I have realised that I cannot understand language as a whole unless I have learnt another. It would probably take learning every single language ever to have a complete understanding to get a full comprehensive understanding of language as a whole, but I think learning one is a really significant start. Adding just one other language to my vocabulary will open up the doors to to others - learning the process of learning a language will enable me to learn others.
I know that the differences between my own language and another language will be highly revealing. At the moment, the features of modern English are what I consider to be the ‘norm’ of all language. I know now that there is no norm, but that does not mean that this heavily ingrained assumption can me removed from my general thought-processes. Only by learning another language can I begin to question these “norms” - which parts of English linguistics run through other languages, and which parts are unique to my own. I want to know what these differences are and more importantly, why these differences exist. By studying another language I think I can advance my apprehension of culture affecting language, as I do not currently know exactly how my own language supports the culture I am a part of.
I am aware that to become fluent in the language would be to partake in an extremely difficult and time-consuming process, therefore, I am just going to give the basics a go and see where this takes me. I am anticipating many obstacles, and it is these obstacles which I think will deliver the content to produce work with. These obstacles will reveal which patterns of language I have relaxed in to and find it difficult to break from. Only by being aware of these personal limitations can I attempt to challenge their existence.
I am interested to see both what I am able to pick up on, and what I am not able to pick up on. I want to find out how much of another language I need to know to “get by”, how much I need to know simply to be able to communicate with native speakers on a very basic level. How important actually is correct grammar, if we do not always need it to achieve mutual understanding?
In relation to this, I am going to explore different methods by which a language can be learned, for example, how the learning experience of using the institutionalised tool of the textbook will differ from using an app, or, learning entirely through the knowledge of another human beings. I see each of these methods as a kind of filter, and hence believe that each method would result in not only entirely different experiences of learning but also in entirely different final outcomes.
I am beginning (and most likely, ending) this process with German, simply because this is a language I really like. For some unknown reason it really resonates with me. This is a good enough reason for me because I know that this process is going to require a lot of time and effort, and I would not feel motivated to put in this time and effort into a language that I did not care for. However, it is significant that I have chosen a spoken language to learn - the spoken word, and how this is constructed, is an area that I surprisingly have not immersed myself into yet. My previous focus has been completely on gesture. I am hoping that by learning a new spoken language I will become acquainted with examples of the cultural specificity within it.