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Monday, March 2, 2020

My Quest to become a Polyglot

I am fascinated by language.  I'm not really sure if I can articulate why, truthfully, but it's been that way for as long as I can remember.  I've been a 'word nerd' since my elementary school days, and have always enjoyed utilizing unique vocabulary into my everyday speech (much to the chagrin of others, I am sure!).

Despite my fascination with languages, I never undertook the task of attempting to learn a second language.  I dabbled, at best, using apps like Duolingo and such, but never went further than simply learning a few basic words and phrases.

Then, several years ago, my friend (Hi, Ace!) introduced me to a YouTube channel of a husband and wife who at the time, were living in Korea.  I was quickly sucked in by the channel, and watched a ton of videos (still haven't managed to make it through all of them!).  I was enthralled by the aspects of Korean culture they highlighted, such as K-pop, Korean beauty products and the Korean language.

As a result, one day while scrolling through Twitter, a suggested account popped up, which was that of Talk to Me in Korean, a website dedicated to helping people learn Korean.  And so, mostly on a whim (as seems to be my typical modus operandi), I followed the account, decided to give the free lessons a go, and see what happened.


I was hooked, pretty much from the start.  The podcast lessons were PERFECT to listen to on my drive to and from work, and I used the free PDF files to reinforce what I was learning.  But it wasn't enough.  Fortunately, Talk to Me in Korean offers a plethora of books and materials...and I have since bought many of them.  >.<
I've worked my way through their level one course, as well as the Hangeul Master book, and I'm currently going through level two before diving into a few other books I've gotten.

My Korean is still not that great, and I've slacked often in my studies (but hey, a Masters Degree program eats up a lot of free time!), but I'm learning.  Just slowly.  Which is fine! It isn't a race, after all.  I'm working now on building my vocabulary, and practicing with pronunciation and building sentences.  If you follow me on any social media, you'll see me posting from time to time in Korean, which is part of how I practice.
According to my younger brother, about 90% of the Korean I DO know is food related.  My argument is that food is important, therefore important to know!   Right?  Right.

Anyway.

But, you're probably thinking, how does learning ONE additional language make you a polyglot-in-training?  Truthfully, it doesn't.  But let me continue.

Last year, I became an aunt to the absolutely coolest little kid to ever walk the planet (why no, I am not partial at all, why do you ask?), courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law, who adopted him.  He is deaf, so my sis-in-law has been teaching him sign language, and my family (myself included!) have been learning as well to communicate with him too.

Naturally, as the overachiever that I am, I decided to go full on and enroll myself in an online ASL course at the local community college.  There are some great free resources out there too, of course, but I wanted something with a bit more structure. 

I'm a few weeks into my course now, and I can thus far sign my name, that I am learning sign language online, along with a few other details about myself.  As with Korean, its moving fairly slowly, but hey, progress is progress. 

Eventually, I'll reach my polyglot status.  It may take me til I'm 90, but hey, it keeps me busy.  And I've got my eyes on other languages I'd like to learn too.  The local college offers a class in conversational Japanese, and I'm interested in learning Tagalog too.  But those will come in time.

So, you're probably thinking - what's the point to all this?

Part of my reason for wanting to post this is to show that you don't really HAVE to have a reason for wanting to do something to actually do it.  I truly had no reason to want to learn Korean other than that I just simply wanted to.  If you want to do something that you feel will better yourself, be it learning a new language, taking on a new hobby, embarking on a new fitness regimen, or something similar - go for it!  You don't HAVE to explain yourself to anyone. 
Take on those new challenges, and enjoy the journey!

If you, like me, are interested in language learning, below are some links I've found incredibly helpful along my journey so far.  

Talk to Me in Korean
First Step Korean from Coursera

ASL for Free - Gallaudet University
Signing Savvy

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