On Learning Languages

Language is a common and natural phenomenon. Everyone communicates through language and language is all around us.

Sometimes I do not realise how language is my medium. The language I speak is then a tool I take for granted. As someone who speaks at least four languages how much of tool can I be by seeing language as just a tool?

We learn our first words from the cradle and from hearing we go to hearing, reading and writing. The processes in which small abilities of understanding and using languages are acquired are fascinating. The learning processes by which we adjust and program ourselves to acquire abilities, improve them and master them to the extent of saying “this is my new skill” is something which keeps me busy everyday.

I personally have always liked to read and study. Learning something new, how trivial it may seem brightens my day. When I start on a language there are always three things I want to know first.

First, how to say yes. In a given situation I have to be able to confirm that yes “event A took place”.

Second, how to say no. In a given situation I have to be able to negate that no “event B did not take place” or I do not know about “event B taking place.”

Third, how to greet. To be able to say “Hi!”, “Hello!” or “Good morning” is very important. When I do not know someone else’s language I can still greet and be social.

As I went through school I experienced I was more an alpha student than a beta student. I am more language oriented. I learned English as a child by just listening and I learned spelling by phonetically writing what I heard at the moment.

Initially I still learn and study languages phonetically. Once I know how to say “yes”, “no” and how to greet I want to know how the language sounds when I am supposed to speak it.

“Quand tu veux rire un mot amusant est ton ami.” When you want to laugh an amusing word is your friend.

In the end I want to be able to tell jokes in every new languageĀ  I intend to learn and master. A genuine laugh can turn grey grimness into a good memory.


My Dutch and English are fluent. My French and Spanish need improving…