What is one of the most common things people buy when going abroad, on holiday, for work or to live? I think one of them has to be a phrasebook. There are a million and one different phrasebooks out there converting many of the much needed questions and phrases from your language to the language of the country you are travelling to.
Now to me, I personally think the phrasebook system is floored. You may be good at picking up foreign languages and learn how to ask a host of questions correctly in another language, but what is the point in doing this if when you get out there you can’t understand the answer you get from the local that you converse with. For every question you ask there are many answers and it’s pretty hard to learn all the possible answers there could be, I also think it would be pretty stupid to do so.
Spending time learning how a language works, it’s form and structure, will help you form the questions you want to ask and help you work out what people are telling you in response. You don’t get these things from memorizing information as memorising is not learning. Being able to spurt out a lot of facts and information doesn’t make you intelligent, it just means that you are good at retaining things in your brain.
I think in so many situations in life we all just want to skip to the answer or to the end. This way of thinking though means we miss out on the learning and just spend our life finding out answers instead of how to do things. If we stopped to do the studying and the learning we would actually be equipping ourselves with something worthwhile and long standing.
A phrasebook shouldn’t be treated as a shortcut and you shouldn’t be fooled in to believing that reading a phrasebook on your journey out will give you everything you need to get by in that country. There is no shortcut in my eyes to real learning and real knowledge acquirement.
My middle brother like to visit different countries most years, but before he goes anywhere he always invests time to learn the language and to make sure he can understand people in that country, rather than just learning the odd phrase, which I have lots of respect for. In today’s day and age there are many different options out there to help you learn a new language, it’s not a case of just going to a class any more so no one should have any excuses.
I think the whole phrasebook concept is something that also reflects on the way we communicate with others in our own countries. A lot of people in conversation are guilty of just talking at people and either not listening to people’s responses or not understanding them. For these people, when people do give a response to what they are talking about, sometimes they don’t know what to do with it or or how to respond back so they just move the conversation in another direction.
The best way to invest in yourself and others is to educate yourself properly and learn how to hold a conversation with other people. There is a difference between throwing phrases at other people and being engaged in a two-way conversation.