When I first began my formal study of foreign languages in college, I had no idea that most of what I would learn had less to do with the languages themselves and more to do with our human need to communicate. At Dartmouth, taking a language course meant full immersion from day one. For the slightly bolder students like me, taking two different, intensive languages courses during the same time period meant constant brain hiccups at the most inopportune moments. Why could I only think of pinyin for the Chinese characters that I had just spent twenty minutes memorizing? And why did I blurt that out in Japanese to my English speaking family? Was I ever going to be able to learn to use these languages properly?
But from those years, I learned several helpful truths and tips that were applicable both inside and outside of the classroom. The first: if you really want to get your message across, and you're brave enough to look silly doing it, your brain will find a way. Human beings are wired to communicate with one another. As such, our brains are proficient at collecting the necessary knowledge and reworking it in creative ways to make us understood. Sadly, it's usually our shyness or fear of making mistakes and looking foolish that stops us from speaking out and using what we know.
The second thing I learned: take it slow or drive it fast; the important thing is to just keep working at it! As clich as it sounds, giving up is really the only failure you and I will ever encounter. As long as you are effective in your approach, you will make progress towards the goal you're working on. So enjoy the journey and take note of the milestones! Finally, and perhaps the most comforting thought of all is that you've already accomplished this, and now you're just doing it again. If you already communicate in one language, then you know how to translate your ideas and thoughts via a medium that someone else can understand. Learning another language is simply learning a new set of codes, i.e. grammar patterns, phonetics, words, etc. to do what you have already been doing for most of your life... so relax! And join me in exploring these new codes and learning how to use them accurately, effectively and in a stress-free way. Hope to see you soon!
Undergraduate Degree: Dartmouth College - Bachelor in Arts, Chinese Studies
Music is one of my favorite avenues for leisure and relaxation. Besides singing a capella, I also enjoy playing the cello, ukulele and mandolin in my free time. I sketch and teach others to sketch portraits, and my favorite game is Kakuro, a kind of Japanese puzzle.