Each language partner is an individual not a means to an end.

When starting to learn a new language it is common for many of us to get excited about it, which is completely normal interest and passion for learning is what drives many of us, but one must be on the look out  so that this excitement over time does not turn into an obsession.

This can happen at many different levels, of course it can be from a simple ongoing interest in finding new ways to learn or practice, which of course it's non harmfulness what so ever, but it can also turn into a dehumanization of the person to whom we wish to practice with, in which case it can end up with us only seeking a language partner (in most cases native) not because of an actual interest in the person but more so because we see a means to an end.

Or at least this is what happened to me, as a material manager in the automotive industry, in which the visits from our RHQ personnel from Japan are quite occasional, I found my self overtime seeking them, for the mare goal to establish a conversation in other words practice, with two years under my belt studying Japanese and almost no conversation what so ever for me it only seamed like the write course of action.

But it was just a couple of months ago that a consultant for a new project arrived at the plant, because of the current lack of official interpreters at that particular time, I was asked to assist him, of course I was thrilled to do so, I was just given the best excuse to approach him, and so I translated what ever he said to me to the best of my ability, it was by no means perfect but we got around to understand each other.

During this time when we had small gaps of in between time I tried to establish small talk with little success, I could see that he wasn't really interested in it, but a kept on trying.

Later that day I sat down with him during our launch break, he finished his meal quite quickly and so he returned to work when he did so I returned to my usual table, and it was at this moment that the project manager asked me not to annoy our guest, (in the firm tone of voice that she always has). It wasn't until that moment that I realized that I wasn't looking out for him with his interest in mind, I didn't let him know from the begging the different areas of the factory, smoking areas, bathrooms or any other pertinent places, neither did I let him know he could ask me any of this information.

For which my advise to any one who might be reading this is to not forget to treat each person as an individual, and more so if you are in a position in which you can help them, they are not a means to an end, and please don't misinterpret me, I am not saying not to engage foreigners when ever possible, I still do when ever possible, what I'm saying is make it a reciprocal relation and learn to accept when they don't correspond your interest.

Apr 15, 2019 1:53 AM
Comments · 1
I think your idea is very good. I often talked to foreigners because I wanted to practice English. I didn't care about what their interest in were or what I took their time. I just I focused on practicing English. They might have been annoyed by me. It wasn't a behavior as an adult.
April 16, 2019