I WAS AT THE PRINTER'S awhile back and
some people were waiting in line in front of me. One was a lady
who spoke Russian. The printer was trying to communicate with
her and she with him and neither of them were succeeding. It
just so happened one of the people in line, a young American
girl, could speak Russian and she translated back and forth.
I've always admired people who could speak
more than one language, but I never took any steps to learn one
myself because it seemed like such a difficult task. There are
all those weird rules that don't make any sense, and new sounds
your tongue has never had to make before, and all those words
hundreds, even thousands of basic words you have to memorize
before you can carry on a conversation.
That's what I thought. But I decided to
learn Spanish anyway, and you know what? It isn't as huge a task
as I thought. First of all, I'm learning on my own: Just audiotapes
in the car and some vocabulary flash-cards. When I talk to people
who speak Spanish, I can actually say something to them and understand
some of the things they say to me. I haven't been trying that
long and already I know enough to communicate. Everything I learn
from here on is gravy, and that means most of the language!
In other words, for every new word I learn,
I increase my ability to communicate. It is another inch, another
grip on the side of the mountain I am climbing. Every bit I learn
widens that channel of communication I am creating between me
and a huge number of cool people.
And there's an extra bonus: It improves
your brain. Learning something like a new language makes
your brain grow new dendrites (connections between brain cells).
It may even help prevent senility and Alzheimer's! No kidding.
Most of us already spend a good deal of
time in our cars. So why not use that time learning something?
Languages are the perfect thing to learn because you can do it
entirely with audio. It makes waiting for a light so much less
a waste of time when you're listening to a tape and repeating
aloud the words and phrases of a new language. You can turn your
car into a miniature university on wheels.
Pick a language, any language, and start
today. Go buy any one of a wide selection of good audio programs
and begin to build some bridges between your own brain
cells, and between you and people of another culture.