Korean Language – Pieces of Cultural Intelligence

On number 19 out of 20 most spoken foreign languages according to Gaston Dorren’s book “Babel” we have


One Korean quote said: “Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” And I think that’s beautiful. So, following that advice, why don’t you take a look at the following piece of cultural intelligence content I have crayoned here?


What words were exported from Korean to other nations?

2 familiar Korean words are KIMCHI (pickled vegetables) and the sport TAEKWONDO. Several well-known brand names are of Korean origin, including Samsung (which means 3 “stars” ), Hyundai (which means “modern”) and Daewoo (or TAEU which is translated as “great Woo”, Woo being the founder).

You may also download the file by pressing the button below

Vietnamese Language – Fun Facts

Last year, I purchased this book.

Babel by polyglot Gaston Dorren

I remember starting reading it and the first chapter was about author’s struggles and beautiful learning path of Vietnamese. I find reading about different languages around the world a captivating activity and that’s because I get to experience the cultural intelligence but also to expose my mind to a new way of understanding people in general. It’s making me become more in love with people in the sense that I discover myself to become so much more tolerant about myself and less judgemental about people’s actions or behaviours or way of speech, because everything makes sense now.

Have you heard about CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE ? Have a go by reading this article here.

People are a portrayal of their language and culture and the more you read about languages and in depth descriptions regarding behind the scenes of a foreign language creation, such as the ones highlighted by Gaston Dorren in his book “Babel”, you get to achieve a higher level of open mindness and flexibility and adaptability.

I got inspired by the book and in the light of sharing with you my discoveries and little gems of cultural intelligence, I have created a document about some key notions around Vietnam or Vietnamese language.

You may also download the document:

Did you enjoy this type of content? Let me know in the comments and enlighten me with what language do you speak or which would you love to know speaking !

11 best and inspirational articles about learning languages I found online

“Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language”- Frank Smith. Now, I do not know who Frank Smith is, but when I found this quote online I truly integrated that. I recently joined a community of foreign language speakers on social media, mostly on Instagram and if before this decision, everything in my feed was more related to fashion, beauty and beautiful pictures, it’s now pretty much language and learning foreign languages content. It is more motivational than I really thought it would be and more fun than I expected it to be. Although I cannot possibly check all new posts, I feel really impressed and pleasantly surprised to report back that social media can make you feel inspired to do stuff than just make you drool on the pictures you see, leaving you feel like you are not accomplishing anything worthwhile in this life. Then I found this one: “The more languages you know, the more you are human” from another person I have no idea who he is, named Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. (note to self – to look those names up)

So these 2 quotes inspired me to search for more content on language learning to get insights, tips, tricks and share them here, but first, apply them myself. Here are some of the most inspirational and educational posts I found online on language learning to motivate you in your actions of foreign language learning.

1.I would like to begin with one short article that discusses some findings regarding how the brain learns a new word. And I quote:

Practising language is important. Every little helps. Just perception – listening – is helpful.

This suggests that even listening to a podcast such as CoffeeBreak on Spotify or similar ones, will help tremendously in you picking up the language faster. I can relate to this because while growing up I used to watch a lot of Spanish soap operas and when I started really learning Spanish in school, I was able not only to learn it faster but to also have this in the flow perception when learning anything new. It was not something I dreaded, even if it had to do with grammar because I simply loved the language. I was accustomed to it and it was easy to make my learning and language skills progress way faster.

the researcher … thought repetition is the key – but the brain learned best when it was relaxed and not trying to remember anything at all. {…} you remember because you go back to it again and again. {…} the brain has to determine what it is important and what’s not.

This really supports what I was mentioning above with the state of flow I was finding myself whenever I was having my Spanish classes, whenever I was learning on my own or watching something in Spanish. This means if you want to learn a language, you must do it because you really want to learn that target language, not because it is something someone is telling you to do, not because you imposed on yourself to learn a new language or a specific language. You must have a connection with the foreign language you choose to learn. That’s when passion blends with learning and if your attitude towards learning is relaxed, you are more likely to quickly become fluent.

Read more in this article.

2.This article was written by Amy Thompson who is an associate professor of Applied Linguistics at University of South Florida and she studies how learning languages can have cognitive and emotional benefits. 2 key concepts are discussed here: cultural competence and tolerance of ambiguity.

