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Cantonese or Russian?

Imagine you have only one month to learn a language by yourself, would you choose to learn a new language or improve those you have known? What if you will learn under the guidance of a professional teacher? Which language will you choose to learn? And what if you could get rewards for learning languages? Sounds good, right?

Judging from the availability of resources online, it is almost impossible not to learn any languages. However, without a suitable method or motivation, one cannot succeed in language learning. The most important aspect for me is motivation. Without motivation, I lose everything despite spending much effort and time.

Two Challenges

In this Italki Language Challenge, I was faced with two challenges: to learn a new language or improve those that I have known. The new language that I mean is Russian. My reason is that Russian is one of United Nations official languages, it is a popular language with abundant resources online, and I know some Russian speakers here coming from Latvia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Mongolia, China, Ukraine, and Slovakia.

Throughout my language learning adventure, I have learned more than 10 languages. I have gained knowledge from the basic understanding of the grammar to knowing some survival phrases. One language that attracted me so much was Latvian. Its beautiful melodic sound can't keep my attention away. However, the lacking of practice opportunity with native speakers demotivated me for a while. I shall learn it again in the future.

Another language that has made an impression for me is Cantonese. Being a quarter of Cantonese ethnic and having relatives in Hong Kong has made Cantonese somehow a meaningful language. It is different from Mandarin or Hokkien dialect that I speak as one of my native languages. Nevertheless, I know that knowing Mandarin or other Chinese dialects will help in learning other Chinese dialects.

Time Constraint

One big challenge in language learning is also the time constraint. Limited time or busy schedule could stop us from learning a language successfully. When you learn online, this obstacle is more obvious because of the time difference.

I still remember that I had to take Portuguese lessons at 5 o'clock in the morning at my timezone, GMT+8 because it was night time in Portugal. This time difference is quite troublesome. Therefore, time difference should be one of many considerations before taking lessons online.

Cantonese teachers

Russian teachers

If I were to take Russian lessons, my tutor would be likely from Russia or other countries in that region, which will have the same timezone or not much indifference. On the other hand, if I were to take Cantonese lessons, my tutor might be from Guangdong or Hongkong and their timezone is the same as mine.

It seems that I would certainly have more time advantages if I learned Cantonese. Another advantage is that I have known Mandarin and Hokkien dialect, so they would certainly help me to excel in Cantonese rapidly.

Final Decision

Finally, I have made up my mind. I shall learn Cantonese in this Italki Language Challenge. I know that my focus in this year is Russian, however, I have the rest of the year to catch up while having only 1 month or less in this language challenge. I really want to make good use of this opportunity to learn something faster so I can see my improvement faster.

Language learning should be flexible. You may want to master a language before learning other languages, but note that even native speakers cannot master their own language without further learning about other topics in their language. Thus, have fun learning languages and keep on exploring!

Come participate with me together in this year Italki Language Challenge, and share your stories with the world!

Photo credit
asterisktom via Compfight cc

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