"I agree that language learning is cool, but I challenge the assumption that it’s difficult."
Languages cannot be taught, they can only be learned. Having someone or something to aid with the process is of great benefit. Find a guide, not an instructor.
English was already a world language by the time I turned 10 in 1991. Its study was mandatory. Istruggled at first. I didn’t like the teacher, grammar explanations confused me, and the material wasmonotone. I thought I’d never learn it. Then my parents decided to hire a private Englishtutor. I was 13 and she was wonderful. She set me on the right path to learning and, most importantly, learning to love language. The combination of reading books, watching movies every day and talking to my tutor once a week for two years worked wonders.
"Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going" –Rita Mae Brown
If you find a method you like and which works for you, you can start learning any language by yourself. There is no one best method to learn a language. Find something that is effective for you. And above all, experiment!
German was the first language I started learning completely on my own. I don’t remember exactly why I embarked on this journey, but I remember I had no idea how to learn German. Later I came up with my method, and quickly realised that it was effective for me. I always remember people repeatedly asked in bewilderment, “Wie kannst du so gut Deutsch?!” (how can you speak German so well?). From that moment on I started reading insatiably. The language had become an integral part of my life.
"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." ‒ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Some languages have completely new features, so be flexible and adapt your learning method to the language. If your approach is not working, change it! Don’t give up. Don’t give in.
When I started learning Japanese, I wanted a new challenge, but I didn’t imagine it would be so hard. I couldn’t even build simple sentences because the structure in Japanese was so completely different from any language I had ever learned. I initially thought that this problem was just temporary and could be solved by speaking more regularly, but this simply wasn’t the case. Japanese feels like my biggest challenge yet, but I’m confident that I will get there. I just need to recalibrate my approach and live the language.
"Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere." ‒ Chinese Proverb
I started learning French around the same time as I started learning English. At the age of fourteen, I discovered that I could watch French TV. I started watching two hours every day after dinner. By the age of 15 I was fluent in French. In 2010 I moved to Paris. Living there for three years enabled me to gain invaluable insights into French culture: history, traditions, jokes, cultural references, and a respect for French pride in their cuisine and language.
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." ‒ Nelson Mandela
Spanish and Italian are like two sisters; different and yet similar at the same time. One common myth in Italy is that Spanish is easy: that you just have to speak Italian and add an “s” to every single word. The overall structure of the two languages is similar, but there are a fair few disparities in terms of pronunciation, intonation and idiomatic usage.
Speaking multiple languages is not and shouldn’t be an intellectual performance. It is an act of love towards yourself and others which helps you discover the amazing diversity of human nature as well as discovering the multiple facets of your personality. To those who ask me why I like learning so many languages I always reply: “I don’t live to learn languages, I learn languages to live a better life”.