For many people, months of staying indoors and limiting social interaction has sparked an interest in new hobbies. In particular, learning languages provides a fun yet practical way to pass time. Aside from its usefulness on vacations, multilingualism also serves as an impressive aspect on a resume in the professional world, regardless of the career field. The accessibility of this ability is also attractive to learners because of the internet’s helpful resources for any language imaginable.
Personally, I began studying Japanese approximately four months ago, through Duolingo, a popular language learning app. Rather than being encouraged by an intense fascination with Japanese culture, this decision was made due to a boring few weeks of quarantine — a result of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic — which motivated me to find an interesting activity to fill the seemingly endless days. Despite being far from an expert, I can confidently say my nightly twenty minutes of practice have bettered my ability to understand Japanese and taught me quite a few commonly used phrases.
Many language learners wish to communicate with their relatives and further their understanding of their culture(s). Pierce Johnson, a sixteen year old from Irvine, California, is currently studying Italian, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and Lingala in order to connect with his diverse roots and aid him in future business opportunities. He states that he uses several resources including YouTube videos, Rosetta Stone, study books, and flashcards, to study a weekly total of eight hours. Pierce elaborates that although he is not yet fluent in all languages, he still feels accomplished when he “understands phrases from shows and songs”. He finds that despite the common belief that learning five languages simultaneously is nearly impossible, much of the knowledge he gains from studying certain languages often translates into several others as well. For instance, phrases he has learned in Italian and Spanish are similar because both are Romance languages.
Conversely, others prefer to study unfamiliar languages and meet different people. Although primarily East Asian students take Chinese at his school, Omar Yousufi, a junior at Arnold O. Beckman High School, decided to take the class to explore a new culture and meet people. Omar takes a Chinese class throughout the school year and studies during the summer by reading textbooks and watching videos on a daily basis. Omar recommends consistent practice and everyday conversation with native speakers because he “improves with the help of [his] friends’ corrections”. By simply talking to his peers, he refines his Chinese speaking skills in a casual manner, while enjoying quality time with his companions.
Even a basic knowledge of several languages is a useful tool that allows individuals of diverse backgrounds to share their cultures. Whether through apps, online videos, or traditional study methods, anyone with time and dedication is capable of learning a new language!