Rosetta Stone for All the Family

There’s always something you forget to pack. For some people, it’s their toothbrush; for others, it’s their socks. Some people seem to pack everything except the kitchen sink, and I felt like that as I prepared for my trip to California. Upon arriving, however, I realized I hadn’t managed to pack everything. I’d forgotten something very important: my copy of Rosetta Stone Filipino (Tagalog). This wasn’t clever of me, considering I’d be staying with a Filipino family and I’m just learning to speak Tagalog. Fortunately, I didn’t become discouraged during the next few weeks without my Rosetta Stone software. It only strengthened my resolve to learn more, faster. (I also developed a healthy desire to learn how to cook Filipino food!)

Rosetta Stone on computer screen

Rosetta Stone Tagalog on the family computer

After a few weeks, I was able to get my software sent to me from home, and I installed it on a shared computer. As it happened, Chris’s ate, who is two years older, was visiting with her husband and his daughter. Husband and daughter do not speak Tagalog, but my girlfriend’s sister and the rest of the family speak it often. I showed them the Rosetta Stone program as a curiosity, thinking it might be of some interest. They spent almost two hours with it, losing themselves in the language—so it definitely worked out. Everyone in my girlfriend’s family speaks Tagalog, and when they’re talking with one another, I frequently find myself trying to determine where one word ends and another begins. How Chris’s brother-in-law follows along, I really don’t know. I hope he’ll soon be able to start learning Tagalog, perhaps alongside his daughter, and then they can participate more fully in the family life. In the end, family harmony is all about good communication, and that starts with understanding what’s being said.

It’s interesting how motives for learning a language can change, or be added to. I began learning Tagalog simply and only to communicate better with Chris and her family. Especially her family. Being unable to understand, speak, or write the language spoken around you is a strangely isolating experience. You’re right there with the people, but at the same time you’re a hundred miles away—a stranger in a strange land. I wanted to get to know my girlfriend’s family and friends better, and to that end I began learning Tagalog, even picking up fragments of the language from her friends on Facebook. As it turned out, Tagalog isn’t all I learned. One friend opened my eyes to something I never could have expected or imagined—something that gave my drive to learn Tagalog a new twist and a new sense of urgency. Something that changed my life and that needs a blog post all its own.

Learn more about Mike Hayes’s adventures in language learning.

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