Cultural competence is opening people’s eyes to a way of doing things that;s different to their owns. Tolerance of ambiguity refers to the comfort level a person experiences when dealing with unfamiliar situations.

Analysing cultural stereotypes when learning a new language means also learning a new way of thinking and behaving, much like in this quote: “Learning a foreign language not only reveals how other societies think and feel, what they have experienced and value, and how they express themselves, it also provides a cultural mirror in which we can, more clearly, see our own society.” Chancellor Edward Lee Gorsuch. This chinese proverb says it all: “To learn a new language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.”

The second part of the post deals with the tolerance of ambiguity concept which the author pinpoints as follows:

Someone with a high tolerance of ambiguity finds unfamiliar situations rather exciting than frightening. {…} Conversations in a foreign language will inevitably involve unknown words. {…} Those with a high tolerance of ambiguity would feel comfortable maintaining the conversation despite the unfamiliar words involved.

To read the full article pop on here.

3.Can learning a new language boost your creativity? So, nowadays we see a lot of content, books and highlight put on creativity because as Einstein says it “creativity is intelligence having fun” and it’s more important to be creative than smart, or something along those lines. Learning something new requires our brains to adapt quickly and grab every method out there to get to the outcome desired. This goes the same way with language learning. It has been researched and the result is that learning a foreign language expands our divergent thinking. The author explains this:

At a very basic level, learning a foreign language requires us to construct and negotiate the unique architecture in which it consists. Each new language we learn presents us with new barriers when trying to convey meaning. {…} As your mind generates possibilities in order to negotiate these barriers, it engages in a potent form of divergent thinking – the very thinking that drives creativity.

Of course the method you use to learn the language can interfere in this enhancement of creative power and classic teaching focusing on memorising grammar structures and the focus on giving always the “correct answer” to problem solving is not going to achieve that outcome. The author is quoting Sir Ken Robinson as he is arguing the fact that the educational system has become so obsessed with avoiding mistakes that because of that “we are educating people out of their creative capabilities”.

More of your creativity related questions with regards to learning a foreign language are answered by the author in this blog post.

4.Things bilingual people do. This explores a different version of how bilinguals experience the world around them. It is as funny as it is based on science and research and it’s just something different to read to give you a little bit of inspiration. Marta Krzeminska, language passionate at LinguaLift blog writes about all things connected to language learning and learners. Have a go here.

5.From the same author I would like to also include a little info-graphic which should give you the push to include a little bit of language learning in your daily schedule. I was checking that out because I wanted to see how is the world, if you can say that, taking into account it’s just around 200 people the study was conducted on, incorporates foreign language study in their busy schedules. I am someone that prefers to embrace language learning throughout the day, for few minutes, for pleasure and not as a form of “I must learn this, it’s on my TO DO LIST.” That never worked for me. I have to find it fun and easy and relaxing. More insightful info to look at in the link Language Learning Habits.

6.Are language learning apps really that effective? I was actually asking this myself because the theory you have in mind is that you need a teacher, a classroom and a schedule and constant memorising. It’s not fun, maybe that’s why I postponed so much initiating a new foreign language learning. So, I have discovered a different approach mainly after watching this Youtube video, and then discovered some other polyglot Youtubers who kept mentioning about all these free apps which you can use to learn a language. My first thought was that it’s not sustainable. You need structure, grammar and a clear direction on what you are studying and how you are going to fulfil the learning material to make sure there is results soon and visible. An app would only and can only teach you so much as to words, vocabulary and help you memorise it better or faster. The article explores in my opinion the history of language learning, starting from audiolingualism, getting to the communicative approach and ending with the foreign language learning apps. The authors, all working at the University of Bath as course leaders are Mike Groves, Diana Hopkins and Tom Reid and I could not agree more with their findings related to the fact that the language learning apps can only work as an useful supplement when learning a new language but it is also a great tool to help literacy where that is not possible and give the option to everyone through free apps to learn a language and be able to articulate basics in a foreign language. In my own experience, learning a few minutes every day through the app is making me curious and excited for the next learning experience because I see progress straight away. And that’s because it’s few words. But if you consider the theory by which if you set yourself a goal and you dedicate 1 minute per day to that goal every day, simply because you learn fast and remember for the next day, makes you feel satisfied with yourself and keeps you going. It keeps you motivated and sooner than you realise you will extend the time from 1 minute to 5, and so on, until it truly becomes a habit and a passion, something that you enjoy doing rather than something you dread starting. So, in my opinion language learning apps are amazing, they are of course just a supplement as you could never really become advanced just by using an app, but most likely it helps shape the patterns to learning and it is motivating you towards bigger goals.

