Language Acquisition!!! Oh, My!!!


I am not learning Kazakh, but the skills needed to learn a second language.
Did you know that there are over 700 sounds the human voice apparatus is capable of making? I sure didn’t.. Did you know that there is a Phonetic Alphabet to guide you in how to say any word of any language? Did you know there are things called stop, voiced and unvoiced sounds and things called Fricatives.. Oh, My!!! Is your head spinning yet???? We are learning things like intentional and being proactive in our language learning (in all our learning) I can’t take a back seat and hope I learn the Kazakh language by just being there. The instructors are also preparing us for the overwhelming sense of our loss of identity while learning to learn a new language. Who am I??? if you take away my culture, language and ability to communicate…
I’ve heard much criticism of people who aren’t learning English when they move to America.. Now I’m not saying people shouldn’t learn the language of the country they are living in. I most certainly seek to learn Kazakh. But have you ever considered how it feels to – even if willingly – be plopped down in a culture that is very different, where you can’t do basic things like buy food or go to the bank or communicate with your neighbors. It throws everything in your world upside down. Like falling down the rabbit’s hole in Alice in Wonderland. This summer not having a “home” to go home to I found myself lost in a city I know. There was no auto pilot at the end of a day to get home. I had to think about each detail of my life. Do you realize how many daily things we each take for granted? The amount of time we don’t have to really engage our minds to do the daily stuff? Now, think about having to think about each step of the day. There is no “auto pilot” to do anything, from brushing your teeth, fixing your meals, buying your groceries, nothing.. That brings a whole new meaning to stress.
The staff are giving us a “tool box” of strategies and skills to help us not only acquire the language but also navigate the mind field of emotions that comes along with living in a new country trying to learn the language.
Can I tell EVERYONE how THANKFUL that I have this opportunity to get this training. I came because I was told this would be good for me, I had no idea how unprepared I was and didn’t understand I desperately needed this training.. Now, I do..

I have been amazed to look back over my life and see how so many things have been working together to prepare me for this very point in time. The training here is bringing together all my life experiences revealing how they weave together.

As a child I invented my own language which gave me the privilege of going to speech therapy. My youngest sister upon entering school was diagnosed with learning disabilities. I remember the teacher telling my mom that she was a bright child and would eventually catch up to the other students. The key was instead of presenting the same idea 10 times, present the idea 10 different ways. Kind of the same idea when people do the same behavior over and over expecting a different out come. In order to get a different out come you have to change the behavior. I’ve always like the analogy of Babe Ruth. He (at least use to – I’m not a baseball fan) held the record for home runs.. He also held the record for the most strikes.. The story goes that he said the reason he had the most home runs was because he wasn’t afraid to swing the bad increasing the number of swings there fore increasing the number of times the bat connected with the ball.. I have to keep swinging, keep playing the game if I’m going to be successful. No toddler falls the first time then refuses to get up and try again. They don’t focus on the fall, but rather on the goal.. At 47 I’m seeking to be more child like in attitude..

When Sarah, my youngest didn’t begin speaking by age three I sought help and she too began speech therapy… I had no idea all that would be helpful now with some of the things they are teaching.. How amazing to see the threads woven through my life preparing me for this adventure..

Students from my ESL class from the local University

Once I started traveling to Kazakhstan our world open up to internationals in our area.. Marc and Sarah started bringing home international friends after their trip to Kazakhstan in 2002. Then we invited exchange students into our home for the school year. Talk about broadening our horizons. I taught classes at the local university in the ESL program. It was so much fun working with the students helping them increase their English language. Did you ever think why we say we have “butterflies” in our stomachs? In Taiwan they have waves in their stomachs! In Turkey they have rabbits!!

Marc and Sarah with our exchange student Tahmina from Turkmenistan. (Hello sweet Tahmina!)

I think there have been times I have forgotten how richly blessed I have been. One thing I had my exchange students do after they got over the excitement of being in America and began to see only what they didn’t like and how much they missed their homes, was daily write a list of 20 things they were thankful for that day. Now, sometimes it was for very simple things like the sky is blue. There were days it was really hard for them to find things they liked about the new place they found themselves in. But it did work.. They began to see that different doesn’t equate bad. I too have to remember that piece of advice. I too have to daily keep my list of things I am thankful for because sometime in the mist of the chaos of life I forget just truly how blessed beyond measure I am.

Saturday, I had the great privilege and blessing to tag along with Michelle, her two beautiful girls Abby & Lucy and Pat. We went to Hendersonville, NC but stopped several times on the way there and back. The colors on the trees are beautiful, the air crisp and cool. This is apple picking time in western North Carolina so fresh apple cider, apple butter and delicious apples can be picked up at various road side stands. In Hendersonville the girls had a grand time in the Hands On Museum. I enjoyed watching these precious girls simply enjoy the many activities. I think I had forgotten just how innocent, bright eyed, and trusting children can. I love the children that are in my life here at training. It helps ease the ache for my two.

My dear friend Lois, called and let me know SHE had RECEIVED a letter from my sweet daughter.. UGH.. I did not. The mail moves a little slower down to this part of the state. It was so good to know someone had heard from her and hear that she is making it. She reported that she was still alive (which is a good thing) that she misses home (I think that is typical for recruits) that she received the meanest and hardest drill Sargent (probably all recruits feel this) and she also finally had a date for boot camp graduation. November 21st. A week after I finish training here, almost perfect timing. I was hoping for a little more time between training and her graduation to have time to work, but this is it. Now, I have to figure out how to get to Great Lakes, IL and a place to stay. Sarah only has leave for that day so I don’t need to stay in the area except for that Thursday and Friday night. I don’t know if I’ll fly or drive.. My car isn’t up to that long of a road trip. I was a little worried taking it here, but it has hung in there. I did look into rental cars, but at this point I just don’t know. It’s not today’s problem so I’m not going to worry about it..

My time here in training has been such an encouragement. The staff are amazing with their willingness to share their knowledge and friendships. Friendships that will last a life time across lands and oceans are being built between other students and staff. The dear friendships that I have treasured to this point I’m recognizing more just how valuable they are to me and how truly blessed I’ve been with the people that have been placed on the path in my life. Thank you dear friends for being there to encourage me and cheer for me along the way. I have been touched by the letters, notes, and care packages (thank you Tim & Lisa for the great books, Janet for the tasty treats and Lois for my mail, book, & my paints! :o} ) I could never do this alone or in my own strength and am so touched by the time and effort my dear friends have put into letting me know they are there for me. Everyone loves getting mail in this day of technology nothing replaces a physical letter.. Remember to write my sweet Sarah..

I’ve got several images I want to paint and have started on. What a joy to paint just for the joy of expressing my thankfulness of all the many blessing in my life. Maybe I’ll share but for the moment it is like a journal with my inner most thoughts.. But oh, what fun I’m having..

Thank you dear friends.. I keep you each close to my heart..
May your day be filled with seeing the many joys and blessings given just for today..

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