Becoming a Polyglot

Hallo!

The weather here has been so strange. It was dry and humid last week but over the weekend it was windy and rainy. Right at this very moment, it’s beautiful outside. But that’s Southern California for you; I shouldn’t be surprised. The weather is always quite indecisive.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before but I have this dream of becoming a polyglot. I just love foreign languages and culture, which is one of the reasons why a majority of the things on my bucket list involve traveling to various places.

Gosh, sometimes I wish I studied in Europe because a lot of the countries there encourage (or sometimes are forced) to learn a second language at a young age. Well… actually in the Philippines we were all forced to learn English, British English actually. Sometimes I still pronounce some words differently and people look at me like have no idea how to speak English.

Since I’m not a native English speaker, I thought learning the language grammar-wise was quite hard. I mean ‘their our know rules’ in the English language. I found out in middle school that my elementary school English teachers lied to me about these ‘rules’. But since I started learning at a young age it only took me less than two years to pass the fluency exam. By the way, I failed the exam twice prior to passing it.

"Hello. My name is Deirdre. Pleased to meet you. How are you doing?" (Ignore my terrible handwriting)
“Hello. My name is Deirdre. Pleased to meet you. How are you doing?” (Ignore my terrible handwriting. I misspelled something and I didn’t want to rewrite it… Also it’s been a while since I’ve written in Japanese and Korean.)

Currently I’m learning German and Russian. Before you go all “What?! You’re not supposed to learn two languages at once!” let me just say that it’s actually not that difficult for a lot of people to juggle learning two different languages, as long as they’re not in the same family. German is Germanic and Russian is Slavic, so I don’t confuse the two. If I were learning Italian and Spanish… that would be a different story. I would be speaking a hybrid of the two and no one would understand me.

Anyway, I thought I would give you some tips that worked for me when learning a new language.

  • Dive into your new language! Even if you aren’t in the country where the predominant language is what you’re learning, try to speak it as much as you can. It’s a lot easier to do this if you know someone who is a native speaker or is learning the same language. Hey, talk to yourself if you want. I like doing that at home… and sometimes in public even though people give me strange looks. Immerse yourself.
  • Keep a diary of writings. Write about anything you want! Try to think of the words off the top of your head. Your grammar doesn’t have to be perfect, especially when you’re just starting off. As long as it’s comprehensible, you should be goo.
  • Record yourself speaking. You don’t really know what you sound like until you actually hear yourself through someone else. Sometimes I think I’m saying things correctly but when I listen to my recording… well, it’s just  doesn’t sound as well as I thought.
  • Label as many things in your house as you can. Vocabulary is so important. I mean, you can learn all the grammar but what’s the point when you don’t know any words. I have these little sticky notes all over my room… mostly because my mom won’t let me label anything else in the house.
  • Watch shows and movies. It’s so helpful listening to native speakers. You’ll  learn vocabulary and grammar! I suggest starting off with children’s shows since they’re much easier to understand. Once you learn more, you can watch movies without the subtitles and see how much you can understand. You can listen to music too but we all know lyrics aren’t the most trustworthy when it comes to vocabulary or grammar.
  • Read books. Once again, I recommend children’s books rather than a full on novel. When I started learning Russian, I started off with children’s stories rather than Dostoevsky or Pushkin. I actually still can’t understand a full novel or poem because of all the complicated vocabulary and grammar but I’m getting there.
  • Study every day. I actually mean every day… at least an hour. You don’t want to rely on memorization all the time. It should just flow out freely, like how you speak your native language. Once you start learning every day, vocabulary and grammar becomes second nature. I suggest Memrise when it comes to learning vocabulary. It’s my savior.
  • Don’t give up! You will get frustrated. There’s no doubt about it, especially when you’re just starting off and you have limited knowledge of the language. But don’t let it get to you. You can do it!
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7 thoughts on “Becoming a Polyglot

  1. Wow! Well done you. I did German at school from the age of 11 but I’ve forgotten a lot of it unfortunately. My kids are only 4 but they’ve learnt some Irish at pre-school already. I never studied Irish as it wasn’t compulsory in Northern Ireland where I am from (it’s part of the UK) but I’d love to learn it at a conversational class.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 it’s really great your kids are learning at such a you age. Here in America it’s not really a requirement, though I hope it eventually will be. Is Irish difficult? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that language!

      1. I think it is quite difficult. It’s a Celtic language, like welsh, Scots Gaelic and Catalan. I know it has a different tense not present in English – the present habitual. Meaning – being in the habit of.. I hear Irish people say things in English like ‘I do be that way sometimes’ or that’s the way he does be’.They just copy the Irish grammar into English, but the result doesn’t sound quite right! Hope I explained that OK! :0)

      2. Yeah, you did! I searched it up on YouTube and found an elderly man speaking the language. It sounds interesting and unique!

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