I mentioned a few times on the site now that I have been taking some language lessons recently. Actually, this is third time to start taking lessons to learn how to speak Bisaya. The first time I started taking lessons, after about 2 months my teacher quit, because he had other things occupying his time. The second time that I started lessons, I quit after about two months, because of a lack of time on my part. This time, I am really committed, though, to learning the language. I consider it not just something that I want to do, it is becoming something that I need to do.
Why do I need to learn the language? Well, I want to fit in more. I want to be part of the society here. I want to understand what is going on around me. In short, this is where I have chosen to live, and it is really my responsibility to know how to converse with the local people.
You know, in a number of instances, I have been in groups of people, and I feel left out if they are going on in Bisaya. If I am with one person, even two, they generally shift to English for my benefit. However, if there are a lot of people, you really can’t expect every person there to switch to English, when I am only one out of a large group. It does make me feel bad, but when I think about it, I should not feel bad, I should learn the language so that I will fit in more. I have known a number of foreigners who also tend to feel bad, even get upset when those around them don’t speak English, and that is not right. Think about it like this – if you were in the USA with a group of your friends, maybe at a party, and there was a guy from Mexico in attendance, would you expect that everybody at the party to start speaking Spanish? No, absolutely not. For one thing, a lot of the people probably could not speak much Spanish, which is the same case here. Not everybody can speak English, or is comfortable speaking English.
You know, these language lessons have been interesting for me. One thing that I am finding is that I already know a lot of the vocabulary, I just don’t realize how much I know! When my teacher gives me a list of words to learn for the next week’s lesson, I find that I usually know at least half of the words before even studying! One thing that is great, though, is that the teacher is showing me how to use those words to construct a sentence. That is what I didn’t know how to do well! But, I’m learning it now.
Really, I would say that for anybody who has been married to a Filipina for a number of years, you will probably find that it will be easier to learn the language (Tagalog, Bisaya or whatever) than you expect.
Why not give it a try?