What I Learned About Language Learning In London

 Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to go to London with friends. We had found some wonderfully discounted tickets and a solid airbnb. And as I have dove into language I realized that there were some solid language lessons even from another English speaking country.
  1. Learning language about really learning communication. The longer I spent in London the more I started asking the question, do we really speak the same language? Sure we say the same words, eat similar food, share a ‘western mindset’, and I even found some NFL fans (go pack go). But over and over I had to ask them to slow down and repeat themselves. It took work to communicate. Learning language is really learning a new way to communicate.
  2. Learning Language is learning how to use a language. I speak English.  I am a native English speaker. And I will say that I even knew most of the words and grammar they were using. I just did not know how they were using them. This is the what we often miss when we learn a foreign language. We think we are getting somewhere when we memorize our word lists and our grammar we think we are doing well. But we soon find we still can’t talk to them. We learn we may have these tools but we have no idea how to use them. These words come with a culture behind them. We need to learn this too. This is why of course the longer I was in London the more I started saying things like “Brilliant” to Londoners.
  3. Language learning is learning an accent. In London I had to learn to listen to in order to understand. Here in Turkey I often will endevor to speak to a person in Turkish and the will look baffled at everything coming out of my mouth. When I use English this makes sense but when I used Turkish this really confused me. They cannot understand me. Just like I could not understand the Londoners. And why sometimes even when Turks use Turkish I know I cannot understand them. To communicate you need to train your ear to learn and train your voice to sound the right way. Like a musician.

You cannot hope to effectively communicate with out it. This is why one day when I was out alone exploring the old Olympic Village and I stopped for a sandwich and half way through my order I realized that I was mimicking their accent. And I suddenly wanted to laugh because I felt silly but then I realized nothing was funny that this was just normal communication. And I had caught it.

What have you learned about language learning from other (foreign) english speakers?

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