Guess The 10 Languages That I’ve Studied?

american sign language

American Sign Language

Unfortunately I’m not fluent in all of these languages, but I have studied them all to various degrees.

  • English- Pre-installed as my native language, I didn’t really study it to acquire it. Although I did have English class throughout my school years.
  • French-  I took two years in high school and had high hopes I would become fluent. I never really learned to communicate in French. Very disappointing.
  • Spanish- I lived in Mexico for five years. I took a six week course there, and after I just learned on my own. I have been fluent in Spanish for more than a decade.
  • American Sign Language- I took a college course and LOVED it, but I didn’t have any signing friends and never found my way into the deaf community, so I lost what I had learned. I still think it is a beautiful language and would jump at the chance to revive my learning.
  • Sanskrit- I took a course in Sanskrit while studying Ayruveda. The main goal was writing, pronunciation and basic vocabulary.
  • Cantonese- I bought an audio program to learn Cantonese, but I didn’t get very far with it. I never practiced with native speakers, and I’ve forgotten the bits that I did learn.
  • Thai- A friend introduced me to Pimsleur by giving me a copy of Pimsleur Thai. I achieved the same results as with Cantonese.
  • Mandarin Chinese- This is my primary target language at the moment. I began learning it on my own a couple of years ago, and then decided to move to Taiwan. I have a tutor here and I also continue to learn through immersion. I still have a long way to go before I reach fluency.
  • Italian- My mom’s family is Italian and so I grew up hearing the older generation speak Italian, and in my immediate family we sprinkled Italian words throughout our conversations. But I didn’t really pursue learning Italian until just a few years ago. My listening comprehension and pronunciation is pretty good, but I’m still far from fluent. This is currently my secondary target language.
  • Tagalog- This is my newest language that I’ve just started to dabble in over the past few weeks or so. I’m not sure to what extent my Tagalog will develop, but I’m thoroughly enjoying this beginner exploratory phase.

Did anything in this list surprise your or seem unexpected? What languages have you studied? Do you have any overlap with my list? What languages are you studying right now?

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Cotton

cat look book kenting

White Kitty, Kenting, Taiwan

This white kitty reminds me of cotton.

Cotton

Chinese

  • Cotton- 棉 Mián

Spanish

  • Cotton- Algodón

Italian

  • Cotton- Cotone

Tagalog

  • Cotton- Koton

How do you say cotton in your target language?

Learn THREE Languages At The Same Time?

tagalog chinese italianSome time ago I wrote about learning two languages at the same time. Since then I have been studying Italian off and on in a very casual and informal way, by using simple tricks, music, audio programs, and reading.

My listening comprehension in Italian is pretty good at this point, but I am unable to generate much spoken language of my own. I feel like my learning has grown lopsided, which is problematic.

Recently I decided to beef up my spoken Italian and I’ve been diligently working on that daily. In a couple of weeks I will be heading home to California for a little vacation and I want to be prepared to practice conversation with my nonna. There is also a possibility of a trip to Italy later this year, and if that materializes I want my speaking to be more on par with my listening comprehension. It’s so frustrating to understand what is being said and unable to engage or respond!

However, a third language has been gestating in my mind since my trip to the Philippines late last year. That’s right, Tagalog! Before my trip I downloaded Pimsleur’s free Tagalog lessons and listened to them only a few times. But while I was in the Philippines I bought a book on Tagalog grammar, and an Italian – Tagalog dictionary. I felt myself being enchanted by the language, but I had no plans to actively pursue learning it. Perhaps a bit of dabbling, nothing more.

But Tagalog has seemed to percolate into a “thing.” I’ve been listening to the Pimsleur course and reading up on Tagalog grammar. I’ve been actively combing the Internet looking for Tagalog learning websites and resources. One of the things that is particularly interesting to me is the influence of Spanish on Tagalog. So despite myself, it seems I have started to explore Tagalog as my third target language.

Chinese continues to be my main focus, but it feels great to be making progress in Italian as well. As for Tagalog, I’m curious to see to what extent this develops. Can I manage learning three languages at once? Will a third language slow down my overall progress? I’ve never attempted something like this, and frankly it seems a little counter-intuitive to me.

How many languages are you learning? How do you manage your studies? Why do you pursue more than one language at a time? What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying multiple languages in your personal experience? This is uncharted territory for me, so your ideas, insights, and anecdotes are valued and appreciated!

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Why Rush? Reasons To Slow Down Your Language Learning

slow language learning turtleIt’s hard not to notice this trend in language learning; it seems everywhere I turn there is a push to learn languages more quickly. As soon as I hear claims of lightening fast results, I am skeptical. And I question why someone would want to learn so quickly in the first place?

Perhaps because I love language learning, I am not in a hurry to rush through it. Sure, I don’t want to dawdle and fritter away my time, but I am not trying to learn Chinese in three months or one year. Personally, I think that would be absurd!

I want to take the time it takes for the language, culture and thinking to sink in and fuse into my being. I’m not learning Chinese as a means to an end. I’m learning Chinese for the express pleasure of learning Chinese. I’m in for the long haul. In fact, I believe learning a language is a lifelong endeavor.

So while 30 day challenges and fluency in a few months may be how some people approach language learning, it’s just not my bag. If a slow approach appeals to you, here are a few reasons to feel good about slowing down:

  • Consistent language learning over a long period of time creates stronger neural pathways. As a result you are less likely to forget the language even if you don’t use it for awhile.
  • Spending more, rather than less, time on a language fosters a deeper personal connection to that language and it “becomes a part of you.”
  • Slow paced language learning isn’t actually slow, it’s just normal! Accelerated learning was developed as a way to market language learning products and blogs. By holding your ground and sticking to “slow” learning you aren’t buying into the hype.
  • By taking the slow road, you don’t have to feel guilty, inferior or disappointed about your progress.
  • You can relax and find enjoyment and pleasure in learning for learning’s sake, and that will keep you more motivated and interested in the long run.
  • Slow language learning is deep language learning. Afford yourself the time to get to know the language inside and out.
  • Learning is not a competition. But if it were, slow and steady wins the race!

I understand that the speed with which a person wants to learn is often directly related to the reasons for learning. If you are learning a language for a job opportunity, a graduation requirement, travel, or any other time sensitive reasons, you may feel it’s dire that you learn as quickly as possible. If that is your situation, I cheer you on as you speed through your intensive language programs.

As for me, I need to continually grant myself permission to take it slow in a competitive world of blogs and language products that encourage ever faster learning. I can fall into the comparison trap on a bad day, and that is a very unproductive place to be!

What is a comfortable pace for you to learn languages? I’m curious to hear what feels right for you!

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