What happens when you learn a second language?

For more than five years I have actively learned to speak English. My mother tongue is German and everything changed for me when I chose to visit only English websites. After a while, I read books in English albeit I understood very little. I started to understand more and more. I began reading books that were hard to understand — the great books.

Not having been born into the English language is pure luck and an unfair advantage.

I was born into speaking German. It was not something that I consciously chose to learn.

Every moment I experienced I labeled with German words — good experiences and bad experiences. Our experiences change how we feel about certain words once we connect these words to that experience.

When it comes to learning English, it was a fresh start. Put the same words in a different language and you change completely how I feel about what is being said.

Almost everything that I have ever read or heard in English was something that I freely chose to spend time on. It was material I was passionate about and thus I connected overly positive experiences to that language and to the sound of the words. It is a different voice speaking inside my head.

Today, I started using Duolingo to refresh and learn even more languages. It is considered by many as the best app in the world for learning foreign languages. You may give it a try.

Language — this discovery of meaning in symbols may be the most astounding intellectual feat that any human being ever performs and most humans perform it before they are seven years old!

I’m asking you now to give yourself the gift of a fresh start in a new language.

Once you get past the phase where you are translating back and forth in your head what you want to say; when it becomes natural; when you can actually think in a new language; you will live through a new beginning that will last for a long time.

And that is quite amazing.

Originally published at Erwin Flaming.

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