I’ve had the honor of being tagged by Alina of Korea Squirrel to do this language tag. I’ve seen a few of these tags over the past couple of months, and it’s really cool to read other language learners’ backgrounds and stories. I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks since I last posted, but I finally found some time to respond to this tag and share my own story with the world.
What would you consider your native language?
English. I actually consider it a great blessing to be a native English speaker, because I would hate to have to learn it as a second language. The more I study other languages, the more I realize that English can be really strange. English grammar has so many exceptions, even our exceptions have exceptions.
What was your first language learning experience?
Technically, I think I had a Spanish class in the first grade, but I really don’t remember much about that. The teacher quit after that year, and literally the only thing I remember learning is “cuatro”, the number four.
In the eighth grade, I had what I would consider my first actual language learning experience. My junior high school didn’t offer language classes, so I started taking a Spanish course online at SpanishDict. The quality of my learning is debatable, but I am rather proud of how dedicated I was.
What languages have you studied and why did you learn them?
- Spanish – Honestly, I don’t remember why I chose Spanish. Maybe because it seemed like the easiest language, since it’s so similar to English? Who knows.
- Korean – I started studying Korean in high school. There were a lot of Koreans at my high school, and some of my Korean friends got me hooked on SHINee’s music. Then, one of my best friends taught me 한글, and I was hooked on the language as well. I’ve been in love ever since. 🙂
- Chinese – My high school offered Chinese as a language elective, so during my junior year I decided to take it for fun.
How does your personality affect your language learning?
I’m a math/logic person, which I think is directly related to why I love learning languages. I love grammar, simply because I like seeing the logical breakdown of sentences into structures and patterns.
The part of my personality that negatively affects my language learning is that fact that I’m WAY too self-conscious about speaking in my target language. I’m a perfectionist, so I panic about having to form sentences without taking a minute to think through what I want to say, choose the grammar pattern that suits that nuance the most, and then plug in all of the right vocabulary words.
Do you prefer learning a language in a class or on your own?
It’s hard to choose, personally. I’ve never had the opportunity to actually take a Korean class, but I’ve taken Mandarin and Spanish classes. I’m going to cheat and say both. I love the structure of classes and the fact that you’re forced to learn and apply vocabulary. Also, you get automatic language buddies as classmates. On the other hand, I love being able to research and choose my own textbooks/resources while self-studying, and I feel prouder of my accomplishments when I achieve them based on my own drive and motivation.
What are your favorite language learning materials?
I love textbooks especially, because the structure and consistency makes my math brain happy. Also, for Korean specifically, Talk to Me in Korean is literally the best thing ever. Hyunwoo and Kyungeun are my homies.
How much time do you spend learning a language per day?
Oh gosh. Pathetically little, usually.
Spanish has pretty much disappeared from my life, so none there.
As for Chinese, I spend 3 hours per week in class and maybe 1 hour per week doing homework or studying vocabulary for the class. Usually not more than 15-20 minutes on any given day.
For Korean, it honestly depends. There are a lot of days where I don’t study at all. Then there are days where I’ll be super motivated and spend 2 hours studying grammar. On an average day, I’d say I spend 15-30 minutes actively studying Korean.
I also listen to a lot of Kpop and watch a TON of dramas, maybe 4 or 5 at a time? Mostly Korean dramas, but I occasionally throw a Taiwanese drama or two in the mix. I usually don’t count K-pop or dramas as studying time, though, because I use subtitles and I’m not actively listening.
What are your short-term and long-term language goals?
- Finish Korean Grammar in Use: Intermediate.
- Finish Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (maybe this should be a long-term goal haha. It’s a slow grind.)
- Incorporate more listening and writing into my study habits
- Develop and actually maintain a good daily routine for studying.
- Become comfortable holding conversations in my target languages. Kick that self-consciousness to the curb!
- Pick up Spanish again so I don’t totally forget 3+ years of studying.
- Possibly become a translator? The idea has always intrigued me…
What is your favorite language?
What is the next language you want to learn?
Definitely Japanese. Next semester I’m going to start taking Japanese class, and I’m super excited.
Eventually I’m also hoping to learn some Italian, too, since I’m 1/4 Italian.
What advice could you give new language learners?
- If the language uses a different alphabet, learn the alphabet. Romanization never quite cuts it.
- Find a good textbook series to organize your learning.
- Diversify your studying. Listen to podcasts, listen to music in your target language, find children’s books or novels in your target language that are at your level.
- Study daily. Try to set a specific time each day that you’re going to study. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, right before you go to bed, or anytime in between. Habits are powerful.