Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How Tough Is It To Learn A New Language?

Trust me, even I can't memorize that! That character has 58 strokes!
Food for the soul: English has become one of the main languages of communication around the world, so much to the point that many people speak English and only English now. Other extremely used languages in the world are Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. If you know all three of these, you would be able to speak to most of the people around the world. I see Filipinos everyday choosing to speak English over Tagalog these days so much to the point that the only Tagalog words some people use in their sentences are the expressions like na, diba, ganun, naman, pa, etc. (If you're a Filipino, you know what I mean). The newer generation of kids speaks only English these days, and are slowly losing interest in learning another language. I, on the other hand, did not have that.
I'm glad to have lived in a multi-cultural society before where I got the best of all worlds!
I speak English enough to talk to people, but I still fall back on speaking Tagalog sometimes when around Filipinos because growing up, I had a family that spoke Tagalog, English, and Chinese. Tagalog was my main language. And the Chinese part just makes it even more complicated because of how diverse the dialects are such as Cantonese. My family and other Chinese living in Philippines spoke Hokkien Chinese, and I spoke Mandarin. I am the type of person who needs formal study in order to fully learn a language. Hokkien was not something you learned in school. It was a language you learned at home. My parents spoke to me in just Tagalog and English, so that's where I am comfortable at. That's why when those Chinese-Filipinos talk to me in their language, I reply back in Tagalog or English because I can only understand some Hokkien, but can converse much better in Mandarin Chinese.

Hahaha! This was me growing up. I just learned to accept that I'm different!
Languages shows just how diverse and different many countries are. I grew up in an international environment that had races from all over the world. I had friends as diverse as the United Nations. That's why I am considered a third culture kid. I remember having to study several languages in school and on my own due to interest. I studied 6 languages to be exact: Filipino (Tagalog), English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, and Japanese. Back in school and college, we had to learn French, Spanish, Filipino, and Chinese in class, but just more basic. In college, I chose to learn French again due to the fact that my course in college was Hotel Managment, majoring in Culinary Arts- French cuisine and Pastry. I loved learning languages because I loved diversity and knowing different cultural backgrounds. I learned Japanese because my close friend is Filipino-Japanese, plus I had an extreme interest in Japanese food and the show Cooking with Dog (Youtube cooking show), which motivated me to travel to Japan by myself. Plus I have a cousin that's Japanese! Languages like French and Spanish just sound so sexy when spoken, and it helps when trying to attract people! Ay caramba! Por favor. Quiero visitar España, Brasil, Francia, Peru, Puerto Rico, y Colombia ahora! Hahaha!
If you love Japanese food as much as I do, you should definitely watch Cooking with Dog!
Knowing the basics of these 6 languages or at least enough to survive, I can reach out to so much more people. Knowing another language other than English opens opportunities to many jobs in your country and others as well. In my opinion, knowing several languages helps you more with analytical skills and helps you communicate better to other people. Studies have shown that the more languages you know, the lesser chance that you would get Alzheimer's Disease. Speaking those languages got me friends that I have never met before. I was able to share my culture as well as learn their culture. It's a beautiful thing honestly, to know another language or several. It makes you appreciate just how diverse and wonderful other cultures are.

I love this show on Youtube so much! They are one of my favorites on Youtube!
How tough is it to learn a new language? Well, let's start off with Mandarin Chinese. According to Effective Language Learning, The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) states that you would need at least 88 weeks (2200 hours or 1.88 years) in order to achieve profiency in speaking, reading and writing in Mandarin Chinese as well as Japanese for the native English speaker. This is due to the linguistic and cultural differences in the English language. Chinese is difficult in terms of pronouncing and memorizing the characters, but I have to really put emphasis on the difficulty of the Japanese language though when it comes to reading and writing more. This is due to the Kanji writings or the original Japanese scripture. The pronounciations changes ALL THE TIME when the Kanji is placed in another context. Honestly, even until today after studying Mandarin Chinese for almost 8 years, I find Japanese to be extremely difficult to another level when it comes to reading and writing. You can imagine me getting a headache when switching from one language to another. Everyday, I feel the veins in my head aching and my mind spinning like a carnival ride from knowing it!
I honestly feel that learning a language is difficult. Not everyone has the mindset to learn another language.
However, Mandarin Chinese is difficult nonetheless. It takes time, effort and dedication. When I was 19 years old, my papa left me to live in Taiwan by myself with barely any knowledge of Mandarin. Of course I studied it in school, but it's completely different when you are in an area that speaks only that language. But gradually as time passed by and I got more experience communicating with people and making an effort, I gradually picked up the language. I was able to speak to people and introduce myself and understand the people as well. Living in United States, Mandarin helped a lot along with Spanish because of the Latino community there. Then I went to Japan, and communicating with them in their native language helped me get by and see the wonders that not many foreigners got to experience. Yes, languages are difficult, but patience, dedication and perserverance is the key in order to succeed and know enough to communicate. I travel a lot, and knowing the native language can help you in so many ways. And if you know languages other than English, you would be surprised at the possible opportunities you would get just from knowing it!
Patience, Passion, and an Open Mind are essential in learning a language! Have faith!

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