My Language-Learning Journey

My Language-Learning Journey

Hello guys! I hope that you’re having an absolutely beautiful day. 🙂 It has been quite a while since I talked about language learning (except for in practically every single Little Accomplishments, haha), so for today, that’s what I have written about! I’ve touched on this in the past, but it was one of the very first blog posts on my blog (haha), so I will expound on that post, go back a bit further, talk more about the present, stuff like that. If you’re interested, especially if you are learning or would like to learn a new language yourself, I’m sure that you will enjoy today’s post!

Exclusive English Speaker: My Childhood

Like many Americans, I grew up in a household that spoke only English. The only other languages I heard were fragments of conversations out in public, as well as the infrequent use of a foreign phrase, which really doesn’t count. As a whole, I had very minimal exposure to any language but English from the time I was a baby.

That is, any spoken language.

Do you know what ASL is?

American Sign Language and Learning New “Words”

When my little brother was a baby, and I was three to four years old, my mom discovered the world of baby signs. It is very much like American Sign Language (ASL), but only includes the basic signs babies and young children would want and need to use the most. She began using some signs to communicate better with Joshua, such as “more,” “eat,” and “drink,” and I was captivated. It was like this secret hand language that only my family knew, and while I can’t remember when exactly my fascination first began – maybe the first few times Joshua signed back? – but I quite quickly found it to be a lot of fun.

It wasn’t long before I’d learned to count to 10, sign off the alphabet, and express basic feelings and emotions, and my interest in this unspoken language has never gone away. ❤

The Art of ASL

Over the years, my family and I have learned so many signs. I have never sat down and attempted to list all the ones I know, as that would be quite a feat, but I’d say … maybe two hundred?? I have no idea. Anyway, I wanted to add to this post that ASL isn’t just a silent way of communicating; in my opinion, it is also a beautiful form of art.

Back when I was maybe eight or nine, I remember watching my mom sign along to a song we were listening to in the car at the time. I thought that this was the coolest thing EVER! It’s basically like dancing along to a song with your hands – I mean, tell me, isn’t that insanely cool?! In the years that followed, I have signed along to songs I know the lyrics to, and also looked up signs to be able to do it more fully. It is an absolutely amazing experience, and absolutely free of charge, as well!

If for no other reason, I find that ASL comes extremely in handy when I need to ask my mom or brother something wordlessly. This can either be when I’m eating, or halfway across the room, or I have to be quiet for some reason. However, if I try to spell something in ASL, or use a complicated sign that only I know, it can get confusing really quickly, haha!! Still, they know all the main signs, so communicating simple things isn’t a big deal.

Taking A Second Language For School

My love for American Sign Language almost carried over into my education in 8th grade. The spring that I finished 7th grade, my mom told me I would need to take a second language as one of my subjects the following fall. So, I thought, “Oh, that’s cool! I’ll just take ASL.” Turns out, that’s not an official language you can learn and get academic credit; they just teach and approve spoken languages. lol I was extremely disappointed, though.

That summer, I checked out a French language course from the library and proceeded to teach myself the basics. I already knew that my mom wanted me to learn Spanish for school, not French, as it made more sense for where we live (little did we know it would make more sense for my future, too, haha), but I decided to go ahead and learn a bit of French, as well, as it’s a beautiful language and, at the time, I despised Spanish. I thought, why learn a language if it doesn’t look cool or sound pretty? I mean, what’s the point? xD

Ohh, younger me. There are so many points.

However, I didn’t enter 8th grade hating learning Spanish and barely living through the lessons. I didn’t keep up with French and secretly dedicate more time to that than my studies of the language I was actually required to learn. You know what happened?

My Introduction to Spanish

In 2013, I became friends with a family in our neighborhood whose parents only spoke Spanish. Over the course of the next few weeks that summer, I went from wanting nothing to do with the language, to needing to know as much as my friend could tell me so I could have short conversations with her family.

Looking back, I first thought that this immersion experience was a wonderful coincidence. I dropped French like it was hot (lol) and began learning Spanish that fall with ease. Getting to talk to someone who spoke the language and them understanding what I said when I spoke was (and still is!) one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, knowing another language and being able to communicate in a different way is an invigorating experience for me.

At the beginning of 2017, when I almost simultaneously found the app Memrise and learned of the Lord’s plans for me and Guatemala, I corrected my observation and acknowledged the fact that His hand has been at work in my life for years. ❤

Meet Maggie: Aspiring Polyglot, and Servant of The Lord

To some, it may appear that I simply love learning new languages – and I do. But that’s not the whole of it.

