We asked those in the trenches of GPA language sessions online and in person for Hindi and Urdu what they have liked about doing classes as single people and shaadi-waali people (married). The answers are about as mysterious as marriage itself! Of course, there are joys and challenges to either. Both single learners and married learners have grown deep in speaking and understanding Hindustani languages and making many significant relationships across cultures. Hopefully these tips from them inspire you in whatever situation you're in as you consider your next steps!
The joys of doing GPA language sessions with your spouse:
"You always have a friend with you"- Awwww! Some couples really enjoy this time together and cherish that they will have the shared experience of having learned Hindi together for the rest of their lives. Or even more practically- they say it's just fun to be able to speak Hindi to each other (especially to communicate secret stuff around family about Christmas gifts)!
"When one of us is having a hard day, the other can be encouraging." Beyond just this moral encouragement, others have said it is helpful to take turns talking during a language session. Doing it alone means you have to carry the session entirely and it can be nice to share the load. But if you are taking language sessions separately, it is still helpful to be learning at the same time as you can share ideas for activities in class when one is feeling less motivated or inspired than the other!
"Outside of class, you have double the ears, double the brain to interpret what is going on in a situation." A quick glance at your significant other can be enough to affirm if you just heard what you think you heard! There are a lot of things one person may understand that the other doesn't. Being together in cross cultural contexts provides more hope that together you will have a more full understanding of each experience. And when trying to communicate, you have someone around who can help remind you of the words you forget.
The struggles of learning a foreign language with your significant other:
"We were given advice to not be in class together if we can help it." Comparison is the thief of joy and can be incredibly discouraging for couples studying together when, naturally one of you will always learn slightly more easily than the other. Some advice is to consider having one of you start language sessions before the other (the one you anticipate to actually learn faster). Then for the rest of your lives, when someone asks why one is better than the other, you can fall back on that response :)
"You are not your spouse's teacher. Let other people correct them- especially in public." Couples tell us that it is often better to let your spouse just learn from their own failures than to correct them when you hear a mistake. People actually grow from struggling. So jumping in to "help" your spouse when they are failing to communicate may actually be robbing them of a really valuable learning opportunity- and almost certainly will leave them frustrated with you. Just make sure you communicate about what is encouraging and what is not!
"The good thing about being apart is that we learn different words and can talk about it after class." The nature of GPA is that you learn vocabulary in the context of stories. So your personal interests and the stories of your Nurturer will determine the vocabulary you encounter which means you and your spouse will start learning words at different times. Every word is a gift that you then get to share with your spouse!
The joys and struggles of learning Hindi Urdu using GPA as a single person:
"Freedom and Flexibility"- Simply starting in terms of scheduling your language sessions, single people only need to be concerned about their own schedule instead of coordinating around a spouse or child's schedule. But on a deeper level, language learning is relational- Single people often have more availability with local people to have conversations and build deep friendships in their language. Especially in this culture, these opportunities often arise very suddenly, unplanned and late at night.
"Singles are in greater need of stepping out and making friends with locals." When you don't have a spouse with whom to process all of your feeeeeelings, you're more inclined to have these conversations with local friends which fuels your motivation to keep learning so you can engage with your friends on deeper and deeper levels. So go ahead! Be a little needy- it's good for you!
"When you hit the discouragement wall, it would be nice to have someone there to champion you through the breakthrough." While local Hindi-Urdu speaking friends are great, they will likely be unable to empathize with either the joys or struggles of learning their own language. Thankfully, single people can also bother their married friends learning language and borrow a little empathy and encouragement there when needed.
The number one indicator of success in language learning has nothing to do with your relationship status and everything to do with you! You'll get out of your language journey whatever you put into it whether you're single or married. Advocate for yourself and for those around you. Make yourself get out into the streets and into local homes. Open up your home to native speakers and be intentional and fearless in trying to understand and be understood. Find a coach who will be excited for your language journey. Be inspired by those a little bit ahead of you in the process. Make mistakes and have fun!
And just because it may be more than you can handle to do language sessions with your spouse, most learners go further in their language journey when they are creative to find a peer or group of learners with whom to journey. Go deeper together- make a friend, invite a friend, be a friend!