This post is a part of my Personal Development Project for May 2016.
I’m a polyglot. That is, I speak a couple foreign languages. I’m not perfect, but I speak Russian, Portuguese, and a livable amount of Polish in addition to English. I’ve spent lots of hours studying other languages like Japanese, Esperanto, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Turkish, and Nigerian Pidgin too just for fun.
My goal in my personal language learning is just puzzle solving. Plain and simple. Languages are like puzzles to me. I choose a language to learn with the intent to pick it apart and see how it works. If I remember enough to order dinner when I go to a Thai restaurant or if I solidify my knowledge enough to maintain a discussion on the Ukrainian civil war with a stranger on the train, that’s cool. If not, I don’t really care.
Truth be told, the thing I love about language learning the most isn’t even the language learning itself. Most of all, I love the diversity of the language learning and polyglot community that exists because so many people happen to share my weird hobby. The diversity of the community has made language learning invaluable for me.
I’ll bet that when I say the word “diversity”, you think of race or ethnicity or nationality or maybe socio-economic class. This is usually the context in which we hear this word. But I think that it’s hard to really understand what diversity is when we always look at it in these contexts. The word loses its power (if it has any) because it’s vague and impersonal and charged.
So I’m actually not going to talk about diversity in any of these contexts at all. I’m going to talk about it in a way that’s more real and meaningful to me in my life. I’m going to share five polyglots who I think represent the diversity of the language learning community. They’re diverse in their skills, their depth of knowledge, their breadth of knowledge, their approach to learning, their field of learning, and their goals. And these areas of diversity are what has made language learning so meaningful to me.