It has been a long time since I studied a new language. I miss it. I miss not so much the study of grammar or of vocabulary, nor the embarrassment that comes with forcing my German tongue to pronounce words it was not made for. I miss the experience of getting to understand the concept of a new language, the satisfaction that comes with slow but steady progress, and above all the understanding of a different culture, literature, country and people that goes hand in hand with the thorough study of a language.
I have decided that I want to learn a language again.
But which language? I will list five options and I will consult my learned readers’ advice. You may find it important background information that my mother tongue is German and my English is almost equally fluent. I studied French and Italian at school but can no longer actively speak these languages, which is a big shame.
- I studied French at school for 5 years and was not too bad in it. I think I would make quick progress which would be good for my motivation. It is a beautiful language. It’s practical for visiting or moving to France, some other European countries, North and West Africa, many beautiful islands around the world and Canada. The only disadvantage is that I will never be able to properly pronounce some words, especially those with an “r” in them.
- Spanish has half a billion speakers and like the other Romanic languages, I find it beautiful. Latin and South America looks like a wonderful and interesting part of the world to travel or live. The only disadvantage: not very useful outside of the Americas, with the one exception of Spain.
- Italian is beautiful language spoken in a beautiful country. Because I had studied it at school, I should also be able to get back into it quite quickly. It has also proven to be very useful in some delicate situations. Disadvantage: Only useful in a very limited number of countries.
- Persian (Farsi) is my wife’s first language so that die-hard romantics would expect me to learn it anyway. I am however very reluctant to learn it for exactly that reason: if I will become good in Persian, she will never learn German which I would find more useful (for her benefit, not mine, because we communicate in English anyway). Also, it is highly unlikely that I will move to Iran after my last experience there. Because Iran censors my blog, there wouldn’t even be any point in blogging in Persian. On the other hand, Persian is useful for the espionage business and it will be useful for visiting Afghanistan and Tajikistan, but that’s it. Oh, and it is bloody hard to learn. (I already tried it, to no avail at all.)
- Learning Hebrew (Ivrit) may seem odd because it’s only spoken in one country and then in one where even children are already fluent in English. But Israel is my favourite country, I find Hebrew the sexiest language in the world (yes, much sexier than French even) and I already speak a little bit thanks to many visits to Israel and to a course I once did. Disadvantage: Not useful, except on holidays to Israel.