More reading on the subject of audiolingualism (the drill where students repeat sentences over and over until they memorise it and recognise it in practice), the communicative approach (which relates to: it’s better to speak broken grammar and good pronunciation than perfect grammar but wrong pronunciation, as in that situation you cannot make yourself understood) and the audio-lingual drilling can be found here. The apps I use for language learning are Drops and LingQ.

7.The mind of the language learner written by Steven Kaufmann (who created also the LingQ app for language learning), the linguist that can speak 17 languages explores in this article how the mind of the reader can be associated with the mind of the language learner by seeing yourself as someone that can learn, that enjoys learning and that is positive about the learning/reading.

8.Storytelling to learn languages. This is written by Luca Lampariello and he is a well known figure in the kingdom of polyglots and his insights and language learning observations are probably where most of the new arrived on the market polyglots get their information or learning tips they share online too. He is explaining this article that stories help us memorise vocabulary and so “It’s not a coincidence that one of the most popular techniques among memory experts is to build a story around what they want to remember.” as he writes. I mean, storytelling does everything that we need to acquire the language: stories are fun, full of vocabulary that has context for the new words, stories teach us how to speak the way the foreigner of that target language expresses himself or herself, configuring the grammar in a cultural immersion and linguistic environment. I also loved this article because Steve Kaufmann’s app LingQ is based on stories and reading and hearing the stories there helps a lot with pronunciation, spelling and both visualisation of the words in context.

I am leaving for the end the best of the articles I found online about language learning and one of them is about the importance of the digital language divide.

9.How does the language you speak shape your experience of the internet? written by Holly Young. This is probably one of the most interesting and inspirational piece of content relating to language learning and foreign languages online. I found reading it like a breath of fresh air in the large ocean of alike foreign language posts and articles found on the internet. It makes you think, it makes you wonder and it makes you want to do something about it. If you are like me, and you do speak a language that is only based in that specific country, you do want to preserve it, you do feel it is important that we keep the culture and not globalise everything because the official language online is English (thus highlighting more English learning than our own culture and native languages, simply because that’s the universal language now). The article explores how countries in which English or any other foreign language learning is a priority puts that city/town/maybe even country to being excluded from information as all information online is in English. Lacking English language skills makes one vulnerable to outdated information and inability to find new information in one’s native language due to lack of translation because everyone assumes that everyone knows or should know English. Here’s my highlights:

Inequalities in the information available for different languages online has implications for who and what gets represented – and by whom. {research based on word searches related to the language spoken pinpoints that 11% of people are multilingual on Twitter and 15% on wikipedia} Multilinguals have the power to be influential whether it is translating and bringing foreign concepts into different language editions on Wikipedia, or moving breaking local news stories to new language communities and different geographies.

Twitter has a particularly high number of Malay, Portuguese and Spanish users also tweeting in English.

The research of Andras Kornai at the paper Digital Language Death claims to present evidence of a massive die – off caused by the digital divide. Will the internet act as a catalyst for the extinction of many of the world’s languages?

Access to internet also offers the opportunity for linguistic empowerment : to document and preserve languages, to share teaching online to encourage new speakers, to translate important information for marginalised groups and to even create virtual communities of speakers where they may struggle to exist offline.

{the Endangered languages project} Is there a danger however that instead, new users, influenced by the volume of content in more dominant languages, will abandon their mother tongues online?

research suggests that speakers of smaller languages online will often opt to use the internet in a larger language, even if they don’t speak it well.

10.The only post you’ll ever need to learn a language in record time by Tim Ferris. I am not even going to dive into this one. This is what you will learn from reading it:

How to speak your target language today.
How to reach fluency and exceed it within a few months.
How to pass yourself off as a native speaker. And finally, how to tackle multiple languages to become a “polyglot”—all within a few years, perhaps as little as 1-2.

11.And finally, the last inspirational resource I discovered online about foreign language learning is contained in a series of articles written by Kevin Morehouse, named Language News from Around the World. As the title suggests, it’s like a newsletter with everything fresh. The blog has not been updated in a while but still, scrolling through older versions, I could still find great language learning content and more news around foreign languages.