Someone greater than I can comprehend has ordained this for me. He has a purpose for my life that I can only begin to imagine. Every second is vital, and this time of waiting is not meant to be wasted.

I love learning Spanish because He has placed the passion in my heart. I love Guatemala because of where He has lead my thoughts, hopes, and dreams. It blesses me exceedingly to be able to do my part, and watch Him do the rest. ❤

Now, before I go, I’d like to cover two more things in this post: what languages I know and how much of each (estimated, haha), and the resources I’ve used for learning Spanish over the years. Let’s get into this!

The Languages I Know

{in order of fluency}

English – I have been speaking English my whole life, and there are now few words I don’t know. My only drawback is that because I read so much as a child, I “taught” myself to pronounce different words a certain way, which ended up being the wrong way. I occasionally misstep on how a word is said, and I get sooo embarrassed, haha! I’m an ace at punctuation, and I’m quite the expert at grammar, but the grouping terms (adverbs, participles, etc.) are way beyond me.

Spanish – For the past four years, I have been teaching myself Spanish with various digital resources (listed below). It has not been a consistent process – I’ve taken time off when I grew weary or lost interest in the program I was currently using – but it has been a great journey as a whole. I know all of the basics by heart, am quite good at tenses, and could probably hold a pretty decent conversation with a native speaker, although I haven’t gotten to do that in a while.

American Sign Language (ASL) – I’ve been learning signs since I was four years old, and while I couldn’t hold a real conversation with a deaf person, they would get a pretty good idea of what I was trying to convey, lol.

Portuguese (Brazil) – I have been teaching myself the basics for the past few months. It’s exciting when I’m able to catch on to the similarities of this language and Spanish, but I’m taking it slowly because I fear I will mix up the two languages in my head, and I don’t want to do that.

French – For the last couple of years, I have acquired the knowledge of basic phrases and some. It won’t get me very far, but I’m fine with it for now.

Dutch – I went through a phase back in ’14 where I read a lot of books by an author who was from the Netherlands, and I quickly fell in love with the country and its language. I took a few lessons on an app on my phone and learned the basics, but that was it, and my understanding is quite dusty by now.

4 Language-Learning Courses / Apps
That I Have Used

  • Instant Immersion. This is a complete course you can buy on Amazon for less than $100, but I would not recommend it. The information is good, yet the setup is poor; the man and woman speaking the phrases make unnerving facial expressions; and I actually doubt the legitimacy of some of the words and sentences now. It was a nice introduction for me, but please, get something else.
  • Fluencia. This is an online course that has different package deals (you pay for how long you intend on learning the language), and while I used this website, I was really happy with what I learned! I love the setup, the voices and phrases they chose, and the review sessions were amazing. The main thing I learned that has proved extremely helpful now was tenses. I’m so thankful for what it taught me! However, when I wanted to take a break from learning after nearly a four-month streak, my mom went to cancel our subscription, and they basically said because we weren’t going to be paying them money anymore, they terminated my account, which made me lose all my progress. DON’T GIVE THESE GREEDY PEOPLE ANY MONEY! I was planning on returning to using Fluencia after my break, but then I saw how awful the people behind it were! Please, invest in other language-learning software!
  • DuoLingo. This is a fan-favorite for people wanting to quickly pick up a language, as it’s free and the courses are pretty thorough, but I honestly think it could be better in so many ways. The woman’s voice they chose for the Spanish course is very monotone and puts me to sleep. Also, there are too many phrases that were irrelevant. For example, I’M NOT GOING TO USE “I AM A POTATO” IN REAL LIFE. xD As a whole, I did enjoy it for a while, but now I know that there are better options for me. If you want to try out DuoLingo for yourself, go for it. If you already love it, that’s awesome! Personally, I don’t enjoy it now, but to each his own.
  • Memrise. You guys have heard me rave about this, but if you want to hear me get all excited about it again, I highly recommend that you get Memrise! It is the best one I’ve tried so far, all the best features are free, and there are so many languages to choose from. Please, if you have an Apple or Android phone, or if you’re interested in doing it on your PC (they have an online version, which is also free! – not sponsored!), definitely try it out!

