Konnichiwa! Salut!

I love languages. I love learning them and using them. I’m not sure if it’s just the way my brain is wired or if it has something to do with the fact that I was taught French in kindergarten (benefit of living overseas when young). Maybe both. In any case, it seemed natural to take French in high school and more of it in college.

I knew in college that I wanted to pick up a third language but I needed something very different from French. You see, having the basics of that language stuck in my brain when I was little means that I have an incredibly difficult time learning a language closely related to it….like Spanish. I’ve tried but inevitably my pronunciation ends up with a French sound and I keep substituting French words. *headdesk* Since I’d recently jumped headfirst into the world of anime, I decided to try Japanese and the friend who threw me into the anime pool decided to take the class with me.

Three different writing systems (4 if you count romanji), a completely different grammar structure and instead of masculine and feminine words everything is based on degrees of formality.

How could I not love it?

I ended up taking two years of Japanese (in addition to two years of French in college) just for the hell of it. I didn’t need the credits for anything. I just wanted to learn the language. I learned my kana (hiragana was/is much easier for me. I’ve always struggled more with katakana) and picked up a few kanji, learning slowly what order to make each stroke in. The phrases and vocabulary (as well as pronunciations) fell into place. And I loved every moment of it.

Unfortunately it wasn’t long after that that I moved back to Tennessee and lost touch with my friends who had taken the classes with me. And when you don’t speak/write a language every day it tends to fade. The one exception is French which I can still read and understand rather well. Hearing it spoken it takes me a little longer but I can usually catch it. The problem tends to arise (with French) when I have to speak it.

So I’ve started a project. I’m determined to get my two other languages back to the levels they once were and then some. I once was fluent in French and decent with Japanese. I want to be fluent in both. To that end I’ve pulled out old text books and found helpful apps. Japanese will need the most work as I have to re-learn the kana and kanji (writing styles). I’m also hoping to find some penpals who will be up for exchanging snail mail letters with me in a “language exchange”.

I’m back up to 55 hiragana characters as of today. I add at least one set each day and drill constantly through the day. I’m also working on writing phrases and vocabulary that I know in hiragana. As for French I plan to start working on that by taking some of my favorite things to watch, like Buffy, and switch them over to the French language track.

my hiragana practice

Some of my Hiragana practice

My goal is to speak in three languages every day to make sure that this time I don’t lose them. After I get my Japanese and French back up to snuff I’ll tackle a new language. I haven’t decided what yet but I’m considering Irish Gaelic, Greek and Portuguese. Maybe even ASL. Call me crazy, but I want to learn more!!

So if you happen to speak French or Japanese and want to practice with me via snail mail, email, skype, when we hang out or whatever, let me know! I’d totally be down for it.

~ by rumielf on March 22, 2011.

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