My journey to fluency in 6 languages. Part 1

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I was lucky. Two languages were being programmed in my head since day 1. How did I learn the other four? Well, it definitely took some effort. And by effort I mean:

1) Ditch the language course

Best time waster ever. I took German for 5 years at school. Thanks to the teacher hated not only the language but anything associated with the country. A couple of years later I made only German friends in England and ended up in a German language course. Again. Plus I paid money for it. Ok, here’s why it was not a total failure this time round:

  • My motivation was sky high. I was a bloody ambitious Eastern European girl back then. That equals to a lot of willpower.
  • I mastered a similar language, which was Dutch. In this case, a language course was a ‘Germanic language system upgrade’. Dutch is easier than German.
  • Eventually, I moved to Germany where I could practice the language. Germans are great at ignoring your poor language skills and chatting away in Deutsch as if it was the common tongue. No practice = no language.

2) Come clean

Dutch landed me my first high-paid job although I couldn’t ‘downgrade’ my German back to Dutch. It was very painful; I had to talk my twisted version of the language to angry private investors. Plus, those Dutchies with their monies. I wanted to cry every day.

I am no more fluent in German or Dutch. I haven’t used the languages for at least 2 years. And I have no intention to live there. So what was the point learning them? In the nearest future will there be any point of learning any other language besides English? I don’t know. But it is a very rewarding activity. Like learning how to play an instrument, I imagine.

3) Make a fool of yourself

Learning a language is for the confident people or the super ambitious people. That’s why I’m on a break at the moment.

One day you’re on the top of the world after ordering a croissant in France. The next day you want to die because you confused the word teammate with the playmate. There is no other way. It will be awkward. Unless you get drunk. Or at least tipsy. It’s true. Fluids make you fluent at least for a couple of hours. That is all you need for a productive practice. So go hit the bar and find some foreigners to talk to.

4) Travel

Whilst some of my friends from back at school spoke with intimidating British accents, from day 1 it was clear that I had absolutely no brains for grammar to start with. So pretty low chances to learn one of the most screwed up languages of all times- French. But 10 months of attending a regular Belgium school and living with a Belgium family did the magic. I still randomly use le Francais quand je speak.

Don’t go to the country just for the sake of learning the language, though. I know no one will do that. That’s an advice for myself.

I had zero interest in Belgium, except the fries and the chocolate obviously. Eventually, all I wanted to do was to hang out with my Latin American friends. And so I ended up learning the basics of Spanish. The downgrade (Spanish is easier than French) works when you start from scratch.

Conclusion- I should have gone to Argentina.

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