Monday, February 07, 2011

TOEFL Essay - New languages' challenges

Q. What challenges you most when learning a new language? Use reasons and examples to support your response.


New languages present new challenges. Innovative learning methods require full immersion and attention. When we learn about new cultures, their problems rush us, their histories fell us, their new languages and slang assault us.

When I first started learning several new languages, I challenged myself with the task of keeping them apart. Sadly, the words all ran together in my head, creating a long line. This rope couldn't pull me from the woods where I had wandered, and symbols and their meanings went walking unhinged from any weight. It was like the moon had usurped my ability to find words. Similar phenomena challenge me with the entire technique I've practiced outside of the classroom: Total and utter immersion. My challenge occurs when I have nothing left to say in the new language, and then I yawn.

New cultures have unique problems. They are not new, but they are new to us. With a new language, continually ignoring cultural problems is implausible. So the challenge isn't the language, but what language brings.

When I learn new languages, I get intense. My interests are so many that I feel unfocused. Because I have another language under my belt, I feel overwhelmed. What if one language escapes me, or what if I speak at the wrong moment? What if my tongue comes out and stays out, stuck without language? This is an embarrassing admission. Being overtaken is powerful, but no names exist to hurl at an entire language. Language, much like history, swallows the vile curse and drum. Any slurs you can think of, language is there before you. I am challenged learning languages because I feel like this is very trampled earth.

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