Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Pause in Our Formal Studies of Bulgarian

About three weeks ago, Jodie and I informed our private teacher that we were stopping our weekly sessions with him. We did this not because of a desire to stop learning Bulgarian, but because we realized that after almost a year of studies, we were not any closer to getting a grasp on conversational Bulgarian.

Admittedly, a once-a-week hour class is not nearly enough. However, with our busy work schedules, that was all we were able to handle. The key to learning a new language is practice, and this is where we failed. Both Jodie and I work in English-speaking environments, where even our Bulgarian coworkers handle most of their daily affairs in English. We would have made more progress if we had less intellectual colleagues, different kinds of jobs, or if we lived in a remote area and we were forced to speak in Bulgarian.

We continue to make efforts to talk with taxi drivers, cleaning staff, apartment building doormen, and supermarket clerks, but when we fail to understand their fast-spoken responses, the conversation dies off. To my credit, I did manage to purchase a mattress for our bed entirely in Bulgarian, but this was most likely due to the use of many hand motions as well.

In our last few sessions with him, our teacher was testing our listening comprehension skills, a world away from our current inability to understand the basics of the language. Will we resume our Bulgarian studies? Hopefully we will, but right now we are on a break.

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