Language learning has created a whole new world for me.
Ever since I was ten years old, I was fascinated by other cultures, people, religions, and most of all, languages. In fact, that’s when I started learning my first language: Mandarin Chinese.
That passion never grew old. It is still fresh on my mind and in my heart today.
Each day I get tons of new questions about learning a language, everything from how I do it to why I do it. And I gladly answer!
Without foreign languages in my life, I don’t know where I’d be.
One of the questions I received on my Instagram is “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
I’ve talked so much about my past experience with learning languages that I hardly ever mention the future. This question also made me realize that the future is just as important as the past and the present. Without a vision for the future, you don’t have any real motivation, and your steam will burn out faster than you anticipated.
So instead of giving you tips on things like how to learn a language, today I will be sharing with you my very personal goals, expectations, and dreams for my language journey.
Why do I learn languages?
Will I still be learning languages in the future?
What does the future even look like?
How do my goals play a role in the future, and what are they?
I’ll be answering all of these questions approximately…right now!
My experience with languages…the best, and the worst.
This is a question I get asked all the time, but it is so important to be answering all the time.
Why am I learning languages?
This question has become so common both online and offline that it almost became annoying, in all honesty. But as time passed, I started to realize that I need to be asking myself this question way more often.
So, why do I learn languages?
There’s no one answer! There are so many reasons why I absolutely love doing what I do. For one, I become a part and am adopted by a new culture. One of my favorite quotes is by Edmund de Waal, and he said: “with languages, you are at home anywhere.”
The summer before my junior year, I was practically living Chinese. I was having conversations almost everyday, watching dramas multiple times a day, and studying for hours upon hours per week. But the best part about it was the constant language exchanges I was having!
I had well over 15 contacts in my WeChat (a texting and video calling app so commonly used in China), and I was having hour long conversations with friends almost everyday. It was so fun, and so liberating. It felt like absolute freedom when I finally realized, I can speak so freely and express myself without any trouble…I finally did it.
The feeling of accomplishment, the relationships I made, and the culture I was then a part of were all such great rewards for my then five-year long learning process.
But then…school started. And I had less and less time for language exchanges, no less formal lessons.
Speaking got harder, thinking in Chinese got harder, and I felt myself going through a downward spiral. I hated it.
After a first semester full of frustration and no improvement, I changed schools. I am currently 5 weeks until the end of my junior year, but over the past few months of second semester, I made a life changing discovery: it’s not about making time, it’s about using time I already have.
At my new school, we are allowed to have our phones and use them during any free time we get in classes. This alone taught me that every minute counts. Just ten spare minutes in a class after I get my work done can result in a whole new Duolingo lesson.
I started seeing more and more improvement, and am where I am today: seeing my progress steadily grow every week, just like before.
I can’t wait for this summer, which is coming up on May 25, just 5 more weeks! I’ll be able to do a lot more lessons and definitely more language exchanges. I miss my Chinese friends! But like me, they are also high school students, so we can’t wait for summer.
As for Spanish, the entire experience has been a whole new journey. Everything from the courses I used to the people I talked to are different from the way I learned Chinese, but in a good way. Something I learned from my Spanish experience was that when you’re learning two different languages, you’re going to have to use two different methods.
No language is the same, so why would the method be the same? It won’t be, and shouldn’t be. You just won’t get the same, exciting results.
My future with language learning.
Languages will forever be a part of my life.
They are part of what defines me. My personality…my experiences…my name…every part of my life today has been formed in some way by my journey of learning languages. I’m definitely not going to stop it any time soon.
But what exactly does my future with languages look like?
For one, I started learning Korean when I was fourteen. In my opinion, it was so much harder than learning Chinese. It was also frustrating me and I realized that it was needing a lot more time than I was able to put in.
So, I stopped my Korean studies after a year of learning and decided that I would pick it up again after I graduate high school.
Like I said earlier, I am 5 weeks to the end of my junior year. This time next year, I will be a senior and 5 weeks from graduation, which also means that I will start learning Korean again that summer!
Even though I stopped Korean, I did pick up another third language, however. Over Spring Break I did a challenge on my Instagram, where I tested myself to see how much Portuguese (Brazilian) I could learn over the 9 days I had off.
I loved Portuguese so much that I decided to keep learning it. I recently just had my first ever Portuguese tutoring lesson on italki, and I absolutely loved it. I am definitely going to be taking more, and I have learned quite a bit of Portuguese already. I really would like to learn it to fluency as well.
As of now, I have four languages in mind that I want to see myself become fluent in: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean.
My boyfriend also really wants me to learn French, so I might do a bit of French studies later on. But I am also very interested in Cantonese, which I really think will help me down the road as an international business major.
So, who knows?
I guess we’ll see in a few years!
Where do I see myself in 5 years?
In all honesty, I was so excited when I got this question!
It’s probably the first time that I was asked a personal question about my goals instead of for my tips on how I achieve them.
Anyways, I expect a lot to happen in the next 5 years. Five years from now, I will be 21 years old, in college, and coming super close to receiving my bachelor’s degree in International Business (with a minor in Chinese!).
But, as far as my language goals are concerned, here are a few things I hope to achieve within the next five years.
- Finally be native-level fluent in Chinese
- Pretty close to (if not already) native-level fluent in Spanish
- Studying Korean in college if I can, and hopefully be intermediate level 5 years from now
- I would’ve been to China plenty of times already!
- Able to speak Portuguese at a decently fluent level
And honestly, I believe 100% that each one of those goals are achievable within the next 5 years.
I’m already upper intermediate in Chinese. In fact, I had to stop writing this blog post to talk to a Chinese friend for an hour in only Chinese, and I totally slayed it! It was probably the best I had been since last summer.
But, overall, in five years I see Chinese as something so majorly part of my life that I couldn’t live without it. I’m talking about using Chinese everyday, thinking in Chinese everyday, dreaming in Chinese every night.
That’s my dream, and if I keep going at this pace, I will definitely be there by the time five years is up.
All in all, I see myself as a 21 year old polyglot who still has dreams of many more languages down the road.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Leave a comment below!