Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language

 

Why and How are always the most interesting questions… aren’t they?

 

On Tuesday I posted the “#1 reason to learn a foreign language“, and honestly, I posted it not so much because I believe there is a #1 reason but to engender discussion, disagreement, or to maybe even inspire a bit of devil’s advocate à la Chia Suan Chong.  For what it’s worth, sometimes I like stepping a bit out on the edge to shake things up in the hopes that when all settles we’ve all learned a bit more.

 

So, let’s shake things up with our different stories as there is no single why, or how to learn a language, though we’ll all have different thoughts on what they may be.

I challenge you to blog a story of your language learning, be it a success or a story about what didn’t work for you OR for your students if you’d like.

 

 

I’ll start ;-)

 

Image courtesy of Setreset via Wikipedia Commons

My language journey can be traced back to my very early days, though it was not then that I started learning; that was just when I started wanting to learn.

Let’s drift back 25 years, and sail from my current home in Paris over the Altantic, past Boston and New York and Washington…finally getting towards the “Mid-West” and  plopping down among the corn fields of South-Eastern Ohio.

There we can see a mini Brad playing with a few buddies, and fuming with envy.  Why? My childhood neighbors, little Tommy and Jimmy grew up in a bilingual environment. Sometimes amongst themselves, or especially when we were at their house, these two little boys would employ a “secret” language of which I understood nothing.  Well… nothing besides “A Yung Ay See O (hello)” and “Kim Chi”, a preserved vegetable that is heaven to some and torture to others.  Me = Heaven.

Korean, their secret language was the coolest spy toy a little boy could imagine.  I had to have it.  NOW, zip back 15 years and plop back down in the southern France among the Alps and there I am, sitting in a French high school without a single person I know.

Why?

To explore, both others and myself, to have an adventure, to accomplish what none of my classmates had: to become fluent in a foreign language… but somewhere in the Freudian background there was also this childhood story that drove me towards language in an envy-spy-adventurous way.  We all have a past that lives forward with us; it is an amazing and complicated bond to understand and to unravel, but I have no doubt that my days with Tommy and Jimmy set me off on a journey that took me to France and on many other language adventures since.

So that’s my why(s), and for my HOW… let’s go with how I learned Chinese which I think is worth another post altogether cuz it’s a good story.  In the meantime, I look forward to hearing some of your whys and hows.

 

BON WEEKEND!!!!

 

 

 

Related posts:

About Brad

--- i'm a learner-teacher, language geek, outdoorsy kind-of-guy --- U might miss the next tweet... Wanna subscribe by email ? ;-)
 
  • http://www.scoop.it/t/reflections-on-learning/p/1224196214/blog-challenge-how-and-why-you-learned-a-foreign-language Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language | Reflections on Learning | Scoop.it

    [...] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#132f1a; background-repeat : repeat; } http://www.edulang.com (via @mattledding) – Today, 10:21 [...]

  • http://twitter.com/shikha_speaks Shikha Dubey

    It’s a really nice post. I’m working on my blog on ‘How and Why I learned an English?’.

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Great!  Look forward to it ;-)  Please link back so I know when it’s up.  Cheers, Brad

  • Baiba Svenca

    I love that look on little Brad’s face! Thanks for the topic/ challenge, yours is a great story :)

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    That photo is a kodak moment indeed ;-)  Hope to hear your story, Baiba!

  • swisssirja

    Well, it seems that I really need to restart blogging ;-)
    If anyone has another 24 hours to offer for each and every day, I’ll take them!

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    I hear ya, Sirja, and wish I could have those extra hours too.

    Sometimes I envy people who don’t need much sleep, as I love a good 10-hr night every now and again. Time is precious… but so is sleep ;-)
    Cheers and would love to see your post (if you find those extra hours)!
    -Brad

  • http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/ Sandy Millin

    Hi Brad,
    Really like this challenge, and your photos of you as a child show you haven’t changed much :)
    One of the very first posts I wrote on my blog, soon after one of my very first eltchats (how long ago that seems!) I wrote a bumper blog post detailing my language learning experiences in what is quite possibly far too much depth. Oddly enough, it’s only ever had 63 views ;)
    If anyone is interested in wading through it, it’s here: http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/a-translation-hypocrite/
    Some day I may get round to writing a snappier version of it!
    Looking forward to reading other people’s posts,
    Sandy

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Awesome, Sandy.  I know you’re always game for a good ol’ challenge.

    Your post is my early AM reading on Saturday.  Off to le lit!   Cheers, b

  • http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2012/02/18/brads-blog-challenge-how-and-why-you-learned-a-foreign-language/ Visualising Ideas – Brad’s Blog Challenge – How and Why You Learned a Foreign Language

    [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Brad presented us with another challenge (he seems to have a knack for that!): blog a story related to learning a foreign language. Photo by [...]

