Talking with someone that is conversing in a second language is always an exercise in betrayal. It isn’t necessarily bad. I find the eyes and face betraying a clear sense of the person’s level of understanding when the words hey used are trying to say something very different. I don’t think it is unique to those trying to speak English; my face conveys even more than the average when I am trying my few words of Japanese or non-existent vocabulary in Korean!
It is interesting reflect on just how much our face reveals to those around us. “Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.” (Proverbs 27.19) Even within your face different parts convey different messages. Your eyes deliver a myriad of emotions on a plate. The edges of your mouth express tension and relief in equal measures. Satisfaction and happiness pour through the pieces when things are going right. Everyone finds it difficult to mask sadness that comes from the core.
There are those who try to go through life with a face that portrays only the messages that they want to have others know. It is as if they see life through the lenses of a poker player that has everything at risk. Nobody can see the hand! Eyes are cannot enter the forbidden zone. Advice will not be needed, accepted, or even considered. One stands and falls in isolation.
There is little that is intuitive for me with many foreign languages. There are two things that I can do that seem to help. First, rely on the help of those who do understand and can transcend the language barriers. Second, I can open up and let my face portray all the appreciation that I have for what others are doing. Saying thank-you with a smile and a slight nod or bow works in most situations around the word. Being silent and attentive encourages others to give even more directions and help. Practicing the words and phrases that one has heard will seal a bridge under construction.
Betrayed or portrayed?