Welcome to Fool for Language

Welcome to Fool for Language, the site for people who are crazy about learning languages - like me! If you are new to this blog, I recommend you read the articles in order. The information will make better sense.

This is my first blog and writing each essay has been much more enjoyable than I expected. I have spent most of my life teaching and, more importantly, learning languages. I have “survived” a wide range of teaching techniques, materials and teachers. The result is that I have a pretty clear idea of what has and has NOT worked for me. Yes, I am opinionated, but even if you don’t agree with me, I hope you will enjoy the stories and think about what gets you “wired” when you dive into the wonderful world of learning another language.

I want to thank some people who have helped me maintain momentum with this blog. To give you, the reader, a break, every 10th essay is written by a guest blogger, all close friends with their own special take on language learning. As for the uploading process, Kurt meticulously proofreads and makes insightful comments on each essay; while Yoh patiently provides technical support, including selection of the vibrant visuals. Thank you!


13. Walk the talk – into a shock!

I spent a year as a participant in Malaysia on the Canada World Youth/Jeunesse Canada Monde program and the experience left its mark. I fell in love with my host country – the people, climate, food, customs, EVERYTHING – and returned to my family on the West Coast of Canada a complete wreck. I remember staring blankly at a TV screen while being wrapped in a blanket to ward off the chill – in AUGUST. Or sprinkling chili powder on my mashed potatoes to unsuccessfully duplicate the spicy taste of the food that I missed so much. My parents wondered what kind of creature their son had turned into. So did I. Now I know that what I was going through is called “reverse culture shock”, and I was suffering from a bad case of it.

You expect differences when you leave and travel for an extended period overseas; however, it is very unsettling to discover that sometimes when you return home, nothing is the same. In my case, my brain felt twisted in knots. I was homesick for the wilds of Malaysia – and I mean seriously wild. At the end of my Malaysian sojourn, I had lived for six weeks with an Iban family in a longhouse in the jungles of Borneo with a net full of etched skulls suspended over my bed to protect me from evil (although I can’t say that I would want to protect anyone if it was my skull stuck in that net!), staring down at me as I went to sleep each night. Now I was staring at walls in my parents’ home wondering why I didn’t want to step outside. If I had had the choice, I never would have boarded the plane back to Canada.

I came to realize that the family nest would never be the same, would never come close to providing the excitement that I had experienced outside of my own culture. I would watch as the eyes of close friends glazed over within minutes of me describing adventures in Malaysia. Fish head curries, Borneo jungles, skulls suspended over beds – these were not part of their reality. I soon learned to limit my travel talk if I brought it up at all. I became silent and sullen, homesick for a land far away and the friends who had shared my experiences there, while gradually growing apart from the people I had known before CWY/JCM. These were my darker days.

With language comes cultural experiences that may change our tastes and perspectives in ways we do not bargain on. Getting deeply involved in another culture may result in separation from your own. Or maybe we just see the home front differently, are more critical of things we took for granted and accepted in the past. You become a different person, not better, nor worse. Just different. And such in-depth experience has an impact on one’s language, too.

Once after moving to Japan, I was at home in Canada talking with a friend in Japan when I felt my mother’s stare. After I hung up, she said quietly, “Do you know that you bow when you talk on the phone now?” I had never thought about it, but she was right. Most of my body language – the bows, the nods – had a distinctly Japanese flavor. And when I shook hands, I always brought my right hand back to my heart as the men do in Malaysia. As for my speech, I still gasp, “Aiya!” when I am surprised by something, a Chinese manifestation picked up in Mandarin class at university long ago. Yes, I have incorporated a variety of influences into my speech from the languages that I have studied over the years and have become a Heinz 57 of foreign idiosycracies, both in speech and gestures.

And I am not the only one. Several friends who have lived long term in Japan then returned to their home countries slip unknowingly into the patois of Japanese and their mother tongue they used to communicate in Japan, even years after being back home. I have a close friend, Miss D, whose sympathy noises or tag questions are always delivered in Japanese when I visit her in Vancouver. For me, this “mixing of languages” holds an intimacy. It brings back memories of shared experiences from another time and place, acknowledging that we have a special history together.

They say that once you have lived overseas for an extended period you can never go back home. Maybe not, but you can create a new home and possibly even a new language shared with the most intimate of friends.

Fortunately, after returning from Malaysia and spending a few months of hell with my family, I moved to Ottawa to begin studying Journalism at Carleton University. I found a house with half of the occupants from Quebec and the other half from Indonesia, so I got to practice French and Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia on a daily basis. Maybe I was avoiding reality, but I prefer to think of it as creating a new one.

(If you are really a fool for languages, check out my language learning website, www.sulantra.com, with courses from and to English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Bulgarian, Thai, German and Korean!)


  1. Great) liked everything very much) keep it up and dont stop) medical translation

  2. if you really need to become expert in driving, your really need to enroll in a driving school** https://royalcbd.com/product/cbd-gummies-10mg/