Chapter V – Part 10

$ My greengrocer told me that her 17-year-old son had huge problems with his back. The doctors recommended neuromassages, for which you cue for months. Of course, you can have a neuromassage in a private place, that is what my greengrocer couldn’t afford. Her son went to a neuromasseur who is an acquaintance of mine and told her about his back and the family’s finance. It just so happened that her cleaning lady gave her notice the week before so they had a deal: he did the cleaning once a week for 3-5 hours and his wages was a massage.

$ I don’t know anybody like this.

$ Fair enough. Again, it’s about changing perspective. My little story is like a grain that I sowed today in the garden of your imagination. If you decide to water it, there will be fruit. If not, it is all right, too.

Covey says: eventually don’t bother about the quadrant 4 and deal with it now and then, and delegate the quadrant 3 as much as possible.

What would you have in the quadrant 1 then?

$ Important and urgent. Vaccinating the cat, when the deadline comes. Delivering my article, because the publisher sets deadlines, too. My girls’ birthdays.

$ Right. According to Covey, nobody can replace us in the quadrant 1. What’s more, it will always claim its rights. And the quadrant 2 stands for sharpening the saw. What have you got there?

$ There should be sports: in my age you have to start taking care of your health. It would be good if English were there, too. My daughter makes me so angry: we keep telling her that if she learns a foreign language every day for 15 minutes, she’ll be proficient in two languages after she graduates. I don’t want her to copy my mistakes. She can choose whatever school she likes, wherever she likes, but she must master foreign languages.

$ Children are a phenomenon: they don’t do what we tell them to do; they do what we do ourselves.

$ You’re awful! She has nothing else to do but to learn. She doesn’t work, she doesn’t help at home.

$ And she can see that one can speak no foreign languages and survive somehow. By the way, you are talking about your daughter in spite of the fact that she is adult. And it’s not a parents-teachers-conference. I find her under a huge pressure for results. She is never sure of what she knows and she calls classes off very often on some pretext or other when she doesn’t feel prepared well enough. She had been missing classes for half a year. Did you know that?

$ She has the greatest respect for you, so probably she was ashamed.

$ Her official version is: because she wants to review the whole grammar and learn vocabulary first. And the saddest thing to me is that she thinks I am joking when I ask: before you chat with your friend, do you also review the whole grammar of your mother tongue? Her reaction is similar when I remind her of what Vera F. Birkenbihl , a guru with a brain-friendly approach to learning foreign languages says about learning vocabulary.

$ What does she say?

$That for the human brain this activity is totally artificial. The brain has the ability of mastering languages above all to communicate, i.e. it remembers particular structures in particular contexts. E.g.: a mom is saying to her baby: look, under the ilex a snake is crawling. And the child is learning that this plant is called ilex, that the movement in the shape of an “S” is crawling and that this long colorful creature is a snake. What does an average school do? List of plants – test on Monday. List of reptiles – test next week. Words designating movement (chapter 1 to 7) – test tomorrow.

Your daughter feels comfortable in the world of grammar and vocabulary because that’s what she has been practicing all her life. However, it doesn’t imply learning either one. You said, she had been ashamed. Sounds familiar, right? How many courses did you give up because at the beginning you prepared ambitiously for every class, than you played truant once or twice, next you didn’t go because you were ashamed, finally it was too late to catch up with your group?

$ Every time. And I hoped language coaching would solve the problem: individual lessons, no way to run, no way to hide, a tailor-made program.

$ A solution is inside, not outside.

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