Knowing yourself as a language learner

I look forward to my weekly email from Kevin the Language Hero. This week he sent 10 Essential Questions to Kickstart Your Language Learning Success. Excellent article. The questions come as I am re-evaluating myself as a language learner.

I spent a year blogging here in ridiculous detail to document my attempt to learn a second language. Blogging wasn’t something I intended to get into, it was just something I HAD TO DO because my brain was overloaded with all the new information. It surprised me how much I wrote. Yet after a year, I needed a break. I needed to regroup. I needed to think, quietly. I question whether my blog has much to offer others, and I was tempted to delete old posts in favor of fewer articles of more general interest and Korean grammar reference material.

When I became still, my heart was whispering that what it really wanted was to slow down, meditate, do water color paintings, practice handwriting, stop speaking, stop texting. At last spring arrived in the Berkshires, and I wanted to venture outdoors each day to watch the miracle of new growth as leaves formed on trees and flowers bloomed.

It surprised me that when I wasn’t so occupied with taking Korean Digital Academy, all those Korean activities I thought I wanted to spend time on were simply not that compelling at the moment. Perhaps I just wanted to be distracted. Or perhaps I am just in a different phase of my language learning, and all those scattered bits are not as compelling as a unified, organized approach to learning Korean.

Perhaps I am simply doing the language equivalent of spring cleaning.

Here are my answers to Kevin’ questions.

Q1:  Why do you want to learn a language at all?

I have internalized Korean.  It is a part of who I am.  I learned a lot about the people and culture of Korea.  The brain stimulation of learning, and the joy that brings me, remains a good reason to keep learning.  Yet it is also true that language learning consumes a great deal of time, energy, and money.  I am indecisive about if I want to continue.

Q2:  What language do you want to learn?

Do I want to continue with Korean, or should I spend some time learning Chinese instead?

Q3:  Why do you want to learn that language?

I would choose Korean because that is what I have started.  I do not wish to lose what I have learned.  I have yet to reach comfortable conversational level in Korean.  I would choose Chinese because of the Chinese calligraphy drawing me in.  There seems so much mystery about China I simply do not know.  From tones to geography to art to history to cultural views, it is another rich area for exploration of my curious brain.

Q4:  What are your passions?

Recently, my passion has been Chinese brush painting and calligraphy.  I took Tai Chi for a decade and have studied the I Ching, but know little else about this vast country that is dramatically changing.

Q5: How can you connect your passions to your language of choice?

My recent book purchases have all been about Chinese.  I feel the pull in that direction.

Q6: Are you willing to sacrifice time to learn a language?

This I am still debating.  I certainly gave Korean a lot of time this past year.

Q7: Are you willing to sacrifice money to learn a language?

Last year, I was a newbie to language learning, and I spent more money than comfortable.  I was blinded by the shiny newness and excitement of learning a language.  This year, I am cutting back on expenses.  It is a reason to stick with Korean.  I still have many books and audio I have not fully learned.

Q8:  Are you willing to sacrifice energy to learn a language?


Q9: Who are your language learning role models?

Good question.  There are polyglots I have read about and respect.  Yet I would rather have a role model of someone like me – just an average person learning one language part time for intellectual curiosity.  Perhaps someone like Korean Vitamin or MatJib Hunter are my role model.  Cimi’s desire to learn Chinese has inspired me, so she is a role model too.

Q10:  Are you willing to commit part of every day to your language learning?

Yes.  I may reshuffle how I divide that time, but I do want daily intellectual stimulation with language learning.  Blog less.  Perhaps give up some of my more lofty goals about creating a complete online Korean grammar reference and dictionary.  Follow my heart’s desire.  Play and enjoy language learning.  Let painting and handwriting be a central part, if that is what my soul is crying out for.  Watch Korean dramas less, because they simply no longer have the compelling draw for me.  Indulge my need now for quiet and meditation, nature and beauty, music and the sound of Korean language, without the pressure of speaking or the demands of many random people seeking me for language exchange.  ADD1Challenge throwing me into speaking 3 times a week stressed me out so much, that I am still soothing my soul.  This shy woman needs to spend time studying at my own pace.

It is good to know what you need.  For now, I am quiet because that I what I need.  I hope you know what your needs are as a language learner, and that Kevin’s questions can help you too.

Best wishes to all my language learning friends.



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