I started a new job a few weeks ago, and I've found a coffee and tea place in the building just below my office. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but I love a good Orange Spice tea. So most days, on my way into the office, I stop in and get a medium Orange Spice hot tea. I suppose the order must be unusual for a coffee place, because it only took a few visits before the girl at the counter started recognizing me and asking if I want the same thing again.
After hearing her say more than just "thanks" and "here is your change", I detected an accent and asked her where she's from. She asked me to guess. Little did she know, I like that game! I took a careful look at her facial features, her hair, her skin color, and guessed Iran. In utter surprise, she asked, "did you say Iran?" Yes. I did. Was I right? "Yes, I am from Persia."
Now every morning on my short commute to the office, I learn one new phrase in Persian. First it was "mam nunam" (thank you), which made here smile and giggle. Then it was "sobh bekheir" (good morning) which got wide eyes and another smile, and prompted her to ask if I had some Persian friend who teaches me. Nope. Then "ruze xubi dashte bashid" (have a nice day) which earned me a breathless laugh with body language one expects from a girl talking to her favorite boy band singer. And so on.
Each phrase is progressively only a tiny bit more difficult than the last, and all are capable of being combined into a full conversation. This requires almost no work from me, and doesn't interrupt my Polish studies at all. But the reward I get from watching this beautiful young lady's eyes light up when I walk in the door is motivation enough to keep learning more Persian. Maybe even more than one phrase per day.
And this is why I insist that it is not difficult to learn a language, and it's not difficult to become a polyglot. You don't do it for the collection of languages, or for some kind of bragging rights... you do it to communicate with people. As I always say, language is a means, not an end. And apparently, now I'm learning Persian. 🙂
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.