That’s all for today, guys! (And at almost 2k words, I should certainly hope so, lol.) Let me know in the comments below:

What language/s are YOU learning?

thanks to jirah and elline for my signature! xx

55 thoughts on “My Language-Learning Journey

  1. Wow, that’s so cool that you know so many different languages. I took a Spanish class at a library last year with a lady who was from Argentina but honestly, Spanish isn’t really my thing. 😉 That’s awesome that you like it though. My sister loves it.
    I know quite a few French words, but they are all for ballet terms, lol. I’d love to learn French one day. 🙂
    Also this is kind of random but have you ever read ” And the Word Came with Power” by Joanne Shelter? It’s a missionary story about a girl who originally wanted to do missions work in Guatemala, but she does end up going somewhere else. I finished it last night and it reminded me about you. I just thought I’d recommend it to you if you haven’t read it because I know that your into missions work, and it’s a very inspiring story. 🙂
    Have a great day, Maggie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They have all been a blessing in my life! Language learning is (for the most part) so much fun. Ohh haha I understand! We all have preferences, and there are also times where something isn’t fun to learn because of the teacher or situation, as well. That’s cool! I’d love to know more French at some point; it’s so beautiful.
      No, I haven’t heard of that book! It definitely sounds interesting, though 🙂 Thank you for telling me about it! I’ll go look it up. ❤
      Thank you! You have a great day, too xx

      Like

  2. Espero que estejas a gostar de aprender Português! Boa sorte! 😊
    This is a nice post, I’m actually pushing myself to learn Italian and Japanese. I already now English since I was a kid and also Spanish. I tried French and I know some things but I guess it’s just not for me, not for now at least :).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Obrigada meu amiga! (Rough translation haha) I definitely am 🙂 Thank you! That sounds awesome. I would love to learn Italian some day, as well; I’ve noticed different similarities between it and Spanish.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really hope you don’t mind me correcting you but “meu” is for masculine words and “minha” for feminine ones. So you say “minha amiga!” because “amiga” is a feminine word. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh no worries! I’m always open to help with a language I’m learning 🙂 Thank you for telling me! I definitely need to work on understanding masculine/feminine words in Portuguese haha

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you, I will! Although I don’t know if there are huge differences between Portugal’s Portuguese and Brazil’s, and I’m learning Brazil’s at the moment. Would that make much of a difference?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. There are differences between them, for instance the accent is very different, grammar and spelling also because some words are written differently, like for example comboio (portuguese) is trem in brazil’s. (meaning train).
        Brazil uses a lot of English words and adapts to it’s own language. They can be both very unique but similar at the same time. If you have to learn Portuguese stick to only one, don’t mix both because it can be confusing.
        For a Portuguese person (resident in Portugal) it’s sad to see that most of the times the apps only has Portuguese from Brazil and not mine but I can’t do anything to change it.
        You can keep asking me things because it is practically the same language and here in Portugal, Brazil’s influence is very present.
        I hope I helped and sorry for the long text…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s good to know. I’ve noticed the same kinds of differences between Spanish in Mexico, and in Spain; lots of similarities and differences. 🙂 At this point, it makes the most sense for me to learn Brazil’s, but I understand what you mean about it being frustrating that they pick Brazil’s over Portugal’s. However, Memrise does have courses for both! ❤ ok thank you so much 🙂 haha no worries!

        Like

  3. Beautiful. I love it Maggie that’s wonderful. I learned sign language when I was younger and I still remember bits and pieces. I also learned spanish in school and when I worked for Goodwill I learned even more spanish. It was wonderful. I would love to learn some spanish so I can actually carry on a conversation. It would be wonderful. I’m so happy for you. I wish you well with learning all the languages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 I find sign language so enjoyable. Spanish is for me, as well – I can see it being especially helpful at my future jobs! I’d love to be able to hold a conversation in Spanish, as well – I don’t think that’s too far off for me 🙂 Thank you, you too!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes! So many works-in-progress 😀 I would love to know a bit of Romanian! I’ve never seen it written or heard it spoken, so that would be cool. Ooh Korean, that’s awesome! I hope I can better learn French someday, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Romanian uses the same alphabet (+3 other letters) as English, and sounds a little bit like Russian and Italian combined (weird combo, I know, haha). Maybe I’ll write a post in both Romanian and English one day! And I would also love to perfect my French.😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice, Maggie! I love learning languages, but I am too busy lately to keep up with them. Back when I used to attend school, I learned a little bit of Romanian, but not much to get me through. I devoted some time to learning Japanese even watching films (especially YuGiOh!) in the language. At the moment, I am learning French, Italian, Greek, and ASL. I am having fun with them and I also know a little bit of Hindi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Diana! So do I, but I agree, it does take so much time. I think it’s so cool how many different languages you’ve learned some of 🙂 Greek would be such a fun language to learn, I think!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Most welcome, Mags. Yes, I never considered Greek fun before until I encountered so many Greek words while studying the origin of words & the Bible. It’s a beautiful language!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how much languages you’ve been studying! I’m quite fond of sign language, but have yet to look more into it. I do the New Zealand version though. I know quite a few ‘baby signs’, which I’ve been using at work. It definitely helps figure out what some of the younger pre-verbal kids need sometimes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is wonderful Maggie!!!