To end, I will include some inspirational quotes that I really find motivating to help you initiate this foreign language learning habit. I trust it will be of use to you!

“Language reflects the soul of the people.” Paul Schibler
“The spirit of a language is most clearly expressed in its untranslatable words.” Baroness Marie ‘Freifrau’ von Ebner-Eschenbach
“With each language, you learn to free yourself from your trapped spirit.” Friedrich Ruckert

“With foreign words on our tongue comes also the foreign spirit into our world.” Carl Theodor Korner

Why should you learn a (new) foreign language?

Apart from the obvious, for the sake of it, (nah, just kidding!) because you love that specific language, because you like the culture and because it looks good on your resume, (if you actually can speak it fluently), I have other reasons behind why you should learn another or (if this is the first time you are learning a new language) A foreign language.

We live in a multicultural world. And we see more and more that more people with different cultural backgrounds move from one country to another. They do that to obtain a better life, career and improve their social status and when that happens, you inevitably are forced to learn the language of the country you move in. The people that move countries to study for short or long term also have this need and some have the desire to learn the language of the host country. There is lots of travellers, digital nomads and entrepreneurs that set their businesses up in other countries. All these people come with their own language and the people living in that country are interested in their culture too, they are interested in their language too and in everything surrounding the mystery of coming into one’s country.

It’s not just the people that come to live, work or study into another country that are interested in learning a new language or THAT language, it’s also the people that already represent the country that have an interest in the language of the immigrants. It’s a cultural exchange as much as it is a language exchange. It is not as much seen in the UK from what I hear from people, not many are interested in learning another language, but there are still new foreign language learners through the ones that do not decide to leave their country and emigrate, and they are interested in knowing the basics to better cope with immigrants and to visit other countries. Common languages in Europe for people to study are English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian.

Why do we even learn languages in school? There are many reasons behind this. Even if you think, it’s not something interesting or useful, you are actually wrong. If there is something worthwhile your time and effort in school, it’s foreign languages. What does learning foreign languages mean and why do we have to have it in the curriculum? Why? Well:

-To open our possibilities for work, first in our own countries, because businesses are collaborative with other countries and so, countries need to prepare its population for other companies or investors taking over, improving the life of its citizens with maybe better jobs, better wages, better conditions. You may think that the first reason behind the opening of our horizons would be to have this possibility to go abroad and make it easy for people living in a new country, but it is not. The first reason is to adapt to the local economy changing and adapting to a global multicultural economy. If all nations are to thrive, better multicultural communication must occur. That can happen if we speak each others languages, understand each others cultures and adapt to it. Speaking to someone in their own native language not only makes them more open to us (whether as an individual or a business) but also respectful of the idea that we are trying and we are interested. Because we care (if we think in this example, we are the immigrants – and think about yourself, if you meet a foreigner who can speak your language, you are more prone to respect that person). The same way for someone coming in the host country. Secondly, the reason learning a new foreign language can enhance our work options, is through the common aspect of moving to work and live in that particular country we are learning the language of. Learning each others nations languages means the nations can exchange people, human resources and business options for better profits. In the end, we are all thinking about a better more sustainable financial life.

-To improve the brain’s functions and memory because learning a new language it’s not just about language, it’s about memory and learning in general. The brain needs constant stimuli to grow more synapses, to help with memory and to enhance efficiency, productivity and prevent neuro-degenerative diseases that appear in life usually if the brain is not trained. Just as we train our bodies, we need to train our brains too. It’s a muscle, and you may have heard that by now so many times. In research, bilinguals have been shown to have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer disease than monolinguals. This suggests that learning another language does for your mind what exercise does for your body, enabling you to retain your language skills into old age.

