English is my primary language, but I’m very thankful to have grown up in a multicultural environment, thus allowing me to be immersed in a multitude of languages.
In my household alone, my parents speak one other language: Tagalog (two if you count Ilokano, a Philippines dialect).
During primary and secondary school, we were fortunate to learn Chamorro, Carolinian, and Japanese.
I grew up with classmates and friends who are fluent in at least one of these languages, as well as gained friends who are fluent in Korean, Mandarin, Chuukese, Swedish, and Palauan.
Language and culture greatly fascinate me, and I am in awe of all of them. I can listen to someone speak a foreign language for hours, even if I don’t understand a word they’re saying.
I find that languages help me be more connected with the culture, and I’m a huge nerd in wanting to learn and understand every culture in the world.
I love the beautiful and intricate characters that certain languages have, as well as their unique pronunciations and dialects.
I hope to be able to fully understand, read, and speak a variety of languages someday. This way, I can also be able to interact and converse with the locals of the countries I visit as smoothly and respectfully as I can.
Throughout the years, I have been keeping up with learning foreign languages even when I wasn’t studying them for a language class, all as a fun hobby.
Currently, my main language learning software is Duolingo, through which I’m expanding my studies to Japanese and three other languages. I don’t remember how I came about it, but I’ve been using it and have seen progress.
Yes, it’s challenging; and yes, I sometimes mix up my words.
But, I love it.
When it comes to studying languages, I try my best to be consistent and make these strategies part of my daily routine.
I try to spend at least 30 minutes a day studying one language, so that would be about two hours in total studying my current languages. When studying one, I use Duolingo, a notebook, the web, and occasionally Youtube videos. Similar to studying school subjects, I put my phone away and put all of my focus on each language.
I have a total of six notebooks. Four of the notebooks are designated for each language. One is a general subject used for more languages and the most common phrases and questions that are useful for simple conversations, such as “Hello/Goodbye,” “Good morning/afternoon/evening,” “My name is Henritz,” “Where is the ____,” “How are you,” “Nice to meet you,” etc. The last notebook is used for writing down song lyrics in their original form and their translation. These are songs I absolutely enjoy listening to.
In my four notebooks, I use the first couple of pages with important grammar rules and alphabetical characters (if available), as well as categories, such as family members, food, animals, body parts, etc. This is a quick way to look for specific terms in case I’m still unfamiliar with how to translate them in sentence form. Afterward, I’d use sentences from Duolingo and write them down in relation to their specific lesson. If I’m not able to learn new lessons in a day, I’d use my 30 minutes to review my current lessons. I’d even test myself by blocking the foreign translation and trying to say the English sentence in the appropriate sentence form.
YOUTUBE / ONLINE RESOURCES
Of course, Duolingo is the surface when it comes to learning languages. I often need to look for more resources in order to get a better understanding as to why certain words are used that way or why the sentence structures are placed this way, etc.
On YouTube, I typically watch resource videos from the Pod101 accounts, such as: Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com and Learn Korean with KoreanPod101.com. They offer accounts for a dozen other languages as well. With Korean specifically, I love Korean Unnie’s channel. With Japanese specifically, I love Japanese Ammo with Misa. Both instructors make the languages easy and fun to learn.
Other than Youtube videos, I do intense research online for additional potential resources. Sometimes if I’m still not sure, I’d visit multiple sites to see if the information is similar. If they are, great. If not, I’d note the one that held more validity. I could always edit my sources later if I find an even more credible source.
Music, movies, and TV shows in foreign languages greatly help me get accustomed to pronunciations, conversations, local slang, etc. Movies and TV shows further help me understand how each culture communicates with each other formally and casually, the body language and nonverbal cues they may have, and how the languages may be used in real-world scenarios. I’d also get an idea of how the culture is like and understand a few of their traditions.
I’d always have subtitles turned on the first couple of times watching them. By the third or fourth time, I’d turn them off and try to still understand the storyline. If there are specific words or phrases that are often repeated throughout the movie or episodes, I’d write them down.
One last strategy in learning a language is to converse with those who are already fluent in the language. I’ve tried this a couple of times with my friends from school, and doing this did help me remember and get used to say a couple of phrases. Having them around, they’d also advise me on how to say the words and provide more understandable definitions of phrases.
These are some of my go-to studying foreign language habits.
I understand that there many more methods to studying languages, and I think that a couple of the best ways to master these languages is to be patient and consistent.
It doesn’t take one movie or TV series to make someone even 3% fluent in the language. And that’s okay. I’ve been studying for about four years and I’m barely 20% fluent in each of the ones I’m studying. This is where consistency comes in. If I study every day and stay focused on what I’m studying, then I can continuously see improvement. I’m in no rush to be anywhere near fluent. I’m simply enjoying being able to understand the language and culture.