As a polyglot that has become a polyglot while still in school and with proper teacher studies, home works and schedules, it may seem a bit hard for someone to start learning a language by his/her own. Nevertheless, having language studies while you are still in school makes it easier to actually stick to learning it compared to having to learn it without any extrinsic motivation. In high-school, I learned Latin, Spanish, English, French and my native language, Romanian. Thinking about it now, that’s pretty impressive! My Latin skills though have dissipated completely, in part because I have not been able to practice it with anyone, and because it was not a language I was that interested in, in the first place. It was just something I was forced to learn due to my humanistic class type studies.
So, me coming up with tips and tricks and plans on how you can start learning a new language on your own, may not look very useful. However, I want to pinpoint the fact that I have maintained the level of all the other foreign languages and I can use them to have conversations, understand people speaking to me and reading in that particular language. I have maintained my polyglot skills because I have always been interested in being able to speak to and understand other people’s languages. My mom sent me to learn French initially in school, then after 2 years she decided I should do English and from the 5th grade onward until I graduated high school I had learned English and French at advanced levels. 2 more languages were added at the age of 14, 15 respective and that was Latin (5 years of study) and Spanish (4 years of study). It may look strange that I cannot speak Latin or understand it now even though I had been exposed to it more time than Spanish, and probably that stems from the fact that I love Spanish. Ever since I was 9 or 10 I was exposed to Spanish soap operas and that has hugely impacted my potential in Spanish learning and the fact that I was able to pick it up so quickly. I also loved so much speaking it at that time. I still do.
This is just a little background of how I started with Languages. Basically, my mom wanted to give me a good start in life. She knew best. As all moms do. Now, while I was in school, of course learning foreign languages was quite academic and a lot of memorising had to take place in order for me to learn. It’s good it happened at an early age, because it helped a lot with my overall learning and memory skills. The main difference I would say for learning a language with teachers versus as a DIY is that you know you have to do the homework, learn and keep track of it. You cannot not go ahead with it. If you’re on your own, you need discipline. A lot of it.
I am not ashamed to say that I enjoy watching soap operas in Spanish and Portuguese (Brazilian version though) and because I watched a lot of that during my university studies, I had fallen in love with Brazilian. I was learning the language just by watching, hearing and memorising the words and their meanings from the subtitles. It was easy because it has a lot in common with Spanish. So in the summer of 2011 I had started a journey of exactly 2 months to learn Portuguese. I slowly but steadily had given up on it because other priorities have come up and because I was starting to lose my focus and my goal. 2 years before that, I had a crush on Japanese and only lasted for 1 month because everyone around me was telling me that it is useless to learn it and I should focus, instead on something I am passionate about which at that moment in time was Japanese, on things that really matter, such as my driver license (which I successfully failed) or my master’s degree. With Portuguese, I started feeling the same way, why should I learn a language that no company is actually in need of in my town? Why waste my time on this when I can pursue something that can bring me more monetary opportunities? Well, and this is future Georgyana to past Georgyana, because if there’s something you enjoy and feel attracted towards, you must follow it. I have made several mistakes like that one over the years. I could have spoken now around 8 or 9 languages if I had went away with MY hobbies and passions.
I was made into a polyglot but I could have been a better one had I kept my mind attached to my dreams. Now, when I want to learn more languages, I find everyone else around me is way ahead me. I have no time! But future Georgyana always highlights to present Georgyana that “That’s simply not true”.
And it certainly does not mean you cannot start learning a foreign language at whatever age you are now, even if it’s only the first foreign language you are going to learn, it is still not too late and it will definitely be much easier than you think it will be hard. I am in a way in the same position as you, I was made a polyglot, I was put into this and I believe it is a wonderful skill and a very helpful one too.
So, now that we have established we are on the same boat, let me tell you my plans on learning more languages, multiple languages at the same time and how to plan your learning so that you won’t feel as if you have to go to school, because we all know, we all did not want to go to school.
The main thing I noticed about me in learning languages is that being exposed to hearing it and to visual subtitles helped A LOT. That’s how I started with English, then with Spanish and Portuguese. By the way, I understand Portuguese a little bit, and also Italian (not sure how, but I think it is because of the similarities between the other foreign languages I know and my native one, Romanian) but would not be fluent in conversation. This means or this is what I believe it means, learning languages is going to be easy and fast if you get yourself exposed to it – be it, film, music, YouTube and even podcasts in the target language. That’s how I plan to become a polyglot.
I would not say at this point in time, I am interested in gaining mastery, because I think that comes with time and with focused interest in one language at a time, rather, I am interested in conversational, every day life and fluency: being able to speak, understand and have a nice good vocabulary, with basic grammar. I think that when you start learning something, whether that’s a new hobby, skill, activity or foreign language, you need to set a goal, an objective, a SMART goal. Specific, measurable, attainable, time framed. I would like to be able to speak fluently Italian, Portuguese by the end of 2019. I have another goal of refreshing my French fluency at the same level, as currently I have to think about words and I am quite slow in expressing myself, since it was not a language I have used in the last 6 years at least. Also, I would like to know the basics of Estonian. I am fluent in Spanish and I want to maintain this level and maybe improve on some vocabulary. Probably a lot of goals and too little time. But I am not looking to speak perfectly, I want to be able to understand and if I get to speak to people in the same way I am now able to understand and speak in Spanish, I would be extremely satisfied with myself.