MY APPROACH TO LEARNING ANY LANGUAGE
Focus on you
Focus on community
Focus on the language anatomy
Hi, I'm Catarina
A language lover and addict...
... and it all started from birth.
My dad likes to tell the story of how I only spoke a full sentence when I was three years old. Until then I got by with some 'baby' words only my sisters could understand. But I'm sure I was trying to make sense of the muffled sounds in my mother's womb already.
As I dominated my mother-tongue, Portuguese, I learnt English and French. My English was considerably better because of extra lessons I attended after school.
When Italian crossed my way, I quickly made a plan of learning it for a year at home, do a short summer course and escape to Rome as soon as I could to find the Italian in me.
Having studied English Literature at University in Lisbon, England was a must for my Master's degree. This was an experience that somehow took me to Poland next, using the same model as for Italian. What a year that was! I managed to settle down in Wroclaw with a year of conventional (or not quite) study of the language. I quickly set my mind to a job where I was the sole foreigner, the perfect (scariest or exciting - take your pick!) environment to learn Polish. After a month, team meetings were conducted in Polish only. I still missed the jokes, but that could wait.
When I landed in the Netherlands...
I quickly set out to learning Dutch. As this is a very comfortable country to be in, I ended up staying, but not without learning other languages: some Spanish and Swedish. They never stuck though: the former I stubbornly mix up with Italian and Portuguese itself; the latter was just a short love affair I intend to pick up again at some point. As for Frisian, a language in the northern region of the Netherlands called Friesland, I know only passively, which is enough for me.
And then came German. It might have been like my mother-tongue. I learnt all the grammar in record time - three months, only to realize I had no vocabulary to fill in the blanks.
Now whether learning Chinese online from the Netherlands from a Brazilian perspective is the logical thing to do next, I'm not sure. What I do know is that I only knew Chinese was 'the hardest language in the world'. Had anyone told me about the tones and their meaning, I'd have jumped right into it much earlier.
The thing is, I'm not three anymore, but rather a 30-year-older busy adult, responsible for the language acquisition of two young girls. Far away from China, both physical and culturally, I decided to turn the challenge of learning a new way of thinking, speaking and living into a much, much closer experience.
Closer to me and my interests, what else?
Closer to the language and its nature: to better understand it before getting too close and lose the big picture
Closer to you, who hopefully will decide to join me on this linguistic self-discovery.
Imagine you get to go to a completely new city, already aware of the names and locations of the main streets and important places. A sort of anatomy scan.
The focus is entirely on you: your way of learning, your interests, your lifestyle. The catch is that you'll do all the work.
But then you're not alone. Other than the odd language learner that primarily wants to dream in, say, Spanish, I'd imagine you'd want to speak to other people too.