I was talking to a classroom full of kids today when I made a small observation, which I will share with you now.
So, back story is I’m working as an english teacher for a while during my stay in Europe. I was talking to these kids about Australia and about me, and they asked if I could speak any of the local language. Asides from the obligatory yes, no, please, thank you, hello and goodbye, I can’t.
Then they asked me an interesting question.
“What does our language sound like to you?”
I thought about this for a moment, and the best answer I could think of was “it sounds like music.”
My response was met by confusion, so I tried to explain. “When I listen to you guys talk, even though I can’t understand it, I love hearing it. It sounds so different to anything I’ve heard before. The sounds are different, the dynamics, the pitch, the rhythm of the words. It’s fascinating. Just like music. I know there is a deeper meaning there, but even though I can’t understand it literally, I can appreciate the other qualities of the sound and it honestly does amaze me.”
As I spoke, an interesting thing happened to my class. So far, they’d been behaving like kids. They were listening, but not really. They were looking out the windows and doodling in their notebooks and more or less just waiting for the class to be over. All throughout this I was more or less going over routine stuff that didn’t really mean much to me.
But when I started trying to describe the way being surrounded by this new language was affecting me, there was a small but distinct change. There was silence, proper silence. The kids were sitting up, listening, genuinely interested.
The best teachers I’ve ever had were the ones who were genuinely interested in the subject they were teaching. You can always tell. There are those who go strictly out of the text book and go about the lesson with the strictest attention to routine and going through the motions. These teachers are hardly ever engaging and nor are their classes particularly interesting because of it.
By no means am I saying I am a good teacher- far from it, the moment I changed the subject they stopped listening again- but it is those teachers who you can see have a real passion about what they’re teaching, who really want others to understand and empathize with this.
For me, passion is the feeling of fullness, of completeness. But at the same time, lightness, like you could literally lift off the ground and into the air. Kind of like an explosion going off inside that’s slowly bubbling over the edges, filling you up and spilling out.
My passion is people, situations, emotions, circumstances, and trying to understand how it all fits together, and why. That’s why I love words, I love the English language, and I love other languages too. The primary purpose of communication that can be woven together in so many different ways and paint a story about people, who they are and why they are. Language is a beautiful thing, it’s complicated and intricate and endlessly fascinating. Words have the singular power to inspire, to evoke, to provoke. The sounds and the meanings, the structures, the dynamics, the tone and the layers that can be created. All though the simplicity of letters on a page or sounds from someone’s mouth. A primary instinct, to communicate, something we’re all taught from the moment we’re born. Something so complicated and yet so simple. A perfect construct.
So that’s why my passion is for words, and that’s why I want to be a writer.
When you are passionate about something, it really shows. I think people can feel it, I think that’s why art and music and dance are all such valued forms, despite their limited practical applications. They are valued for the feelings they inspire, the raw energy and emotions of the creators being poured into their creation.
And this goes beyond art. Anything that people are passionate about, should it be cars, maths, fashion, business, medicine, hobbies like collecting things, traveling, sports, the fact that people feel so strongly about something is enough to make it interesting, even to the otherwise uninterested.
My kids today in class didn’t really care that much about what I thought of their native language. But they did care that I cared about something.
Like with all things, I could be completely wrong, but this was a fun blog post to write. Very fun for me to be able to express my love for words with words themselves.