Think In The Language You Are Learning


When I was young and in school, we took foreign language. Being raised in Minnesota, we had the option of Spanish, French or German. The first language I started to learn was German. I was in I think 4th grade. I remember the teacher, I remember the feel and look of the book. What I learned of it? I can’t remember. The second language I went for was Spanish. It went okay but the rote memorization of it was brutal. I was only 12, in 7th grade, and rote memorization of that language didn’t work. I tried French first at college but… nah, too flouncy for me. So back I went to German and to my surprise it was still there. What the heck? The professor said to me then, to learn a language well you must “think” in the language your learning, not the language you know. Haven’t taken German in more than 20 years but it still sticks with me enough to converse with some German speaking people .

That was one of the best lessons I ever learned in life. And I apply it in many area’s of my life including  spirituality. Learning it, is in effect, being the change you want to see in your world. When we are very young we learn for the first time, everything else is relearning.

So why are they different? When we are first learning and living we are learning in the living of it. What will always stick with us best is the first learnings this is why the German stuck with me. This is also why it is so hard to shake the learned chronic negative thinking patterns carried on by dysfunctions learned in our youth.  This is why raising children with faith and spirituality is so important.

My first question to the professor when he said we should think in the language we want to learn was, “How do you think in a language you do not know?” And he said you use only that language. You learn the most important questions or statements by rote so they are in your head and heart so firmly that it’s there for you at all times. In the case of language those key things would be, I don’t understand, please slow down and How do you say “this” in German? You can’t learn German in English, you must learn German in German. Here in Ontario, we would call that Language Immersion.

Baptism is a symbolic Spiritual Immersion.  Whether it is carried forward is the responsibility of those of us witnessing a baptism.  We are not to become baptized and then think the work is done.  When we surround ourselves or our children with the principals of living a good life spiritually eg. kindness, compassion, responsibility, respect, faith etc. we are immersing them and ourselves.  We are baptizing ourselves in the life of spirituality and that path.

Spirituality isn’t a part of my day, it is in all of my day. I live my life from that spot. I surround myself with friends, family, reading, art and music that accentuates it.  I think from the  spirituality inside of me .  All else comes from within that to the outside.  It doesn’t mean speaking spirituality all the time, though sometimes it does happen that way as like attracts like, it means utilizing the principals until the meaning of one day at a time is the same as now, every moment.

Part of what makes living spirituality so important is in doing it everyday and it’s being an integral part of your life, not something on the outside or extra curricular. Not a set aside outside hour of ones day.  Once it takes hold, like a language, you can go at it from the outside in and inside out. One just needs to be really sure that nothing is lost in translation. And sometimes as with most of us, the translation to others does get lost, but that is only because we step outside of ourselves.

In education and learning it is common to hear use it or lose it.  I choose to use it.  To live it and to become and be a spiritual being.  I would much rather use it than lose it!

©Adrienne McLeod 2011


About Adrienne

I am Canadian born, for those of you needing clarification. I was raised in Minnesota, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, Multiple Musical Geniuses, Lake Wobegon, and really, really cold winters. Writing, Music and Photography are my passions. My current companion is my camera though my guitars and the piano are always close by and often consulted. Inspiration is everywhere and so is beauty. I now reside in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. I love to write, ponder and give back what I have learned in my journey with the hope that it will benefit others.


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