Uncommon languages, or languages less used or spoken on the world stage. Sure we all know someone who has taken an interest in Spanish or French for example. But what happens if you have an unrelenting desire to learn Romanian, Filipino Irish Gaelic or Korean? Well luckily enough this process is far from impossible, however there will be some extra struggles you will come across along the way. Depending on your location some languages might fit this category and some might not.
Here are some useful tips and ideas as to how to best proceed.
Have good and solid reasons as to why it is you have chosen this path. Are you planning on travel to the said country, are you going to do business with the country either on your or their soil, Have you held a burning interest for their culture or even using this as a means and method of reclaiming or rediscovering your own culture.
Personally I’m undertaking Romanian as I was born there (international adoptee) and as part of reclaiming my Romanian national identity feel I absolutely must bear the language. Whatever your reasons may be they must be strongly held reasons as every language learner has doubts at some point in their journey.
Have attainable goals As someone who can speak conversational Spanish and some level of Italian I can safely say that it will be hard to be successful in undertaking any language if you don’t have goals in place. These goals will need to be adjusted as time progresses if you are looking for high proficiency in a language.
My current ones are (at the time of writing) to have a basic understanding of Romanian for a trip to rediscover the country in March/April time and to know off by heart (or close to) the national anthem and football songs (with meanings) by March 26 when the first international match against Denmark is. I can expect these to change as time progresses.
Know what resources are available The chances are there are a lot fewer books, YouTube videos, seminars and language exchange partners should you be seeking a language which isn’t on the top ten of most spoken in the world. When starting out it might be helpful to gain an understanding of all the options available to you and knowing which ones your likely to prefer more.
Internet translators can help. While the likes of Google Translate and Bing Translator might be improving according to their developers claims, there can still be inaccuracies in these. I’d not usually advise a language learner to use something like this, but when resources including native speakers are potentially scarce sometimes you have to use these. Due to a higher likelihood of error its advisable to write one sentence at a time into the translator should you need to use one.
I’d advise that you do not record any translations created by these translators in any language progress journals you might be keeping. I’d also recommend that you be prepared to have a native speaker tell you the more natural way of saying something or even the correct way.
Singing If you have a particular passion for singing this might be a fantastic option for exposure to vast amounts of vocabulary and how words are pronounced. If there are set rules as to pronunciation this will help banish the pronunciation problems early on. The quickest way is to cut and paste the lyrics into a translation software and sing to them while keeping an eye on the general idea of the meanings. Any use of an internet translator has potential for error but it’s a good way of quick exposure to the language and embracing the culture and having fun while you’re at it.
Doing this everyday (if possible) and ditching the translators as soon as feasibly possible will expose you to new words, grammar and verb forms quickly. You will unlikely know how to place some of these in speech in the start but the exposure aspect is second to none.
Take instruction in a non native language Some of us are not new to the world of languages and if you possess a second language it might be an idea to take a flash card course in that language. That way you are keeping that language alive while actively pursuing your new pursuit.
Facebook and social media If you are a keen social media user why not “follow” some groups in your target language. You can keep up with current affairs in the country (ies) where the language is spoken and get to see non textbook examples. Of course its wise to have daily (or as close to daily practise as possible) as well as this.
If you are embarking on a journey of learning a language that is not one of the most common some people may question your judgement. Please understand that 99% of the time they mean well, even if you find their comments to be “unhelpful at best”
I can expect that in due time my proficiency in Romanian may one day be greater than that of my Spanish (most proficient 2nd language I have) as I feel its my language on a spiritual level. There is true and valid reason why I call it my sacred language.
limba mea este în inima mea
La Reina Razonable