When I was a wee kid, I remember thinking about all the people in the world. I’d lie there sometimes and think about how many people there were on the planet, and I’d ponder how long it would take to say helo to all of them.
I’d imagine all the places I’d have to visit and all the people there that I’d have to say hello to.
At some point I realised that, not only could I never hope to visit all those places and see all those people,but, even if I could, it would be an impossible task, regardless of the logisitcs. Not just because the world was so big and there were so many places to see, but also because people would die and be born so I could never hope to meet everyone.
Crazy thoughts I know, but I was very young (5 or so) so it occupied my imagination for quite a while.
I’d imagine all these people lined up and holding hands, standing there waiting to say hello to me ( I think at the time there was a Coca Cola advert that had this image or something similar in it – “I’d like to teach the world to sing” – or some such thing) in any case the imagery had seeped through to my suggestive brain, that’s for sure. So I was imagining the whole world and all the people in it, on the back of a Coca Cola advert.
At some point though, my childhood thoughts became a little more sophisticated. I started thinking:
“Hmmm, if you had to speak to everyone,what language would you use?”
I knew not everyone spoke English, but I had some idea that a lot of people, in a lot of places did ( I was brought up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe so I saw early on how English was colonising the globe) and I think I realised even then, at a very young age,that I had a very valuable tool at my disposal.
I spoke English!
I’m remembering this, because I was thinking the other day about what I should do once I qualify as an English language teacher.
I mean, with such a skill, the world is my oyster, quite literally. Which is quite a daunting prospect when you think of it.
I can go anywhere in the world where they require an English teacher.
Or more succinctly – I can go anywhere! Oh yes!
This hit me the other day.
I may not be able to meet everyone in the world, but with the English language, I can have a damn good try at meeting and speaking to as many of them as cross my path in the future…….
A few people have asked me why I am doing this – learning to teach English that is – and at first I couldn’t formulate it correctly.
I gave pat answers:
“Well it allows me to travel.”
“It’s useful. No matter where I go I’ll be able to get a job.”
“Why not? It’s a change and it’s better than my old job…”
And while all of this is true, it doesn’t quite get to the heart of it.
Because I think, at heart, I want do this because, with English, I know I can go basically anywhere in the world and meet people. Talk to them,find out about their lives, what they think, what they do, what they hope for.
I can go anywhere and I can talk.
It’s amazing. I am so, so, lucky. All us native English speakers are.
Yet we take it for granted. We don’t realise what a treasure our language is. How many vistas it lays open to us.
And not just to us, but to anyone we can share it with.
It’s wonderful! We should use it wisely.
Talk, for sure. Spread this common language, yes.
But not just to talk. We can all talk.
What I mean (in my usual hippy, over-optimistic, naive fashion) is that we should look at language as a source of communication, rather than power.
In other words, I don’t want to sell you all sugary drinks that rot your teeth and make me a million dollars, No! I want to teach you to sing together (see what a hippy I am?).
And then…..well then maybe we can really start listening to one another?…..
Maybe then we can start to think. Think about one another. About this whole wide world out there just waiting to listen, waiting to talk, waiting to communicate, in whichever language makes sense to us all.
I’m just a romantic fool but I don’t care 😉
Love, liefde, amour…….