How speaking someone's else language can touch his/her heart
Salut la compagnie!
I want to share with you an experience that happened to me last week. This moment confirms to me that, once again, learning new languages is bigger than being able to communicate.
On Mondays, I usually go to "Oey Goey Messy fun" with my little one - who is 14 months now... Le temps passe vite (1). But two weeks ago, we were not able to go to the class so the center allowed us to participate in a make-up class. I decided to go to the "Music Together" class the week after where we were guest visitors.
Toward the end of the class, the teacher asked me where I was from and I replied: "from France". Then she said "Oh oui! Bonjour! You know I studied French for yeearrrrs and I don't remember much". But by the end of the class, when it was time for the children to calm down, the teacher said "Ladies, let's sing a French lullaby. I am sure you all know it".
I was very curious to hear what this lullaby was... And she started singing "Frère Jacques". And instantly, almost all the mommies in the room followed her and sang with her. Apparently, this is a song that they typically learn in American schools.
WOW... I can't express enough how I felt at this specific moment. My eyes started to get teary, my cheeks got warm... I was so so touched. Not because this song is special to me but because I was hearing a song in my language - in French. Deep inside I felt recognized, I felt acknowledged, I felt home...
Maybe it is too much emotion and you might be able to understand but coming from my perspective I have to speak English for most of my day. When I speak French in Florida, it's with French people like me. So when these American women sang a French lullaby, it was a very special feeling. Of course, none of them realized what was happening in my heart but I was holding my child very tight and I had a very pure moment of love.
By sharing this very simple story, I want you to remember that when you go out of your way to speak someone's language, you give so much love to the person in front of you. You are doing way more than communication. You acknowledge and respect him/her and his/her identity and individuality. And that my friend, is simply spreading the love. I encourage you to always try your best when you speak a foreign language, regardless of the tiny mistakes you can make because the most important point is the intention!
I can't finish this article without sharing this perfect quote from Nelson Mandela :
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."
"Si vous parlez à un homme dans une langue qu'il comprend, cela va dans sa tête. Si vous lui parlez dans sa langue, cela va dans son coeur."
And you? Have you had a similar experience? How do you think that languages can bring us closer?
P.S : If you are interested in listening the song "Frère Jacques" click here. In the song, when it says "sonnez les matines", it comes from the Catholic religion and it means to ring the bells for the first office of the day - before the sunrise.
(1) Time flies