It’s official – year one of learning language number two is slowly (or not so slowly) coming to an end. I wasn’t sure I would manage to keep learning two foreign tongues at the same time for more than three months, but somehow … here I am. It has been quite a journey, I have to say, and one I haven’t regretted embarking on even once.
I will be honest, it is not easy. If you have a full-time job, a family (or friends, or some other people, or even pets) you have to take care of, and you’re trying to learn more than one language, it will be hard. Sure, there are days when you are able to squeeze in a few minutes of learning without any problems, but more often than not it is a real challenge. The good news is, if you don’t give up, the reward will be worth the struggle.
I started my Hawaiian adventure in January. For the first three months I was using a language learning app, Duolingo. Because with every single lesson I was getting more and more frustrated with it, I came to the conclusion that I needed a book. I bought “Learn Hawaiian At Home”, and it was one of the best decisions I could have made.
The textbook, written by Kahikāhealani Wight, has taught me a lot. I now know how to make simple sentences – nothing fancy yet, but I hope I will get there one day. I know how to pronounce words correctly. I know how to translate sentences from English to Hawaiian and from Hawaiian to English – and contrary to what you may think, it is not as easy as you would expect.
Of course, I am still at the very beginning. It’s a long road ahead of me. And I am well aware of the fact that this road will be bumpy. I may be saying that Hawaiian is not extremely difficult to learn, or that I am doing fantastic. But sooner or later (I can bet you it will be sooner rather than later), I will have to take it all back. No language is “easy”. Remember that if you want to start learning one.
Because the past seven months have given me some solid basics of grammar, I’ve decided to try with Duolingo again. When I was saying goodbye to the app in March, I – frankly – didn’t think I would ever get back to it. But a few days ago I asked myself: “Why not check what you have actually learnt?”. So before I start using my new textbook, I am going to spend the remaining two months of 2019 “revising” the material with my first teacher – maybe this time around the Duolingo Owl won’t be disappointed with me.
Now, the fact that I want to return to the app does not mean I will start learning with it again. I know that I need a textbook. A real textbook with pages filled with theory and practice. I need explanations and then exercises – not the other way round. It would be even better if I also had a teacher – a human teacher – but what can you do (if you can do nothing)? Fortunately, there are some wonderful people out there. People who will help you, just like that. People who will support you, no matter what. People who will make your learning journey a little easier. And I have no words – even in English – to thank them enough. I guess what I can do is simply say “Mahalo Nui Loa!”
I am genuinely looking forward to the next part of my adventure. New year means new book; new book means new knowledge; new knowledge means … Well, let’s stop here. We will see how it will all go. Progress is not a given. You have to work hard and don’t expect too much. This is one of the reasons why I never set myself language goals. I don’t have a list reading: achieve the intermediate level by … or reach fluency in … . No. That’s not me. I simply do what I have to do – I learn, trying my best to be better than I was the day before.