My son was 4.5 years old when we moved to France, and spoke exactly one word in French: Non. Useful as that word was (and still is), I was a little worried about how he would settle in, starting out in a new school with a completely new language.
It turned out he was absolutely fine - after about 2 (not so easy, but that’s another whole post right there) weeks, his teacher told me that he seemed to understand what she was saying. And pretty soon after that he started to speak French. It was truly amazing. Was the boy a genius?
Not really. Even I, with my less-than-adequate French, could tell he was mainly speaking gibberish, with a bit of a French accent. He would start talking with French kids, and I could see they didn’t really get what he was saying, but it didn’t stop any of them from playing with him. And it didn’t take much longer for him to start producing real words, phrases and sentences, just comme il faut.
There were a few other non-French kids at his school, and when he was already happily chatting away in non-standard but mostly-intelligible French, they were still mostly silent. They weren’t any less talented than my son - all little kids are good at learning new languages, and a few months later they were all on the same level - but he was the one who was comfortable making mistakes, trying out this new language when he didn’t really have the hang of it yet, while other kids preferred to wait until they were pitch-perfect.
My little boy taught me a lesson: getting it wrong isn’t just OK: it’s AWESOME. And his timing was perfect, too, because not long after he started speaking French, I started working on rompr. And in a startup, it’s all about iterations: you start out shaky, you get some feedback, you fix something and you try out again. And you also hear a lot of Non :-)
So in the spirit of the season, we wish you all a year of new beginnings and happy learning - from your mistakes, from your kids, from your friends. And, of course, a year of awesome romping!