Caption: Moscow State University.
As you may already know, I recently moved to Moscow. My boyfriend is Russian and what is more, Moscow is a great city. I was aware of the fact that by moving to Moscow I was going to face two big obstacles. The first one: the weather, which affected me a lot during the winter months. I took action and managed to thrive. I wrote an article about how to deal with extreme winter.
The second main obstacle I encountered was the language barrier: it is extremely difficult to meet people with whom you can have a conversation in English here. Most people are not willing to even try. My boyfriend’s friends do speak English, I believe the last generation does, but on a daily basis solving problems when we don’t speak the same language is almost impossible.
Because I don’t like the word impossible; and because I know that there is nothing impossible when there's hard work, determination and desire; I decided to take seriously my commitment to learn the language.
I want to share with you three benefits of learning new languages plus some tips on how to learn them easily. Although we all have our own way to adsorb knowledge, it is never a waste to try a new method. I speak four languages and this is what that's done for me.
1- Your understanding of the world becomes wider.
There is an expression that says ‘the world is so small,’ and yes, it is small, but it is also wide and infinite, you see; it depends on how you want to look at it. You need more than a lifetime to see all the beauty that mother nature offers to us and to enjoy it in its fulness.
I also humbly believe that we are eternal and sometimes it is enough to just see a bit farther, step by step. You may be surprised by what you may encounter every time you move forward.
If you have ever read the children’s book The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry you will understand what I mean. On his little planet, he had a rose which he took care off, she was his only company. One day he decided to explore new planets. He loved his rose but he thought she was taking advantage of him. He abandoned her and she, despite her vanity, encouraged him to go ahead.
The Prince visited six other asteroids before he arrived on Earth. He saw many things on the other planets but what surprised him the most was to find there were many other roses like his rose, which he had thought unique. But he also met a fox who taught him a different language -‘Domestication’.
He taught him some important life lessons: ‘It is the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important.’ He taught him also that 'One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.'
The main point here is the ability to be able to communicate in different languages, including the language of the heart, can make our life experience richer.
2- It’s easier to socialise, therefore, to make new friends along the journey.
Continuing with the story of The Little Prince, which is my favourite children's book: in the story, a pilot's plane crashes in the Sahara dessert, far from civilisation, where he meets the little prince. He is impressed by the little prince's wisdom, good heart and love for his planet.
They develop a strong affection for each other and despite the pilot (the narrator) loosing sight of the prince in the end, he keeps the memory of him in his heart, remembering what the little prince said:
'In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... You - only you - will have stars that can laugh.'
How beautiful it is to make true friends when we travel; when we speak the same language, we can connect on a deeper level. Living in London, I made friends from all over the world and this experience made me realise that we are all the same, we are all human beings with the same need for love, understanding and respect. Once you get this picture, you only speak one language, the universal language, which is love.
3- It opens many doors. You may even find love, simply because speaking the same language helps you connect (it’s been the case for me).
After finishing my studies in London, I returned to Costa Rica. My plan was to go back to London and continue my education with a master's degree in film. During those days in Costa Rica, a good friend of mine, that I hadn’t seen in a long time, told me she also was in Costa Rica.
I took the opportunity to visit her at the beach where she was staying with her family. Funnily, the next day I woke up in the morning and went straight to the pool where I saw a guy smiling at me and we engaged in a conversation in English - he was Russian and my mother tongue is Spanish.
It would have been impossible for us to engage in such great conversation if we hadn’t learnt English. From that day onwards we didn’t stop talking, and sharing, and even laughing in English, hahahaha! It's been almost three years since then.
Caption: Me at The Moscow State University. Impressed by it beauty.
My tips for you are these:
- Learn words by yourself; when you accumulate a modest vocabulary try to make friends. Then study grammar.
- You can go to courses, you can do it online by yourself; I use YouTube in many cases.
- Try to read, start with simple books. Watch TV or movies without subtitles, it is a way to train your brain.
- Listen to music and sing the song with the lyrics, try to memorise the song even though you don’t understand the meaning, eventually you will.
- Every time you will have the opportunity to talk to someone that speaks the language you are learning, don’t be shy, engage in a conversation, they will understand that you are learning, no reason to be ashamed.
- Have fun during the process, whatever you do with passion will be worthy of your time. Most important - be patient.
How has knowing another language changed your life?
Or is it your big desire to learn a new language?
What is your biggest struggle with the learning process?
I’d love to hear your story and how I can help you on this journey.
Tons of love,