My mastery of the English language has improved dramatically since I started traveling.
I’m primarily interacting with non-native speakers, so I spend most of my time speaking very simple English. As a result, I have to think carefully about which words I use, and how I use them.
Back at university, I found that teaching others helped me learn faster, and better. Concepts stuck with me because I had to explain them in different ways to different people, pondering perspectives I wouldn’t have considered had I simply learned a concept and moved on.
The same is true with my use of language. The more I converse with non-native speakers of English, the more I find myself explaining why vowels sound a certain way, or how to combine words to express larger ideas.
It’s strange, sometimes, because I grew up with English, yet find myself frequently coming up short when trying to explain why words bend a certain way, or why certain nonsensical rules apply in some circumstances but not others.
Einstein once said if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough. I tend to agree, as the ability to shrug convolution from a lesson seems to be the hallmark of a true master.
I feel quite fortunate to be surrounded by people I can teach, who are teaching me so much.