Foreign Languages

Recently, I seem to have taken an interest to the Russian language and culture. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the same kind of thing that happens when you get an unexplainable crush on another person. So, I was like contemplating on signing up for some Russian language course when I got a very demotivating kind of feeling. After doing some soul-searching, so as to speak, I think I’ve figured out why.

In the past, I’ve tried picking up almost a handful of languages, from both classes and the Internet. The first foreign language I’ve ever picked up was Brazilian Portuguese. Using a wide variety of Internet resources, and with the help of a Brazilian friend, I slowly got a loose hang of the language. I knew simple vocabulary and could form sentences in Brazilian Portuguese. That was like about 1 decade ago. Eventually, that friend of mine lost access to the Internet for some reason, we lost contact, and I lost the chance to communicate to anyone in Brazilian Portuguese. In time, I lost the language (almost) entirely.

During my Polytechnic days, I took a basic French course. At the end of the course, I passed the oral and written test and even got a certificate for it. I decided not to opt for the intermediate course, due to time constraint and my desire to learn French independently. Well, guess what happened – without anyone to communicate with, more and more vocabulary began to slip out of my mind until what I remember is just a little more than “Oui” and “Non”. I had a couple of chances to exercise my French – once with a French girl from my kayaking course, and once with a French baker (I got some free muffins from her just by saying ‘Merci’ instead of ‘Thanks’). Oh yes, another occasion which I managed to speak French was during my holiday to Vietnam, when I encountered this French couple who could not understand English, and I played translator between them and their English-speaking tour guide. Well, that’s it for all my French practice.

A couple of years ago, I took up a Thai course. I was really into Thailand then, and in fact, I visited Thailand twice that year and thrice the year after. The last time I stepped into Thailand was in June last year. Phuket. So, it’s been technically more than a year since I’ve last gone to Thailand (and essentially spoken Thai), right? Guess what, I think 50% of the language has gone “poof!” from my brain.

See the pattern up here? My point is.. Learning foreign languages is rather useless, unless you have a pen-pal whom you communicate with using that particular language, make frequent trips to a country which speaks that language, or watch/listen to lots of videos/songs which is in that language. Otherwise, it’s more-or-less doomed to be forgotten. For my current situation, well, I don’t think it’s worth learning Russian.


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