If I had to make a FAQ, one question that would be on there is the following:
So why are you learning another language, Brianna?
While this question is relatively innocent in nature and I understand the curiosity, I haven't been able to word it in a way I feel satisfied with. I think I am able to communicate the gist of it, but I don't think I am able to get across how I feel about it.
I get asked this question frequently, and my response comes off as, "Oh, well, I just like learning languages." While that is true, there's more to it. I think one of the biggest things I support politically is bi/trilingual education, and I feel... sad that I was not raised in a place where that was more common.
I started learning Spanish in high school but I was not very interested in it. I only had Spanish to choose from, which was understandable since many people in my state who know another language are, statistically speaking, speaking Spanish. If you choose to live and work in my state after graduation, it's a good idea to know some Spanish since many Hispanic families are immigrating here for work. It's more likely than, say, a French family immigrating here.
I really wish I was more interested in learning Spanish. However, I just wasn't. I did not have an interest in telenovelas or anything like that. I was just told it would look good when applying to colleges.
I don't like how that was my introduction to learning another language. Yes, it may be true. I mean, I got accepted to quite a few colleges and I had two years of Spanish. My friends took Spanish and they got accepted into colleges, too!
I think that there needs to be a little bit more of an incentive for people to learn another language than what it can do for them in the future. What can you do with the things you're learning now?
I've been learning Japanese for a few weeks now. I know, I know. It's a difficult language for English natives to learn and speak. I've heard it before! Many times, actually. However, it is really fun for me to learn because I like to watch Japanese live-action shows on Netflix and read Japanese webcomics. To answer one part of this question, I'd say that the reason why I started learning Japanese was because of these things. I'm not the only one who learns a language due to this; many Muslim women trying to get their PhD at my university speak 3 languages. They speak Arabic, English, and Korean. The first two you'd understand why, but the third is a bit more funny to think about. These women learned Korean because of Korean dramas. I love that, and I totally support that.
Now, I am nowhere near fluent. I'd be the first person to tell you that.
However, an interest in something now drives me more than thinking of the future. I honestly do not think I could live in Japan. Sure, it would be awesome to visit, but the work culture there is so dangerous I don't know where to begin with it. If i had to pick another country to live in, I'd probably choose a Nordic country or some other country in Europe. However, I need my cat and he is American until he gets dual citizenship somewhere. Also, there's the whole college situation. I kind of want to finish my degree before doing anything else. For the meantime, I should learn some Danish and German.
So yes, I understand why people are curious as to why I'm learning Japanese. That is a very random language to be learning if you live in the middle of nowhere in America. I'm not even going to mention the assumptions that I'm sure others have when they see that in my biography.
Next, I am jealous of those who know another language. For years, I've seen/heard people on the Internet talk about how English is not their first language. I was always kind of curious about it; I mean, how did it work? When did they pick up English? It was a concept that did not quite get through to me until I went to college.
When I got to college, very few of my professors were native English speakers and even less of them were monolingual. These were very intelligent people who I looked up to, and they all knew multiple languages. I felt a little incomplete and like I was missing out on a whole other world. Then I started making friends with people who were taught other languages at home. They said their parents taught them other languages so they would not experience as many barriers in the world.
So that's what I thought of my monolingualism. It was a barrier. Sure, I could stop learning Japanese or lose interest in learning languages all together and still have a moderately successful life (15-20 of the states' population is bilingual, compared to 56 percent of Europe), but that would put back up barriers.
After a major life event happened, it really kickstarted my interest in becoming bi/trilingual/a polygot. I do not want to go too in depth into it, but if we can't break down barriers when we are able to, then what are we doing with our lives?
Anyways, sorry, this turned out to be a rambling mess, but I hope that answered the question a bit better. I think it did, but what do I know? I just know English and a bit of Japanese. Ha ha ha.