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What being trilingual in English is like
Friday Flow #35: Teaching, Trilingual, Social, Sleep
We have had medical students around this past week and it’s been the best. I really love teaching, love seeing that moment when the eyes of a student light up as they make the connection between information and reality. The best teachers I had growing up were passionate about what they taught and genuinely cared about me and whoever else I was learning with.
People forget what they’re told, but not how it made them feel. But if they truly enjoy the experience they’re even more excited to actually learn. So I try to impart to the students not just information, but my passion for the work we do.
Let’s get to today’s menu.
Essay: Trilingual in English
My essay this week was inspired by a tweet about language.
Here’s my response:
As it turned out, I’ve been tweeting about this stuff for a while but never actually published an essay on it. So I did. Here’s how it begins:
I speak 3 different kinds of English.
That’s in addition to Yoruba, which is the language of my ancestors. But it’s English I learned first and think in, so it’s always a little weird to me when people assume I speak it as a second language.
English is my first language. An empire helped see to that.
I share this quirk with many Nigerians—and with million others the world over—do, although in my experience few spend their time writing, or even thinking, about it. This struck me anew when I recently saw responses to a question on Twitter about why Nigerians often say, “Well done” to people who have apparently not done any actual work.
You can read the rest of the essay here: I’m trilingual in English: here’s what that’s like
Social media “activism”
Speaking of language, something struck me this past week, especially while watching the drama surrounding the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah (who by the way showed the world why she has always been the queen of the celebrity confessional).
What struck me is how much social media has changed everything.
Everyone has a voice to a degree that’s unprecedented in human history. Where before the press had an unchallenged role in shaping the views of people, now they themselves are just as often reporting statements from social media. We have all gone from simply reading the news to becoming partners in making it.
It’s easy to underestimate the influence of this, as we see in repeated mockery of “social media activism”. But that’s because people are looking in the wrong place. The influence of social media isn’t in what it does, even though from time to time, it does things. But more important is what it permits: a voice for the voiceless.
Thanks to social media people are able to speak up and be heard, and it’s harder for those voices to be ignored. And even when they still are ignored, those who have historically overwhelmed their voices now have to explain themselves.
That’s not nothing.
This week’s proverb is about
The hunter does not rub himself in oil and lie by the fire to sleep
Some risks are predictable—and avoidable.
PS. Don’t forget to check out this week’s essay: I’m trilingual in English: here’s what that’s like. The Being Human website and the Friday Flow weekly newsletter are both completely free, but if you’d like to buy me a coffee—or more!—you can use the button below.