Teachers' blog


【Learning a Second Language】

(Contributed by Ben)
My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 is to learn a language. I’m lucky, because I don’t need to learn a language for work. For me, this is a hobby. I believe it’s healthy for a person to know more than one language, especially if they work with words. At school I was taught some Latin and French, and they both helped me understand English. So this year, I want to learn German.
I’m using an app to help me learn it, so it’s quite fun. To begin with it seemed easy! So many words were familiar from German TV, movies, operas and board-games that I know well.
Other words are similar to old-fashioned English – for example the Germans say ‘du hast’, and 16th Century English used ‘thou hast’ (meaning ‘you have’). Even more vocabulary just feels right. I don’t know how, but I already know the words.
It seemed easy – but only for a few hours. Some words are familiar, but most aren’t. And there are so many words to learn! Hundreds and thousands of them! And then there are the tenses: dative, genitive, past, present and future, and all the surprising, strange and unpredictable ways they change the verbs.
How can anyone learn a language? It looks impossible! It’s fun to begin, but I think it will be hard work to continue. I keep using the app, but I also need to look up ‘conjugation tables’ lists of verbs that say ‘I am, you are, he/she/it is’ and things like that. It’s so complicated. At times it’s completely baffling.
The experience has given me a new respect for people who are learning English. All languages are difficult, but English must be incredibly difficult, because so many words break the rules. I appreciate that people spend years mastering it. I’m so glad I don’t need to learn English!
I will keep on learning German. I don’t think I’ll ever speak it like a native (but some people would say I don’t really speak English like a native – and I am one – because I’m unusually formal and I have an unusual accent). But I will keep going. My dream is to make a short film or two in German – because I love German films. On another blog, I’ve written thousands of words about them! I can’t promise the quality of the language in the script, but I will film something in German before this year ends!
After all, if you learn a language, you’ve got to use it somehow!

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