Opinion

Learning languages opens doors

Naomi Galindo

Lantern Staff

Everyone has a hobby, well at least a lot of people do. Some enjoy reading, playing an instrument, collecting stamps, cards and coins. Everyone is different. However, there are a few people who like to stick to more educational hobbies. I am someone who enjoys learning about different subjects. One of my interests is languages, which is my main hobby, besides making beats on GarageBand and playing video games.

My personal language learning experience began when I learned English in the second grade. I am a native Spanish speaker, and English wasn’t much of a challenge for me. I didn’t realize how much I had learned until I began getting an excellent score on my spelling tests and reading comprehension. From there, I have continuously started different languages. Music has also had an impact in my life and language career. Listening to music in different languages exposed me to a whole new world that sparked my curiosity. I began learning about more countries and their languages. At this point in my life, a lot of my teachers began telling me that I could be translator for the United Nations, and since then, I have been inspired to pursue a career related to government or diplomacy.  

I didn’t start learning languages seriously until I was in high school. It was a small school that only offered French and Spanish. I chose French because it would just be too easy to learn Spanish. Taking French in high school was a great experience. At the same time, I was introduced to Duolingo, which is an app that can be used to learn languages such as Spanish, French, German and even Klingon. After getting Duolingo, I realized it was easier than ever to learn a language. I also added German as a secondary language that I wanted to learn. Throughout my high school years, my French began to improve, and I became fluent in the language just by studying outside of the classroom and I also began to start having a dedication for languages. I also picked up Turkish and Serbian along the way. During my senior year of high school, something unexpected happened. I was finally gotten recognized for learning French by being in the top 2% in the country on the National French Exam. I was proud of that moment, and it also followed by earning a language scholarship. It was the best way to end my high school career.  

Sometimes there can even be defeat in language learning. Getting the opportunity to study in one of the county’s most prestigious language workshops was an amazing opportunity. I had originally applied for the Turkish program, since I have a strong interest in Turkic languages and the region of Central Asia. I was notified that everyone was going to start receiving their acceptance emails. I felt thrilled because I was finally going to study a language that was important to me. I got a notification from the school, and I opened it: I had been rejected from the Turkish program. I have never felt so upset and disappointed in myself. Shortly after, I called the director of the program to see if there was a chance that I could get into another language, but all the Turkic language classes were already full. I chose to study Persian since I thought that it would be beneficial to my dream career. I didn’t have as much experience with the language like I did with Turkish or Uzbek. My first day of class was fun and I thought that I would do well. By the end of the week, we were given a test to see how we were doing in class and to my surprise, I failed it. Another disappointment. After the second week, I dropped out of the program because I was just lost. This taught me that maybe I wasn’t going to be good at every language that I would try to learn, but I decided that I would eventually study Persian again in the future.  

Learning languages has also helped me develop other interests as well and because of language learning, I have had the privilege to get many amazing opportunities and one of those is to take my passion for media, such as video editing, and creating YouTube videos about music or language, although I still haven’t decided the topic for my channel yet! I have thought about becoming like Xiaomanyc, who is American but goes around New York City, New York and impresses people with his skills and fluency in the Chinese language. Or even become like Tim Doner, who was interviewed at the age of 17 for his talent and ability to speak over 20 languages. The concept of becoming a language/music influencer has always appealed to me, but for the time being, I will continue to pick up community language classes throughout colleges in the United States.

My next adventure will continue with Bosnian Croatian, but I will continue with my journey in the languages that I have picked up so far. If you are ever interested in a certain culture or country and want to learn more about it, learn about the language and if it interests you, go ahead and learn it because that will open up a door of not only opportunities, but also a better insight of the country.  

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