I’m taking a language class at the moment. It’s the fifth language I’ve learnt and last week I was discussing with my colleagues the other languages they had previously learnt. My pop quiz revealed that the vast majority also already spoke at least two, three or four other languages.
All this got me thinking about whether being a polyglot, or simply just loving learning languages, is something that appeals to a specific type of person? Is it a right or left brain thing? An interest in linguistics or other cultures? The desire to communicate with others across barriers?
For me, the best thing about learning another language is that you can’t fudge it – you either know it or you don’t. This basically means that the amount of work you put in directly correlates to the outcomes you achieve i.e. being able to converse with people, read books and newspapers and understand conversations.
And the best learning outcomes I’ve had is when I practice on numerous fronts. Mostly using visual stimulus (like the LinguaPosta posters and labels – I tend to need to see a word written in order to remember it), having conversations with people (it’s really hard for me to remember vocab or grammar without hearing myself say it) and writing practice (I’ve got a few pen pals that give me a practical outlet for my language).
Next year I’m hoping to use my language skills to help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds fill out forms and/or access help. Local neighbourhood houses and community centres are always looking for assistance, so if you’ve got a few hours a week to help, perhaps refugees from Chad or Mali who speak French, settle in, what a win-win situation that would be?!By Miki. Dec 08 in News.