Nik Radzi. Child on beach in Penang.

Language Learning
I am in the process of learning Bahasa Malaysia.

I don’t live in Malaysia. I have only visited once, for two weeks. I don’t know if I will ever be able to return. Despite that, even before my trip, I was determined to learn the language.

I visited the state of Penang. The people are multilingual and very gracious, so I was able to get around with only English. I knew a few phrases before I arrived: Good morning, good afternoon, thank you. Even that extremely limited knowledge gave me flexibility. I took the opportunity to speak with people I might not have been able to otherwise.

I was not prepared to converse in the language by the time I arrived. When, if, I return, I will at least be able to answer, when they ask me if I speak their language, “Saya sedang belajar.” (I am learning.)

Ronny Sison, child on bike, murals of Penang.

Saya Sedang Belajar
I don’t know a lot of bahasa (language). But I will know more. I am learning. I find the language fun, in a way I have not found language learning enjoyable in a long time. I remember koine Greek being this fun, when I didn’t have a class in it.

Over the course of my life, I have discovered that learning about other cultures teaches me a lot.

Learning other languages does the same.

You may be far beyond me in that. You may know five or six (or twelve or fifteen).

When first learning, though, it seems to me that language may offer a window into knowledge. We may lose that window as the language becomes our own through long usage. We may lose insight as we become more adept at a language. Or we may lose some and gain others.

I have a children’s dictionary, with pictures, and translation in English and Arabic (which I don’t have any experience with at all), that has brought me some unique opportunities to think about animals–for example–in a way I had not before.

I am using it to think in ways I wouldn’t naturally. Different connections can develop new ideas. I hope this will.

Applications
I am working on a variety of different ways of thinking about the language learning. I hope to make some of this usable for frameworks to use in classrooms to get folks to think beyond their preconceptions.

Just thinking of it has reminded me of a previous exercise for thinking about worldview that I have found very revealing myself. I don’t know that I would use it with young children, but I certainly would use it for world building discussions with teenagers.

I will post the basics of that exercise in Framework later.

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