The biggest lesson of our homeschooling year so far: Learning Another Language Is Not Easy.
Well, you probably knew that. I thought, however, that, given enough time to practice, my brain would be well capable of picking Spanish up like nobody’s business. I was wrong.
First, time is a limited resource. There aren’t enough hours in a day to practice. Second, both my brain and tongue have rebelled at accepting this new path.
Still, we forge on. I’m taking Spanish for six weeks, along with my four kids, husband, and another family. Our tutor is a teacher at a local high school and is a very. patient. person.
The thing I’ve noticed while studying Spanish is: I pronounce things better when I stop trying so hard. When I sort of detach my brain from my tongue and let it do its own thing, I seem to be able to pronounce things a bit better. When I hold tight to what I know about language and try to fit the Spanish language into my native-English-speaker paradigm, I can’t seem to grasp it.
“Control is never achieved when sought after directly. It is the surprising outcome of letting go.”
–James Arthur Ray
The rolled “R,” for instance. Can’t do it. Absolutely can’t. The kids think I’m having some kind of seizure when they come upon me practicing. The tutor told me I will eventually be able to trill my heart out, but for now, I pronounce the “rr” words very much like John Wayne on sedatives. El perro en el carro. El perro en el carro. El perro en el carro.
I dream of the day I can say I’ve mastered another language. But for now, I have learned that learning Spanish is a metaphor for life. Letting go is crucial to being able to master it.
I need to let go of my own English-speaking view, my expectations of how difficult it will be, and my original timeframe for how long it will take. I also need to let go of the thought that I’m too old too learn a language and the fear that it will never sink in.
Letting go of fears, expectations, and control is the only way to learn what I want to learn. Letting go is the way to mastery.