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"Too many languages, too little time". That is the problem for all language enthusiasts like me. We are eager to learn as many languages as possible but the reality holds us back. We have our responsibility for our family, partners, social life, career, and anything else. There are many reasons for us to learn languages. We can learn many different languages for different purposes. With the limited time, we need to be creative in time management.

In my case, I have so many reasons to learn languages. I live in a society where people of different languages live together. I can use various languages in my daily life. Furthermore, I also join a lot of online groups, and I know many online people with whom I can use multiple languages. Besides, I also like to read information from other countries. It is better to read in the original language to avoid bias and wrong translation. 

To be able to learn so many languages, I need to set goals but it won't be a goal of time because I believe that learning a language is a life-long learning. Currently, I have several categories for the languages that I am focusing on. 

Based on my location

Taiwan's official language is Chinese Mandarin, but did you know that there are many other languages in Taiwan? There are 2 Chinese regional languages: Hokkien and Hakka, and more than 14 registered indigenous languages which belong to the Austronesian language family. The Taiwan indigenous languages that I have learned before were Amis, Paiwan, and Atayal.  I know people of these languages, so it will be useful if I know these languages well.

The languages I am learning based on my location are Hakka and Amis.

Based on my daily life

Learning the language of where we live is one of many reasons to learn languages. I live in Taiwan where seeing people from different countries is a common sight nowadays. Most foreigners here come from Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. If I can speak Tagalog, Thai, or Vietnamese, I can use them every day at the shops and restaurants of their countries. Besides using it for daily life, I can also use it at work because there are jobs that need those languages, such as migrant worker agents and overseas salespeople. 

The languages I am learning based on my daily life are Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, and Javanese.

Based on my long-term goal

My dream is to know all of the official languages of the United Nations. They are English, Chinese Mandarin, Spanish, French, Russian, and Arabic. Out of these 6, I only don't know Russian and Arabic. I believe that knowing these 6 languages will be very useful anywhere we go in this world. These languages are chosen as the official languages of the United Nations definitely for an important reason. It is because they have a big value, and they have important roles in international affairs.

The languages I am learning based on my long-term goal are Russian and Arabic.

Based on my online friendship

Thanks to the internet, I can know people from so many countries. It feels like there are unlimited languages to learn. I know people that speak even exotic languages, like Kurmanji, Tongan, or Chavacano. My eagerness to learn all of the languages of my connection is really big, however, I can't have so much time or enough resources to learn them. The resources to learn some of these languages are even too rare to find. Besides, it is even difficult to find many of the speakers online.

The languages I am learning based on my online friendship are Samoan, Batak, Chavacano, Kristang, and Tetun.

Based on my international friendship in Taiwan

Living in an international community in Taiwan, I am lucky to know people from different countries. I studied with them, I meet them at events, or I know them from other friends. We become friends and we live together in this foreign land, and we experience the same life as foreigners. This is the bond we have together. Therefore, there are many foreigners gathering and social media groups where foreigners share information from job vacancies to travel recommendations.

The languages I am learning based on my international friendship in Taiwan are Haitian Creole and Guarani. 

Based on my interest in religion

When we talk about religious languages, the more common ones are Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. If I know any of these languages, I can use them to read the holy scripts or just to communicate with people who have the same interest. Besides using them for religious purposes, there are people who use them to talk about daily life matters, just like using common international languages we have nowadays.

The languages I am learning based on my interest in religion are Latin and Sanskrit.

Based on my heritage

Being born into a Chinese-ethnic family, I have Hokkien ancestry from my dad's side, and Cantonese and Henghwa from my mom's side. These are 3 sub-Chinese ethnics who belong to 3 different languages. Cantonese makes up a big part of the overseas Chinese community. It is also a common Chinese language to learn besides Mandarin.

The language I am learning based on my heritage is Cantonese.

Based on my interest in non-spoken languages

By non-spoken languages, I mean sign languages and writing systems. Sign languages are useful not just for communication with the deaf community, but also for communication in some circumstances, such as long-distance or loud environments. I find American Sign Language to have a lot of resources, and it seems that many signers are familiar with it too. As for the writing systems, I like to play around using different writing systems. Learning writing systems is also the beginning step in learning languages, and it usually takes less time than learning the language. 

The languages I am learning based on my interest in non-spoken languages are American Sign Language, Indonesian Sign Language, Braille, Jawi, Batak script, Hebrew script, and Baybayin.

Photo by RUT MIIT on Unsplash


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