I, Thomas Richard Allen, hereby pledge
to become fluent in Persian by the end of 2013
by means of total immersion in the language.
I am a fairly typical Brit. I speak English to an intermediate level, but am utterly crap at all foreign languages. Spending over half of the last five years abroad, getting by with miming and scribbles, has only highlighted this.
But one of the biggest reasons I stopped living permanently on the bike is that I was sick of merely ‘getting by’. Rather than yet another round of tea and charades, I craved depth of interaction. It wasn’t available because there was no mutual language to enable it.
So I am going to do something long overdue: to tackle this issue at its core, by becoming fluent in a foreign language and undertaking a journey in which it will be put to the test. Hence a public declaration of this New Year’s Resolution.
I’ve not plucked Persian from thin air. As those who have now seen the movie of my love‐life will know, my wife is from Iran and is a native speaker of Persian. I have visited Iran four times in recent years, yet I’m acutely aware of how little of this vast and varied country I’ve seen.
It will not be easy. I will not suddenly speak and write Persian without expending great efforts. I’ve always blamed my lack of language skills on some innate disability with which I am specially blessed – this, of course, is bollocks. The reality is that life in England does not require a second language.
Fully immersing myself in a country in which my mother tongue is barely spoken will introduce a real need to communicate. I will literally be forced to learn. This is something I have never before attempted; scary enough that it simply has to be worth trying.
So that’s the plan. A personal exploration of my wife’s home nation, and to learn her native tongue in order to do so. It promises to be a fascinating journey – more details to follow. I depart at the end of next month!
This gives me just a few weeks to get the basics down. To apply further pressure, I am committing to a weekly blog, bearing the catchy title ‘Farsi Fridays’, in which I’ll report upon the progress I’ve made. Week 1’s instalment will be online tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how Week 52 turns out.
I have never before made a public commitment like this to achieving something that scares the living daylights out of me. I am prone to laziness and distraction, and I know I’ll struggle to keep this very difficult resolution if I don’t put it up for scrutiny.
What’s your simple, personal and challenging journey (literal or metaphorical) for 2013?