-To communicate with other people and understand different cultures, thus helping people to become more tolerant, more understanding, better equipped to deal with future global challenges. I have heard many polyglots speaking about the impact their language skills and foreign language learning has had on their ability to cope with cultural differences and people in general. From my own experience, I can say the same thing. You become more tolerant, less judgemental and more understanding, more compassionate. This can only do good for us in life and improve not only our life quality with people, but these people’s lives with us. The way they interact with us is also a struggle for them, not just for us. The cultural background plays a fundamental role in perceiving and reacting to other people’s communication to us. That cultural background is reflected in the language that we all speak. The way we speak in our native language usually shows something about how our brains work, how we think, how we act, how we were thought to live. Every culture has that. Everyone’s language is important because it is impregnated in their behaviour, in their attitude in life, in their work life and in their daily experiences. So, if we all collectively are bilinguals rather than monolinguals, we will make the world a better place, simply because we will all understand each other much better, maybe not (as that may be impossible) globally or in a specific language, but at an emotional level. We develop our emotional intelligence when we are bilinguals. Imagine how much of an understanding and more meaningful human relations we can all have, if we are polyglots. And you do not need to speak another language at a proficiency level. And to be a polyglot, you do not need to know 10 languages. If it’s 3 languages already that you speak, you are a polyglot.

From my own experience, especially because I work in a call centre environment for a financial institution and I get to speak with people from all walks of life and with multicultural backgrounds, I can say, that I relate differently to people whose languages I know, compared to people whose languages I know nothing about. And what do I mean by that? Well, I have noticed that I am much helpful and enjoy interacting to people who are native speakers of French, Spanish, Italian rather than let’s say Indians or Chinese or Polish. Stereotypes also play a huge role, and when you really cannot understand people over the phone and their accent really cannot make you understanding of their situation (because a lot of the times, you think, if I live here just like you, why can’t you properly learn English too?) you tend to act or behave, think and respond like a monolingual rather than a bilingual. And it is a strange thing. I am not saying this happens solely with the examples given above, those are just examples and by no means I wish to say that I am finding it difficult to communicate with people from India, China or Poland. It’s an example, just as it would be if I said Javanese (yes, with V, there’s no spelling error there), Malay or Bulgarian. I am referring to languages to which I was not exposed and was not exposed to understanding their culture or lifestyle, therefore their language seems unimportant. And them not being able to speak it, makes them less able to be seen as important. And that’s where the trouble is.

We think that if someone does not speak our language (or the common language used to communicate, example here English) that person won’t be able to understand us, we won’t be able to understand them, because we do not know their native language, and (since they immigrated here) we need to distance ourselves from that person because we cannot communicate and we do not want to make it hard on ourselves to try to understand. It takes a lot of effort to understand someone else. To listen. That effort is something that our brains are not used to. Our brains are hard wired to learn familiarity and to react to familiarity in a way of by default type, with less processing thought, with little effort. Effort requires energy from our part, which when dealing with something unfamiliar, like in this case, a foreigner who is trying to articulate something in English, we do not want to deal with this. They should change THEIR attitude and learn it better, if they moved here, right? (common misjudgement) That’s what we have all felt at some point in time. THEY should make the effort. Not us. Well, that’s what will change when you become bilingual or study to turn yourself into a polyglot. YOU WILL CHANGE THAT IGNORANT ATTITUDE TOWARDS PEOPLE. And if we could all try this, we would be in a much happier place. Tolerance is not just about sexual orientation and gender issues. Tolerance is as per definition the ability or willingness to accept and embrace the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with. It’s understanding that we are all different and we are all good enough and worthy EQUALLY.

In my own experience, I have become tolerant because I knew more languages, but I also improved and enlarged my tolerance because I became interested in even more languages. I purchased myself this wonderful book named Babel, written by Gaston Dorren, a true polyglot that speaks Dutch, Limburgish, English, German and Spanish and reads French, Afrikaans, Frisian, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Luxembourgish and Esperanto and while writing Babel he attempted learning Vietnamese. Now, 2 of those languages, I was not aware they existed, until I read about him! So, there’s so many things we are not aware of and the fact that we are not open to new things, because they are not familiar to us, makes us intolerant. This book, Babel takes you through an exploration of the world through 20 most spoken languages on the Globe. That’s the book that opened my eyes more to the language of Asia mostly. When you read about its history, the people and the language itself, you make comparisons with your own language and you integrate that into an understanding which makes you more compassionate and you are better prepared to not only understand someone from that culture at a human interaction level, but their point of view, their English topic which would a lot of the times be representing the way they think and speak in their language, and that’s just fascinating to me. Remember this quote every time you struggle with someone, and I think of it each time I find it difficult to understand someone, especially over the phone:

“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.” H.Jackson Brown

I also think of myself when I speak to someone else. When you are a polyglot, and you are working in a country that is not that used to learning and speaking another language, you are seen as quite smart. Of course, I think of myself as smart, but you are seen as smart and sometimes a little bit different than if you spoke broken English. When your English is good you are appreciated but you are also gloriously making other people jealous of you and their behaviour towards you is a little bit mean sometimes. They do attempt to see if you really understand what they have meant towards you with their words or actions, or attitude. and when I experience that, I immediately think if I may act like that with other people whose background I do not relate to or are not that aware of. Being a polyglot and learning another or a new foreign language makes you very attentive to other people, sensible to their sayings to you, sensitive and perceptive of all subtle communication. You truly not just hear, you listen and understand the meaning behind their words much, much more.

