Language Tag | Where I Reveal I Have Commitment Issues Even with Languages

Posted April 14, 2021 by Sophia
7 Comments

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Since I’m learning Korean currently*, I thought doing the Language Tag would be fun.

Sometimes I don’t really feel like doing a book tag**, although to be honest, I think I collect more tags than I actually do them. But when I saw this tag from Nurul Rasya, I snagged it and chucked it into my drafts immediately. Otherwise, I’ll just forget about it completely or hoard it for another decade. Although I guess keeping this even mostly completed in drafts for months on end is a form of hoarding as well now that I think about it. 🤔

Turns out I thought I was indecisive with every decision ever, but it carries over to languages too. And I apparently hated learning as a kid (or maybe I just hated the way education systems are structured). But let’s dive in even though I have commitment issues, at least according to my recent wrap-up!

*Ha! More like I was, but I’ve been slacking.

**Lately, I’ve been posting a whole lot of reviews, and I wanted to change things up a little.

What do you consider to be your native language?

Growing up, Chinese was my native language but once I started elementary school, my mom started focusing on English. (Considering that America’s primary language is English, and she didn’t have the energy to teach a kid unwilling to learn Chinese on top of it.) So I guess in this case it would be English.

What was your first language learning experience?

I grew up in a multilingual family, so I got exposed to not only Mandarin Chinese, but also Cantonese, Shanghainese and Vietnamese. For the most part, though, it was Chinese.

But outside of the family, it was unsurprisingly Spanish in middle school when I first moved and they just threw a schedule together based on information from my old school. (Let’s just say I got out of languages quickly.)

What languages have you studied and why did you start them?

Because school never worked well with me when it comes to languages (I definitely didn’t remember anything I ever learned from Spanish class outside of remembering that I got bullied…), I’m only including what I’ve personally dabbled in.

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Korean

I’d love to be able to understand K-pop lyrics and dramas without having to rely on translations and subtitles one day! At the very least, I want to be at a level where I’m at with understanding Chinese – maybe I can’t understand word for word, but I’ll know the gist of what’s going on.

Italian

Way back in late middle school I wanted to try Italian because musical terms are Italian and I figured it would be a good starting point. I never got back to it, though.

French

Mainly because of Code Lyoko: Evolution, which is the fifth season and live-action of the Cartoon Network show I tried watching whenever possible at my cousin’s house. (The fifth season never aired in the US but episodes in French are on YouTube. I don’t think I was a fan of the acting though.)

Chinese

At some point, I do want to go back to starting Chinese, but I just need to recover from being put in Chinese school every week for a few years. 😪 The moment my mom found out I was learning Korean, she went, “Wouldn’t Chinese be easier? You have speaking and listening down, writing and reading should come easily.”

Look, mom, you’re probably right. I’m still scarred from Chinese School though.

How does your personality affect how you learn languages?

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If I’m not interested, I get bored easily and move on to the next thing; it applies to languages too, which is why I’ve jumped from Italian to French to a few other ones before settling on attempting Korean. I tend to be curious and like to ask a lot of questions, which helps me expand and look for various resources, but at the same time, it sets me back sometimes.

And I sometimes take on too much on my plate, so I have this habit of abandoning things for a few weeks (or even months*) while trying to get my ducks together.

*In this case, there’s a pandemic going on and self-care has been my priority more than languages.

Do you prefer learning languages in a class or individually?

Individually – I’ve found I never really thrive in a classroom compared to going out on my own, especially when it comes to long-term memorization. In the few language learning classrooms I’ve been in, I remembered virtually nothing and maybe it was the restriction of tests and papers with measurement of intelligence and skill by letters and numbers. The few things I do remember tend to be project based classes or things I did in a practical setting rather than a structured, test-based environment.

What are your favorite language learning materials?

Being from a low-income family and as the only source of income in the household, I try to find free and low-cost resources when possible. If I’m spending quite a bit, I make sure it’s well worth the money.

Apps

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I’m on the go a lot and with no readily available internet access other than my phone now, apps are the friendliest methods for me.

In addition, language books haven’t helped me much, so while yes, my library probably has material (not really, there’s a lot of Spanish and French), it’s far more boring than an app that gives me XP. Also… I’ve always been more of a gamer when it comes to learning, much to my mom’s dismay. (The only reason I ever enjoyed getting stuck at the library after finishing homework to practice typing and typing only was because of a typing game I found.)

Media

Music, TV shows, clips from variety shows, etc. This doesn’t necessarily help me learn a language, but constantly absorbing myself into the language through other means without having the money to go abroad. I’ve found this helps a bit with getting a feel of how the language sounds like and proper pronunciation.

Journaling

I haven’t actually gotten to this point yet, but at some point, I’ll have enough vocabulary to get practice in while journaling. At the end of the day, no matter how good an app is set up, I’m going to eventually hit my limit where the app(s) will no longer be sufficient. But I’ll cross that bridge when (and if) I get there.

Since I’ve also started bullet journaling again this year, I might also start integrating whatever language I’m learning (in this case, Korean) into my spreads. I’ve yet to work out how I want it to appear though… but future Sophia can worry about that.

How much time do you spend actively learning per day/week?

I’m in no rush to learn a language, especially when starting out. Right now I’m averaging 15-30 minutes a day or sometimes 45 minutes every other day, but I think as I get more comfortable I may learn for 45 minutes a day.

