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The Tragedy of a Foreign Language Student

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Hola, Hallo, Hi, Bonjour, Salut.

Some infinities are bigger than other infinities,” how very apt. Let’s talk about languages today. We know there are several languages in India, and we also know that there are numerous languages that people speak worldwide. We believe that it is cool to speak more than two languages. Of course, we have our mother tongue, and then there is English, and as if that wasn’t torturous enough, we feel that knowing another language is so much cooler.

As a foreign language student, I now know that it’s not easy to learn a new language, and if you think English helps you, you were never more mistaken.

Here are some troubles that students have faced while trying to ace a foreign language:

1. The Obvious Grammar Issues:

Grammar, irrespective of the language, is scary as shit and very disturbing. Confused, as we always are, while tackling the grammar issues of the languages we know, it is a nightmare to tackle the grammar of another language simultaneously. There are different rules and regulations, and there are different meanings of words (sometimes several meanings of the same word) and usages that look similar to words we know in English but are not. It is pretty frustrating to handle all those grammar issues and then remember when to use what and that too for all the different languages.

2. The Mix and Match:

This happens when the different languages you know screw up your head and then play puzzle games with your brain. Students of foreign languages often mix up the languages they know and the languages they are learning and create something innovative; however, their dear teachers do not accept it. Students end up creating a language of their own like for Frenglish, Gerench, Spanilian…etc.

3. The Terrible “P”s:

Processing, pronouncing and perfecting. From the weird pronunciations to the lack of understanding, these are the common troublemakers in the life of a Foreign language student.The brain takes a lot of time to process the meaning of a certain word and when you think you handled it correctly and that you understand the language well now, you’ll be woken up with a kick to see that you interpreted it wrong because apparently the word has several meanings and can be used in different ways.Then comes the “jhol” of pronunciation. You try to ace it like the foreigners, but you forget that it is their language and that they”ve been speaking it since they started talking. It’s a harsh truth, but you got to accept it, your accent, your pronunciation can never be as perfect as theirs. And perfecting? Dream on…it’ll happen one day.

4. High expectations:

From mom and dad to “pados ke Khanna uncle” everyone will be damn happy to see that you are learning a new language, but with this happiness comes another question, “Beta kuch bol ke sunao us language mein” -( beta speak something in that language). Now, this is a really difficult situation. You cannot think of something to say, and once you do say something, they hardly understand and then you have to explain it to them, and then eventually they’ll lose interest. “Expectations Hurt”.

5. Mr. Google Translator:

Your best friend, enough said. While learning a new language, Google translator becomes your lifeline. Unfortunately, Google Translator doesn’t always give you the right translation or the right meaning. It Sometimes makes no sense, and at other times it’s plain hilarious. It gives a literal translation or direct translation and fails to assess the significance of what you truly want to say. It can misguide you at times, so it’s best to avoid Google Translator when translating paragraphs and essays.

However learning a foreign language though difficult, bears some sweet fruits. From job opportunities to visiting new places, this extra piece of knowledge of another language can come as a sweetener, a hard earned reward for your labor. Good luck!

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