As usual, I got up in the morning, got ready and went to the coffee shop. To my dismay, I found Jennifer at the counter. I hesitated a little bit and approached the counter to place my order. As I did every day, I used ‘ gestures, ’ by pointing out to the picture of a sandwich on the wall, to order my breakfast. But instead of punching in the order, she said: “ say it. ” I was quite shocked by this reaction and froze for a moment. I was not expecting and I gave her a look of wonder and blankness by raising my two eyebrows.
I gathered courage and said “ what? ” She raised her voice and said, “ just say it! !” Everyone left their work and started looking at me. I was surprised and could not speak. She said “ since last few days I am watching you reading that stupid book. Do you think you are going to learn to speak by ‘ reading’ a book? You will have to ‘ speak’ in order to learn to speak, won’ t you? Stop gesturing a dumb person and tell me what you want.
Come on! Just say it! ” This was the first time someone had talked to me so authoritatively. However, in that authority, there was care, concern, and love. It was as if a mother was trying to imbibe good habits in her child. In a meek voice, I said “ sandwich. ” She said, “ sANDwich, not ‘ sAINTwich’ . Say it again. ” I tried to say it again and got it right the third time. She patted my hand and ordered a sandwich for me.
that day, she started encouraging me to ‘ talk’ to her and other people rather than spend time reading. The mystery behind her keeping an eye on me was finally revealed. She knew that I was not using the right method to learn to speak. She was trying to find the right opportunity to tell me that. From the next day, I went to the coffee shop with double enthusiasm and energy. I learn to converse in English without using gestures. The fear of being ridiculed vanished from my as everyone was encouraging.
Most importantly, I stopped taking the book to the coffee shop. This is how I learned to speak English. I learned an important lesson in language from Jennifer and that is, one can learn to speak in a foreign language by ‘ speaking’ that language and not by listening to it or reading it.
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