Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Acquainted with Failure



Language learning has been a great experience for us so far. We are having a lot of fun, and it is amazing how quickly we are progressing. It is encouraging to look over the last two months and see how much we have grown in our language skills. I still remember what it felt like to have an entire conversation in German for the first time. I didn't understand everything, but I was able to express my ideas and understand the gist of what the other person was saying. Cool! But here is the thing. Even in the face of all this learning, we have also become close friends with failure.

We fail all the time. We make mistakes in class, when we are doing our home work, when we write anything or speak to anyone. We can't get away from it no matter how much we try. If we were to completely form all of our sentences and check them against every grammar table and dictionary, we would never say a word. One phrase has really stuck with me from our language training in Colorado: "You have to destroy the language on your way to mastering it."

Failure has become a close friend as we continue to live with the language barrier...but pressing into our failure also brings about humility. In our language class, there are lawyers, architects, and micriobiologists - all highly educated, highly competent people. And in class, you find us all speaking at a kindergarten level about zoo animals and going to the super market. We are being humbled. We know that we need to make 1,000,000 language mistakes on our way to mastering German, and so we have decided to start now and get as many as we can out of the way! We want to make accepting failure a step towards success, and this is the perfect testing ground to work out that idea.

Photo credit: lyns from morguefile.com