Ever since I started Accint, an iPhone app that connects language learners with native speakers for in-person, paid conversations, I've pondered this question: What's easier than speaking your native language?
Now, finding an answer is harder than you might think. Slinkies, for example, can get tangled sometimes, and slides generally require first walking up a hill or set of steps first.
So here's a list of 11 things that might be thought of as easier than speaking a native language. After a discussion of each item, a verdict of 'easier', 'not easier', or 'equally easy' will be made.
- Putting on flip-flops--All that's required is nestling the straps in between your big and second toes. And slide flip-flops are even easier. Just make sure the Velcro on the strap is well-aligned to avoid incidental scratching. Is it easier than speaking your native language? In the morning, when you're groggy, your coordination might be off, so it might take two or three tries. Saying "Hey, how are you?" is both faster and less gaffe-prone. Verdict: Not easier
- Watching people walk down the street while sitting at a café--This is the French favorite, also known as people-watching. It's truly easy. All that's required is a set of eyes. However, there are a few variables that might make it trickier, like weather. What if it's cold outside? Or raining? Verdict: Not easier
- Looking at the sky on a clear night--OK, so we've removed the weather variable. All that's required with gazing up into infinity is a slight tilt of the neck. Verdict: Easier
- Getting your dog to love you--Whether it's a Golden Retriever or a pit-bull. No matter if it pooped on the floor or won best in show. Your dog will always love you. Verdict: Easier
- Clapping your hands--The physical act is easy. What's difficult is discerning what kind of clap is appropriate for the situation. A golf clap or a lead-actress-taking-a-bow thunder-clap? Or something in between? When you think about it, it's really quite complicated. Verdict: Not easier
- Whistling--Some can whistle, some can't. For those who can whistle, it's easy, but requires contorting the lips and tongue in unnatural ways. Try whistling, and then try saying "Hey, how are you?" Verdict: Not easier
- Getting a cat to chase a piece of string--A cat will chase a piece of string, no matter what. However, cats are lazy, and it might take a few shakes to rouse old Cruikshanks. Verdict: Not easier
- Sweating in Washington, DC during the summer--For citizens of DC, during muggy July and August, our pores become faucets with broken knobs. Verdict: Easier
- Plucking a piece of grass from a lawn--The physics of dislodging a piece of grass is so simple that even cows have figured it out. However, for bipedalists, such as humans, bending over can be strenuous. Verdict: Not easier
- Accusing a professional athlete of doping--Sports heroes all have to be on steroids. How easy is accusing them of it? Well, I just did it, so really, really easy. However, to do so, I needed to use my native language. Verdict: Not easier
- Downloading an iPhone app--Just type in the name of the app, for example, 'Accint', and then press 'install'. It's so simple. Verdict: Equally easy
But can you get paid to do those things?
Well, on Accint, you can set a rate for an hour-long, in-person conversation in your native language. There's no easier way to make an extra buck!