Too often during the past few days (actually, more like every single day, on average of about three times), did I hear “some people have a talent for languages, I guess you do have it and most people don’t”.
I’m going to be mighty quick about this post.
I am not talented.
There is no such thing as a “talent for languages”, this is merely a cover for people not willing to apply themselves. I know that this sounds harsh, but let me put it this way:
The real reason I mastered the Danish “stød” was not because I had this musical gift that I had from birth.
The real reason was, in mid-2013, I really envied people who could make that guttural stop properly, and so I practiced it in the shower and while crossing the street. I read about it. I watched television in Danish for a significant amount of hours. I read blogs on how to improve my pronunciation.
This wasn’t an issue of talent.
The fact that I had learned Finnish and Greenlandic the way I did doesn’t indicate talent either.
Ask any of my family members.
They will tell you how much TIME I put into the endeavor, until I managed to retrieve results.
And believe me, both of these languages were extraordinarily frustrating for me! (Actually, pretty much all of them were, even the “easier” ones like Norwegian).
But while I did give up some of my languages due to the “chemistry” dying down, I kept on going with those that I really cared about.
Only this morning did I show up for a Hebrew class and was told that I was too high a level to continue being there (I was actually sent out of the class right before a dialogue exercise and told to speak to the department).
I was struck by the Language Class in the fact that the teacher spoke very slowly, as opposed to immersion, even from children’s television, which went on playing regardless of whether or not I understood every word, and certainly didn’t care if it was going “too fast” for me.
Now back on topic.
I’m just going to say this emphatically.
I am may be proud of the fact that I commit my time to this, but I do not believe for a second that this is because I have a talent.
If anything, this is because I’m willing to put an extraordinary amount of time into my projects until I see a return.
You can be a speaker of many languages, just like me.
All you need to do is care.
Care enough, love what you do, and apply yourself.
Isn’t that easy?