– or a very long post about me and language learning
Who am I?
I’m originally from Finland, I have lived in several countries and I love learning languages. I speak several languages and I’ve studied even more. I had a bit of a break on goal oriented language learning due to my PhD (Permanent head Damage), but while getting back to it I realized how many new things are around nowadays in the internet.
I’ve always loved languages. And so did my mum and my grandmother, from whom I probably got the example. Also, there was always encouragement if I wanted to learn another language. In the 80s when I was a kid, there wasn’t as many possibilities. I studied Swedish at school and as soon as I could I got a Norwegian pen pal and we wrote to each other in Swedish. I learned English before I had it in school by watching BBC’s Muzzy in Gondoland series that was on tv and my mum bought me and my sister the exercise book for it too and then I just watched Disney movies over and over again in English without subtitles.
Most of my language learning I’ve done in school though. In Finland you need to study Swedish and another foreign language, which for most people is English. In addition I studied French and Russian in school and later in university I had Spanish, German, and Japanese.
Why a language blog and what’s that name?
Even if there are many blogs about this subject already, I feel like each of them has a very personal approach and in the end it’s perfect when you find something that works just for you. Also, I like the idea of recording things for myself and if that helps someone else, then that’s awesome!
So, naming a blog is always tricky. I tend to be very critical of what I like and it takes forever for me to settle on one. But there’s a language learning story behind this one. In high school in our French classes one year were all about other countries than France where people speak French. So, a lot of African countries. And the funniest words just stick in your head. Like Baobab (which apparently is the same in English). So, forever I connect Baobab to our French classes. And also: I obviously learned something in my French class.
My approach to languages
The so-called “traditional class room learning” has worked for me well in school and in university. But this requires that the pace is good for you and that the level of the other students is somewhat similar to yours. If your level is too high or too low, you will just get frustrated with it. Also, I have realized that language teaching in Finnish schools is pretty good compared to many other countries.
But, because I have studied so many languages, I tend to be quite quick at picking them up. While there are still classes that would be good for me (like at the university), these are not always accessible if you don’t study in that university or they are not at a convenient time for someone who also needs to work. So, lately I’ve turned into more and more independent study and also using online tutors and teachers, which seems to be a good choice for me.
But whatever you do, the main thing is to try. You will make a lot of mistakes in the beginning when you start speaking or writing, but the more you do it the better you get. My philosophy about language learning (or pretty much anything really) is really nicely summed up in this Garfunkel & Oates song below (by the way, check them out on YouTube, they’re amazing!).