Teaching adult ESL classes has given me profound insight into the concept of native tongue. Being saturated in a language since birth, it can be tough to adapt to the oddities and newness of a second language. It’s not for a lack of desire or unwillingness that the difficulty comes. Deferring to a native tongue is instinctive, so it’s real work to make room for a new response.
Being saturated in a language since birth carries enormous responsibility. Deviating slightly from the idea of English acquisition, imagine being saturated in the language of gratitude since birth and experiencing thanksgiving as your dialect. What if you were wrapped in the language of forgiveness since birth? Imagine the graciousness that would likely roll off your tongue. How different life must be for the individual saturated in the language of hate since birth.
Children learn what they live. Do you remember that poem? Reading it for the first time, tears filled my eyes. Every word struck a cord with me, but one line held me in its grip. “If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.”
I recognized my own tendency to criticize and condemn in my late teens. Without maturity or healthy introspection, I had no idea where I adopted the habit. In college, friends often described me as painfully honest. Because I’ve always valued honesty, I ignored the painful part of the description, elevated the truth, and marched on. Although I didn’t want to be known as mean, I didn’t know how to change.
I’m paying close attention to language acquisition these days. I watch my students make meaningful attempts at a new language, and it’s inspiring. I’m reminded that learning something new is a process. Some efforts are successful, but some fall flat and need repeating. What I see as the number one influence on learning the new language won’t surprise you. Practicing the skills is the biggest asset new language learners possess.
Some of the students are reluctant to try out their newly acquired language, because they are afraid of getting it wrong. They forget the importance and value of practice in learning to defer to something other than their native tongue.
What about you? Are you repeating the language you were saturated in since birth? Are you attempting to add a new language to your repertoire?
Kindness matters to me. It’s not because I am bent toward the dialect of tenderness, though I wish that were true. I’m practicing kindness because I want to acquire the language of Love. Kindness expressed in love sees the weary and wounded, the outcast and rejected, and the sick and hurting. Kindness sacrifices for the good of others and opens the circle to strangers.
Because the tongue has the power of life and death, be attentive to what comes out of your mouth today.
#momentoftruthmonday #choosewell #choosewisely #sowkind #lifelesson