I have always being a lover of languages-even the dead ones. I think it might have to do with the fact that I grew up in an arguably bilingual setting so I speak both English and Spanish. I’ve also traveled a lot since I was a newborn (I do not mean to show off or anything like that) and have spent time abroad throughout my life. I believe it cemented my love for languages as that exposure fueled my desire to communicate with other people in their native language. I also believe that all languages are beautiful and worth learning but I seem to have a special love for Asian languages. I seem to lean over the East Asian languages.
I started learning Japanese when I was around fourteen years old. It only lasted for two years because of lack of progress and not having good enough resources. I am now 22 and can say that I know next to nothing of Japanese with the exception of Kanji’s meaning. Almost 4 years ago I started learning Korean but that first year was spent mainly in finding good learning materials and going through trial and error till I found the method that worked well for me (and being able to spend time in Korea was helpful as well).
As some of you may know my major is Translation and my university’s policy for Humanities students is to have a command of a third language (a first foreign language because Spanish and English doesn’t count) but it has to be once of the ones they offer. In my case I picked French as my third language because they don’t teach Korean. I picked it because despite my constant goings to Quebec, Canada I only picked up how to say numbers and well my childhood friends there speak French lol. I want to keep taking more advanced French classes but I’m on the verge of graduating and I don’t have any electives left.
Now that I’ve spoken a little bit about both my background and my languages, I can finally start writing about my issues with being a linguaphile -albeit a moderate one. I can say that I know 4 languages in varying levels. My type of major requires me to be native-like in the languages I know so I my goals are a little bit different when it comes to learning a language. Nonetheless, I wish to keep learning more but there’s so much time I have to properly learn them all.
I have French but I feel that since I don’t really have studied it on my own so I don’t know what books would be good for me and how to divide my time for it; I somehow feel it slipping and losing fluency although once in a while I pick up short French stories or articles. Korean really does take a lot of time from me so I don’t even know how to squeeze it in.
Thanks to making many Japanese friend during my exchange at Ewha, I started to slowly learn Japanese. However, I’m torn about how to keep learning it because like I said before Korean takes most of my scarce time. I also have to start from zero but I have stumbled upon good resources and I also have knowledge I didn’t have before -a very thorough linguistic knowledge of my native languages. That, and all the things I’ve learned for Korean which somewhat helps.
I see that many take two or more languages to keep learning but is it a good way to learn or is it better to learn one at a time. I often wonder that myself because I want to keep furthering my language skills but I do have 4 so how to balance the latter 2 and start learning all over again a 5th one? Korean and Japanese are extremely different from my mother-tongues so it means that I need to dedicate extra time to them. On the other hand, French is closely related to Spanish so the problems of learning it are different. All three need a different approach because of both the way they work and the way a method works well for effectively learning them. Also, the more advanced you get, the more time you need to spend reviewing it.
I don’t worry much about my native languages because I maintain myself reading newspapers, books and also have classes that keep me polished (just because I’m native in both doesn’t mean that I should set them aside) because I’m a translator after all and they can’t afford to just be native speakers because they’re language experts. I speak Korean like I breathe air and learning it has become so natural that I feel like I’m studying linguistics all over again. However, that’s not the case of French because I feel it like something alienated from me and I find it hard to sit and review. I guess I need to go through a trial and error method till I get a hold of what truly works for me. I am no language genius so I have to work hard for learning even though they do come to me in a relative easiness.
In the end, I wonder how will I balance this out. My goal is to find an answer before this year comes to an end. Hopefully, it won’t mean that I will lose my scarce social time (which is almost none-existent). I love learning languages and I’m always amazed at how they work but I do worry about how to keep them because you lose what you don’t use. I’m even wondering if I should use this blog to document my learning of Japanese and French as well because it will become hard to keep track of multiple blogs. I also hope to make more post about Korean language in itself cause I miss doing that lol.
I was going through my drafts and saw this hehehe. Well, I’m happy that somehow I managed to solve how to squeeze Japanese into my schedule (I also graduated last Spring), but still haven’t figured out how to self-study French XD. Instead I teach it to some of my students for an hour (nothing professional as it’s voluntary) and just read French novels. I live in Korea now and I have enough free time to do it all. I always worry about maintaining my proficiency in all my languages, even my native ones.