Have you ever thought about learning a new language? I think you have. But it’s not as simple as that. Or maybe it is, isn’t it?
There are various opinions on the number of languages that is possible to learn. I’ve heard: ‘I think three or four is the maxiumum’; ‘Learn one language but perfectly’; ‘I can’t learn at least one, let alone two or three!’. But did these people ask themselves what it means to know a language?
The bitter truth is that you’ll never know languages perfectly, moreover, you don’t even completely know your mother tongue! You don’t know the specific vocabulary concerning medicine, law or business, do you? It’s indeed a part of a language. You don’t know slang specific to policemen, criminals or the citizens of London. It’s also a part of a language.
So what’s left? Fortunately, the answer is simple: learn as much as you can. This is the magic of languages; you’ll never know them entirely. You always can learn more and find something new every day. Isn’t it amazing?
There is also a problem which areas of a language we are good at. We can be perfect speakers but our listening skills are poor. We can understand every written word but our writing is… well… . Find a purpose of your language learning and focus on it. Try to develop all of the areas of language evenly but have your goal in front of your eyes. Achieve your goal and be as much perfect as you can.
Now what about learning more than one foreign language? I see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to do that. An American linguist Kenneth Hale knew more than 50 languages. Born in Freiburg, Germany (now Świebodzice, Poland) Emil Krebs knew 68 languages and he studied 120 other languages! ‘Linguistic talent’, you’ll probably say. Of course, a kind of predisposition to languages counts. But it is an appropriate method suitable for a learner with a little bit of determination that really works.
My first foreign language is English, the second French and the third will be Spanish. I studied Latin; I would also like to learn Norwegian, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi… Just learn in order to get to know how these languages function. The more languages you are familiar with the new language will be easier to learn; you’ll notice many regularities and similarities between them.
Are you still here? Go and learn! 🙂