Health and Fitness

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

The comic above is a true story, from a trip to China long ago. I was a teenager, and along with a high school friend of mine, we fully underestimated how spicy a Sichuan dish could be (and yes, I know you shouldn’t drink water with spicy food, as water and chile oil don’t mix – to dampen the burn, you should have milk or bread instead – plenty of people have pointed this out to me since the comic’s publication. But then the joke wouldn’t work, would it? When’s the last time you put out a fire with milk, huh?!).andoverleader

When our meal arrived, the dish was literally a mountain of tiny red peppers. You weren’t meant to eat those; no, you took your chopsticks and dug around inside the pepper-pile for little cubes of beef. It was like that joke where you put too much condiment on your food, and your friends say, “jeez, want some fries with that ketchup?” Yes, I’d like some more beef with my spicy chiles, please.

Anyway, the point is that I had literally bitten off more than I could chew. Or rather, ordered more than I could handle. I was brash, overly confident. I thought I’d just dive in, and I paid the consequences.

I was reminded of this comic after a similar experience with language learning recently. A few months ago I took a trip to Japan for the first time, with my family (well, it was supposed to be a honeymoon, but once again my family got excited and invited themselves along. We’ll go on a honeymoon someday, sweetheart, I swear!). My wife and I decided to learn some Japanese before going – not because we thought we’d be able to speak it in a couple of weeks, but at least get a few words or phrases down, and understand the culture just a little bit better.

We were not prepared.

The first few lessons were fine – hello, do you speak English, my name is, etc, etc. But then we quickly became lost. The words started to blur together. We were doing one of those audio listen-and-repeat lessons, and without any visual context, the phrases started sounding like alien gibberish. Neither of us had much previous exposure to Japanese culture – I like Kurosawa films, but that’s about it – so it was really tough to get a grapple on what the hell we were saying. Coupled with the complex formality structures and linguistic nuances (I couldn’t wrap my head around all the was and kas and toes, called “particles” which don’t quite have English equivalents but are extremely important in conveying meaning), we burned out pretty fast, I’m ashamed to admit.

I was brash, overly confident. I thought I’d just dive in, and I paid the consequences. We went to Japan pretty much only able to say you go aims and hi.

I thought just doing the audio lessons would be a shortcut, but I was wrong. Next time, I’m going to take it more seriously. I’m going to attack it from all sides – audio, visual, written exercises, maybe even some basic conversational. I’m going to invest more than just my breakfasts in learning the language. I’m going to recognize what I can and can’t accomplish in a few weeks and set my goals accordingly.

It’s all possible – just don’t bite off more than you can chew!

What’s been your experience? If I wanted to give Japanese another go, what’s the best way i

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

The comic above is a true story, from a trip to China long ago. I was a teenager, and along with a high school friend of mine, we fully underestimated how spicy a Sichuan dish could be (and yes, I know you shouldn’t drink water with spicy food, as water and chile oil don’t mix – to dampen the burn, you should have milk or bread instead – plenty of people have pointed this out to me since the comic’s publication. But then the joke wouldn’t work, would it? When’s the last time you put out a fire with milk, huh?!). When our meal arrived, the dish was literally a mountain of tiny red peppers. You weren’t meant to eat those; no, you took your chopsticks and dug around inside the pepper-pile for little cubes of beef. It was like that joke where you put too much condiment on your food, and your friends say, “jeez, want some fries with that ketchup?” Yes, I’d like some more beef with my spicy chiles, please.

Anyway, the point is that I had literally bitten off more than I could chew. Or rather, ordered more than I could handle. I was brash, overly confident. I thought I’d just dive in, and I paid the consequences.

I was reminded of this comic after a similar experience with language learning recently. A few months ago I took a trip to Japan for the first time, with my family (well, it was supposed to be a honeymoon, but once again my family got excited and invited themselves along. We’ll go on a honeymoon someday, sweetheart, I swear!). My wife and I decided to learn some Japanese before going – not because we thought we’d be able to speak it in a couple of weeks, but at least get a few words or phrases down, and understand the culture just a little bit better.

We were not prepared.

The first few lessons were fine – hello, do you speak English, my name is, etc, etc. But then we quickly became lost. The words started to blur together. We were doing one of those audio listen-and-repeat lessons, and without any visual context, the phrases started sounding like alien gibberish. Neither of us had much previous exposure to Japanese culture – I like Kurosawa films, but that’s about it – so it was really tough to get a grapple on what the hell we were saying. Coupled with the complex formality structures and linguistic nuances (I couldn’t wrap my head around all the was and kas and toes, called “particles” which don’t quite have English equivalents but are extremely important in conveying meaning), we burned out pretty fast, I’m ashamed to admit.

I was brash, overly confident. I thought I’d just dive in, and I paid the consequences. We went to Japan pretty much only able to say you go aims and hi.

I thought just doing the audio lessons would be a shortcut, but I was wrong. Next time, I’m going to take it more seriously. I’m going to attack it from all sides – audio, visual, written exercises, maybe even some basic conversational. I’m going to invest more than just my breakfasts in learning the language. I’m going to recognize what I can and can’t accomplish in a few weeks and set my goals accordingly.

It’s all possible – just don’t bite off more than you can chew!

What’s been your experience? If I wanted to give Japanese another go, what’s the best way i

Read More : andoverleader

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button