As a white American latchkey kid, learning a second language was never necessary, encouraged or even on my radar, really. Looking back now, I wish my parents had forced me to learn one, or to play piano, or anything really other than the massive amount of Bible knowledge still bouncing around in my head, doing me zero good (though I know younger self wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with more extracurricular activities).
I’ve made some poor choices, and I’ve now got a business degree, yet no idea what I want to do with myself. Anyway, I’m done with college now (well, for awhile, anyway). At first, I figured I’d be using that extra time to play more video games, but... that’s just not working for me. I never really feel like playing games for long stretches of time anymore- especially not during the middle of the day. I think I want to fill that void with me sitting alone in the public library, studying. Just like the old days.
And I think a second language is the way to go. I've heard it's a great way to keep your mind sharp, I'm interested in breaking the ignorant American stereotype, and I'm definitely intrigued by other cultures. Though I’m somewhat stuck at what to learn. I’ve got a few picks, let’s just dissect this here:
French. This is the first thing to pop into my head. My name is French, my grandparents lived in French Canada, in fact, every generation of my family speaks French- up until our generation, that is. The only thing is, I’m not sure what I’d do with it. Paris is barely on my list of places I’d like to visit, let alone travel to on a regular basis. But then I suppose I could talk to my grandparents in French... but how much longer are they going to be around, realistically? Moving on.
Latin. It’s a dead language, but I do find it the most intriguing, even if the ability to read ancient texts wouldn’t exactly help me in day-to-day life.
Mandarin. This sounds challenging. I’m considering this because “business school” taught me that relations with Chinese companies are going to be pretty damn important in the future. Oh, also, the university (and surrounding town) have become just swarming with Chinese transfer students & business-folk, and god damn are some of those girls gorgeous (just sayin’.)
Japanese. See, this is the one I think I’m most interested in, but... well, you know. It’s certainly popular around here, I mean, this exists, but I don’t think I’m a crazy enough fanatic of Japanese stuff to justify it. I’m moderately interested in anime, sure, and I love Japanese games, though most of the games I’m interested in are localized anyway. I think the reason this sounds so appealing to me right now is all the crazy stuff my ‘hero,’ David Lee Roth has been doing after moving to Japan. From his radio show, his dojo, and... whatever the fuck this is, it’s made the idea of living as a stranger in a strange land just so god damn appealing. (You should click those links). Also, with my degree, I could work in the gaming industry- I’m not artistic enough to design games, but I am potentially savvy enough to work in a PR or HR department, so the language might actually be beneficial... The only thing stopping me is that the image in my head of “white kid wants to learn Japanese” isn’t particularly appealing.
So... I don’t know. I’m definitely not asking you guys what I should do. But what I am asking is this. Do any of you speak a second language? Specifically one that’s not spoken around you. I’d imagine learning English as a second language would be simpler, because it’s infested the culture of the entire world- but what culture is there in suburban Michigan where I’m stuck now? Next to none, I imagine immersing myself in any language without the culture to go along with it would be difficult. Any suggestions on other languages? What about methods, the best way to self-teach a language? And most of all, has it been worth it, for you? Talk to me, people.