By Jordan Diamond
As a person who knows two languages, Chinese and English, I found it easy to communicate and teach the adults here at Mid- State Literacy Council.
I have been learning Chinese for about five years, so I can empathize with each adult that walks through our door. I have been reluctant to speak Chinese because I thought it didn’t sound right, afraid to answer questions incorrectly, and nervous when taking quizzes or exams. These are all normal when learning a new language, but they shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak the language we’re learning and to immerse ourselves fully in the learning experience. We need to embrace these unique challenges and face them head on because that is the only way we can improve our language learning skills. In my own experience, when learning a foreign language, I also was hesitant to speak the language. I too was a little lost. When it came time to have oral exams and present in front of the class, I would get so nervous that I would sweat through my shirt. Sometimes I would stumble so badly that my words weren’t coherent. But what I and every other beginner language- learner have in common is that nervousness is common. What you will find at Mid- State is that nervous outer- shell quickly begins to disappear. Even though many tutors aren’t second- language learners like myself, we are adept at working with learners of all different language backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, and learning differences.
When you arrive at Mid-State, you will be exposed to diverse learning experiences. You will have tutors who can assist you through the hurdles of having a word at the tip of your tongue, but you can’t say it or remember how to pronounce it correctly. We know the struggle of words in both English and your native language scrambled in your head, and having to take a minute to speak. Moreover, it is natural for you to be tongue tied at first because your brain has not yet learned to differentiate sounds and acoustic patterns. It takes time to develop language and confidence. All brains are not the same and we all learn differently.
What is important is to keep learning despite the struggles you may have along the way.