Hi, guys! So a couple of days ago, Riccardo over at Kaito Monogatari tagged me in this ‘language tag’ post – where you basically answer a few questions about your language learning journey. It looks really fun and since it’s Sunday and I have some time, I thought I’d give it a go! 😀
What would you consider your native language?
English. I never learnt another language as a kid, so it’s just English.
What was your first language learning experience?
When I was in primary school (so probably around nine or ten) we had a teacher who liked to go to France a lot and I remember her offering a French club at lunchtime or something. It was really fun, even though I didn’t really learn French – we sang songs and played games, things like that.
What languages have you studied and why did you learn them?
Oh I have studied a bunch, but I’ll go with the ones that have had the most impact:
French I started learning properly in secondary school, so when I was 11. I went on to do a GCSE in it at age 16 and I did well – but I dropped it for A-Level because it clashed with another subject. I’m kind of disappointed I did; I have no real desire to go back to French now, but I think that if I’d done it at A-Level I probably would have just kept going, which would have been nice.
German was the language I started a year later, the language I’ve been learning the longest and the one I’m most proficient in. I don’t really know why I love it so much; I enjoyed it at first because it seemed so simple and so like English; but I don’t know, I just never gave up on it. Now I just enjoy how I can use it – and the fact that learning it has given me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
I actually learnt some Mandarin at secondary school (and sat a GCSE in it… which, unlike French, came back with a terrible grade), but I didn’t start learning it seriously until I started uni. I love Mandarin but I also sometimes really can’t deal with it – I like watching TV but I still can’t read properly. I definitely wanted to learn it because it was so different and, honestly, because I find speaking it a lot easier than I find speaking German. My tones are not 100% but putting a sentence together also doesn’t require finding six verbs and conjugating them all correctly. 😉
Spanish was another language I learnt for a while at school (I was as much of a language nerd then as I am now…) and I’ve dabbled with it on and off since. I love Spanish too; I like the way it sounds (especially European Spanish), but I get frustrated with my active skills being wayyyyy below my passive ones. I do want to keep learning it though because I think there’s a massive Spanish-speaking culture that I want to explore; not just in Europe, but also in South America.
And Japanese. Well, Japanese is my new language and I want to learn it mostly because I like it as a language and I want to explore that more. Plus, it’s been kind of fun learning an East Asian language with an alphabet for a change. I don’t know how long I’ll keep learning it for, but hopefully it’ll be a while yet.
(I’ve also dabbled in: Russian, Italian, Swahili, Korean, Portuguese, Slovak, and Danish, to name a few…)
How does your personality affect your language learning?
Oh, man. Well, I’m a slow talker, for one. I always get a little flustered – though that depends on the language, I think. But mostly I’m afraid of things going wrong, or of someone looking at me like I’m an idiot when I don’t understand – but that’s getting better. I’m still more likely to read than speak, but I don’t know that that will ever change.
I’m also a little bit of a lazy perfectionist – in that, I want all my grammar to be on point, but I’m too lazy to memorise and learn everything properly for that to happen (I get very bored). I’m working on both of those though; definitely something I’ve learnt in two years teaching English and travelling is that you do not need to be able to speak a language perfectly. There’s no need to pass as a native, really, so don’t get hung up on mistakes, especially the tiny ones. If you’re understood, you’re understood – that’s really the point.
Do you prefer learning a language in a class or on your own?
Honestly, it depends. I like the motivation, accountability, and the feeling of solidarity that comes from being in a class; but then I also like the freedom and independence of studying alone. My ideal method would be a mixture of the two – some tutor/class time to keep me on track, but backed up with self-study to keep me interested.
What are your favourite language learning materials?
Certain coursebooks – Teach Yourself, Living Language; books or graphic novels; films and TV; and Memrise. It’s so fun!
How much time do you spend learning a language per day?
I’m supposed to spend 20 minutes on Japanese and 20 minutes on my language of the day (German, Mandarin, or Spanish), but I don’t always manage it. I usually spend at least five minutes on Memrise and, since I’m in Austria, there’s usually German in my day – but I don’t actively study every day. Sometimes it’s difficult to get motivated.
What are your short-term and long-term language goals?
Short-term: I want to pass a C2 certificate in German, though I don’t know when I will. Same for HSK 5 for Mandarin. For Japanese and Spanish, I just want to keep studying and progressing.
Long-term: Very proficient German and Mandarin (C1/2) and conversational Japanese and Spanish (B1/2). I also want to do a master’s degree in literary translation, so there’s that.
What is your favourite language?
Uh, German, but I don’t know if that’s because of how easily it comes now. Maybe Mandarin; sometimes I get tired of learning characters and deciphering texts, but speaking and listening make me feel super excited about it again.
What is the next language you want to learn?
Arabic, probably. (I’ll let you guys in on a secret – I’m attempting something to learn it this summer, but I have to wait until the end of March for any concrete information. If I don’t do that, I might start it next year!)
What advice could you give new language learners?
Set yourself small goals to get excited about. Be happy if you learn five new words, or decipher a sentence, or make a sentence, whether it’s grammatically correct or not. Regardless of the language, this is going to be a long journey and it’s those small goals that are going to get you through the this-is-getting-tedious or I-should-give-up times.
Also – don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are language learners all over the internet and we’re a pretty helpful bunch, I think. 🙂
And here are three bloggers I think (hope!) will want to take part in this: