Updated: Nov 25, 2020
In fact, it’s the beginning! Figuring out a way to communicate regardless is a great opportunity to practise more language and grow confident.
To illustrate such an idea, I tell my students the story of the mop. As a post-graduate student settling in my shared accommodation, I needed cleaning supplies.
I went to the supermarket and realised I had no idea what a mop was in English. I was studying Shakespeare at Glasgow University, but none of it was of any use in the supermarket!
Option 1 was to go home, feeling defeated, and having dirty floors the whole year.
Option 2 was to figure out a way to ask for a mop.
Unsurprisingly, I chose option 2 and asked for ‘a piece of cloth you dip in a bucket of water in order to wash the floor’. ‘Ah! a mop,’ replied the shopkeeper, before heading to the stockroom to fetch me one.
I used 17 words instead of 1, I learned the word ‘mop’ in context – and will never forget it – and my kitchen and bathroom floors were clean all year long.
Not knowing a word is not the end of communication, it’s the beginning. And a great one at that.
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