Nadia is trilingual: she speaks Japanese, Spanish, and her first language is English. I interviewed her to give some personal insight into language learning for those in school who are looking for ideas, or need some inspiration!
When did you start learning new languages, and why?
Let's see… so I first started learning Spanish in high school, because I lived in Texas, which is near Mexico, and Spanish is pretty common in the area, so it was required by my school. I took more than the required number of years because I loved it so much. And then, I started learning Japanese in college because I'd always been curious about cultures so different from my own. I learned to enjoy the language, the culture, and everything that came with that. The whole language was so different from Spanish and English: I saw that challenge and decided to embrace it.
What were your greatest initial obstacles in learning a new language?
My biggest initial obstacles were the fear of making mistakes, as well as the difficulties of memorisation and pronunciation. Another massive obstacle is the difficulty of learning a language: this needs to be totally different from how you learn other subjects.
What helped you most to become more fluent in speaking an additional language?
Rather than reciting or memorising a conversation, I practiced coming up with my own words. One of the hardest parts of learning a new language is learning how to think in the target language: it's different from how you usually think. You can't always just be translating in your mind to become fluent.
What are some benefits you have gained from learning new languages?
Learning new languages is amazing! Once you learn one, it's easier to learn another language because you master how to learn languages. It also helps your brain, and it allows you to connect with new people in different ways.
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