No, I am not going to try and give the best tips on how to learn a language. Rather, I am going to write only a few blogs on my experience in learning other languages. My primary language is English (Canadian, eh) so I can’t really explain how I ‘learned’ to comprehend it. But in this writing I will be covering a language near and dear to my heart – Greek. Well, ‘Koine’ (or Common) Greek.
My Dad always spoke of the time when he learned Koine Greek in college. And so when I had applied to college I asked him to teach me the grammatical basics so that I could be ahead of the game (and top of my class) when I took it. So he explained to me the alphabet, how nouns and verbs are inflected differently and – what is missing from the English language – how to recognize the different genders. It was a frustrating task and I wasn’t even in college yet.
My first year of Greek was awesome. And I completed what I had set out to do: be the top of my class. As a result of my efforts, I received a scholarship for the following year. As the years went on, my grades in Koine Greek went down a bit. Going from an A+ in year one to a B+ in year four, I am happy to say that the GPA slip wasn’t that bad.
But did I learn Greek? Kind of. I learned the technical side of it. I learned how to understand its grammar and composition. But I were to get on a plane at the end of my fourth year and head over Greece, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to put together more than a couple sentences; and these couple sentences would be in Koine Greek which has been out of use for a very long time.
From this I learned two things: (i) that I love the Greek language and it my studies still serve me well as I continue to do research and (ii) I really wanted to learn a common language; not just the technical side but the practical side.
Insert German. I will write a blog later about my ups and (many) downs in trying to learn this guttural language and I’ll make a few comments on my trip to Germany which blew my mind.