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Why and How I'm Learning All the Languages

Before going to Romania, I decided I'd try to learn a bit of Romanian. By almost any measure it's sort of a pointless language to learn, but I figured I'd get a kick out of pretending to my I didn't speak any for a couple days, and then all of a sudden surprising my friends by speaking it.

My friend Brian did me a huge favor by going to the library, checking out the Pimsleur Romanian I series, ripping it, and then sending me the MP3s. After finishing the first lesson, I was struck by just how much I enjoyed doing it. I've used Pimsleur tapes to learn Chinese, Japanese, and French (which I never finished and consequently don't remember), but it had been six years since I'd started one.

The returns on learning the first bit of a language are huge. While I don't have nearly enough vocabulary to have an actual conversation in Romanian, doing one half-hour tape every day for a month left me with enough to be able to ask directions, order things at a restaurant, exchange pleasantries with strangers, and buy things. I think I successfully made a joke in Romanian, too.

So after all that, I decided that I'm just going to learn every language. Pimsleur has a list of over fifty that they support. I'm going to start with the ones I'm most interested in that have ninety tapes instead of the thirty that they had for Romanian. I did the full ninety in Japanese, and it got me to the point that I could have actual, if a bit kludgy, conversations.

Why the Reason for Learning a Language is as Important as the Method

On Ideas in the Making

Growing up in Puerto Rico allowed me the privilege to become fluent in both Spanish and English, arguably the 2 of best languages to become fluent in. Early in my teenage years, I became obsessed with Japan, it was a mix of video games, animation, film and cuisine.  Then a Japanese family transferred to my school, and I became even more enthralled with the customs, culture and gestures of Japanese society.

I started learning Japanese. I was easily putting in 5+ hrs a day into learning Japanese, albeit at the time, I was learning it highly inefficiently, using bad books, long podcast and overall taking baby steps instead of immersion. I took a break for a while, after progress seemed to slow and hard, and then took a class in Japanese that introduced me to some new books and ways of learning. Suddenly my knowledge in Japanese increased threefold in half the time. But little did I know even class was not the most efficient way to learn.

Due to a lack of Japanese people in my college, and also a waning interest in Japan due to their economic problems, the strong Yen, and the work culture there, I started learning Chinese. Chinese is a completely different languages: multiple tones, simple, short words, and a completely different grammar system. But Chinese didn't click with me. I am not particularly fond of anything Chinese, although I do wish to the travel the country some day,  I am not interested in working in China. Furthermore, China’s English education is leagues above Japan ( Japan, even tough arguably the most advanced and developed nation in Eastern Asia, scores really weak on English) with many of my Chinese friends learning conversational English at public schools. Needless to say, I dropped the class.

The day after I dropped the class, I started learning German. being only exposed to Asian languages for so long, I found German to be a breeze in comparison. Not only that, but my reasons for learning German are more solidly founded. For one, I've been to Germany and liked it, I like the young feel of Berlin, how close it is to home and elsewhere, and the lively people and atmosphere. Secondly, Germany is very economically sound and its political system is rock solid, albeit their income tax is insane,  making it a place I would consider staying in for an extended period of time. Last but not least, Germany offers probably the easiest, or at least most practical visa in the EU for staying longer in the Schengen area, a self employment visa.

In only a week I've made insane progress, putting in 4+ hrs a day, buying 2-3 books for reference and constantly etching in patterns into my brain. I am constantly setting goals and trying to reach them. Whether it be do X amount of anki cards or write 100 sentences in 20 minutes I've been churning out German.

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