Going the distance with language learning

Some people would have you believe that learning a second language is nigh on impossible. I hear a whole lot of complaints from people saying so-and-so is too difficult for them, or that the language or culture is just too far removed from their native language. I don't agree with these people for a second. Sure mastery in that second language may be nigh on impossible, but you can still at least gain some level of ability in a second language without too much effort (memorising the most common vocabulary, including pronunciation, and a few key sentences, then mixing and matching the vocabulary you've learned). The sustained long-term effort is where I think people get tripped up. You need something strong to motivate you to continue learning the language even after the fact.

High schools and the like can only motivate you so far. So, I think it's a great idea to see the world through the eyes of a speaker of a different language, so that you too can get a sense for experiencing the world in an entirely different cultural lens. You could argue that that is impossible these days, and I would agree to an extent with that, but other languages are increasingly becoming more and more accessible thanks to modern technology.

I understand how much prolonged effort it takes to learn a second language; I have learned what is one of the most removed languages from English, so I know it's possible, but I also know that you have to have something that keeps you in the race, something pushing you to go the distance. In my case, I was just completely baffled by Japan and the Japanese culture and history and found myself constantly wanting to learn more. That is what has gotten me to this place. Now it's just a matter of helping others find the same sort of reasons to motivate themselves to put in the long time work it takes to go the distance.

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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