    I’ve decided on starting a new series for Peeking, and once a week I’ll have a post about a different country and things about that country to fight about my American ignorance. Haha. 🙂 It’s exciting learning about new places and people.

    I’m so glad you see the connections God has started you from long ago. He will always help us understand, maybe not at first, but He will at some point. 🙂 and He will continue to make His path clear! Happy for you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, girlie! Aw I saw in my Reader that you had put up the first part to that series, and I think that it’s a fantastic idea! When I have a moment, I’ll pop on by to comment. 🙂 Yes, it is so beautiful to see how far He has brought me. Amen to that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok cool! Haha I’m sure others will. I’ve found that if I’m doing a post or series purely for my enjoyment (especially when I research a topic), the response doesn’t matter as much because I simply had fun writing it!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m currently learning chinese, it was compulsory for me to learn it in year 7 and 8, but I’ve chosen to continue until now, and I’ll do it in VCE next year. I also know some Auslan, but I haven’t practiced in a while 😂. I know a few words in Dutch (I could count my vocab on one hand 😆) because I have Dutch ancestry. Good luck with all of your future language adventures xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cool! It’s awesome that you know all of those! I’m currently using Memrise for learning Spanish! I started it because I’ve heard that you use it. Thanks for introducing me to the app! I know a little bit of French. I’d love to learn Dutch!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s so cool that you know so many languages! I speak English (of course) and I can hold a conversation in French. I’ve only been learning French for just over a year and a half but the course was very easy-to-follow and I hope that by next year I’ll be on my way to saying “yeah, I can speak fluent French”! I’ll keep dreaming…
    Good luck with your languages in the future! ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That was a cool topic to cover! I loved going through your journey with you, haha! I only know a few things in ASL, due to me having a deaf cousin I was always around when I was younger. Now that we live 18 hours away from him my signing has faded. I will have to try Memrise! I was using DuoLingo and you are so right with those weird phrases they make you learn, lol! I really want to learn more Spanish, so when I am travelling I am not completely lost 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 ❤ That’s so interesting! I’ve never known anyone personally who was deaf. Haha yeah I can see why that would be pointless xD Memrise is awesome! They have so many different language courses. Yeah they really do, haha! It is definitely helpful to know the basics of Spanish 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. English isn’t my ethnic language cause I live in Poland where we speak in Polish. I learn English at school and I go for extra English lessons cause this language is nice for me and I love it! ❤ I have got a good teacher too and it’s important 😉 I also have learnt Spanish at school for one year. I like this language very much and I’m quite good at it! My mum speaks Russian very well (she’s a teacher) and I hope she will teach me a bit 😀 Russian seems very interesting for me and the alphabet looks amazing! I’d love to learn French. This language is so beautiful and romantic! Btw, I want to travel to France one day! What do I think about German? In fact it doesn’t seem nice for me but, anyway, I’d like to learn it a bit and know the essentials. I think the knowledge of languages is very important and everybody should speak at least two languages 🙂
    Fantastic idea for a post!! It was nice to read it! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so interesting, Ann! I did not know you were Polish; I’ve never heard that language spoken, actually, but I’d love to someday. 😀 If one can get past crazy English grammar rules (I can’t even keep up with them, haha), I think that English is an amazing language! Yes, having a good teacher is very important. 🙂 That’s cool that your mom speaks and teaches Russian; I would love to know the basics of Russian one day! French is definitely beautiful, and I agree about German being not pleasurable, haha xD I agree! Knowing more than one language is helpful in so many ways 🙂
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Ann!

      Like

      1. Polish is one of the most difficult languages in the world, hahha. We have some difficult for foreigners sounds but, anyway, Polish is quite a nice language xD There are lots of words. Also we have interesting idioms 😀
        Dziękuję bardzo za odpowiedź do mojego komentarza!
        It means:
        Thank you so much for replying for my comment!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha yeah, although I do think that there are many sounds of any language that are hard for non-native speakers to understand! Ahh that is so cool! You’re very welcome (:

        Like

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