Why Learn A Language? and Language Exhange frustration

Why learn a language?  Maybe you don’t expect to move to or even visit another country.  Maybe there aren’t a lot of people who speak that language where you live.  Learning a language takes a lot of time and effort.  So, why do it?

Now, if you don’t want to learn a language, I’m not trying to convince you that it’s a good idea.  (Then again, If you aren’t interested in learning a language, especially Japanese, you have chosen some odd reading material.)

I started learning Japanese because I like learning new things and thought I might as well choose something that it would take some real effort to learn.  Keeping your brain working is a good reason.

Japanese is fun.  That’s a good albeit very subjective reason.

The best reason, though, is that a new language is like a key that opens up a whole new world.  All of a sudden, there are books, movies, newspapers, magazines, websites, songs, people and an entire culture that become understandable.  It’s like a treasure chest full of goodies.

So, if you don’t need the language because you are going somewhere, then choose a language associated with a culture that interests you.

I happen to love the movies of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki.  Yes, I can watch some of them dubbed, but you definitely lose a lot of the flavor that way, especially with some of the Miyazaki films.  You can always watch them with subtitles, of course, and, while I don’t mind subtitles, you still lose a little something.  It would be nice to be able to simply watch them in Japanese and understand them.

There are things that you only get in the original.

I know of a movie in Spanish where one character’s speech is very old fashioned.  It is part of who that character is.  If you don’t speak Spanish, however, you miss out on that, because it isn’t reflected in the subtitles.

Is it worth learning a language for that sort of thing?

Well, it is to me.  That’s all I can say.

What about you?


By the way, what a difference a day makes.  I had 93 words to review on Memrise this morning, and I flew through them, getting a minimum of 80% right and getting 100% right more often than not on the sets of 10.

Also, I went looking for another language exchange partner to get more speaking practice.  Hopefully I’ll manage to find someone.  It is surprising how often you ask someone to if they want to Skype with you and they tell that their English isn’t up to it, even though they have signed up on a language exhange website to practice English!

This is frustrating for me, since they are native Japanese speakers and could help me and useless for them since I am a native English speaker and could help them.

I found one guy who wants to learn both English and Spanish, so I could help him with both.  I sent him a message in both English and 日本語 introducing myself, saying I would like to practice Japanese and telling him I could help him with both languages.

His response:  分かりました。

I’m persistent, though.  I sent him another message 日本語で suggesting we meet via Skype.  Now I’m waiting to see what he says.


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