I started speaking a fifth language about 10 years ago when I was living overseas. I had to learn to speak the language to be able to communicate with the locals and my domestic staff. I was not sure whether to begin by understanding their language or having them to understand mine.
When we live in a non-native environment, there are so many things we have to adapt to – the new environment and way of life. Our attitude has to change also.
If you are coming from a developed nation, and found yourself posted to work in a less developed country, you will find people do things far less complicated and sometimes wonder why the hack you need modern conveniences anyway. Things like coffee maker, microwave oven, vaccuum cleaner, kitchen blender or electric kettle are useless in some developing countries because these appliances threaten to increase domestic spending on utilities. Stove cooking is the way to go.
When the system of living is simpler or less automated, people are less hurried to get things done. Why? Because for one simple task such as boiling water, they have to listen to the whistle of the kettle when water is boiled, and then turn the stove off. If you have an electric kettle, you may never turn the power supply off even after the water is boiled.
Our domestic staff came from the rural villages Java, Indonesia. They have never used most of the modern conveniences we are so used to. One of them is the vaccuum cleaner. They use brooms for sweeping the floor. Carpets are cleaned with a broom that is made out of a bunch dried stems of coconut leaves. It is called ‘sapu lidi’, sapu is broom and lidi is a stick. It has no wooden stick for your hand to handle. You have to wrap your palm around the end and just sweep.
Ok, you have an idea of what I am saying I hope. There are simpler way to get things done which means thoughts are minced into bite pieces. What happens is actions slower, gentler and unhurried. When your actions are gentler, the senses become quickly responsive to the impressions of your muscular movements. On the contrary, when your actions are loud, the force of your energy returns more than twice its force back to your senses.
This sublimity of actions and responses to muscular movement of senses is very vital if we want to be communicate with people who we do not share a common language or lifestyle. Fast action fast response communication skills will never get things done, unless you have a translator for both sides.
Here I describe how learn to communicate with the cook. When I gave instructions for grocery shopping, I would come to her with grocery list and money. When she sees the concrete objects, money and grocery list, she knew what I needed her to do. I did have to clarify the name of the items which were written in English language, not popular brand names like McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Milo.
There are many overseas expatriates who easily learn to speak a foreign language in this manner. So I am no exception. The difference is I created a system of learning to become more proficient. No textbooks and dictionary, just work with the environment straight away.