Daily Log #103

Recently, I had this sudden onset of desire to learn a new language. And the language I picked to learn was German.

Personally, I think German is one of the easier language to learn if you already know English because they did share a common history in the form of Anglo-Saxon. There are certain words with the same meaning looked or sound approximately similar that makes it easy to recognize (e.g. offiziell – official, feuerwerk – fireworks, musik – music).

I am also able to recognize the following:

  1. ich – I
  2. was – what
  3. du – informal version of ‘you’
  4. die/der/das – the
  5. auf – on
  6. und – and
  7. für – for
  8. seit – since
  9. Deutschland/Deutsch – Germany/German
  10. mir – me

And instead of going for paid courses, I decided to go the self-taught route through the use of songs.

However, I also know that German language has more than one word for the same word in english depending on the context. Take ‘you’ for example. Sometimes you want to use the formal version of ‘you’ in german which is ‘sie’ when you have to address people you don’t know instead of ‘du’. Then the word ‘the’ has masculine form, feminine form and neutral form (der, die and das respectively) and it highly depends on what noun follows. Like you won’t use ‘die auto’ (the car) and you will use ‘das auto’ because a car has no sex or gender.

And yes, it does feel overwhelming but I see it as a way to improve my brain function by forcing it to rewire again through learning a new language. Using music or watching shows in the target language I want to learn will make things easier.

I also see it as a challenge.

You see, I’m a polygot when it comes to programming languages. Java, C#, C /C and SQL. I also know scripting language like Javascript. And I could easily pick up others. I did learn how to write and read Objective-C after spending a couple of hours with it. Now, give me any programming language, I am confident that I can read through codes written in it within a week and understand what’s going on.

And you know what are biggest obstacles to learning a new language?

It would be close-mindedness and prejudice.

I know because I couldn’t let go of Java when going to C#, Javascript or any other language for that matter. I thought it would make me rusty in Java and affect my ability to find another job with it ever again. I also allowed my identity to be tied to Java. Over the years, I keep calling myself a Java developer and refuse to call myself a C# developer or Javascript developer. By learning a new language would mean eroding my identity.

Finally, I also hated any other languages because I think they are ugly and not expressive enough.

That’s why my learning journey was difficult.

And now? Ever since I took on my current job that require C# only, I have learnt to let it go and see a learning a new language as a way to express oneself or your ideas better. It’s after all a tool. What is important is your problem-solving skills.

So I see learning German the same way. It’s a way for me to express myself better in writing and see things differently. The intermediate goal would be to have the ability to read an article in German. And I hope one day I can write a full blog post in German as a demonstration to myself I have done it.