It was a revelation.
Since then, I've come to the realization that in reality, our entire lives are one big, long, exhausting exercise in expectation management. We approach every single thing, every day, with certain expectations - without necessarily knowing or intending to do so. We decide on a movie, based on a brief description or a review; we dress for an event accordingly and try to follow the dress code; many among us spend their lives trying to prove their worth to others, be it parents or siblings or just friends and colleagues; we expect praise for our accomplishments, punishment for our mistakes, and certain standards from everyone and everything surrounding us. Have you heard the stories of brides, claiming that their weddings were ruined - because of some tiny detail in the plan not going perfectly in line with their expectations of perfection? Yes, me too. Unbelievable.
It's shocking, if you think about it.
Yesterday I experienced great satisfaction finding a bag of onions, when I thought we were all out and the dinner was in jeopardy! On that same day, I happened to read a review on Trip Advisor, in which a guest of a 4-star hotel was complaining that his 7- and 9-year-old children were "bummed out" because the hotel pool...wait for it...had no jacuzzi! Can anyone offer me a reasonable explanation on the fact that I was overjoyed by onions, while some spoiled brats were disappointed by the hotel amenities in Miami - other than the levels of our expectations? I didn't think so.
Now, ask yourself: "What am I expecting from my language course?"
- Do you believe that, say, 50 hours of class activities and maybe 50 more of hard work on your own are going to make you fluent and proficient in a magical way?
- Do you skip your homework assignments, thinking you're a free spirit that doesn't need extra chores?
- Do you blame your teachers, the system, the climate change, your hectic work situation, or the noise from your neighbors for your unfinished courses?
On the other hand:
- Do you try to practice your skills every chance you get?
- Do you challenge yourself, watching TV shows a bit above your level of comprehension, reading and researching in the new language, chatting with people even when it doesn't come naturally, and jumping into the deep end, determined to figure it out?
- Do you keep trying, no matter how many mistakes you make?
REMEMBER: NOBODY ON THIS PLANET WAS BORN SPEAKING A LANGUAGE!
All of us, without any exception, have learned one or more languages in our own different ways, at our own pace and on our own terms.
We are not miracle workers.
We can't promise you the impossible.
What we can give you is patience, knowledge, passion, entertaining ways of learning, a cup of coffee to help you relax - and the rest is up to you.
Expect to be pleasantly surprised - and treated with respect and understanding.