Notes from a Novice Language Hunter

7 o’ clock AM. The blinding white rays of sun shoot into my bedroom window like a laser beam. I awake, roll on to my back, and my first thought of the day takes hold. “Is pfiao dgerig e!”, I state.

That is Irish (*not correct Gaeilge spelling), that translates to, “that is a red pen”, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I learned about a week ago at my first Language Hunters workshop with a focus on Irish in Aurora, Oregon. I birthed a baby Irish brain in my mind that weekend, and “is pfiao dgerig e” are some of it’s first words. How adorable!

Let’s fast forward to later that same laser beam, sunny day, shall we? It’s 3 o’ clock in the afternoon and I’m attempting to explain to a friend my recent language acquisition.

“Tell me something in Irish!”, he demands excitedly.

“Oh, yeah…..is……. uh.. is…..”, my mind is fumbling over various sounds and I can’t quite recall if any of them are particularly right.

I refrain. My mind is as murky as mud. I couldn’t think of a single thing that I had seemingly mastered over the course of the three day workshop. Nothing.

What’s up with that?!

Why can I fluently ask, “Is this my cup of tea?” in Irish while I’m putting on a pot of water at home, but not even get out, “What is that?” when someone wants to see what I know?

Well, here’s what I can gather. My baby Irish brain may appear to be like a human baby at first glance- cute, simple, accessible, and concrete. But, as I’m initially experiencing with Irish, this baby don’t wanna talk for just anybody. This baby is a little bit stubborn. My baby Irish brain has a mind of it’s own and I can only really get a grasp on it when it decides to “bubble up” according to it’s free will.

It may seem frustrating and a little bizarre, but isn’t that actually how learning works in real life? Outside of a classroom where a target language is regurgitated on demand, genuine learning tends to happen on it’s own time. Think about it this way- as a baby, nobody could get us to really, physically walk before we could do it with no assistance, on our own, right?

The picture is clearer now, but you still have to wonder- What’s up with that?!

Ah, the wonderful world of Language Hunting! I’ll be diving into the deep-end of language game play as I start my Internship. Join me for thoughts on the phenomena of accelerated learning, the craft of Language Hunting and their applications to life.

Until next time,

Maggie

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