Challenging Myself with a new Language

A year ago, I decided to learn a new language. I wanted a distraction from work. I initially wanted to learn Italian at Dante Alighieri because I had this feeling that I would be more aligned towards that language. However, I didn’t make the first wave of enrolment and the next wave came at the start of the 2nd quarter of the year. In short, I was in a hurry to get a distraction so I ended up enrolling to French in Alliance Française de Manille.

It was pretty daunting. I actually embarrassed myself way before classes started, when I thought that I had enrolled to a wrong class, thinking that not a single word in the textbook I bought were in English. The lady at the payment counter told me that the books were written in French so that we would be able to grasp the language faster.

First day of class was no less than easy. My jaw dropped instantly when the instructor went in and spoke in French entirely. In my mind I was like, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’. I knew we were going to study French, but I was thinking maybe after a day of introduction. Apparently, that was that. Even my tongue wasn’t cooperative, I had a hard time pronouncing ‘R’ which was pronounced at the back of the throat. If I were to describe it, it’s like the French tongue was flexible, and mine needed some work… a LOT of work. At the end of the day, I walked home realising I had to exert more effort. Even if this was for ‘fun’, I had to take this seriously.

A year later, I am getting a hang of things, although I still need a lot of work. I am having fun, despite the difficulty of creating impromptu sentences and questions. What I like about learning a new language is the idea of ‘exploring’ even in your own space. You get to understand the culture of the country even if you haven’t been there. Just a bit of imagination will take you further, just like how books tell stories.

Now, I’m adding one more language in my roster, Thai. I told myself, I wanted to learn a language with its own alphabet and writing system. Plus, I really love Thailand, and I can use it in my travels there. The level of difficulty has been doubled since I have to learn the alphabet, the vocabulary and the pronunciation. Thai language is a tonal language, and they have 5 tones, which means a change in tone can mean a different word. The challenge now lies on how manage to learn these two languages at the same time without having to mix things up. I once almost answered my Thai teacher in french because my french class comes before my thai class and I was still “in the zone”.

Would I ever go back and try to study Italian? Who knows. But I’d definitely keep that option open in the future.

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