Selecting Language

Photo by Rachel Xiao on

I’ve started wondering if I should study a new language. This thought has only been a whisper in my mind. I speak two already, one fluently, and one, colloquially. But I am hesitant because I know it takes time to learn a new language, and two, I will not be traveling to the country of origin and practicing the language there. So if I am not going to be able to fully immerse myself in the language’s culture, and use it in conversation with a native speaker, would it still be worth it?

I took Japanese classes when I was younger. I learned how to create a few sentences here and there. Did I use it later in life and continue practicing it? No. Do I appreciate knowing the few things that I learned about the language? Definitely. Even now, I am proud of being able to distinguish between Chinese and Japanese characters when I see them. I am proud of being able to at least make sense if a character is written in Hiragana or katakana or kanji. My ears perk up when I hear Japanese being spoken, whether it is in a movie or as I’m walking past someone. Perhaps if I start learning a new language, however much of it I do retain, it will not be for nothing.

At one point in my life I joked that I was practicing 4 languages: English, Spanish, Japanese and reading sheet music. I thought reading sheet music definitely counted as learning a new language! The language of music, of course. But I am not sure if the world would agree.

Sometimes it scares me how much about the world we do not know. How there are millions and millions of pieces of information out there, and we will never ever know them all. For example, there are roughly 7,000 languages in the world to this day. This blows my mind! There is just no way anyone could learn them all.

I think about how little time I already have on a day to day basis, but when I take a step back, I feel like I have ample time in the course of my lifetime to learn a new language. To finally learn how to play the guitar. To learn to read sheet music better. Deciding what new language I want to learn next would be my first step. Prioritizing my time would the second.

Because I mean why not? What reasons are there to not learn a new language, and why can’t I, or you, do it just for the fun of it?

Tell me what you think. Would learning to speak a new language be worth it, even if you knew your chances of using it in conversation are pretty slim? What is a language you’ve been wanting to study?

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