Blog Entry #3
June 7, 2016
In 2011, I had the opportunity to study Brazilian Portuguese for three months before beginning my work as a missionary in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I found the process tedious and frustrating, but also recognized it as a necessary growing pain a crucial element to cross-cultural adaptation. Learning Brazilian Portuguese was absolutely essential if I was going to spend the next 3.5 years in Brazil. Learning Brazilian Portuguese allowed me to immerse myself in the culture, and enhanced my professional and personal life. However, learning a language is also a process- and one that cannot happen overnight. Because I have a very limited window of time to study Tagalog in Manila, I have been forced to take a unique approach to learning.
The idea of trying to learn Tagalog in 7 weeks for a 6 month internship in the Philippines, sounded stressful and overwhelming. I realized without the first week of language lessons that even though I have less time to learn this language, I still need to approach it with the same laidback approach I did in Brazil. If I make Tagalog learning fun, I will also be successful. I am not going to be able to learn everything in the 7 weeks I have to study- so I may as well enjoy the opportunity. Holding on to it too tightly will only result in frustration and a sense of defeat.
For me, fun includes trying out a new phrase at the palengke (market) or striking up conversation with the watermelon tindero (vendor). It means making notecards and taping them up around the house- physically labeling items in Tagalog to help me remember their names. It also means being able to laugh at myself when I make mistakes and introduce myself as someone who is ‘nag-aaral ako ng Tagalog’ or ‘I am studying Tagalog.’ Learning a new language is about experimenting. The minute language learning starts becoming stressful, I need to take a step back and explore ways I can make it fun. When it is fun I can honestly say, ‘Gustong- gusto Tagalog!’ (I really like Tagalog!)
*A glimpse at one of my vocabulary exercises during my Tagalog classes.