(Language learners who are completely into the language they are learning)
- You try to translate everything you read, hear or even think into your target language.(Street signs, book titles, article titles you see in newspapers, magazines, song lyrics you hear, daily exclamations, greetings and brief thoughts like “Oh my god!”, “Damn it!, “Thank you”, “Sorry”, etc. Just the short ones because longer sentences need too much work and you either don’t have enough time and energy to translate them or you are just too lazy to do it right now.
- You get super aware of the foreigners in your neighbourhood or any place you go. It’s like you grow this new receiver antenna that scans your surrounding and picks up the language you are learning. If you’re learning an Asian language, you get super alert of any Asian tourist (And Man! It is not easy telling Asians apart from other Asians). If you are learning a European language, you are extra alert of any European looking foreigner.
Your motive however can vary depending on what kind of person you are. If you are one of the shy types, then your motive is to try to listen upon their conversation in order to test your own listening & comprehension skills. You get extremely amused if you actually manage to understand some of their conversation or at least the gist. But if you are sort of an outgoing person, you would like to make friends with them, if possible. Because it is not easy finding a language partner or someone to practise your language with. This is especially true if you are learning a language in your country or some other place and NOT in the country where your target language is spoken.
- You get obsessed with the TV shows, series and movies in the target language. For example, If you are learning French, you watch Tv5monde 90% of the time. If you are learning Korean, your TV remote is stuck in the switch-between-channel-mode between Kbsworld and Arirang. You know all the latest shows in the country and you also know at least five websites where you can get the best content in your target language. (Ssssssh! For free!) They do serve as excellent ways of enriching your vocabulary in your target language.
- You are also addicted to the music of the country of your target language. Learning lyrics and new words from the songs is one of your favourite methods of learning the language. You have apps in your mobile phone that get you the lyrics of those songs, either in the script of the language or in romanization.
- You make your friends and family watch your favourite programmes in your target language, even if they are not interested in them at all. This is because you want to share the joy with them and also because you think that they are missing out on a whole new world, good television content, humour, etc. Plus you make them listen to all the interesting facts you learn about the new language or the culture.
- You are a huge fan of a few youtubers, bloggers and websiters who produce language or culture related courses in your target language. They are no less than celebrities for you. You admire them and you would like to meet them. Besides that, you know all youtubers, bloggers and websites that teach your target language.
- You suddenly become curious about your old friends (friends that you no longer talk to and no longer cared much about) just because they happen to be working or living in the country of the language you are learning. So you text them out if nowhere and ask them about their whatabouts. A little deep into the conversation, you can’t wait to tell them that you are learning the language, and even show off some of your language skills to them.
- You are aware of all the hot news, trends and events happening in the country of your target language. You also know the recent weather conditions, upcoming festivals, etc in the country. You may or may not be aware of what is going on in your own country or your neighbouring countries for that matter, but you make conscious efforts to keep yourself updated with the buzz in the target country. This is almost 100 percent true among language learners who are friends with the native speakers of the target language and who regularly talk with them. After all, you have to find a topic that both people can associate with and talk about, right?
- You look for places associated with the target language or the country in your own country, such as the restaurants, stores, libraries, organizations, anything! For example, if you are learning Mandarin Chinese, you look for Chinese restaurants and go there just to be able to experience some Chinese culture. Never mind if you can barely identify a few words in Chinese. And you look for Chinese people there, the chef or the staff or even customers. And you get super annoyed if you find out that all the staff there are in fact non-Chinese, who just learnt the Chinese cuisine.
- You accidentally mix random words from the target language while you are conversing in your own language or in a third language. This does not happen to beginner level learners but to learners who have reached at least the elementary level. This happens more frequently to learners whose native language sentence structure is more similar to that of the target language. Usually they are these short words like with, so, because, and, to etc that secretly creep into the conversation in a language where they don’t belong at all. But it is not a bad thing at all for the language learner. It is in fact a good news. It is an indication that the language they are trying to master is coming naturally to them. As for the second person in the conversation, well, who cares what he/she thinks, right? As long as you are making progress in your language challenge.
- You feel the urge to use words or expressions in the target language that best describe certain feelings or situation, the words or phrases that DO NOT EXIST or CANNOT BE PERFECTLY TRANSLATED into your own language. And you feel really irritated and annoyed when you can’t find a perfect close substitute word or expression in your own language.
- You go cold turkey on subtitles or take similar extreme measures. This is generally done by intermediate to advanced level language learners. All of a sudden you go cold turkey on subtitled TV programmes or movies and start watching raw video materials. Moreover, you also change the language of your mobile phones to your target language. Of course it is an extreme measure and really messes up your mind. But it is an excellent way to train your brain to accept the new language. Of course there are relapses and learners often find themselves crawling back to their original language or subtitled contents. But these relapses gradually become less frequent, if you are really determined to learn the language.
Well, whether you are an elementary level learner or an intermediate learner or even advanced learner, you can’t really escape from the fact that learning a language is not just “all brain work”. It is a skill that needs motor skills: your mouth needs to learn how to pronounce the originally alien sounding words and sounds. Moreover, learning a new language is learning a new culture and a new way of thinking about the same things (which is in fact the thousands of years old legacy of a totally different society). Perhaps because of these facts, you can’t help but develop these unique habits. However, these little habits are the things that help you cherish the joy of learning a new language.
CHEERS TO ALL LANGUAGE LEARNERS! 화이팅!