Learning the Language

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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.

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Are you listening?

The older I get the more I notice that we live in a world where there are more people that want to talk than want to listen. The art of listening has been lost for many I believe, with people fighting to make sure theirs is the opinion voiced and that no one else can get a word in edge ways. Talking a lot and talking about what you want to talk about seem to be some badge of success in professional and social realms.

I am a listener and I believe without listeners this world and the people in it wont be as successful as all of them could be. I also think there is much to applaud in those people that actually think before they talk and that are able to say the right things at the right time. Quality and quantity are two very different things and if you have a lot of quantity in what you say, the quality will be lost.

We’ve all been in those meetings when people are just talking for the sake of talking, because they need to be seen to be leading the conversation or having opinions on things to justify their involvement. In meetings I think it is always important to ask the opinions of the quieter ones because normally they are the ones listening and the ones that will have interesting insight in to the issues at hand.

We’ve all been at those parties and social gatherings where people are trying to dominate conversations to try and be the ‘cool’ one, trying to show off or just trying to make sure they get to talk about what they want to talk about. Sadly I think its these people that struggle to notice when people aren’t listening, so they might as well be talking to a brick wall. In many cases the more you talk the more people around you are switching off.

Some people think that by talking a lot you can hide an inadequacy, a lack of knowledge and that it impresses. I personally think it just highlights these things and doesn’t impress.

So remember, just by talking it doesn’t mean people are listening. Communication is a two way street, the more you show that you can listen the more people will want to listen to you. The art of talking should be about people listening. Don’t forget its not just about the words coming out of your lips its about your relationship with the people you are talking to and how they perceive you. I would work on these things first before opening my mouth to speak as if you do, the words coming out of your mouth are going to mean so much more.

Ask yourself this question – did you learn more by listening or by talking today? To improve as a person I always think it is more important to learn about more things than you could ever get round to talking about in your lifetime.