I had to take three semesters of a foreign language in college; I chose Spanish. It was an easy decision, because I live in California, and I took 2 years in high school.
I have forgotten a lot, but a basic understanding has helped me more than I would have expected.
When I visited Ian in Spain, I got to experience the culture more intimately (being able to ask for the restroom and food is amazing!).
Speaking (or attempting) to speak in a person’s native language is a sign of respect for their culture and comfort.
When I was 23, I took a trip to Brazil to immerse myself in my Portuguese heritage (apparently Brazilian Portuguese and continental Portuguese are very different…jokes on me).
I managed to make a fool of myself in almost every conversation, but my effort always resulted in a smile, laugh, or assistance. The end result was always positive.
I never regret the conversations that I attempt, only the ones that I miss.
Now, I work at a restaurant in the east bay area, and I use my Spanish to communicate with the back-of-house staff.
Most of the conversations revolve around me asking for something specific, but when things slow down, I try to talk with them about their family and weekend. It might be a basic conversation, and I undoubtedly butcher(pun intended) the pronunciation, but I take my time and I learn. Sometimes the conversation devolves to Spanglish, and then English, but that’s part of the process.
It is impossible to quantify my experiences traveling and speaking another language, but I can count the connections that I have made, and they are many.
Speaking another language has helped me at work, in relationships, and personally (somethings lose their meaning in translation).
There is a belief that we will (humans) converge to a common language at some point in the future.
As much as I love the notion of being able to speak with everyone, I fear that cultures will suffer from this “regression to the mean”.
For now, take advantage of all the wonderful benefits that learning another language has to offer (there are known psychological benefits to speaking another language). I promise that you won’t regret it, and neither will the person you are attempting to connect with!
Please, comment below.
Por favor, comenete abajo (thank you google translate)
Por favor, comente abaixo (thanks again)