Saturday, April 01, 2017

The allure of learning a new language

I am happy to report that I am still actively but slowly learning a new language, a topic that really fascinated me lately.

I have already spent more than a couple of hundred ringgit on tools and materials. And I have spent quite a lot of time making flashcards in Anki and going through them everyday. 

I did falter a little when someone questioned the importance of learning new languages. I did feel that it wasn't a very important thing to do or to have. After all, English is really all I need. 

And so why am I spending so much of my time on it. It is also not advancing as fast as I hoped. I feel it is going so slowly and I want to rush it but I can't. I want to already own the language but I don't. I am still so much of a beginner. I don't seem to see myself ever speaking or writing in anything other than English. 

So why am I doing it?

I have always been fascinated with languages but it become a bit more serious somewhere at the end of last year and I am still at it. I have been asked why the fascination, and I have not really come up with any satisfactory answers yet. 

And so I looked around a bit and then I found this excellent TED talk by John McWhorter:

Four reasons to learn a new language

Here are his four reasons:
1. To imbibe yourself in a new culture
2. Being bilingual slows dementia
3. It is fun
4. It has never been easier to learn any new languages of your choice

These are not new. I have already thought of them as my reasons for learning new languages but I like the way he put it, especially the fact that one can never live and experience a culture unless he also speaks its language. 

I don't think #2 will be any good for me, since I already speak four languages. 

But it is indeed fun: the sounds, the accent, the similarities. 

And what more, you don't need to go for classes or even get a teacher. There are so many tools and resources so readily available only at arms reach. 

Are you not taking the challenge? 

Yes, it's going to take a lot of time but imagine yourself speaking in a completely different language in one or two years' time.

Wouldn't it be awesome?


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