Living here in the Philippines as compared to the states is eye opening in many ways. This is especially true in regard to language.
Most Filipinos speak more than one language. To be conversationally fluent in four languages is pretty common. I talked with a young woman yesterday who works in our office who says that she is quite fluent in four languages but can speak a total of eight languages. As a case in point, one of the languages that she said that she was not that fluent in was English - all the while speaking perfect English to me. By the way, she has never taken a language course in her life. Go figure...
You heard the joke about this, didn't you?
What do you call a person who speak three languages?
What do you call a person who speak two languages?
What do you call a person who only speaks one language?
Not to slam Americans, but that joke is reality here. It seems that Filipinos don't even think it much of an accomplishment to speak in multiple languages - it is as natural as breathing to them it seems. They grow up in homes and communities where multiple languages are spoken all the time. That is just totally different from the way that Beth and I grew up. While I'm sure that there are advantages that could be cited for a culture that is more mono-lingual like the states, it is just that language learning ability is not one of them.
So, we are taking Cebuano lessons now and they are progressing slowly - at least it seems so to us. What Beth and I are starting to work on a lot more is trying to talk to people in Cebuano - that is where the real gains in language learning comes. Pray for us as we will be pushing ourselves to use Cebuano daily.