Every inch a language learner!
I never planned to become a polyglot. Until the age of 10 I wasn’t really aware that there were many other languages. I knew that my maternal grandfather was German, but he had lived in Belgium his whole life and spoke only Flemish, so I didn’t make the link to another language.
My passion started for real in the fifth year of primary school. I live in Belgium, where we have 3 official languages, Dutch, French and German.
In secondary school, I picked languages as well (English and German – besides French). At university I continued with French, English and German and graduated as best student overall for German, with a special mention, a podium appearance and a prize.
I went to Denmark for a year, to work. I didn’t speak any Danish at that point, but I asked everyone to only speak Danish to me. I wanted to learn the language as quickly as I could, to understand what my roommates were talking about, to integrate, basically to live there. That was the first time that I noticed that learning languages was easy for me.
Back home I lived my life, found a job, got married, had children and didn’t really think about languages. It wasn’t until 2015 that I really went ahead, that I realised I could learn more. I picked up Spanish again (I had started studying it twice, you can read my story on this blog), took Danish classes to perfect my knowledge, started a crash course Italian ..
From then on there was no stopping me.
I added Afrikaans (very similar to Dutch, so I picked that up really quickly) and Luxembourgish (very similar to German, so no problem there), started studying Bulgarian (A2 at the moment), swapped Faroese for Icelandic (because there are more resources) and added Yiddish to the mix. I also dabble a bit in Korean (I studied it for a year, but then I followed my heart and went for the Germanic languages) and Esperanto, but my focus is not on both of them.
Since February 2021 I am officially dabbling in Turkish (with Duolingo – and since March with an italki lesson per week).
A personal relationship with all of my languages
Our mums introduced us in primary school, in secondary school we had a major fall-out. Everyone kept saying we should not throw this friendship away, so we kept going. No longer best friends, but co-workers, started a company together, now we understand each other perfectly!
My BFF, we talk to one another on a daily basis, she is the one I always turn to whenever I need something, she’s even in my dreams! I couldn’t imagine life without her.
We are in a long-distance relationship. We know we can count on eachother, we don’t need to speak every day to know that. Whenever I need help, I know she will be there, as if she never left.
We don’t see each other nearly as much as I would like to. We lived together for a while, at his place, until he kicked me out. I kept trying to reach out for quite a while, but he just wasn’t interested. Now I slowly feel like we could be friends again.
He loves me he loves me not he loves me he loves me not, but after all these years, I know I can count on him. Our relationship has become better and better.
Ah my Italian lover, I fell for his moves, his beautiful voice, his Mediterranean accent. I thought it was purely physical at first and I was afraid to commit, but he turned out to be very faithful and convinced me to love him back. I could not imagine life without him.
I met my distant cousins last year, we liked each other straight away, spent a lot of time together and I can truly say we are besties now.
This is an on again off again kind of thing, I don’t even know why we like each other, but we do and I feel like we both want this to work, but for that to be possible we need to try harder …
I fell hard for him … I so much want him to love me back but he is playing hard to get.
Another distant cousin, who wants to be best friends with me and my besties. We agreed that we would let her join, see if she can fit in. It looks like she will!
Esperanto: my secret love affair, I haven’t told anyone we’re dating, I want to see where this is going first. We started off on the wrong foot, I dumped him, but recently we got back together and we’re stronger than ever. This is rapidly growing into a full-blown relationship.
My latest crush, I fell for him because he is so exotic, so completely different from anyone I have dated before. I am fully committed, but I feel he is a bit reluctant still. I do hope we will keep seeing each other.
The joy of learning languages ...
The greatest pleasure I get from learning languages is the moment when you shift from hearing just sounds to hearing words, understanding what is being said. A close second is the moment you can start having a meaningful conversation in your target language. There is no describing the level of euphoria, of satisfaction once you can do this. A fellow polyglot described it as an addiction and I fully agree with that!
The pleasure from speaking so many languages is that the more languages you speak, the more similarities you recognize, the easier it gets adding one more language, the broader your vocabulary becomes, also in your native language, because a lot of words are tied to each other.
And last but not least, the self-confidence you get from studying a (sometimes difficult) language on your own, figuring out the grammar, memorising the vocabulary.
For me this is one of the best feelings!
A practical tip also maybe, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Give yourself time to learn the language (because it takes time, a long time). I don’t have any goals for myself, as in ‘reach B1 in 6 months’. I enjoy the ride and whatever I achieve is a bonus! Call me the lazy language learner *wink*
Since 2020 I am an official member of Hypia, the International Association of Hyperpolyglots.
I hope my language learning journey will inspire you!