Why I Want to Learn Languages #PathToPolyglotism

This is time for me to hold myself accountable. I’ve been slacking with my language learning journey. I’ll admit, the past few months have been a whirlwind of stress and that’s definitely contributed to my lack of dedication. However, I need to remind myself why I started this language learning journey in the first place and why I want to continue on it. 

Sometimes it’s hard to remind ourselves that we have ups and downs in life. After going a month without looking at anything Russian a part of me was like “I might as well just quit, I still haven’t even mastered the alphabet!” But what will that do? I am not going to learn it any quicker by giving up. I’m only going to be disappointed with the fact I fell off in the first, disappointed that I quit and disappointed that I can’t speak Russian.

Part of me was thinking to write a post on goals I will set for my language learning routine. That may be cool, but I wanted to take a different focus. I want to remind myself why exactly I am studying languages. Why did I want to commit to Spanish, Portuguese and Russian? Why do I eventually also want to learn French, Italian and Dutch? If you’re interested in knowing or also need some motivation, keep reading.

Connecting with People

During a photo-op in Montreal, Canada

If you’ve read some of my other posts you know that I want travel to become a big part in my life. One reason why travel is so enticing to me is the opportunities to learn from other people, about their customs, traditions, their lives. One of the best ways to connect with someone is by speaking their language. There is a deeper level you can connect with someone just by speaking to them in a way they feel comfortable.

I told a short anecdote in a previous post, as well as Youtube video, on an exchange I had with an Uber driver from Brazil. Additionally, I was watching one of Damon and Jo’s videos. If you are unfamiliar with them, they are a pair of 20 somethings who promote travel as a lifestyle, not just for vacation. In one of their recent videos Joanna, or “Jo” was in Greece. She was able to use her multilingual skills to build relationships with several people, including a kind Greek family who helped her out when she was in need. 

Jo, from Damon and Jo, enjoying solo travels in Greece

Thinking of the Future

Madrid, Spain

A huge goal of mine is to live abroad. That is not the only reason why I want to learn languages, but it sure is a great one! I’ve been studying Spanish for years, but I’ve become more serious in the past few months due to this goal I have of being a resident of Spain. I’d also love to travel and/or live in the countries of the other languages I want to learn (Brazil, Portugal, France, Italy, etc.)

With all the stress of the past month or two I have lost sight of my goals. I stopped envisioning myself in the streets of Valencia or strolling through Curitiba or flying to spend two weeks in Italy. I need to start envisioning my goals again and realize they are possible. Sure, it’s hard work and at times it’ll feel impossible, but I can do it. I’m not the first person who is deciding they want to learn languages. Which, brings me to my next point.

Seek Inspiration from Others

Some of my favorite bilingual or multilingual Youtubers

Youtube is such a great resource to not only study, but find inspiration. I’ve watched countless videos of polyglots discussing how they learned each language, as they switch between languages. It’s truly fascinating! These kind of people are proof that what I’m trying to achieve is achievable. I don’t need to have a lot of money or resources or be living in the country of my target language (although that would be awesome) to learn a language.

We have so many resources at our fingertips. A common theme between all the people I’ve come across is not how much money they spent on learning a language. Nope, instead it’s about consistency and dedication. Something we all have control over and is totally free. Sure, sometimes life happens. But I will encourage you all (and myself) that before we say “I don’t have time” to study languages (or any goal TBH) to do some reflection.

I DO Have Time… and so do you!

Have you spent hours scrolling through Instagram today? Did you watch KUWTK the entire evening? Did you binge watch an entire season on Netflix? We have time for those things, but somehow time disappears or becomes incredibly scarce when it comes to things that require more efforts on our part. Instead, tell yourself “I didn’t make time.” That feels a bit more icky, doesn’t it? Well, maybe we need to be a tad more frank with ourselves to kick our butts into gear.

Perhaps where most people get caught up, including me, is how much time we think we need to dedicate. Sure, I’ll admit that spending an hour or two studying grammar is better than 10 minutes. But, 10 minutes is better than none. I know, that sounds incredibly cheesy. I need to get out of my head that I need to spend hours a day studying. Maybe I set my expectations too high or I need to adjust them to fit my current situation. But whether it be a few exercises on Duolingo or listening to a Youtube video, every bit counts and every bit is setting me closer to my goal.

It’s Not for the Title

pol·y·glot
/ˈpälēˌɡlät/

adjective
1. knowing or using several languages.
“a polyglot career woman”

noun
1. a person who knows and is able to use several languages.

Sure, while I may name this whole “series” #PathToPolyglotism, I’m not doing this just so I can call myself a polyglot. Because I mean, it’s so subjective. Some people think you can only be a polyglot if you speak 3 languages, and others 6. Others think polyglotism isn’t even a “thing” because they feel it’s impossible to reach fluency in many languages. And then there’s some who don’t think you have to be completely fluent at all to say you can “speak” a language.

It’s a buzz word and a cool concept and I’m not knocking people who use it or define themselves as such. But if you’re primary motivation is just to sound cool and make videos on Youtube speaking many languages, your motivation will soon fizzle out. That’s not enough. I think those videos are AWESOME and would love to be able to showcase the hard work I put into languages in that way. However, if that was enough I would never have slacked on my Russian or other languages at all.

This journey shouldn’t be about looking cool and impressing people. Wanting to motivate others is a great goal. But you need to look within yourself for the hours of studying and sounding like an idiot are worth it.

What is your “why?”

That’s All Folks!

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