Most of my village speaks English relatively well (certainly much better than I speak Setswana), but people don’t use English much in the village. Most of the meetings, church services, and other gatherings that I attend are conducted in Setswana. Since I am still learning Setswana, I spend quite a lot of time straining to understand conversations. Eventually, I stop trying and mentally check out, overwhelmed by the rapid stream of words and caught up in their undulating rhythm. I often wonder if this is a small, much easier glimpse into what people who aren’t native English speakers must experience living in the US.
To help keep myself engaged and occupied during these times, I created a game for myself. Rules below! I’m currently accepting applications for the game name, patent pending 😉
Goal: For every hour that you spend listening to a conversation in a language that you’re learning, identify a number of words equal to the number of days you’ve spent learning the language (ex. if you’ve been learning Setswana for 150 days, try to identify 150 words in a 1 hour session)
- Do not count acronyms or words in your primary language (for me, that’s English).
- If words are part of a common phrase (for example, ka morago ga is a phrase in Setswana that translates to “after that”), count the entire phrase as one point.
- If you can understand a whole sentence, give yourself 10 points automatically, you rockstar!
- Count surreptitiously on your fingers without arousing anyone’s suspicions.
- If you manage to hit the goal, reward yourself! I recommend some Lemon Creams- yum.
Do you have any name suggestions or other games for how to keep yourself engaged when listening to a conversation in another language? Leave them below in the comments!