Learn A Language That You're Able To Use

As I mentioned in my last post, my first goal in choosing a language this year was that I pick something which I will have many opportunities to use. In that post, I listed out several considerations, and I think it's important to go through a similar process when choosing a new language project for yourself.

In my case, though, there are a few additional things to think about when choosing. Most of my readers probably don't have a language learning blog. And most of my readers probably won't be starting another language every year.

But in my case, these are important additional criteria. Having succeeded at Italian and then fallen short with Turkish, it would be a huge discredit to me if I were to turn my attention to another romance language. Whether fair or not, any success would be viewed with the advantage of my Italian success. (Not to mention the fact that I speak Spanish too!) Likewise, having dabbled in Polish for a month last year, and being a fluent speaker of Russian, I couldn't really choose a Slavic language either, for the same reason.

I don't want my poor results with Turkish to become an excuse for anyone to say that a language is "too hard", or that a year isn't enough time. My failure was mostly an issue of motivation, and the only way I can prove that is by continuing to attack difficult languages and to succeed when I do!

And so it is that I have chosen to learn Greek this year.

The Greek language is not slavic, not romance, not germanic. It has a new alphabet. It has odd spelling peculiarities and is not phonetic. In summary, there is nothing about the Greek language that can be said to give me any advantages in learning.

My only advantage, which it is my intention to prove, is that I will have opportunities to use the language. I work closely with a fluent speaker of Greek. The office where I work is located 2 blocks from Chicago's "Greektown". And I intend (hopefully) to move to an apartment in or near Greektown soon.

The bottom line is, this is a language I will be able to use. And that's the most important key to learning: you must use what you learn.

Well, that's it, then. Wish me luck!


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Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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  • Yay, comments are open again!I'm looking forward to following your progress with Greek. It's a language I've considered studying (but will hold off, for now).R.
    ==

  • Καλή τύχη! Καλή χρονιά! :)

  • ευχαριστω!

  • Yeah, I think it's been long enough for the troublemakers to lose interest. I miss the discussion, as I know others do too.I'm looking forward to Greek. It should be interesting!

  • Hi Randy,Happy New Year and it's nice to see you back blogging! I really hope your new language mission is going to pan out as planned, but I have a question regarding it.Are you planning to stay away from using any language learning materials such as books, software etc. like when you were learning Turkish and focus only on communication and contextual learning?Thanks,Robby

  • Good luck with the Greek, should be a wonderful language and culture to learn about!

  • Can't wait to hear more!  Good luck Randy.

  • No. I think I learned quite a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of avoiding learning materials in my Turkish mission last year.There are some aspects of that approach which I will probably continue to use in all my future language learning projects, but there are also some aspects to the "blitzkrieg approach" I tried with Polish last year, which I'm anxious to experiment with this time around...

  • I hope so. There's certainly a lot of history there...

  • Thanks!

  • Interesting choice Randy. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I rememeber you saying that you dislike the sound of Greek in a conversatoin we had last year. Has that changed or does it not matter to you any more? 

  • Before I learned any German, I remember thinking that it sounded like a harsh language, full of people clearing their throats. Now, after some exposure to it, and actually understanding some of it, I find that it can be incredibly pleasant at times.Before I learned Russian, it sounded like a scary, imposing, evil language. Now, as a fluent speaker, I just hear people's thoughts, feelings, and information.Conversely, prior to learning Italian, I romanticized it to be "the most beautiful language in the world" (la bella lingua, as the saying goes), but having spent some time in Italy, I saw how easily people could take all the beauty out of the language when they're just using it day to day. They're not concerned with its beauty, they're just communicating. So I guess what I'm saying is... sure, I may not have liked how Greek sounded to me prior to this mission, but that's no reason not to learn, and I have a strong feeling that after I learn to speak and understand Greek I will have a completely new opinion of how it sounds.  :)

  • Felice anno nuovo! Spero che abbia tanto successo con la nuova lingua!  Conosco bene la zona greca a Chicago! Lavoravo molto vicino a Chicago Circle Campus e andavo spesso a Greek Town! Auguri! Melissa
    (la studentessa matta: https://www.studentessamatta...)

  • Ci sono molti ristoranti belli là. Spero di traslocare in Greek Town quando termine il mio locazione. Allora ci vorrebbero solo poche isolati camminare al lavoro.
    Grazie per i tuoi commenti!

  • In my opinion, we're excited while learning a language because we continuously find something different and new as we're progressing our way through the process of learning that particular language, it can be either its pronunciation or its alphabets or its structures etc. In this case, Greek is very interesting to my mind since it is one of the ancient languages, the language of knowledge and philosophy in the ancient times. So you speak more or less the language of Socrates though you are going to learn Modern Greek. I think in every language there is a few Greek words even in Arabic because the Arabs were the translators of the Greek wisdom. I've also got Teach Yourself Greek but I have not read it yet, just for my collection and reference if I need it sometime. Good luck with your learning Greek :)

  • Indeed.  I expect that learning Greek will eventually give me a lot of new insight into English, as well as many other languages.

  • Wow, I have actually done this last summer! I still have lots of tips if you're interested, some of them here:https://ikindalikelanguages....

  • Great choice Randy.  How important it is to be able to use what we learn!  Wish you could have had more success with Turkish - mostly so you would come visit!  Looking forward to the Greek journey though, and this way you can visit Greece next year and hop  over into Turkey as well.  Good Luck!

  • I remember you doing that. (Actually, I think it was 2010, so two summers ago.) I had planned to have a look back through your site and see what I could use. 

  • Thanks.  Yes, that photos is from Greektown. It's only three blocks walk from my office, so I go there often, and I will probably go even more often now that I'm learning Greek.

  • Outright success with Turkish fluency is not a requirement of me visiting. Besides, it's not as if I didn't learn anything... :)Proximity to Greece is a good selling point for a two-part travel plan, though! While I'm learning Greek this year, maybe I'll continue trying to improve my Turkish with that in mind!

  • True, you know better than I do. :)
    Good luck with your mission. I hope you can do better than I did!(And I'm not complaining by saying that: I think I did pretty well.) I do still sometimes hear Greek and it's always exciting to do so now. :]

  • Я мог бы писать по-английски, но я выбрал другой неродной язык. Греческий - хороший выбор. Я до сих пор учил только древнегреческий, но, наверное, когда-то я начну учить и современный язык. А может быть и польский всё-таки попробуешь? Для меня он родной и поэтому простой, но если на самом деле у тебя возможность иметь интенсивный контакт, это может быть полезно... Особенно, что если ты по-русски говоришь, это будет на много легче...

  • I will join you on this quest. I have always wanted to learn greek.. Good Luck. malaka!

  • Have you gotten off to a good start?

  • Спасибо. Да, польский наверное скоро попробую. Может в следующий год.

  • Wow! I'm learning Greek too! I think trying to learn Greek in a year is a great challenge, I might try that.

  • I think learning a language you will be able to use is a great idea!

  •  "в следующем году" or "на следующий год"

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