If you learn another language or study to understand it, you will also experience a feeling of improved self esteem. You are able to communicate in other language. You are able to work, collaborate or study in a foreign language. You may be bilingual or a polyglot. You are amazing! Trust me, you are to be feared by other professionals, because knowing another language makes you more attractive to potential employers simply because having the foreign language skill you are an asset not just because of the language skill, but because of the meaning it has your knowledge for your attitude and work capacity in general. Tolerance to other cultures, means also the fact that you are more tolerant in general. When you expand one ability, you don’t just expand the ability to be tolerant only with people of other cultures, you expand your ability in general for tolerating new, emerging things that pop in your life. And that may be a schedule at work, a shift, a workload, etc. You are more adaptable. More flexible. When you are thought to be like that, you are believed to be more reliable, you are believed to have perseverance and you are looked at as more open to challenges, which is what every company needs, someone to do the job and not fade down in the face of difficulties. That’s why you need to learn another language.

And with so many and free options these days, there is nothing stopping you. A competitive advantage starts with the capacity – in EVERY SINGLE JOB MARKET – to be able to learn something FAST and be able to ACT ON IT, to go and work with the unfamiliar. Are you ready for that?

Any thoughts?

Thoughts on how I plan to learn multiple languages at the same time – Polyglot 101

First, we need to start with attitude and thinking patterns around learning a foreign language. I would like to start by addressing the perfectionism idea behind learning foreign languages, especially if it comes to learning multiple languages at the same time. There is this need people have to become perfect in their target language, or to be perfect while learning a foreign language or to do it right and hard and with the perfect effort to have perfect results. And that’s because we fear rejection. We fear we are not going to be good enough if we do not do it perfectly. This is going to be even harder to take in if the one you feel you are disappointing is yourself because you have set up incredibly non-achievable goals and objectives.

The reason that may actually be holding you back from learning a new language may be that you fear to be rejected by your own self, your own high expectations when it comes to performing, when it comes to bringing in results, because, hey, I have put this amount of efforts in self sabotage thoughts. If you are a perfectionist, you will feel that if I do not do this perfectly, I will not be good enough and I will lower my self esteem even more. If I am not perfect, I am not good enough, therefore I cannot do this or worse, I do not deserve this.

I do not want for this goal of mine to learn multiple languages at the same time to sound unrealistic for you, because that is not the point. Everyone has specific goals. I am not trying to compensate for the time in which I always wanted to learn a specific language but slowly had given up on that because I was feeling it was not useful. I am simply wanting to learn multiple languages because I know I can do it and because I really like these languages in which I want to gain fluency, at least at a conversational mode. Again, these languages are initially Italian and Portuguese and a little bit later on, Estonian. I also need to perfect my French. So the ones on which I will focus my attention will be initially Italian, Portuguese and French. Again, I do not want to be perfect or achieve mastery. And I know I will probably struggle and want to give up in the first month I decided to do this, but that will only happen strongly, if I set myself an unrealistic goal of mastery around these languages.

I am interested in letting you know that you can learn one language at a time or multiple languages if you want, even though everywhere on the internet I see that people and linguists say you should focus on one language. But that’s only if you wish to be advanced, truly advanced. So, I am sharing here tips and my plans on learning 3 languages (of which 1 I already have the skills and knowledge, but need practice – French, and the other 2 I can understand a little bit of) that I am already a little bit familiar with.

