Everybody who started learning a language knows how hard it is. All these words you don’t understand, you need to learn the conjugation of the verbs and some are even irregular, add the grammar which sometimes doesn’t seem to make any sense and then there are different accents, lets not even start with slang which is commonly used in some countries.
Which languages I speak and how I started learning them.
Let’s start with my mother tongue or actually with my two mother tongues. Yes, I am one of the lucky people who grew up bilingual. Since I am a little girl my dad would speak German and my mum French to me. For example, she would tell me „Demande à Papa quelle heure il est“ („Ask your dad what time it is“), I would go see my dad and ask „Papa wieviel Uhr ist es?“ („Dad what time is it?“) he would answer „Es ist 13 Uhr“ („It is 1 pm“) and I would go back see my mom and tell her „Maman il est 13 heures“ („Mom it is 1pm“). It even goes that far that while having dinner I switch between languages depending to whom I am speaking to. Even if my mom speaks German to me I will answer to her in French and I do this up to this day! And when I went to school I was in a bilingual class where half the children did grow up bilingual. Of course, my French writing or knowledge of some things isn’t as if I would have grown up in France but I am still working on that (yes 27 years later and I still have to learn things in French) and need to work on my grammar, correct writing of the conjugated verbs.
English; learning English was a really really long journey for me. We started having English at primary school so when I was around 8 or 9 years old. When I graduated I still Couldn’t speak that well. So I took intensive lessons at the Wall Street Institute in Berlin when I was about 18 years old. During 3 months I could study as much as I wanted and I wanted! So I spend most of my days at school and studied. Eventually, I met a girl and we only spoke in English. During summer 2013 I went on an exchange to England where I met more friends, people I could only speak English with as we had no other common language and even when I met Germans I still tried to speak only English. After England, I went to Italy for 7 months where I would also speak often English, followed by Australia for one year.
Spanish; I started classes which took place twice a week and was actually quite good but stopped because of my final exams. Today I can still understand it a bit but never tried to learn it again. Spanish is still on my list though! Recently I went to Ecuador and absorbed everything like a sponge, find out in 3 weeks in Ecuador and Lets talk food Ecuador.
Italian; as mentioned I went to Italy, Rome for an internship. Before going there I took 4 weeks of intensive classes (5 days a week for 4 hours). Once in Rome, I had lessons twice a week, where I met an English girl and we tried to speak as much Italian as possible. Now 5 years later my Italian is not as good anymore as I failed to keep on working on it. Therefore one of my goals this year is to learn it again. “Do you only travel for food?” – Rome and Oh Sicily, your food is heaven!
Bahasa – Indonesia; while travelling around Indonesia for 3 weeks I tried to pick up as much as possible. Mainly just speaking with the locals and children at the beach teaching me a few words. This is the first language that is really difficult for me because it is nothing like learning a Latin language which are all a bit similar. You can tell me a word in Bahasa and I don’t even know if its a verb, a bad word or just food. Currently, I am trying to work on my vocabulary with DuoLingo and Memrise. 4 days on a boat without a toilet nor electricity
Portuguese; at the end of 2017 I went to a friends wedding in Brazil where I ended up taking Portuguese classes for about a month. Travelling for an additional 6 weeks help to improve. Once back in Europe I watched a lot of series in Brazilian Portuguese and until now I mostly listen to Brazilian music. After Brazil, I lived 10 months in Portugal which did help, even though their Portuguese is different and harder to understand for me. Missing Brazil so much, I went back for 2 months and actually just came back 2 weeks ago. Now back in Europe I will keep on watching series in Portuguese, listening to music, reading books and hopefully meeting Brazilian people. “Finding my true love” – Brazil
For me the best ways to start a language is to take an intensive class for beginners, followed by visiting the country so you can practice everything you just learned 🙂 Once you know the basics, try to work on it every day even if it is just for 15 minutes. Review the grammar, learn the verbs and vocabulary.
Try to keep it fun! You can listen to music, write down the lyrics of a song you like. Watch YouTube videos or interviews with singers and actors. For example, I follow Anitta on Instagram, she is the Brazilian Beyonce, and just watch her snaps in Portuguese. I know it is hard and how desperate you can get but then also come the moments where you realize that it is work, you start to understand more!
Read, Write, Listen & Speak!
Especially when travelling I try to learn a bit of their language no matter where I am! As you can see in most of my blogs which includes sayings, words and food in the local language!
If you have advice or question do not hesitate 🙂