There are many reasons for learning a language. Many people start to learn a language not because they want to but because they have to in school. This was certainly the case for me.
As an Irish person, English is my native language but we also have Irish as an official language. I started learning Irish in Primary School and became quite good at it but when I started Secondary School Irish wasn’t considered important so very few students put any effort into learning it. It was seen as a subject that you only needed if you wanted to teach it or if you wanted to go into politics, although I’m sure that there were probably more reasons too. The other languages taught in this particular school were Latin (compulsory for the first year), French and German. Most people only took one language for the Junior Cycle but I took French for six years (yes our school did six years) and German for three years. Although I didn’t have a choice to start learning a language I am very glad that I did otherwise I may never have discovered that it was something that I really enjoyed and I was good at.
I think my experience in school is what sparked my interest in languages and other cultures. Most of my life I have been around people from other countries and I just wanted to learn and experience more. However, life took me on a different path for a number of years but for the last eleven years or so that curiosity has been reignited. I have travelled for fun, study and work. I have lived in Australia and the UK and I am currently planning my next adventure living abroad.
You may have noticed that so far I have only lived in English speaking countries. There was no particular reason for that, it was just the way it worked out for me. So, where next? The plan is to move to Portugal because my daughter lives there.
It can be difficult to go to a country where you don’t speak the language even if you are only there to visit. This happened to me the first time I went to Portugal to visit my daughter. At the time she was working all day so I was left to entertain myself during the day. (Now she works for herself so I can go to work with her.) I very quickly realised that she lived in an area where very few people spoke English. As a result of this, I decided that I would have to learn Portuguese even if it was only enough to ask for directions or order a meal. Now she has been living in Portugal for almost five years and has a Portuguese boyfriend and her own business I want to become fluent in the language. The more I learn about Portugal, its people and culture the more I want to learn. It has also sparked an interest in learning other languages too. Currently, I have a good understanding of Portuguese (both European and Brazilian), Spanish (from Spain), Italian and French and a basic knowledge of German. I will tell you about my learning journey for these languages but that can wait for another blog.
So, tell me, what is your reason for learning a language?