da dum… da dum…. da dum… (do you hear the jaws music?) dadum dadum dadum dadum aaaarrrgh! (it got me!)

yes that is how I feel about language lessons! hahahahaha

Husbot and I are going to met with our Thai language tutor here in Sydney for the first time tonight and I am SO scared. Why? Because I am really really bad at learning languages.

Husbot is quite good though. So I even though I am the one who has been going to Thailand 2 times per year for the last 5 years for work and will do so in the future and he has only be there a few times he will probably be a fluent Thai speaker when we finally become parents and I will be the one who can only say “Sawadee Ka”(=Hello) and “Kop khun ka”(=thank you) to our pikininni. : (

I have learnt a few teeny little other things via my years of exposure, like jai for vegitarian (pad thai jai kop khun ka = yummy!), and Towlai (=how much) helps a but with the shopping ; ) but really it is a bit pathetic. Although in my defense when I am in Thailand I do spend a lot of time with people from Burma, so they speak Karen language, Shan and Burmese (and others) so you know… you can’t learn them all!

This teacher sounds nice though so I should not be scared. One of my friends reccomended her…. mind you that friend can speak English, Spanish and Japanese fluently… and now Thai and is starting on Burmese (or Karen?) so I don’t think she finds is as mind-jumblingly hard as me or as knee-rattlingly scary.

I can’t explain why it fills me with dread. I love hearing other people speak different languages. But I have tried to learn a few and it seems to be a combination of memory and rules, which gets so twisted up in my head. Plus it is just so hard to hear the differences in sounds sometimes – let alone make those sounds!

But I love my future children and I AM going to learn Thai!

I can hear some asking…. what about when you lived in the Philippines? Didn’t you learn Tagalog? No is the answer, it is not that easy.

I lived on Bohol, so I did learn some Visayan/Cebuano/Boholano. This is the same language. It is called Visayan because all people in the Visaya’s region speak it as well as thier local dialect (if they have one still) and also as well as Tagalog. Filippino’s grow up with 3 or 4 languages from infancy (including English which is taught at school). So while most Filippino’s are really lovely, friendly and patient people I found that most did not understand why I could only speak English and found it quite hard to develop an ear for a multi-lingual society (as Australia is a mono-culture). Most of my colleagues wanted me to learn Visayan (which we call Boholano in Bohol, and people call Cebuano in Cebu!) VERY quickly and some became a bit annoyed when it took me a long time.

Added to this was two difficulties. One: I was in the Philippines to work with an Indigenous community who were struggling to preserve their traditional culture including their unique language. So I spent a lot of time in their Barangays with elders and chiefs and others who were holding language schools etc in their traditional language. Muddling my head (langugage wise) even more.

The second difficulty was my language tutor. She was VERY impatient with me (and two friends who were also taking the course). She was ok at first but quit on us when it was clear that we did not go to church! hahahaha. Here is one of our last lessons…

teacher (in Visayan): What did you do on Sunday?

Me (in Visayan): I read a book and then we had some visitors in the afternoon.

teacher (in Visayan): no that is incorrect!

Me (in Visayan): A book I read and then we host some guests??

teacher (in Visayan): no that is incorrect!

Me (in Visayan): Um….. people came to our house for a party?

teacher (In English): No that is incorrect!

Me (In English): I dont know how to say it correctly! What am I doing wrong?

Teacher (In Visayan): On Sunday you go to church!

um…….. no. No I don’t. Then she said we knew enough and the rest we should play by ‘ear’ (um… we had no ear – we were learning!) and left it too us. hahahaha

However I did learn enough to talk to taxi drivers so they did not give me the rip-off fare. To order vegetarian food in restaurants (which is HARD in the Philippines! hahahaha) and to make some polite chit chat to families that hosted me when I visited the indigenous people Barangay’s (such gems as… ‘Your house is nice!’ and  ‘I like your dog’).  As is usual with languages I could understand what people where talking about at a greater level then I could speak. However the longer it has been since I have been there the more I forget. I am probably back to just hello and thank you now : ( …. actually I can still remember ‘I like your dog’ ; )

So my history with learning languages has not been great. I have managed to pick up quite a bit of Pidgen from the Solomon Islands BUT it is a pidgen so there is a LOT of English in there. In other words – they made it easy for me : )

Anyway, I will write in a few months. Hopefully triumphant about how it is not as hard as I thought….. the real test will be next time I go to Thailand (in a few months) to see if I have made some improvements.

Wish me luck!!!

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