I have now done 60 hours of language learning with my language helper. That means that I have probably heard another 60 hours of my recordings. My vocabulary in Tunisian Arabic might be around 500 words. But, that’s difficult to know as the number of words I can say is far smaller than the number I understand.
And there is another group of words that I don’t understand, but I know immediately that I have heard this word before but in which context and what does it mean?
Somebody has called it the iceberg of language learning: You can actively use the words that are above the surface. But, that’s only a small part, around a seventh part. Under the water are the words that you can’t use but you understand them. Even deeper there are words you have an idea of. And even deeper you have heard them, they sound familiar but that’s all.
I have seen in the last few weeks how words have moved up to the surface; that‘s nice. You have the impression you are moving forward, you are learning. But, of course, there are so many down under, somewhere hidden, not lost, but they feel lost.
And there is daily life. Where people tell you – intentionally or unintentionally, doesn’t matter – that you are not part of them. They switch languages for you. They are happy if you answer in their language, at least a bit. But, they assume that you can’t deal with them in Tunisian Arabic – which is still true. I can’t order a meal or ask for a book or directions. It does not really work. But, I am getting closer.
My big crises a few weeks ago is still on my mind. I have to feel comfortable pushing myself: I need to go over my barrier, over my comfort zone, that’s necessary. I don’t like it very often, it costs energy and if there are many other things, work, family, conflicts, I can’t concentrate and don’t manage. Well, that’s life.