Over the past couple of years I have been working on a new activity or hobby which is to learn languages that are different from my first (which in my own case is English).
This all began shortly prior to the time when we went into Covid lockdown in March 2020. My reasons for taking on this activity were initially to keep myself entertained during a time of uncertainty and being stuck within my own local borders. Thus it didn’t take much longer for me to have a second reason for languages in mind, which was to take advantage of having more time at home to prepare myself for when I am eventually able to travel again.
The languages I’ve been learning to this date (February 2022) have been Spanish and French. That I have been doing from a combination of attending weekly classes at the Lapont Language School in Brisbane, as well as by using the apps Duolingo and Mango Languages. Surprisingly and pleasingly I discovered that by dedicating myself to this project, especially from the weekly prospect of having to attend very immersive classes, I’m able to pick the languages up far quicker than I ever believed that I could beforehand. That’s also the case with my fellow classmates as we’re all being kindly forced to dedicate ourselves daily to the process.
Perhaps most importantly though, I now find the activity of learning languages very enjoyable and entertaining. So I am now able to call this activity a hobby as well. It’s such a great feeling when a person finds an activity which is both helpful for their career (knowing how to speak other languages is very useful for doing my international interviews and talks) and enjoyable at the same time. We must never take that experience for granted whenever we come across it!
Many times over the past couple years I have been asked whether HSAM helps me to learn languages. My answer to that always begins with the fact that HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) only gives a person exceptional recall for autobiographical memories, which are the kind of recollections we would include if we were to write an autobiography of our own life. So there are many ways in which HSAM wouldn’t be too much help while learning a foreign language.
However I do find that there is one aspect of my HSAM that does give me feelings of motivation that makes learning a language more entertaining (which makes it an easier experience to dedicate myself to the amount of studying involved). Due to HSAM I frequently relive the sense of excitement that I got in my earliest years from learning my first language, English. As an infant and toddler I was excited to learn new vocabulary, and sentence formation in order to communicate with other people (and for them to communicate with me). Learning additional languages has many similarities to that much earlier experience.
There are also a few other reasons for why I enjoy to learn different languages. Firstly I’ve always had a very strong interest in learning about other places of the world, and all the ways of living life in relation to our hundreds of (perhaps even 1000+) different cultures. That makes learning a language very enjoyable as I get snapshots of all them while I’m in in the process of trying to become lingual in each individual tongue. As well, knowing that my world will open up even more after learning each language motivates me to keep studying and practicing.
Especially in today’s day and age (with the world being more connected than ever before, especially by many sources linked to worldwide internet) it’s very important for us all to strongly consider learning multiple languages. Material that is already translated into English (or any other specific language) is extremely limited in terms of availability and genre. Also, while travelling or speaking to people across the world it must never be assumed and expected that we can solely rely on our first language. There have been people who have said to me that if one knows English there’s no need whatsoever to be lingual in any other language. For various reasons, nothing can be further from the truth there.
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