Journal: Tongues

I’m a Gemini Sun with Mercury in Gemini as well. Writing is my passion. My career is all about words (the law, in fact). Being able to communicate and understand make up such a large part of what I’m about it’s not at all surprising that I’ve always wanted to be able to speak as many languages as possible. My Ascendant is Aquarius and my Pluto in the 8th house. Understanding how and why people think what they do about things is also fascinating to me as it can also be used to build stronger bridges when there’s a cultural divide. I want to swim through the depths of people’s minds because I find them fascinating. This does often help me with character development, but my interest in the who, what, why, and how of people has always been a focus of my curiosity.

I heard recently that people who are attracted to learning languages often also have an affinity for patterns. That was a real light bulb moment for me. It doesn’t just apply within the context of how I personally process and learn a new language (grammatical structure, spelling, usage patterns, mnemonics), but I also with my love of cryptograms, codes, and puzzles.

It is estimated that possibly 2/3rds of the world’s children are raised bilingual. Regarding the bilingual experience: “[It] not only changes the way neurological structures process information, but also may alter the neurological structures themselves.”

Also from the article linked above, here is an interesting excerpt about how the brain of a bilingual person processes language that is heard:

Some of the most compelling evidence for language co-activation comes from studying eye movements. We tend to look at things that we are thinking, talking, or hearing about.5 A Russian-English bilingual person asked to โ€œpick up a markerโ€ from a set of objects would look more at a stamp than someone who doesnโ€™t know Russian, because the Russian word for โ€œstamp,โ€ โ€œmarka,โ€ sounds like the English word he or she heard, โ€œmarker.โ€4 In cases like this, language co-activation occurs because what the listener hears could map onto words in either language. Furthermore, language co-activation is so automatic that people consider words in both languages even without overt similarity. For example, when Chinese-English bilingual people judge how alike two English words are in meaning, their brain responses are affected by whether or not the Chinese translations of those words are written similarly.6 Even though the task does not require the bilingual people to engage their Chinese, they do so anyway.

It’s never too late to pick up a second (or third, or fourth!) language. If you didn’t already have enough encouragement: “Bilingualism appears to provide a means of fending off a natural decline of cognitive function and maintaining what is called Cognitive Reserve.”

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language has a great page with articles that address a variety of subjects and how language learning affects them.

Right now, I’m not quite halfway through a Spanish course that I supplement with a variety of forms of immersion that include: Spanish-language programming on Netflix (the best source I’ve found so far as many English-language shows have subtitles in Spanish also), listening to Spanish-language music on radio and Spotify, as well as using a great collection of books for reinforcement from the Practice Makes Perfect series.

The awesome thing about the Spanish selection on Netflix is they offer shows from a variety of countries like Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Spain, which gives you experience with different slang, accents, politics, and customs. Plus, many of these shows have 60-100 episodes. I’ve watched every episode of every show Kate Del Castillo has on Netflix and I enjoyed all of it. There is some excellent foreign language programming on Netflix. Regardless of what language you are studying, or maybe none at all, I definitely recommend checking out shows and films from other countries on there.

Spanish and German are the two languages that I’m learning because of many personal reasons including spiritual/religious and familial. Where I want to go, the experiences I want to have, the people I want to connect with — I have to be able to speak those languages.

The software and apps I use also offer cross-language learning and the course order that I’m looking at is like this:

  • English to Spanish (Currently about 2/5th completed).
  • Spanish to English
  • English to German (Aiming to start German formally in the Summer of 2020).
  • German to English
  • Spanish to German (Unsure if I will wait to begin the cross-language studies until after I have completed both sets of original English-2nd language courses or as I go. It depends on how difficult German proves to be for me.)
  • German to Spanish (Hope to have this buttoned up and a certification by 2024).

I figure there’s enough reinforcement with cross-language studying here that I’ll have a good chance at fluency. Plus, having a certification in Spanish will help in business prospects.

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