Language learning is like friendship


I must confess that I have not taken initiative in learning Kaqchikel. I know how to say the important words, like ulef (earth/soil), ixin (corn), tef (cold), and ixo’qi (woman), but have made little progress in actually being able to understand and speak this language.

Language learning is like friendship. It takes a long time. You must be patient in it. You will only learn to understand by listening attentively. After a lot of listening you start to understand, but are still not really capable of speaking. Talking—true sharing—comes later, but that too is only perfected by practice. Language learning, like friendship, is a process that must be entered into with humility and a willingness to laugh at yourself and together. Challenges are to be expected, but joys are found also. Both require trust. Poco a poco vas a aprender. Little by little you will learn, and you will learn to love.

I am very glad to share that poco a poco, I have entered into friendship with people here, most especially with my host mom, Doña Estela. Saturday morning tamale assembly with Doña Estela at my post tying up the leaves has been an anchoring and life giving routine. After I get home from work we watch El Privilegio de Amar on the telenovelas channel. I accompany her to Mass and prayer while she graciously lets me borrow her song book so that I can join in the singing. She teaches me how to cook delicious food and encourages me when my tortillas come out too small. I am still learning to listen, but my love and trust are growing.

By Kelly Wilson