Friday, January 28, 2011

Be open to the lessons you learn accidentally

I am somewhat backwards, and maybe a little slow when it comes to learning the English language. On one hand, I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and a master’s degree in communications. On the other hand, I learned as much (or more) about English grammar and structure in Spanish class, and punctuation and style from the Associated Press (AP) Style Book than I remember learning in my English classes.

In my defense, I’ve had students also tell me they were able to understand the structure of English and its grammar rules more easily by learning a foreign language. I was glad to hear this so I didn’t feel so alone (and ignorant), and gave them an “A” for agreeing with me. (Not really, I don't want to get emails!)

I don’t know why this was true (perhaps you should refer back to the first line of paragraph one), but maybe it’s also that we are trying to dissect the language as an outsider. We view the situation in such as way as to have no preconceived notions about what is right and wrong. We see it differently from the language we grew up with and think we understand.

Sometimes we can learn a lot from the world when we are not trying to learn. As a writer, being open to these lessons is essential. Don’t question them, just be happy and take that lesson and write about it. If I had limited myself to applying what I learned in Spanish class to Spanish class, then I might not have had a career I loved.


  1. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for this thought-provoking post.
    Donna V.

  2. Thanks, Donna! I appreciate your comment.