I’m one of those guys that loves to set goals, but often beyond my reach – or life happens and the once important goal I set falls to the wayside. Such has been the case with my goal of learning Portuguese. I had it all planned out, but I haven’t put as much energy into it as I would have liked. My lack of practice came back to haunt me this past week.
As my previous post mentioned, I have been traveling with Martina and one of her host families from Brazil. It has been wonderful, but there have been some communication barriers since the parents don’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Portuguese. But I can tell from the translations Martina gives me, and the little communication we do manage, that both parents have great things to say and that talking to them would be a real delight!
Now, I cut myself a little slack, because Duolingo probably wouldn’t have made me fluent enough to have real deep conversations with them, but every little bit helps. And more than anything I have learned two things from this language experience.
First, learning languages is more than being able to get around a different country or add a skill to your LinkedIn profile. Its about connecting with people. Its about listening to different views and growing from these unique interactions; telling stories and sharing moments.
Second, language doesn’t have to be a barrier. This wasn’t the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time that I connect with people in spite of a common language. And I know this is something that happens to all travelers.In other words, despite the small difficulties of a language barrier, I have genuinely come to love and appreciate Martina’s host family.
The verbal communication we call language is only one way in which we communicate our feelings, thoughts, and ideas. I’m not going to stop trying to learn Portuguese – though slow my progress might be – so that I have another means of making those human connections.