“Language has been recognized for centuries by philosophers, by scientists, as the essential unique human endowment, the striking faculty that distinguishes humans from other organisms.” – Prof. Noam Chomsky
Ever since I started learning French in the 8th Grade, I’ve been fascinated by how culturally diverse the world is. More often than not, a language class is the first exposure a student has to that culture, and therefore the teacher plays a very crucial role in developing cultural understanding. Initially, it was all about learning new words and scoring in tests as we were told time and again that “French is a very scoring subject“. I would go out of my way to help my classmates with their French homework, sometimes even doing it for them in the process! I would read the textbook inside out learning all the new words and their synonyms, learning grammar rules and how to apply them by solving hundreds of examples and exceptions, and writing essays on random topics. I was elated in the 10th and the 12th grades when I scored the highest marks in my school (along with 25 other batch mates) and college; a lot more than when I secured an admission in one of the Top 50 Engineering Colleges in India! Little did I know that soon enough this interest would evolve into a passion or a fixation, if I may, with learning new languages and analyzing their grammars and word origins. It was only during my 5th semester of Computer Engineering when it dawned upon me that following my passion was paramount and that language was my real calling; and then began the most splendid period of my academics, where engineering took a backseat and I joined the Alliance Française to pursue my first love.
My role as an International Intern at the University of Mauritius through the AIESEC Global Community Development Programme opened my eyes to the realm of cultures and the influence that these cultures have on world languages. Not only did I make long-lasting friendships with some of the most beautiful and brilliant people in the world, but I also gained an insight into their varied backgrounds and languages. My interest began gravitating towards romance languages like Spanish and Portuguese in particular, not just due to their proximity to French but also for the phonological variations in their dialects. I also began to observe similarities as well as discrepancies in their grammars, lexicon, word orders and grammatical genders. Learning Spanish and Portuguese improved my understanding of the nuts and bolts of French and English while helping me recognize certain aspects of my own mother tongue, Gujarati.
“Get out of your comfort zone”, a close friend once told me. Having never flirted with the idea of teaching, I did exactly that and I must admit that I absolutely love it! I’ve never felt more contented about sharing my knowledge with a bunch of people. Teaching a concept helps you understand it better yourself. I read an article a few days ago about finding your calling and here’s what stuck: Your calling is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of three things: doing something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better.
Pic source: http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/05/10/7-ideas-about-finding-the-work-you-were-meant-to-do/
The fact that you can touch so many lives with what you love to do is in itself very compelling. I am extremely grateful to everyone (you know who you are) who nudged me to follow my heart and accepted my painful yet exhilarating decision to change my career path !
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” So, let’s conquer the world one language at a time ! 😀