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Where did you grow up? What is your native language? Did you try to learn any other language? In school? Were you taught by your family and friends? When you hear a foreign language that you don’t know, what is your physical reaction? What is that little voice in your head trying to tell you? My little voice tells my brain to tell my mouth to tell the person speaking a language that I don’t know, understand, or comprehend to ask them if they know English. Everyone has their own learning curve when it comes to learning a new language. Mine is simple, I must see it in an English form and tear it apart. Some foreign languages translate to what I call broken English, not proper English. Some are just funny. My example is The Fukun Hotel. Let me know if you want to see pictures of that. My name is Michael. I am forty-three years old and I was born and raised in Iowa. Now I don’t want my summative task to come off like I am an old man. But, I will say that I have earned all these grey hairs. The broken bones though are another story. I chose the topic of foreign language experiences for my summative task because I am at that age where I want to learn as much as I can but am afraid of forgetting what I have learned. A new language is terrifying to me. I have been around some different languages in my time. To me though, there is a difference in being around the foreign language and living with the foreign language. See when you are around the foreign language, you can leave, simple as that, just leave. I worked in America in transportation. I was a safety manager at a trucking company. We had different foreigners. We had Mexicans, Bosnians, and Irish. They all knew basic English. Enough to answer my questions about their job. But when they got together and spoke their native language, I would just leave. It all sounded angry, fast, and complicated. But when you live around it, you can't just leave. As soon as you do, it will be around the corner waiting for you. Now let’s fast forward to where I am today. I live in Taiwan. I wanted the change of lifestyle and culture. Boy did I get it. Let me tell you about my very first encounter with the Chinese language. I got to the airport and made it through the security and customs. Up to that point I was reading signs in English and personal were speaking, basic two maybe three-word sentences to tell me what to do. I thought, “cool they all speak some English, this won’t be so bad.” Yup, I was wrong. I walk out into the “busy” part of the airport. I have two large suitcases, a carry-on suitcase and my backpack. My hands are full, and I am struggling. I have a jet lag kicking in of the thirteen-hour kind. I see the exit doors and walk out of the airport. I see my name on a sign and look who is holding it, my driver... Thank god I am almost to the hotel. Being as tired as I was I may have accidentally stepped out between cars and almost got hit. But to be fair, they dont have the best driving skills in Taiwan. The driver of the car gets out and says three Chinese words to me, which were bad ones. A policeman hears and sees this and starts to walk over to me and I thought that I was in trouble. He helps me get to the car, goes back to the lady, and gives her a ticket and what sounded like a scolding. As we were on the way to the hotel my driver told me what was said. Apparently telling someone f@#@ your mother will get you in trouble here. I learned the first night how to say that in Chinese. Now as I live here, I remember that tone of those three words. To this day it all sounds like everyone is cursing at the other when I hear Chinese. To me it is all about how it is said. My first experience with the other language wasn’t a good one. The tone, the demeanor, the body language that goes with any foreign language, or someone's L1 is normal for them. But if I go to the McDonalds and watch the staff yell at each other I can't help but wonder how many swear words are being said. Since then, I have started taking Chinese lessons. I try to pronounce the Chinese words and I sound angry, but the people that I converse with in Chinese say I sound normal. Maybe to me it is just the dialect of, the tone of, the pronunciation of a foreign language that just reminds me of my grandmother yelling at me without her false teeth in. I ask people why the Taiwanese are afraid to speak English; the common answer is that they are embarrassed. Yet they want to see this Iowa guy stumble through a sentence. My tutor says that I have a gift for teaching people English. Something that I didn't even realize until I got to a foreign land. By Michael Fankhauser