Another Step Up
Something was different about this past weekend. We went to church, and it felt like church.
It wasn’t a language lesson. We weren’t observing a meeting of a group as outsiders. We weren’t typing every word on the PowerPoints into Google Translate. It wasn’t an “assignment”. It was church.
We’re so thankful for the opportunity to be the outsider - to feel the tension of worshiping, listening to a sermon, and hearing prayers in a language not our own. But we’re also so thankful to begin to be able to actually participate.
This week in particular, we felt known by our new friends (some of whom we had spent Saturday with!) and we left encouraged. We followed the sermon without too much trouble, and we were on the worship team… so we knew the songs!
The more we are able to follow the sermon, the more we are able to engage our hearts and not just our translation-brains. Rather than focusing on what each individual word means, we’re beginning to be able to hear big-picture meaning and train of thought.
I’ve described language learning as walking up steps before and it’s still so true. We seem to plateau now and then, feeling like we’ll never improve in our language skills. Those days (weeks?) can be quite discouraging. Then, without much warning, something changes. All of a sudden things click into place in our brains and we’re able to use more of the grammar and vocabulary that we’ve learned at school in our normal conversations.
More and more, words come to mind without needing to pause to think. Suddenly, I can use a new tense that I learned in class a month ago. It’s incredible! I can tell that my brain is taking in information constantly, but doesn’t quite know what to do about it until it has had some time to settle - like the mixed up pieces in a puzzle box that eventually all fit together. Believe me, I have a lot more random pieces in my brain waiting to join the rest of the puzzle!
We’ve been in Switzerland for six months now (with only three left to go!) and we’re feeling so encouraged these days! Jack and I are both in level B2 classes and we’re able to use what we know more and more. Our B2 classes are much more focused on conversation and practicing the grammar we’ve learned up to this point.
We’ve had invitations to Swiss homes where our entire dinner conversation was in French. We’ve also hosted families and play dates at our apartment that were entirely in French. It’s SO encouraging to know that we have enough basic language skills to begin making friends.
It’s really hard to measure growth in language learning because it’s so fluid and intuitive. And, it’s so different for each person. So, it’s so fun to be able to point to specific things that used to be impossible but now are a part of our daily life!
Thank you all so much for praying for our family and for encouraging us from afar! We appreciate you all so much and we’re overwhelmed by God’s goodness and the way He’s providing for every need!