Smriti´s tryst with languages

We would like you to meet one of IFLAC´s qualified and much loved trainers, Smriti. My tryst with languages began over a decade ago. Reading travelogues had always been a hobby and the lure of foreign lands and languages was strong. It was always something that I’d wanted to do but it had been on the back-burner, and a break from work seemed like just the right time to start.

Of course, at that time, I had no clue about what language learning involved, so I went in hoping for a short-lived fun experience. As chance would have it, I landed up learning German, and was exposed to a language and a culture that I was completely unfamiliar with until then. And what an experience that turned out to be! Never before had I sat in a class where this level of interaction was encouraged. Never before had I such an in-depth view into another culture. Never before had I paid such close attention to the workings of a language. I soon realized, as one would put it in German „Sprachen machen Spaß“ (languages are fun).

The pure pleasure of learning the language spurred me ahead and I spent two years doing so. At the end of those two years, a wonderful opportunity cropped up, to use both my skills in the language as well as my expertise in the technical domain, and I spent a couple of very interesting and productive years working as a technical translator. It was amazing how a course that was taken up as a hobby had transformed my career. All throughout, my philosophy in learning the language could be summed up with my two favorite German quotes „Übung macht den Meister“ (Practice makes perfect) and „Anfangen ist leicht, beharren eine Kunst“ (To begin is easy, to persist is an art). Also, an opportunity to spend a few months in Germany – using the language I had been learning, and mingling with the people who spoke it, was one of the most rewarding experiences in life.

Meanwhile, I came across a really captivating book on the evolution and structure of languages called “The Unfolding of Language” by Guy Deutscher. This book inspired me further to learn more about languages and linguistics.

Marriage and foreign shores beckoned, and I found myself with a lot of time on hand in a place where Spanish is extensively spoken – California. What better chance would I get to learn Spanish?! The similarities to both English and German fascinated me, the differences excited me — learning Spanish was an amazing experience. Then again, the beautiful beaches of Mexico, and the mystery and allure of both Machu Picchu and the vast Amazon jungle in Peru took on a fascinating dimension because of better connect I felt with the Spanish-speaking population. It was like a dream come true! In the words of Gabriel García Márquez, “No es verdad que la gente deja de perseguir sus sueños porque envejece, envejecen porque dejan de perseguir sus sueños” (It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams).

The pursuit of languages to understand their workings is a pleasure in itself. In addition, the pure joy of being able to interact with different people all over the world is like no other. Since the past four years, I have been occupied in combining this passion of mine with another – imparting whatever knowledge I have of these two languages to a willing and enthusiastic audience. My association with IFLAC has given me this fantastic opportunity, and it is a pleasure to work in collaboration with a set of dedicated and enthusiastic teachers not only from India, but from all over the world.

As the Costa Rican life philosophy goes, “¡Pura Vida!” (this is the good life).

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