These were some of the questions:
How did you get interested in languages as a hobby? (i.e. first experience learning a language on your own, what drew you to continue learning languages, etc.)
When I was 12, my cousin introduced me to KPop. This led to watching everything I could in Korean — TV shows, YouTube videos, everything. I still didn’t really know much about how to get good at languages, and was in a profoundly monolingual environment.
It was only when I got to sixth form (where you do your A Levels/IB, aged 16-18) that I was in an international boarding school, surrounded by people who spoke many, many different languages. I’d been taking French classes for years by this point, and obsessively started trying to improve my accent and pronunciation, and even spent a month living with a French family in the summer. I also was using Duolingo at this point, which seemed like the easiest way to dabble.
From there, my love of languages only got more intense, becoming the obsession it now is.
What component (reading, listening, speaking, writing) do you prefer practicing, most to least? Maybe add a little bit about why?
Speaking — I have a history in theatre, and it’s always at the forefront of language learning for me. Although I’ve most recently been learning Latin to aid my medieval studies, and it’s the first time that speaking from the get-go isn’t really what’s “done”, so that’s been an interesting experience. But speaking, definitely, is always my favourite.
Reading — I love reading in general, and I’ve definitely made reading in my target languages a habit in the past few years. I feel like it’s my responsibility as a historian to actively engage in the news, and therefore learning languages gives me access to so many different perspectives. Obviously reading novels, and poetry, and plays are also fantastic ways to properly consume the culture, with learning vocabulary and getting comfortable with new grammatical structures and tenses as a by-product.
Listening — I used to find listening the hardest, because my main experience of listening was in French, and the French language is designed to make all sounds merge into one. However, if you want to speak it, you have to be able to listen to, and it’s something that I’ve definitely overcome my fear of.
Writing — It’s my least practised skill usually. After doing formal classes for years in French until I finished my A Levels, I sort of stopped writing in French as much, or if I did, it would have to be a conscious effort. It just comes up less frequently in my daily life.
What are some aspects of the polyglot community you think are noteworthy or important? (Perhaps a bit of a vague question, but I’ll leave it up to your interpretation.)
What are some ways you can/do keep up to date with things in the polyglot community? Do you have particular things you like to look out for?
Are you a part of any language-related clubs/classes or do you have a language-related major or minor? Can you describe a bit of your experience with these?
However, I do take one French class. It’s quite traditional and old-fashioned, but it’s a good way of giving me structure to my language learning. When you get to a certain level of fluency, it’s difficult to know how to progress.
Do you have a preferred textbook or audio series from which to learn?
Russian — my favourite is the Babbel course, because I think it breaks down this reasonably difficult language well, and was the best resource I found. It is an application, so a combination of a textbook and audio series.
Arabic — The Mastering Arabic series is an absolute dream.
Latin — The Cambridge Latin Course is also idyllic, as it integrates history, grammar and vocabulary in a fantastic way.
Spanish, Italian and German — Benny Lewis’ Language Hacking series focuses on a “speak first” approach, which is definitely how I like to learn languages.
Swedish — the Teach Yourself Swedish Tutor is absolutely brilliant for this.
French is hard to pinpoint. There aren’t really any courses that I use that I like, but I have lots of favourite novels (like Bel Ami and Bonjour Tristesse).