Speaking Left-Handed

I was thinking about this yesterday after struggling through another hermeneutics lesson. This is a strange part of language learning. I know lots of words, know how to use them – in fact, if I could just write down everything I wanted to say, there’d never be a problem. Now we’re dealing more with comfort. The muscles in the mouth used to speak Chinese are still not strong. For example, you’ve spoken almost all possible sound combinations in English thousands of times. But sometimes when I have to put two sounds next to each other, it feels like making a hairpin turn at 60 mph. A little terrifying – wipeout seems imminent.


Altogether, I think the best way to describe this stage of language learning is that it’s like trying to learn to do something proficiently with your left hand. With a little practice, it can be done; it just feels really unnatural for a long time.

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