  • Dalecoulter

    Hi Brad, long time, no comment. I vow to change that by answering your challenge today. Dale

  • http://www.facebook.com/Nina.EnglishBrno Nina EnglishBrno

    Hi Brad and everyone! I am of Czech origin and I have recently published a blog post “How I started to learn English”, it includes a video interview with my British friend Bob Porter, a professor of Czech and Russian, where he also talks about how he started to learn Czech back in the 1960s! Here is the link: http://englishbrno.cz/en/2011/07/how-i-started-to-speak-english/
    Cheers, Nina

  • http://www.scoop.it/t/world-englishes/p/1224345027/blog-challenge-how-and-why-you-learned-a-foreign-language Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language | World Englishes | Scoop.it

    [...] background-color:#; background-repeat : no-repeat; } http://www.edulang.com – Today, 9:17 [...]

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    NICE.  Look forward to ascoltare un po’ !!!

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Great post, Nina.  I remember reading this last year.  At this point, I’d like to tip my hat again.  Your English is FLAWLESS!!!  Not an easy task to achieve at all.  Cheers for the share.

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Naomi Epstein has taken up the challenge:  http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2012/02/18/brads-blog-challenge-how-and-why-you-learned-a-foreign-language/

  • Northernbelle65

    When I was little, I wanted to become a nurse, to which my mother replied, “Well, you’ll most likely work in a city where there is a large Spanish- speaking population. So, studying Spsnish will be useful.”

    Needless to say, I didn’t become a nurse. However, my mother, through her advice and guidance, lead me to a wonderful life pursuit, and tapped into an area for which I had an intuitive ability.

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    And here’s another from Laura Phelps:  http://ptefldactyl.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-dont-french-eat-two-eggs-at.html?showComment=1329565725074#c3334860434784110509

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Nice.  My parents let me go abroad for 6 months while I was still in high school and that experience changed my life in a huge way.  Funny how little moments can guide our lives.

    Cheers for the comment!   -brad

  • http://cecilialcoelho.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/before-a-language-teacher-i-was-a-language-learner/ Before a Language Teacher… I was a Language Learner « Box of Chocolates

    [...] Patterson proposed the latest challenge in my PLN with a post where he shares his story of learning a foreign language and posing a question for anyone wiling to [...]

  • http://lgb06.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/petec-2012-weekly/ PETE&C 2012 (weekly) | Adventures with Technology

    [...] Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language | A journée in language. [...]

  • Sylvia Guinan

    Well, I grew up without a secret language, though during my first summer in London, as a young student, I had some fun teaching naughty Irish to cockney londoners;)

    As for Greek, as with many thing in my life, it’s always been a tight-rope – teaching English to my husband and my children meant sacrificing total headlong immersion – but I’m proud of my crazy  bi-lingual household:))

    My kids have a great advantage with English & Greek ,and we throw in smatterings of Gaelic, just for fun!!

  • http://myletterstotheworld2012.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/why-and-how-im-learning-english/ Why and How I’m Learning English « My Letters to the World

    [...] starting anything, I would like to thanks to Mr. Brad Patterson for inspiring me through his blog ‘Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language’ so that I could write this blog as an answer to that [...]

  • http://twitter.com/shikha_speaks Shikha Dubey
  • Christine Gapuz

     Six units of a foreign language was a requirement for graduation for my college course. I took Spanish because it was closer to my native tongue and national language (Filipino). Unfortunately, I didn’t successfully learn Spanish. But I passed the subjects because of my Math acumen sort of. Syntax was like Math to me, so I got by! Now I wish I can re-learn Spanish and have a pal to practice with. I will never forget Estoy enamorada though. :)

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hi Christine.  

    Funny how certain things stick and others just don’t.  There is something math-like about learning a language at times, isn’t there.  And some languages are much more logical than others.  I agree that the way we learn languages in school aren’t always as fruitful as we’d like, or maybe it’s that we just don’t spend enough time and the language doesn’t really sink in to a level where it’s more “permanent”.

    Cheers, Brad

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Enjoyed reading your story, Shikha.  Just replied.  Cheers, Brad

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Just commented on your post.  Always fun to hear a few more details we could never have imagined about how and why we learn what we learn.  Merci CC !

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Isn’t it funny that the ‘naughty language’ is often taught so early on when we’re living in the context ;-)  Not the case in school is it!

    Bilingual children… oh how I envy them.  Lucky kids you have (for more reason that that I’m sure).  Thanks for stopping by, Sylvia!

  • http://twitter.com/theteacherjames James Taylor

    Hey Brad, nice challenge. I believe very strongly that at some point we language teachers need to be studying a language, just so we know and remember how it feels to be on the other side of the classroom. I’ve been blogging about my learner experiences if you want to have a look:

    http://theteacherjames.blogspot.com/search/label/Learner%20Diaries

    Cheers, James

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Thanks for the link, James. Now headed off to read more. I agree, of course. It is very important for us to be able to step outside of our language so that we can both identify with where our students are coming from AND find creative ways to express the subtleties and differences we know from learning too.

