You don’t need a reason to learn a new Language

This week I started a new online language class. Our lecturer gave us the first ice-breaker task of introducing ourselves and explaining the reason of learning the language.

The answers were as usual; some for work, others for their spouse, and some to get a passport. Other answers I used to hear were fantasization of a certain culture, or for a football club, or a requirement for school (like my German).

What about my reason?

Well I always dreamt that my answer was romantic of sorts; falling in love with a small city in the Mediterranean or a marvellous niche company in another big city by the mountains.

I managed to skip answering the question, and like every introvert, kept the question in the back of my mind to answer later.

But the reality?

After a hard thought I realized I had no reason.

What? Why does anyone learn anything for no reason?

Perhaps we never needed to. Why do some people go on long walks, or play video games, or start a new hobby? Sometimes they are just exploring and using their time doing something you love. While some might say without motivation “ you will give up infront of the first obstacle”.

While it makes sense. I disagree for two reasons.

First; motivation does not outlast fun. I struggled in German, as soon as I passed the required level for my university; I stopped learning. When something is fun, you don’t need much motivation or willpower.

And second; the process is the goal, not the completion. Do you play football to win every time? Do you get #1 in every racing game? Hell, has a game of monopoly ever ended? Not really.

The answer is easy; the “fun” was in the process.

The goal of anything we learn should never be to get a certain award or certificate or recognition, I always think of them as checkpoints in a game. I believe that if anyone keeps a rigid end goal for an award or achievement he will end up developing toxic traits (such as cheating and sour competitiveness instead of healthy sportsmanship); a beautiful example when Qatar’s Barshim and Italian’s Tamberi got the same results in the run-off of long jumps in the Olympics - instead of trying to eliminate the other, they both decided to share the gold, communicated just from looking at each other.

While having a certificate does not signify knowledge. Especially here in South and West Asia,0 where somehow a certificate signifies the person’s intelligence, the person might become completely blind in any advancement at the same field. His knowledge ended when he received the certifcate.

Certificates and awards should be understood as checkpoints, an anchor and foundation of the field. Not a benchmark or a ‘workshop’ title to pad your CV.

But how do you explain yourself stopping in front of the first obstacle, if we didn’t have motivation to continue?

My answer is simple.

So what?

There is no ‘end goal’ to anything. How many times did we pick up a hobby we couldn’t pursue again, whether we like it or not? How many times did we take classes in university and dropped them? How many times did we pick a certain path in life and realize this wasn’t hours?

There is no shame in stopping.

I believe learning many stuff a little is better than finishing a few stuff we despise. Because we get to play with our ignorance, and realize about the life outside our own bubble of knowledge of certain subjects.

In my case, it’s kind of counter-intuitive to learn a spoken language but not speaking it, but as an introvert, like may others, the last I want is to fumble in a new language into innocent bystanders (though I am trying not to shy aways from conversing in this new language when it is approporiate enough for the introvert).

A good analogy I found was from one of the late Moses McCormick (Laushu) interview with Steve Kaufman, where the interviewer mentioned how it’s fine for him to stop at A1 and A2 (beginner) levels of a language, as he loves dabbling in different languages at the same time.

Just like going to a buffet and sampling everything, you gained that experience. You get to discover more langauge cues than an average traveler in that specific language.

People light up when they hear you speaking their language, even badly. The very few words I learnt in Gerogian, Turkish and Russian opened friendships that I could never forget.

Me? I love the new experince. And the new interaction with people. SO I dont expect myself to learn the languages “well”.

My advice?

Just learn.

Learn a language for no reason.

Learn 4 at the same time. Or 1. And don’t be afraid to change it at midnight.

Start new hobbies, return to old ones.

If you are waiting for an answer of why you should learn a language or anything new;

You don’t need a reason to learn something new.

Adios & güle güle :)



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