ... sounds similar to me ...
In Flemish the words "beautiful" and "tired" sound very similar (at least to my ears) and for a long time I walked around the world "lifting myself" when instead of saying I was tired I said I was beautiful ...
Just last week in a forum of therapists at the clinic where I work, I wrote that I was looking for a psychologist with clear characteristics for one of my trainees. Someone wrote that she knew someone and I, without being confused, wrote "Get to know us" which probably has a more romantic meaning ... it led to funny reactions but broke the ice between people.
Language contains nuances that are worth learning. If in French the conversation shifts from VOUS to TU, the relationship is also less formal than it was (in Flemish from U to JE). Language creates boundaries between people, or blurs them.
The importance of learning the local language is immense. When I knew that my direction was to live in Belgium I learned French in Brussels. Every time I came to visit I took a course, and one more and one more ... a course where I studied in French. No translation. French in French. This is also how I learned Flemish. In no time I chatted and today I coach and lecture in French ...
One of the gifts I received was my mother-in-law, from the moment she realized I was rattling a word or two in French, she switched to French ... it was not easy, but in retrospect it was a gift. She did not judge me .. I was not afraid to make mistakes and I was just thrown into the water and swam because I had no choice. Another way to learn a language is from the children, like the poet Rachel. When she came to Israel she learned Hebrew working with children.
I learned to say, without shame, that French is not my mother tongue and that if I do not understand - they will ask. Plus, I learned that a little self-humour is not harmful. I replaced shame with humour ...
Language also contains non-verbal communication. As an anthropologist I am fascinated by the non-verbal discourse between people. I enjoy looking at people from a distance and imagining their conversation, based on body language.
In Belgium there is a custom of kissing people when you see them and that includes colleagues. At first I had a very hard time with this custom. Kissing people I barely know? Beyond the kiss I had to learn how many kisses to give because in Belgium, things cannot be simple so in Flanders it is three, in Wallonia two and in Brussels - it depends on who you meet ... aha, and sometimes you can just shake hands or smile enough ...
In relocation we learn a new language. Not just the words but we are exposed to the rich culture of the place, to the mentality, to the tone of speech, to the choice of words, to the linguistic richness of the people with whom we come in contact.
In the process of learning a language I recommend first of all listening. Because also "quietly we found words" as sung by Yuval Dayan. Then dare. Jump into the water. Speak.
Tell me about your encounter with language.
Dr. Efrat Tzadik - Coach for personal development
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