An opportunity has presented itself in the last few days. It looks as if there may be some coaching on the horizon. Coaching in a foreign language. This is a new challenge for me.
I did learn the required language about a hundred years ago, and at that time, was quite proficient. In the yawning chasm between then and now, however, that part of the brain has had a bit of a rest. I figured that all the knowledge must still be in there, sleeping in some dark corner, undisturbed, and decided this weekend to see if I could wake it up.
I dusted down the textbooks I have on my shelf. That was a start. But then I wondered how I could make things a bit more interesting. So I searched the internet, and found loads of interactive lessons. I set some programmes to record on the Sky box. I bought a couple of newspapers. I’m sure that I can find an appropriate radio station to listen to. And suddenly, the cogs are turning again and I am beginning to understand. As always with languages, we are usually able to understand more than we can say at first, but the coaching project is starting to feel do-able.
Oddly, the process of re-learning and remembering is bringing home the truth of a quote I found in one of the dusty grammar books I re-discovered: “Who doesn’t know foreign languages, knows nothing of his own” (Goethe). Expressing thoughts in another language makes you much more precise about using the words you take for granted in your own.