If there was one thing I would change, if I could go back in time, it would be to study harder when it came to my foreign language class in high school. French wasn't fun at the time, but it would have helped me learn other languages later. Using an app called Duolingo, I'm finally learning a second language.
Learning New Languages Later In Life
I've always wanted to speak more than one language. New technology and apps like Duolingo is making it easy to study and language, anytime, any place.
It wasn't a priority
Having the ability to speak more than one language is probably one of the best things a human can possess. The more we're able to communicate, the better.
Having grown up in America, where one language rules and the others are after-thoughts in high school, mastering a second language was not a priority. In fact, looking back, I've seen enough people ridiculed for their accent instead of praised for their duo-lingo ability to have it ingrained in my head that speaking a second language wasn't something people considered a good thing. If anything, it meant you were different and probably not from around 'here.'
I wasn't exposed to a second language until I was a freshman in high school. And then I was only required to take four semesters (2 years) and I was not expected to be fluent at the end of those classes.
So I wasn't.
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A little here and there
I started picking up a few words of Spanish working in the construction industry. But since I was in the office, I wasn't exposed to it often, so I didn't learn much.
Later when I worked in the automotive industry, I picked up a few more words here and there. Enough to exchange the daily pleasantries, but nothing more.
When my kids when through school, the older ones went to Catholic school where they started having a Spanish class in 6th grade. They both continued to take Spanish in high school. My oldest was never able to speak it. My middle son continued taking Spanish in college, but it wasn't until he spent a semester in Barcelona, Spain in International Business School, that he truly began to speak the language.
And, a little over ten years later, he no longer speaks any Spanish.
If you don't use it, you lose it!
I Found An App
How many times have you heard or said, "hey, I found this app," that does all kinds of wonderous things.
Well, I found an app, Duolingo, and it's been pretty cool. It makes studying language super easy because my phone is always with me and the lessons take at the most 15 minutes. They're shorter when you know the answers.
I saw a few reviews for the app where people had been able to cruise through the lessons in weeks or even days and were doing their reviews in their new language. Very impressive.
I, on the other hand, have been in the slow lane. I've been working through the lessons for almost a year now. Yes, I need to step it up. But I do feel that I am learning! And, FYI, I don't lots of time all day, every day, to spend staring at my phone.
The app is free, and you can choose from many languages. It's really easy to use and has settings for reminders to help you keep consistent. Like me - I may not be doing five or more lessons a day, but I am doing it every day!
How Many Languages do you Speak?
And then there's this language
What language am I studying?
Before I dove into Spanish, or Italian, I did a little research, starting with the question -
If I'm going to learn a second language, what language should I start with?
The answer: Esperanto
Esperanto is an artificial language constructed in 1887 as an international medium of communication. There are communities around the world that speak the language, but rarely as a first language. Although, there are some people who were raised with Esperanto as a first language, because their parents spoke it as a second language.
Slow but Steady
Yes, it's been almost a year since I started studying Esperanto. I do my best to complete at least one lesson every day and some days I do more.
I've also subscribed to a couple of Esperanto Podcasts. One is just lesson after lesson of Phonetic pronunciations, which might seem like a boring listen, but it's actually very helpful in making all those brain connections.
Then there's also La Aventuroj de Alicio en Mirlando, broken down into 11 episodes. Since I know the story well, (Alice in Wonderland) and I'm learning my words with the Phonetic podcast, I am able to understand bits and pieces that are getting to be bigger bits and pieces as I go along.
Beings that I've kept with this for close to a year now I can see myself continuing. And now that I've got a few of the projects completed that were taking a lot of my time, I'll have more time to dedicate to learning this new language.
I know there are communities of people everywhere who speak this language during meetings and other gatherings. Next on my list is locating a group close to me where I can continue to practice this language.
Once I feel I've mastered Esperanto, I know Spanish and Italian will be at the top of my What's Next list. Then German and possibly Russian!