Learning a foreign language... the post it note method
When I decided to drop out of University and move to Europe in 1989 the world thought I was crazy. One of my Mom's friends sat me down and said, "German is hard to learn, you won't be able to learn it and study there...you won't." I didn't speak a word of German and thinking back he had a valid point. Young and carefree I dove into this adventure without much thought, and one thing was clear...I needed to learn German fast.
Our apartment was transformed into a post it notes war zone. Literally, there were post it notes everywhere; on the fireplace, on the cupboards, on the dresser, on the forks and knives. If there was a name for an object, it had a little yellow paper hanging off of it. Anyone who walked in starting laughing at this incredible site. I think they all remember it to this day.
This brilliant method of learning was not my idea. I learned it by observing my Mom as she taught my adopted sisters to speak English. As they came, each one of them did not speak a word (literally not a word) of English, and our house was filled with post it notes.
Now as an adult I am still abroad. I have braved different cultures and languages and yes I finished my degree in Germany. It was not an easy task, and throughout it I thought about my sisters. I believe watching them be so brave gave me the courage to move to live this expat life.
If you are abroad and have not tried to learn the language, consider it. It is a humbling experience and the post it notes work like a charm.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife