We use codes all the time:  Right now your computer is reading and decoding machine code. And you probably use codes, when you're texting on the phone or the internet, that is using a code. Understanding  that a toddler who says ‘Wink’ is actually asking for a drink of milk  - that is decoding of a sort. We even have dress codes, and the way we dress can tell someone who can read the language a lot. Here in multi-cultural Britain   we can often tell someone’s religion , place of origin or sporting affiliations  by the way they dress – from a a football fan’s tee shirt, to whether a Muslim woman is covered from head to foot, or the brightly dyed cloths of African nationals. In fact, if we see someone these days dressed in a suit and tie, he is likely to be going to a wedding, going to a funeral, or going to try to convert you to his religion, unless he is on business that is. And believe it or not some church minister’s even wear jeans these days  - and not just the young ones.  Dress codes can mean inclusion, whether it is a school uniform or wearing a chef’s tall hat in a professional kitchen. I heard on the radio today about a gang in London who wear just one glove as a sign of membership.
 
I read today about the Zimmermann telegram – sent in code from Germany to the Mexican authorities in 1917, it was intercepted and decoded by British boffins in the mysterious room 40. As a result America finally entered the 1st World War in April 1917. Presumably the person on the receiving end in Mexico had the means to decode the message, but the English decoders had to work very hard to sort out what was being said.

It can be the same when you are learning a new language. Everyone else seems to be able to read the message easily,  even small children, but you might be having a hard time. That doesn’t mean you should give up. Just like those decoders in England, so long ago, once you have a few clues it gradually becomes easier.  It can be a bit like one of those code-breakers in a puzzle magazine. You can make a few guesses, skip a bit if necessary or go back later, but with some hard work you will get there in the end.  But it does take persistence.

I am reading a complicated book at the moment.  It is about the history of church liturgy, and it is excellent in parts.  However, not only does it use quite specialised language, but quite often the writer slips into Greek or Latin.  Even in the
English bits there are new words, but I don’t always turn to the dictionary, instead I tend to read further down the page and find where my word is defined or easy to work out.  I do know the Greek alphabet, but I find that quite often it is relatively easy to work out the sense if you read the whole paragraph. This writer also refers to documents I haven’t always heard of, but now even quite obscure things, including ancient texts,  can be found on the web. The Latin? – well let’s just say I’m improving, but as I said earlier it does take persistence, and I could always find the same information from another source if I really wanted to.

It is the same when you are learning English. It is decoding. Sometimes you can guess at a meaning. On other occasions you can skip the word. Then of course you already know a language and some words are the same or very similar. And you presumably know the topic, so there are lots of clues to work on. Sometimes I even go on Wikipedia and read an article there first. It can give lots of useful keywords which are usually defined.

So, I wish you well with all your efforts. At least they won’t cause a war, unlike that Zimmermann telegram I mentioned earlier.