Friday, 5 December 2014

Learn a Language

I have decided that I am finally going to learn a second language.

I did a bit of French, German and Welsh at school, I even somehow - including a little bit of cheating - managed to get a GCSE grade B in French. However, unfortunately 15 years later I can't speak a word of any of these languages.

I'm quite envious of people who can speak a second, third, fourth... language. But I needn't be. Yes growing up in a bilingual home must make it a little easier to learn another language and yes it is probably harder to learn a language now that I'm old, than it would have been when I was younger (and less forgetful), but all I need to do is put in the same time and effort that everyone - who knows more than one language - had to put in at some point and I can add fluent in *place name of chosen language here* on my CV.

So the first step was to decide that I was going to learn a language. Tick!
(it is on this years list).

And now the second step is to decide which language I am going to learn.

There are several options:

As a Welshman I feel somewhat ashamed that I cannot speak my native language. That said however, although I would feel a great sense of person achievement once I finally learn to speak Welsh - something that I very much hope I will do one day - none of my family and only one of my friends speaks Welsh and so I would never use it. I could potentially use it for work - although I'm not sure how many Welsh speakers there are in London - and I could translate my own writing in Welsh which would be cool. However, as I don't have anyone to converse with and the rule with languages appears to be "use it or lose it" then I'm not sure that learning Welsh is the best idea just at the moment.

I have attempted to learn Greek before. I went out with a Greek girl for over three years. Believing - naively - that we would one day raise a family together, I knew that even though her English was probably better than mine it was imperative that I learnt her mother tongue. Unfortunately I didn't make a very big effort. I should have made a bigger one! But now is not the time for regrets. Now is the time for action. And although I didn't do a very good job of learning Greek the first time around, maybe I should give it another go? I already have the books, online materials and a Greek Cypriot landlord to practice with. I also have an idea for a Greek language film that I hope to make one day. However, I wouldn't really use it - in the short term - and I think I would prefer to learn a language that is more widely used and/or would help me career wise.

Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese
I have friends who speak Spanish, German Italian and Portuguese. Therefore, if I was to learn one of these languages - although it might be a little tiresome for them - I would have someone that I could practice on. Out of these languages maybe Spanish is good choice as it is widely spoken?

Chinese, Japanese, Korean 
I find East Asia and South East Asian fascinating and I would love to travel there. I have friends who have recently moved to Bali and I am currently - if not very successfully - saving up to go and visit them. While I am there - assuming I do go at some point - I would like to take the opportunity to visit other countries in the area and I have always thought about teaching English as a foreign language, which would give me the opportunity to stay for longer if I wished. I also find women from this part of the world extremely attractive. Not because they are supposed to be submissive. Just because I think that they have very nice faces! And although learning the language doesn't appear to be a must to teach abroad, it would surely make day to day life a lot easier.

In November 2015 a British man named Tim Peake will go into space with the European Space Agency. At the time of lift off he will be 43 years of age! At 31 and being British - a country without a proper space programme - I thought I was too old and too un-American to retrain as an Astronaut, but who knows? Maybe if I become a helicopter pilot and learn to speak Russian I can get myself on one of those Russian rockets and fulfil a lifelong ambition? Worth a shot, right?

Sign language
I don't know anyone who signs. I would therefore find it difficult to practice. However, I find sign language completely fascinating and I have done for as long as I can remember. I think that it would be cool to have a skill that could potentially make someone else's life easier. I also believe that it would be good to have on my CV and could open up new work related avenues for both my writing and swimming teaching.

And so there it is. I have made my decision. I am going to learn British Sign Language!

I have started by downloading some helpful materials and 'Learn Sign Language for Dummies' is on my Christmas list.

I will also be looking to start practical lessons in London in the new year because having attempted and failed to learn a language before, I know that I personally need the structure and routine of a classroom if I am actually going to learn sign language.


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