Learning a new language

It’s been a while since I learn a new language… the only other language I actually can say I know is English.

I learned it in a very long period of time. I took classes for two months every 4-5 years and in each enrollment, I “untangled” all the misunderstandings I’ve built in the previous years. It concluded with a 6 months period of advanced classes (1.5 hrs every other day… a 7 am class ugh) Anyway, from then on I was certain I knew English (I’ve got a certificate saying I do) and didn’t really use it consistently for a while.

It was like with many other kinds of knowledge, it’s there, you use it once in a while. I used to read technical articles, and I started to ignore the subtitles in the American movies at some point, but not quite.

And then… I moved to the USA for a job, needless to say, it was a full English immersion , oh my.

On my first day on the job, everybody was very considerate knowing English was my second language, but the next day, they treated me like if I have been living there for years. Those were some difficult years I tell ya that. I could understand everything or mostly everything but it was hard to express myself with fluency especially in technical discussions when there were so many concepts, abbreviations (oh dear, American English, I’m not sure if the same happens in the UK but here we love to abbreviate everything in TLA, three-letter acronyms).

Binge watching all seasons of HIMYM helped… a lot.

Then we have the inconsistency of written English, but to be fair, I learned the language had a hard uprising ( see more about that in the video Why English Spelling is so Damn Weird ).

Anyway, for months I pronounced things like “Ah-vo-kei-doh” for Avocado or “W-ee-nd” for " Wind” without anyone correcting me, perhaps they were being courteous and patient with me. Also I kept using the sound “Jay” for the letter “Y” (as expected in a Spanish speaker) because nobody told me it doesn’t have the Jay sound, but an “I” sound. So here I am saying “jes” and “jellow” causing some chuckles. And don’t even get me started with the words Beach or Sheet, because I still double and triple check my pronunciation before uttering those two.

I solved those and many other problems with time and practice. And definitely I was fortunate to meet a language pathologist specializing in Accent Reduction, she had a meet-up to chat and correct these kinds of problems. Now with COVID the meetings are still happening virtually and she started a YouTube Channel.

Today I can say my struggles with the language are not too different from a native speaker, I still have to check how a new word is pronounced and / or just ask people to repeat themselves if I don’t understand them. I think most of the time in English and dream from time to time when the dream has dialog in that language too, although my dreams are very abstract so, I’m not so sure language takes place there, but that’s a different post.

Ah yes a new language

Ehem, well I was going to post how now I’m learning a new language for the first time in years, and it turned into this semi-ranting about my struggles with English.

I started 24 days ago, to learn Dutch (!?) using Duolingo. Why Dutch? Well this post is already too long, I’ll just say it’s easier than German and more real than Esperanto.

The experience has been really pleasant so far and while I know it would take me years before I’m fluent the other day I had that moment of joy when I could identify some words by myself. And today I came up with a phrase while I was running: Ik wil ga niet. I checked it on Google Translate and it was correct (almost). I’ll probably write something more about that in the future. For now, I have to stop this and go and do my practice to keep my position in the Ruby league.

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