Hmm…(x2). Right now, my intentions are to travel for a while, and eventually I want to open up a boutique in some French or Spanish-speaking metropolitan area. In between (and maybe while) doing those two things, I’ll definitely have to be doing something that has a greater impact, like ASL interpreting or returning to the human resources or non-profit fields. Really, the stars are the limit, but I know for sure that I’ll certainly be helping people and speaking a language other than English!
In April of this year I signed up for a free Korean language course held at city hall in Ulsan.
The book for the class was the expense of the student.
But this was OK with me since it turned out to be a really great study book! In this same class I met a young woman who exuded a bubbly confidence for language learning that was very infectious.
I found out from her that she was actually studying 4 languages at one time.
Korean, Spanish, American Sign Language and French! Why??? You might ask? Simply because she loved languages.
I thought she would be the perfect person to interview to share thoughts on learning languages while traveling. Check out her blog here: www.gofollowyourthoughts.blogspot.com
1. Please tell us about yourself.
wanna-be philospher/aspiring travel blogger/future boutique owner/slash…..Zzzzzzzzz Lol!
2. What do you love about studying languages? How many languages are you currently studying?
Everything! Learning a new language is like starting a new puzzle–you just have to figure out how the pieces fit together. I am also entertained by the fact that many languages use the same words, only with different meanings, which makes it that much easier to continue exploring other tongues. (Actually, learning the grammar rules of one language actually helped me to improve my grammar in English–who knew!?) The downside is that after a while, they all really start to sound similar…
I’m studying four languages: French, Spanish, Korean, and American Sign Language (ASL). I intentionally avoided using a time-related qualifier, as I believe that learning a new language is an art, which means that I never really “finish” learning so much as I simply stop studying for a while! 🙂
3. What motivates you to keep pushing?
I for one became pretty lazy with studying Korean and I regret it 🙁
Well, being completely enamored with words helps! My strong desire to communicate with others and travel also keeps my eyes glued to language-learning books. With that being said, venturing to new locales and seeing the beautiful locals (ahem, cute guys **coughs**) is a titillating incentive in itself. (Seems “biology” always sneaks her way into things… 😉
4. Do you think its important as a young traveler to learn the languages of the countries you visit? Do you feel it offers a more organic, intimate experience for cultural exchange with the locals?
Definitely. Even if you don’t have time to study a language at length, making an effort to learn as much as you can is an essential part of the traveling process. Since each culture is literally defined by its language, it goes way beyond simply being able to communicate effectively; rather, it gives you a bird’s-eye view of the country’s particular value system and even its history! For example, in Korean, when you want to ask a person “What’s wrong?” you would ask: “What kind of work is it?” Similarly, if you wanted to ask if they had eaten, you would say: “Did you eat your rice?” That’s history, culture, and values all wrapped in two questions! Learning the language is your gateway to learning the culture.
5. What is your favorite language?
Hmm, that’s a hard question, but if I had to choose, it would be ASL. It’s absolutely beautiful, and extremely intuitive–and I’m fascinated by the fact that enfants–who have no understanding of words–can learn to sign and use it to communicate with adults (and, oftentimes, using only one hand!). Sign language offers us a nostalgic nudge to the past while gently reminding us that words, while important, certainly aren’t everything…
6. Where do you see yourself and your language study in 5 years? 10 years?
My language study path is a little harder to predict. A year ago I told myself that I wanted to have a good handle on three of the languages that I’m studying now within the next 5 years. Never did I imagine that I would surpass my goal– within 12 months!! (I also never actually “planned” to study Korean, either, for that matter.) I guess the lesson here is to never stand in your own way and to vivre pour la grandeur!!! 😉