I've often heard people (usually people I work with) express the fact that I'm gifted at languages. I am not (blog soon coming up about this!).
I have to work hard to learn a language. What makes it seem like I'm "gifted" is that I'm a language nerd. I love languages, I love words, I love discovering more about the culture, I love connecting with people on a whole other level.
The 1st thing I did was to learn the Greek alphabet before my trip to Greece (in 2020). When I got there, I mean the minute I got off the plane, I felt like I was 5 again, trying to read every word around me. It was like trying to figure out a puzzle and I loved it (I also quickly realized knowing the alphabet was not enough, but it was a step in the right direction).
My 2nd step was to ask for a menu in Greek, so I could compare it with the latin letters from the menu in English. I didn't look at everything but I'd choose something on the English menu and then found it on the Greek menu and tried to figure out how to say it. Food always motivates me ;-)
The 3rd step, which was not a conscious decision but random obervations, was to realize that I already knew some Greek words...just from speaking French and English. Check out these 2 examples:
This is a step, by the Parthenon. Check the 3rd words (in Greek and in English)
ΑΠΟΣΤΆΣΕΙΣ (reads : apostasies) means distance.
In English, an apostasies is someone who distances themselves from their religion.
(formal definition: 'a defection or revolt '- is the formal disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion by a person.)
And here, check out the 3rd word
ΠΙΣΊΝΑ (reads PISINA) means Swimming Pool in French (piscine) and Spanish (piscina).
I have a lot of other examples, but I'll spare you ;-)
More generally speaking, when talking about math, science, philosphy you use a lot of words that come from Greek.
There was a 4th thing I did: I downloaded an app called Language Transfer. It's free and I really love the method (you can read more about it on Language Transfer) .
It helped me understand a bit more about how the language is builT (among other things). I didn't do it everyday mind you (I still have a long long way to go), I didn't have any specific goal in learning Greek other than curiosity and my love of languages.
I also focused on how my friends spoke when speaking in Greek. I listened to the pronunciation, I tried to catch every word I could (for example, the English words mixed up with the Greek and said with a Greek accent!). I familiarized myseld with the "music" of this beautiful language. I noticed I could say every sound, there were no harsh or difficult sounds to pronounce. I also noticed the CH and SH sounds don't exist!
I came back from this 1st trip to Greece with amazing images of Paros, Santorini, Athens and memories of wonderful moments spent with exceptional new friends but also this book (which I collect in many different languages). And sometimes, I open a random page and decipher a sentence and then look for it in English or French.
I told you from the beginning, I'm a language nerd :-)
And last, but certainly not least, I listen to Greek radio on a very regular basis! While I was there, my friend Elli took us on a road trip and the radio that was on played some really good music. It's now part of my life.
Did I ever study Greek grammar? no! Do I speak Greek yet? not even close! But Greek is not a big mystery to me anymore. What I mean by that is that Greek is now a "normal" language, I can recognize it when I hear it . I distinguish words and not just sounds. The music of it is famliar to me.
Do I want to pursue it further? I do ...but then again that's probably true of a lot of langues. I've been going to Greece though and have dear dear friends there now. I also love Athens so the answer is " there's a good chance I'll pursue it further".
Do I learn all languages this way? Not entirely. With Spanish for example, I love the music, so I use songs a lot. There are some amazing series, so I use series.
See where I'm going with that? Find YOUR thing, make learning the language something you enjoy and that can fit in your life seamlessly.
If you're not sure how to do that, you can contact me for coaching sessions, or just for a 30 minute chat on what you can do to learn on your own like I do. I'm always happy to help.
Καλή σου μέρα ! (kali sou mera, have a nice day!)