How on earth do people become fluent
In another language--or even more?
After almost a month in Sweden, I
Generate two handfulls of sentences,
Understand the gist of headlines and
Written news, and get every 14th
word, or so, but hardly enough to follow
And participte in real conversations.
I totally admire my relatives' fluidity
With English, despite their self-
Consciousness and hesitations.
"Listen," I say, "to my struggling
Swedish, and then feel OK about
Your English!" But it doesn't help
Enough. Still, I genuinely appreciate
Their efforts and their skill levels.
Although current doubts about
Immersion as a learning tool,
I am now more able to glean
Meaning than on two prior trips,
And I still have a week to go.
Perhaps my synapses will
suddenly and simultaneously
Fire into clear understanding.
Occasionally, tempted to just
Give in and give up. As I have
Learned, the hard road is
Challenging and can result in
Obstacles too large to overcome.
The bottom line is my keen
Interest in knowing my relatives
And in learning their language.
The time scale has now tipped.
I have less days remaining on
My journey than days already
Passed and accomplished.
Thoughts increasingly cross
The Antlantic and the continent,
Thinking about people, connections,
Home, work, and mashed potatoes.
Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 12, 2013