Don’t be afraid to make some noise

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by Tim Burdick on 08 November, 2013

When I lived in Panama, I did my student teaching at a bilingual Catholic school. The teachers and students were all native Spanish speakers and practiced English in select subjects.


During lunch one day, I was in the teacher’s room and was surprised to see someone’s lunch catch fire in the microwave. In that second, my eight years of Spanish left my brain and I couldn’t remember anything.

Instead, by waving my arms frantically, jumping up and down and screaming “EEEEEiiiYYYYEEEEEE!!” in a high pitch, I communicated to the whole staff the problem. My friend Carlos took action and put out the fire. Then all the teachers burst out laughing.

To this day, I have never been able to produce this sound.

If there is a message to my story, here it is: When trying to speak a foreign language, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or embarrass yourself as long as you're speaking words in the target language (and not make weird noises), you're doing great. Of course, try to learn key phrases (hello, thank you, please, you’re welcome, and, yes, Fire!)

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