I recently received an email from a friend who was describing his feelings for his language learning journey in terms of a language swimming pool.
When you take that initial step into the pool you are met with the shock of cold water. Slowly, one step at a time, you move forward and the water inches its way up your body, past your waist and up your torso until only your head is above water.
This in many ways reflects my own journey to learn Turkish and Spanish. With those first steps, progress is quite tangible. Like watching – and feeling – the cold water move up your body, you make daily gains in the language and can look back almost weekly and recognize the learning you’ve done.
Beginning to learn a new language is difficult but immensely rewarding with measurable daily progress that brings encouragement.
But then – after many months of diligent work and language learning fun – you may realize that you’ve come to the edge of the deep end. You know enough of the language to get around, to survive and you could very well stay right there.
It’s comfortable there. You have enough language to impress your friends, to show off at parties, to get to where you want to go.
And it is then that you have a decision to make.
Will you remain in the safety of the shallow end or will you step out over the edge and move into the deep end.
The deep end. In the deep end either your head goes under or your feet don’t touch. There is risk involved.
Success is more difficult to discern as learning moves from the shallow pool of the language needed to survive and into the ocean of language that is required to live in deep, meaningful relationships with native speakers.
But it’s worth the risk.
Are you stuck in the shallow end? If so, take a look at these two articles to help you move out into the deep end.