Overall, 2018 was a rough year for our family and we concentrated on surviving and then finding our new normal. Towards the end of 2018, I started to feel more like myself and very slowly started finding motivation to move from merely surviving to thriving. I wish I knew what jump-started this motivation, but I don’t. Even if I can’t pinpoint the cause, it’s time to start moving forward.
In December, I listened to a podcast about compound interest. Normally, compound interest is a phrase used when discussing personal finance. But in this podcast, the phrase was being used to describe any actions taken on a regular basis to work toward a desired result. For example, cleaning one’s house for a few minutes a day will create a compound effect toward having an overall cleaner home. Skipping dessert today and then again tomorrow will create a compound effect that will later result in a more healthy body.
As 2019 started, I decided that it was time to ease myself back into my Chinese studies. A thought often discussed on language forums is that you don’t want to look back to a year ago and think of how much closer you would be to fluency if only you had taken the time to study a few minutes each day. This is a fantastic example of compound interest. It takes a regular, ongoing effort to become fluent in a language.
At the beginning of the month, I started out only studying a couple of minutes a day. My only goal was to catch up on my flashcard backlog, which consisted of roughly 100 vocabulary words and phrases and another 500 hanzi characters. As I started studying, I found that I craved more. As odd as it sounds, I missed studying Chinese.
Then I dug up a travel channel on YouTube about a guy who toured Taiwan in order to enjoy the local cuisine. That led to browsing Pinterest and adding pins to my travel board for our 2020 trip to Taiwan. Then I found another travel blogger who is a polyglot, someone who learns multiple languages.
Now, just two weeks after making a decision to embrace that compound effect of studying, I am thirsting for more language studies. I had forgotten how much I love learning languages. Suddenly, it hit me – languages are my passion. Either I’ve never given myself permission to embrace language learning as a passion or I’ve forgotten how much I have always loved studying languages.
In high school, I spent a year learning Latin and two years learning Spanish. After getting married, thanks to the influence of my husband, I spent a few years learning Japanese. When we decided to adopt our daughter from Taiwan, I switched to learning Chinese. And I have loved my time spent with each of these languages!
I don’t know where my language efforts will lead me. All I can do is make a daily effort and keep reminding myself that it’s ok to be passionate about learning languages. It’s not selfish and it’s not useless. There must be a reason I love the challenge. For now, I’ll continue with Chinese. Eventually, I hope to revisit Japanese and maybe I’ll start a new language as well. There are so many options and I’m excited about all of the possibilities.