There are times when I do end up abandoning the learning process, which usually sets me back a few lessons, but I try going for at least 45 minutes a week if possible. (And there are times I can’t, so I guess I make do with relearning what I unlearned.)

What are your short-term and long-term language learning goals?

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Short-term

Sometime next year (let’s go with March), I’m hoping to start writing an occasional journal entry (aiming for once a month) in Korean.

Long-term

This is a complete stretch, but I’d love to be at a basic conversational level in about 2 years with Korean.

More than likely I won’t actually follow through with these goals because things change, but it would be nice if I did. (Also again, there’s a pandemic and language learning isn’t my top priority.)

What is your favorite language?

I might be biased, but Korean sounds super pretty. (Maybe I’ve listened to too much K-pop.)

What is the next language you want to learn?

I’m not entirely sure yet. I’d like to say Chinese because I have a few bases covered already rather than learning from scratch, but I don’t know if it’s good for me to jump from Korean to Chinese considering 자 and 茶 are pronounced almost the same. (Plus 중국 and 中国 aren’t far from each other either pronunciation wise.)

Maybe I’ll try French or Italian again? 🤔

What advice can you give to new language learners?

Ay, I’m such a noob, why am I and who am I to be giving advice in the first place?

  • Take your time and don’t pressure yourself – nothing sucks the joy out of anything than if you’re feeling like you’re forcing yourself.
  • It’s not a good idea to learn two languages of a similar family at the same time – ie. Chinese, Japanese and Korean; Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. It’s possible but difficult, and it’s easy to mix things up. (Definitely not advised when starting out on learning a language though.)
  • Language learning is more fun when you have a friend learning with you; Clo from Cuppa Clo and I are both learning Korean, although we’re using different resources. (At some point we’ll probably just start sending messages to each other in Korean as practice.)

Let’s talk, bookwyrms: Do you speak multiple languages? What languages do you hope to learn one day?

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Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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7 responses to “Language Tag | Where I Reveal I Have Commitment Issues Even with Languages

  1. I once did a tag that I was tagged on for a year so no biggie lol
    Chinese is difficult but I heard that Vietnamese has more tone? So jealous that you grew up in a family that used more than 1 language. In my family, we used mostly Malay and sometimes English.

    I’m learning Korean and Chinese so would love to see your tips on how to learn the languages *wink*

  2. “Maybe I’ll try French or Italian again? 🤔”
    The second? LOL 😉.

    The only language I can say I’m proficient in is English…I studied Spanish for two years, but I haven’t had any reason to practice it afterwards, so I forgot most of it. Then again, same goes for spoken English as opposed to written English…I’ve never practiced the first after uni.

    Good luck with your Korean!

  3. Hey learning a new language is hard! I don’t blame you for having commitment issues with languages. Especially when you are so used to speaking a certain language, and it can be challenging to switch learning different pronunciation and grammar rules. Ugh. GRAMMAR. UGH.

    I am bilingual, with my native language being Bangla (or Bengali). But I studied in a private British curriculum school, so I ended up being fluent in English as well.

    Oh and here’s a fun fact: as a Bangali Muslim, I can read, write and speak Arabic perfectly…but I have NO IDEA what the words mean :p Basically, most Bangali Muslims are taught how to read the Quran so we can recite it in Arabic from an early age but we are never really taught the actual Arabic language. They’ll even teach us how to write in Arabic, but they don’t teach us what the grammar rules or what the words actually mean.

    It’s funny and a little bit embarrassing too.

  4. That’s awesome you were exposed to so many different languages growing up, and that you are learning Korean now. I loved languages and learning about the cultures of the different languages. I was mad my dad didn’t speak his native language to me when I was a kid. Good luck with your studies!

  5. What a fun tag, and I really enjoyed reading your answers! I am the opposite and prefer learning languages in the classroom and/or immersion. I find it difficult to stay motivated when I just have myself holding me accountable, and the accent/pronunciation guidance is truly useful for me.

  6. Yes I think we’ll eventually reach the point of messaging each other in Korean in DMs hehe. Also agreeing with you on how pretty Korean sounds but again I’m biased from all the K-Pop haha. Pretty sure I already told you this before but I learned French in Primary school then continued learning French throughout Secondary school and also picked up German in Secondary too. I ended up doing a GCSE in German though and dropping French because coursework was overwhelming and I picked up German easier than French, despite me having done French for longer xD I can’t speak much French or German off the top of my head but I can read basic French and German. You already know that I’m learning Korean hehe but I think I might dabble in Japanese at some point purely because of me watching anime.

  7. So interesting how you had so many languages around growing up! Sadly, for me there was only ever french around.. as we were one of thoses majorly french town 😬 now at work, there’s a mix of french, english & punjabi! I have no idea what they are saying, but it does sounds different and facinating in it’s own way (mainly because it sounds so much more faster than what we are used to) — make me think it must be hard to learn..

    So right about being forced! Not sure if it was the poor environement starter of learning english in a french speaking town, or because we had the pressure to LEARN english and we couldn’t pass on without it (no matter where I go in life, since primary school we have to have english classes taken. We never get rid of it- and you gotta pass it, no failing.) but took me literally years before my brain could get on and understand it 😂 something like Seven. Years. I couldn’t even fanthom seeing a word in english and just.. comprehend it meant X in french. But they eventually got me! 👀