At primary school I was a model student and top of the class in reading, writing and maths. But life changed dramatically when I lost my mum at age nine. I moved school twice, first to another primary school while being fostered for six months with three of my siblings. The second move was to boarding school. This had a massive impact on my academic career.
I lost interest in school work. The decline was steady: where things used to be easy, I now found my grades dropping. As I progressed through school, I started to struggled with comprehension. My language skills weren’t up to scratch anymore but one could say that I didn’t really care that much. I had become lazy and so my academic decline deepened. Anyhow, I got by as they say but I did not get University Entrance.
Later, as an adult student, I began to develop my own “conversational writing style” . I wasn’t concerned about grammar, all I wanted was getting my story across. And it seemed to work. I graduated from art school age twenty three .
Yet I do cringe when someone says: “me and John” rather than the polite “John an I”. Why?
When I started my interest in speech writing at Toastmasters, I would show my wife my writing and I would get a huge barrage of corrections and advice on how to say things better. The long and short of it was English is her 3rd language and she has way better command of English than I. She would respect the rules and be careful to use the language properly.
At my work I was given the opportunity to learn Te Reo. Progress was slow and I am inpatient. I needed to challenge myself and step out of the comfort of the class room. My goal now is to do a speech in Te Reo.
I am really lucky to have a colleague helping me with the translation of my speech into Te Reo. Another colleague will help me get that special oratory impact using gestures, facial expression, and authenticity.
These things are all familiar in the tool kit of a Public Speaker.
It was during a conversation with my colleague about Te Reo that I learned about the beauty of my own language. I was so focused on contributing to Te Reo, keeping the language alive that I lost sight of what the English language has to offer. I really enjoy hearing a good Te Reo speech and how authentic it is. I forgot that English has a lot to offer too. He recommends I carry a thesaurus and replace words when needed.
The penny dropped. My journey is to keep language alive, I have simply chosen to learn Te Reo as it is part of the culture of living here in Aotearoa. The language is alive and I can be part of that.
I have decided to work on the English version of my speech until I feel that it is ready before I embark on the translation.
I was mainly driven by keeping Te Reo alive, but along the way I got reminded to enjoy and learn more of my own language.
I feel that it is important to keep both these languages alive.