One of the many classes that transferred to virtual unexpectedly this semester was Spanish. I will admit that I am not that adept with Spanish so finishing a final semester doesn't necessarily sadden me. However, that doesn't mean I don't harbor any want to learn this or any other language. I will admit a while back I downloaded several language learning apps to try and learn a very different language from Spanish: Polish.
Of course I ended up giving up and deleting all of them. I really didn't get past the basics. Then quarantine came and one app in particular: Duolingo reappeared. Now I have passed my first check point. Though I will say I did add Spanish to continue a goal of fluency in something other than English. I also have tree others: Irish, Gaelic, and Italian. I initially just downloaded Gaelic and Irish to get me to move up in the ranks on the scoreboards. Yet after barely doing one full lesson I find that each has its own challenges. Italian was added due to my desire to some day visit this country.
Much of my language learning desires come from my desire to travel the world. The want to learn Irish comes from my want to learn a few phrases so I can at least say "hello" if I ever go back (yes, I have been to Ireland). However, Polish and Italian have more significance to me than just merely wanting to travel there. Both of these languages connect me to my ancestral roots. Half my roots
come from Polish lineage. My great grandfather came over here in the early part of the twentieth century at 18. He already had family here but I wonder if he ever doubted his want to come to America and leave his home country. I wonder if he knew any English before he stepped on American soil. Though after just a few lesson is Polish on Duolingo I do admire the skill it takes to be able to speak it.
One of the best parts of learning Polish is that I hope to one day step inside of Poland and visit the town where my grand grandfather grew up. I also might try to find some distant relatives who live there. It's interesting for me to observe the different ways in which Polish compares to the languages I already know. Today when I found my first false cognate I was like ok so was is not a verb in Polish and it's pronounced "vas". It's also interesting to be learning this language because my dad is constantly asking me to say certain things. I look forward to learning more.
I will say that sometimes wanting to move on before the app allows access to certain lesson is annoying. I just want to learn everything. I also wonder if after 5 checkpoints will I really have learned the language. I wonder if I should search out a different language learning service to have a more comprehensive experience even if it does cover a lot. I will admit learning a new language and continuing my learning of Spanish even if literally starting with the basics once again is rewarding.
From the perspective of having Spanish on the app I am seeing that I still have work to do as well as that through my years of Spanish instruction I have retained some information. Through having Italian as a language on the app is really driving home how similar the quote on quote romance languages are. My limited knowledge of Spanish has in someway made starting Italian easier. One day I hope to be fluent in at least one of these languages. If that means doing an immersion study abroad, finding a place in the U.S. to live where that language is exclusively spoken, or taking a job opportunity in that country so be it, I think being bilingual in today's world is important in order to connect with others and so many people already learn English so why not learn their language in return.