Krabi Boats 8

A while ago we were watching a movie about Australia. After a while we decided to put on subtitles...the Australien accent was to hard for us to understand. As English is our second language, we sometimes find some of the English accents difficult to understand.

My husband went to watch a movie at the cinema the other day: unfurtunately no subtitles, just Thai.  Being in Thailand over two years now, it was still too difficult to understand most of what the characters were saying.

I was talking to a friend the other day and I realized that life would be so much easier if everyone would talk with subtitles appearing underneath the face...

Imagine this: coming to a new country with a foreign language, you'd still understand every word of what people were saying (if you can read fast enough), although you might not speak the language at all. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Not only the Thais but also our Australian team members talking with subtitles? Wow, awesome!

Even deaf people could understand, without having to read lips. We wouldn't have to study language, have language checks, embarass ourselves with our lack of ability to communicate...

But thinking more about learning a new hard as it is, there are some really good reasons for it as well.

Coming to Thailand as missionaries for the first time is a humbling experience: suddenly we felt like a child, helpless in many ways: even the simplest thinks like buying diapers becomes a challenging task. And studying Thai is hard work. It is time consuming and sometimes we feel like we will never be able to communicate well...but this makes me depend even more upon our God, who can speak all languages.

Being able to speak the foreign language does not mean that we understand the culture right away. So while learning language we also learn a lot about the culture. This is an important time. Of course, we make a lot of mistakes: say too much, when we shouldn't; show too many emotions, when we shouldn't; laugh too loud, when we shouldn't; blow our noses too loud, when we shouldn't... I was wondering: if we were able to communicate right away (because we could speak with subtitles...) wouldn't we probably say a lot of wrong things at first?

I love to talk. So not being able to communicate was really stressful for me, but at the same time it forced me to observe. And there is no cultural learning without cultural obvervations.

Looking back on my time during full language study, I realize, that it was actually a blessing not to be able to communicate as well as I wanted to, because otherwise I definately would have offended Thais with my direct way of saying things. Learning language and learning culture go hand in hand: both are very important. And also the Thais appreciate the effort we make in learning the language. Through our willingness to go through the struggles of learning a new language, we can show them, that we care for them.

Of course it would make some things in life easier with subtitles, but it is also a great feeling, when we realize, how much our language has improved.

But regarding our team mates: it would still be great, if they had subtitles sometimes... ;-)