  • http://magicineducation.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/brad5pattersons-blog-challenge-how-and-why-you-learned-a-foreign-language/ @Brad5patterson’s Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language « Magic in Education!

    [...] you? How and why How and why you learned a foreign language? Brad is challenging you to tell. Here is his original [...]

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Elinda,

    Excited to read what you’ve written and headed off that way right now!  Thanks, Brad

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hey Elinda,

    Excited to read what you’ve written and headed off that way right now!  Thanks, Brad

  • http://www.edulang.com/blog/how-i-learned-chinese-blog-challenge-part-2/ How I learned Chinese (blog challenge part 2) | A journée in language.

    [...] you didn’t catch the first part of my recent learning language blog challenge, check ‘er out, and since then I’ve loved reading Ceci, Elinda, Naomi, [...]

  • http://twitter.com/AnnLoseva Anna Loseva

    Mine is here.

    http://annloseva.posterous.com/languages-and-me-a-story-of-no-wins-but-still

    Thanks for another great challenge! You’re keeping me energised=)

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Always a pleasure, Ann!  Just enjoyed reading your post.  Merci 4 accepting the challenge!

  • http://fourc.ca/korean/ Korean: my language learning | 4C in ELT

    [...] So my experience with total immersion in a completely foreign language began with a project in a language class; it drips with irony.  It’s been almost a decade since I left my life in Korea, but I’ll be forever tied to the language and its culture.  Now I want to take a trip back to visit.  Thank you, Brad Patterson and your blog challenge. [...]

  • http://howtolearnkoreanfast.learnkoreanfastandeasy.com/learn-korean-book/korean-my-language-learning-4c-in-elt Korean: my language learning | 4C in ELT | How To Learn Korean Fast

    [...] So my experience with total immersion in a completely foreign language began with a project in a language class; it drips with irony.  It’s been almost a decade since I left my life in Korea, but I’ll be forever tied to the language and its culture.  Now I want to take a trip back to visit.  Thank you, Brad Patterson and your blog challenge. [...]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ty-Kendall/662755104 Ty Kendall
  • http://louisealix.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/brads-challenge/ Brad’s challenge…. « Teaching Cloggy Style

    [...] here’s a challenge I couldn’t miss: Brad Patterson (@Brad5Patterson) was asking how we learnt our languages. Well [...]

  • http://twitter.com/ChristosPas Christos Pasialis

    Very interesting thoughts and I finally managed to write my hows and whys! 

    http://wp.me/p2d7BO-M hope you enjoy it!

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Great post.  Ty.  Beaucoup de style. Commented chez toi ;-)

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Nice, Christos.  Enjoyed your post.  So glad you took up the challenge!

  • http://educacao-internet.com.br/desafio-como-e-porque-voce-aprendeu-uma-lingua-estrangeira/ Desafio: como e porque você aprendeu uma língua estrangeira? | Educação & Internet

    [...] twitter fiquei sabendo desse post do Brad Patterson. Querendo saber como e por que pessoas dos mais diferentes lugares aprenderam uma língua [...]

  • http://twitter.com/Maylis_v Maylis

    What a great post (loved the first pic :D ), I enjoyed reading the stories from this challenge you have been tweeting!

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Me too!  Thanks, Maylis!

  • Anonymous

    This is an excellent idea and I have finally got around to writing my own little story.  It is a bit late because I had to enjoy carnival first.

    Unfortunately, as I was writing the post it turned into how NOT to teach and learn languages.  You can find it here http://tmenglish.org/index.php/blog.html

    Thanks again for another stimulating post.

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Thanks Stephen!

    Headed there now ;-)  and I too love how posts that start off in one direction end up swooping another way.  Cheers, Brad

  • http://www.eltsquared.co.uk/why-and-how-i-learn-russian/ Why and How I learn Russian « Elt Squared

    [...] Brad Patterson recently set a blog challenge to write how and why you learn a language. So here is my response looking at how I learn Russian. I choose Russian as it is the language that I am spending most time focusing on and can speak the most about. First encounters My interest in Russian culture started back at school hearing history lessons about the Russian revolution and Cold War. I really wanted to know more about these people and their different way of life. [...]

  • http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2012/03/23/around-the-web-in-esleflell-5/ Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

    [...] TEFL Geek’s “The Star Wars Guide to ELT.” How and why you learned a foreign language is another one of Brad Patterson’s great Blog [...]

  • http://infocreditpr.shikshik.org/2012/03/30/blog-challenge/ Blog challenge | Infocreditpr

    [...] Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language | A …5 days ago … I challenge you to blog a story of your language learning, be it a success or a story about what didn’t work for you OR for your students if you’d … Uncategorized Comments are closed. [...]

  • Martin

    Well, I have enrolled my son to take Spanish language classes in Sydney since we both want to go to Spain in the future. Hopefully, he’ll learn a lot and he would have stories to tell.