The trouble with perfectionism is that, first of all, it hunts me pretty well, and of course, I am not going to lie, I do wish deep down to gain fast and easy this fluency I am seeking, but, I know that it actually showcases an attitude of “I cannot be satisfied with nothing of what I get to accomplish”, because nothing is ever good enough, nothing is ever perfect, nothing is ever timed right, nothing is ever going to satisfy us. It’s a never ending formula of perform, perform, perform. The key is actually consistency when it comes to anything in life, and especially so when it comes to learning a foreign language, or in my case, with planning on learning multiple languages. There is also the fear of failure. If I do not get to learn this, then I will label myself as a failure, and then people will also see that, because I was not able to do this. But failure is normal. It’s human. As much as I do not like to encounter that, I know it will happen at some point in my journey, I will probably hit hard and who knows, I may come up with a blog post, Why you should not learn or set yourself goals to learn multiple languages at the same time. Which I really hope and will do my best, to not happen. Obviously, this article may make me sound or look perfectionist. Why would anyone need to learn more foreign languages, when you already know the universal one, English and 3 more, on top of that, that you can speak anyway good enough. And since the focus in life is “good enough”, then some people and maybe even myself if I was reading this, would assume that another polyglot has made you believe you need to learn more languages. You are not enough with 4 languages. You need to be perfect.

I do not need to be perfect. I simply like foreign languages. And Italian is thought to be the easiest language to learn. Portuguese is something I am familiar with because I can speak Spanish and these languages have lots of cognates between them, which I believe will make me learning them easier.

But without more rambling, let me tell you how I plan on learning these languages at the same time by pinpointing the second aspect I will take into consideration: Consistency & Persistence.

If there is something that is far more important than setting up the right language learning goals, it’s persistence. Without this, learning will never happen. How can you plan to be consistent though? With the right tools and the good time management.

what makes me feel successful

I do not want to feel like in school, I want this to be fun and for me to want to come to the activity of learning. To achieve this result, I need to have in action specific tools that will assist my progress. That is, sourcing for the best resources out there. Not grammar handbooks. Because I am not going to learn that much if foreign languages was only grammar study.

My tools will be self made tools consisting of: 1000 most common words of Italian, Portuguese and French with pronunciation; learning the most common verbs, learning 2-3 verb tenses to be able to speak of past, present and future activities, learning connecting words to be able to create sentences with proper usage of these connecting words, studying the connecting words, the conjugation and words that I want to know in that specific language (because I want these languages to be a part of my life from now on, and not happen what happened to me with French – no use, unable to speak it fluently), creating connections by listening to specific music in that language, understanding the culture, listening to podcasts in that language and translating the songs that I enjoy the most in all 3 languages, thus creating connections; then understand how people actually speak in that language by searching maybe Youtubers or blogs related to my passions and interests; try to read the news in that target language, consuming thus the culture and art of that specific language as it will create excitement and variety from the memorising stage. I also think using or trying language learning apps could help and I will try to use it to see how it works but I will not rely solely on that.

As my goal is a human interaction in the target language and not a perfect discourse, I believe everyone can, thus, learn a language easy and fast and without much stress or pressure to feel they need to be perfect. It will give space for mistakes, out of which we should be able to learn better after. A polyglot is after all someone that enjoys learning new languages for the sake of that language, culture, country and art with the focus on being able to interact with people, it’s not about becoming a linguist.

The last aspect about planning to learn multiple languages at the same time or any foreign language is connected to having fun. Making it easy for you to maintain persistence and that comes, always, with entertainment. In my case, discovering bloggers, youtubers, people that inspire me, from that country, reading their articles, following them on Instagram, thus listening to their stories, reading in their language what they write, keeping up with books from authors of that country or reading in the target language your favourite book can make it exciting and for me, it offers that feeling of “I cannot wait to be able to do this”. It’s a sense of accomplishment and as an example with my current foreign language, polyglot skills, when I hear people speaking in Spanish or French and they do not know I can understand them, because living in a multicultural city you encounter lots of people from all over the world, the feeling you have when you know what they talk about is like anything else in the world. It feels like, you knowing another language, you have the power to do more, to achieve more, to get along with anything that may come your way. It feels you can overcome any obstacles. That’s how I feel when I am able to speak multiple languages. Plus, you can also move anytime to that country and be able to be in a sense footloose. Free.

Do you have any tips on learning a new language?

How I was made into a Polyglot – 4 Languages

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.

Photo credit @danielcgold

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.

Photo credit: @danielcgold

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.

Photo credit: @noemiphotography

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.

Photo credit: @unsplash

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.

Would you like to become a Polyglot or extend your foreign language skills?

What foreign languages would you like to learn?