I Will

In my language acquisition class I have been learning everything from why cow’s meat is called beef to how to put together verbs in Swahili. The core concepts are as such:

  1. The key to building language knowledge is finding “comprehensible content” (that is, words in your target language that you have enough context to understand what they mean without using your mother tongue as a mediator) and finding people with whom you can put that content into conversation with.
  2. Language learning can be fun, but it also takes discipline.

My reading last night talked about how there is a difference between “I’m willing” and “I will.” “I will” makes a commitment on what “I’m willing” “dated.” It is easy to say, “I’m willing to give what it takes to learn,” and harder to say, “I will spend this hour acquiring vocabulary.”

For several months, once a week I have met up with a friend from 8-9am to practice Mandarin before work. I was willing to wake up early to work on Chinese–given that someone else was holding me accountable. Last night when our meeting was shifted from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning, I realized the only one stopping me from dedicating my 8am hour every day to language learning was me.

Today I woke up at the normal time, but skipped cooking my usual omelette and got to work on flash cards instead. This early-morning commitment hurt a little bit around 2:30pm, but I learned a lot in the 45 minutes I took this morning. Now, in a few minutes I plan to review those flash cards to seal in those memories before I go to sleep. I’m still not sure if my body can handle this on top of all the other things do, but at least I realized that the power to learn a language largely rests in my own hands.


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