As the season transitions into winter I’m thinking about language possibilities for the new year of 2022. I remember Nicki’s blog post on prioritizing language learning. As Nicki says, we sometimes need to honestly reflect on how we are spending our time. Am I devoting time and energy to learning the languages I claim to love?
Setting languages aside for now
Let’s take Turkish as an example. Turkish has long been my favourite language. From traveling around Turkey solo with a small yellow dictionary in my bag to volunteering at Turkish film festivals in Vancouver, I have enjoyed the language. But now, in my home in Port Alberni, I spend virtually no time on Turkish.
Yes, I could find a language partner. I could make an academic game out of it by translating poems or deciphering the news. I could write more to friends abroad. But the energy isn’t there.
Ditto for Arabic. I recently had an Arabic-speaking language partners through Language Partners BC. It was fun to do a full ten minutes in immersion, seeing what memory can dredge up (more than I expected). I appreciated his political reflections and his Arabic music recommendations (Fairuz!), but I never studied outside of our sessions. That Fairuz song on Youtube is just sitting there, waiting for me to listen.
I think it’s time to gently put some languages to the side for now.
Go where the energy is
A creative writing teacher once advised me to go where the energy is. So, what do I have the interest and energy to learn? What is emerging in my life?
Possible priority #1: American Sign Language
I took a class through Queer ASL a few years ago and enjoyed the novelty of a silent language class and all of the cultural education that comes with American Sign Language. Now classes are offered online, so I know I can attend. Some of my K-12 students have expressed interest, too. I think the world would be more fun, and certainly more accessible, if everyone could sign.
Possible priority #2: Nuu-chah-nulth Language
I live on Nuu-chah-nulth territory. I could connect with community members and possibly connect better with Nuu-chah-nulth students in the classroom. Coast Salish author Lee Maracle, who died this month, talked about wishing that there was a citizenship process for newcomers to Indigenous nations; learning a language is often a part of a citizenship process. I have heard that online classes are available through the local college.
Possible priority #3: French
This is perhaps the most surprising one. I’ve never been a great lover of French. Jumping in as a substitute teacher for French classes, though, really opened my eyes to the possibility of making French more approachable for students. I told the students about living in Morocco and speaking French with other non-native speakers, who overlooked mistakes. There’s a huge need for French teachers in B.C. Hmm.
What about you?
In 2022, what language learning might you prioritize, and why?