Language

The Start of my Language Journey

So I have decided to start a language learning journey. I’ve wanted to learn to speak another language for years (literally; since I was in middle school) and now that I am an adult, the desire to learn is at an all time high. Actually the desire to travel and learn new cultures is at an all time high too, to the point where I will literally just watch YouTube videos for hours about traveling and reading people’s travel blogs. But anyway, I thought I would share the languages that I want to learn and the reasons why. 

1.) Spanish. 

I have taken 4 years of Spanish in my lifetime. 2 years in high school. 2 years in college. 4 long years and I still sound like a 2 year old trying to speak for the first time. It didn’t really help that at the time, I was being forced to take it as a requirement. And each of my teachers were from a different Spanish speaking country so the dialects were different and they made it known that they would each be teaching their specific dialect. And just like in all schools, the instructor will move on to the next topic of instruction whether or not all pupils understood. When it came to Spanish, I was always one of the ones that struggled. So needless to say, I retained nothing of those four years.

Outside of wanting to learn it for myself, my desire to learn Spanish is quite the obvious one. Its the second most spoken language in the U.S. (I’m pretty sure?) and being fluent will most likely help me tremendously in my future career. I am currently getting my graduate degree in School Counseling and will have to work with many different families from a multitude of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Being able to speak another language such as Spanish to families whose first language might not be English will not only make my life easier, but theirs as well. And anything I can do to make parents feel like they are being heard and accepted in these crazy schools, I will do it. 

2.) Portuguese

Brazil. Brazil. How I love you Brazil. And though I have never stepped foot on your land, I know that some day I will. (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme but hey what can I say? I’m a poet.)

I have had “a thing” for Brazil since I was 14 years old. I don’t know where it came from or why but I WANT TO GO TO BRAZIL. Everything about the place interests me. The music. The food. The people. The language. The history. The sports. The favelas. Colorism in Brazil. Their standard of beauty verses the U.S. standard of beauty. Everything, good and bad, I want to know about it. And this past Olympics in Rio (scandals and all) has only increased that desire. I think after 10 years of having a fire burn for Brazil in my heart, its time to take initiative and do something about it. So at this current moment, money is being saved for hopefully a near future trip to the beautiful country of Brazil and in the meantime, the language will be learned.

3.) Korean 

Now, let me clear some things up right off the bat. I am NOT obsessed with kpop and I have never watched a Korean drama in my life (yet). Lastly, I do NOT have some weird, creepy fetish for Korean men. And it annoys me that I even feel like I have to announce this. Everyone who chooses to learn Korean is not some Korean wannabe!

My interest in the Korean language (Asian languages in general) started during my undergraduate years of college. My university had a huge exchange student population with a large percentage from Asia; mostly China with others coming from India, Korea, and a few others. I would always look at these students around campus and wonder what it would be like to be able to converse with them in their native tongue. Could we become friends? What would it be like to be able to work with international students and speak their language? But my interest never really went much deeper than that. So although it has been a couple of years since then, I’ve decided to give it a go.

I have also applied for the Critical Language Scholarship program for this summer and I am praying that they find me worthy enough to send abroad to South Korea. Having that experience is something that I feel could be so life changing and eye opening. I’ve never met a school counselor that said they studied abroad for multicultural competence enhancement purposes. But if there are any out there, I would like to be added to that small number. What better way to gain knowledge about different cultures than to travel! As a future educator, I’m also interested in the school systems and the role school counselors play in these countries (if school counselors are even a thing in Asian culture!).

4.) Thai

Yep. I said Thai. Thailand is a recent obsession er..I mean interest😏 

I stumbled across a YouTube video about a Thai drama and I won’t even lie to you, the drama was bad. And as that was my first intro to Asian dramas of any kind, I almost gave up on them altogether right then and there. I don’t even remember the name of it. But the sound of the language caught my attention. I searched for more and ended up finding some pretty great Thai series to watch (Grey Rainbow will forever have a piece of me <3) but I wanted more. I started looking up Thai language videos for foreigners. I started watching traveling videos of YouTubers visiting Thailand, living in Thailand, being a black expat in Thailand, how to learn Thai script, and even more Thai dramas! 

Then, around a week later I found out that the king of Thailand passed away (may you rest in peace King Bhumibol Adulyadej). But that only kicked my interest into a higher gear: they have a king?? What is their government like? How does the country feel about foreigners? How much do they value education and traveling abroad? Why do they have to wear uniforms in college? Yall, I even started searching universities in Thailand and whether or not they had an international program I would be interested in getting a second masters degree in (or second bachelors if they allow that type of thing). And I’m still looking. As well as looking for a good Thai language program or at least a great language school for foreigners in Thailand.

I don’t really know what it is about Thailand but ever since I first heard the language, its almost like the country latched onto something inside me. I want to know everything. But more than anything, I want to visit!

Brazil and Thailand. Such different countries but they have called out to me. And I am answering.

Being multilingual has been a passion of mine from a young age. I am just finally doing something about it. And it truly is a passion. If I were only doing this simply for practical reasons or for the sake of my career, I guarantee you that I wouldn’t last long and would probably give up on the first language I try. 

Now, I do not plan on learning all 4 of these languages at once. I don’t have that kind of capability (who does??) especially since Spanish and Portuguese are similar. I already know I will start to confuse the two because I have already done it in the little language game apps I play, like Duolingo.

Bottom line: I’m super excited to start this language journey. I went hard on the book buying recently (a bit too hard possibly?). It’s just when I set my mind on something, I have a tendency to get really excited about it; to the point where it is borderline excessive. I have already ordered 8 Korean language books and about 4 more are on the way (like I said, excessive). Not to mention I haven’t even begun to order any books for the other languages mentioned. I’m still doing research on what books are the best for self-learners.

Are any of you learning any new languages? 

If you are, cheers to continuous learning! May the language gods be ever in your favor 😉

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