I am going to let you all in on a little secret. I am not a professional linguist! I know you are all surprised to hear that, but it’s true. In fact, I don’t use ANY of my languages (besides English, of course) professionally nor have I EVER taken a class in any language. Everything I know and recommend comes from what I have learned as I have stumbled through the various ways to learn.
I don’t think I am always right, or at least that what I like and do is right for everyone. There are a lot of view points on how to learn a language as an adult, and you know what? They are all probably right. I have heard an interesting quote once that intelligence is the ability to hold two conflicting thoughts in your mind at the same time with out going crazy. I probably miss quoted it, but you get the point. It’s important to learn and understand different view points so that you can be a more rounded individual.
Which Blogs I Read
That’s why I like to read the blog post from other successful language learners who may “seem” to be different. I read, religiously, the blog of Catherine Wentworth over at Women Learn Thai. This isn’t only because she lets me write a post on her blog every so often, but I love the process of learning and so does Catherine. She has even admitted that sometimes this comes as a detriment to her own language acquisition as she keeps trying new things instead of sticking with just one thing. I, personally, doubt it does too much harm and, luckily, we all benefit from the variety of post, both from her and her regular stream of writers, about language learning and motivation. Yes, the blog’s focus is about Thai, everyone can benefit from the blog. Which is why I think it got in the top 10 language learning blogs of 2011.
I also like to read the blog of Aaron Meyers over at The Everyday Language Learner. Aaron’s seems to be much more like me (except with a much more successful blog). He is a family man, who doesn’t have a huge amount of languages under his belt like some of the other language bloggers out there, nor does he travel to a new location in the world 5 or 6 times a year. I think this is why I like The Everyday Language Learner so much. It’s not about being exotic, it’s just showing how to learn a language while doing what you normally do everyday anyway. In fact, here is his recent post on just that subject: Are You An Everyday Language Learner?
What about the ones you don’t seem to “fit” with?
I also love to follow the blog of Donavan Nagel over at the Mezzofanti Guild. I’ve regularly linked to his post about setting up Learning With Texts on your own computer, but other than that, one might not guess that I would be interested in reading the post of Donavan. He isn’t “like me” in that he has the liberty to go immerse himself. No he doesn’t depend only on immersion, but he does have that option and he does use it. He is currently living in Korea, while learning Korean. He recommends many things, which are not always practical for me to take advantage of, but I continue to follow his blog! Why? Because I can still use it and adapt it.
For example, Donavan wrote a post recently on being a social risk taker. I have a full plate, and then some. It’s not a brag/complaint. It’s just a fact. I go to work extremely early, come home and then I spend my evening with my family. I steal some free time now and then to write a post or watch the 4th quarter of a Utah Jazz game, but that’s it. The only ones I socialize with at all are my wife and kids at home, and my co-workers at work. Augment this with being really shy, I am happy I can socialize at all in any language outside of English. Does that mean the post is useless for me? NO. What is the point? Take risks! Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and when you make a mistake, just accept it and go on!
These are not the only blogs I follow, but the point of the post is to encourage everyone to broaden your scope. Read and learn. You can learn something from everyone, even if the seem not to “fit” with who you are. You’ll be surprised what happens when you start to care about the other point of view as much as your own.