Tutors: The key to picking up a language abroad

Find a nice language teacher for your next trip
Find a nice language teacher for your next trip

I just realized that I have used a language-learning technique multiple times without realizing it. When I travel to another country, I get a language tutor. That way I get some directed learning before I go out to speak to the people. As a result, I have advanced quickly in my language while abroad.
Finding a tutor

Keeping up the other languages: A six (five and a half?) language week!

As a polyglot I get to talk to all sorts of people!
As a polyglot I get to talk to all sorts of people!

Yes, I’m focusing on learning the Somali language. Somali takes the majority of my linguistic time and energy. But speaking lots of languages makes me a polyglot—and that brings me so much joy. This week I got to talk to old friends, discover great music, and meet new people. Though I haven’t had much time for more than the bare minimum of Somali, here’s how I worked on my languages this week.
My polyglot week

Week 14 of Loving Somali: Beauty beyond comprehension

Exploring complexity leads to experiencing beauty
Exploring complexity leads to experiencing beauty

Languages bring me into a world I do not understand and reveal complexities I never imagined. Sometimes I feel like Darwin in the Galapagos. Study and observation bring me joy, and when I immerse myself in these complex phenomena, I discover deeper truths. The more complexity, the more beauty, even if comprehension eludes me. And exploring the facets of language lead me to the subtle dynamics of the culture around it. Continue reading “Week 14 of Loving Somali: Beauty beyond comprehension”

The hard work of loving language

Time to get started again!
Time to get started again!

What do you do when language-learning stalls?

I’m trying to get back to work–language work. Other than my brief Portuguese stint, I haven’t done much language-learning this summer. My heart calls out for more languages!

I’m not getting enough from just the feeling of loving languages. A feeling won’t help me get connected with others, won’t give me the rush of new words and sounds and ideas coming through my mouth. Love is an action, isn’t it?

Continue reading “The hard work of loving language”

Eu amo português! Loving language in Portugal

Filipa at the library of the Academy of Fine Arts
Filipa at the library of the Academy of Fine Arts

I’m writing this on the plane back from a one-week work trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Though I stayed busy with day-to-day business, I wanted to connect more with my Portuguese colleagues, so I spent a couple hours per day learning Portuguese. The first four of my five days I scheduled 90-minute Portuguese lessons with a different teacher each day.

Continue reading “Eu amo português! Loving language in Portugal”

Loving a language that plays hard to get: Studying rare languages

How do you connect when he's playing hard to get? Dialogues!
How do you connect when he’s playing hard to get? Dialogues!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love rare languages. From Swiss German to Oromo, their exoticness and unique characteristics draw me in. They’re like the strong, silent types of language: cute, mysterious, captivating. They do their own thing, and you need effort to work your way into their heart.

Continue reading “Loving a language that plays hard to get: Studying rare languages”