pozorvlak (pozorvlak) wrote in linguaphiles,
pozorvlak
pozorvlak
linguaphiles

Overcoming fear of learning languages

Dear linguaphiles,

As a mathematician, I find languages to be fascinating structures. I've really enjoyed reading this community and learning something about the variety of human languages, which has (of course) turned out to be much richer than I could have imagined. However, I remain stubbornly and embarrassingly monolingual. I studied French, Latin and Ancient Greek for several years at school; I subsequently studied Czech and Japanese for a few months each, but my level of ability never rose above "miserable" for any of them. My major problem was always vocabulary: I'm good at analysing structure and learning rules, but vocab is just a huge collection of random facts, and my brain sucks at that kind of thing. The result is that I've ended up frankly scared of learning languages, which is not a terribly good position to be in.

I was thinking (once I've finished this *$@&!#% PhD thesis) that I'd like to fix this problem; and further, that it might be a good idea to start by learning Esperanto or some other conlang as a sort of reconnaissance-in-force: something simpler than a real language to allow me to experiment with learning strategies, and which I can use to build morale. So, my questions are:
  1. Is this a stupid idea? Bear in mind that you probably find language-learning much easier than I do.
  2. Can you recommend any good resources? I have, of course, Searched The Friendly Web, and I'm delighted to see that there are some free Esperanto courses online, but I was wondering if any of you had any experience with them.
Note that I'm not asking about the wisdom of learning Esperanto (or whatever) as an interlanguage, just as a morale- and experience-building exercise.
Tags: conlangs, esperanto, learning languages
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