Sometimes, when I write things online, I kind of feel like I’m creating a contract with myself. Putting thoughts into words is itself a powerful act. Putting those words onto a platform that can be read by actual people: now that’s how to create a big ol’ dose of accountability. So, here it goes.
I’m learning Greek. And not just that, I’m going to become fluent. Granted, that’s something I’ve been saying for the past three years, but this time I really mean it. I’m not just going to run into this with massive amounts of enthusiasm, practise every day for two weeks and then slowly let it fizzle out as I pick watching conspiracy theory videos over flash cards. Oh no, my friends. This time, I’m telling you, which means it’s serious. I give you complete permission to badger me about it. In fact, I beg of you to hold me accountable. Ask me to recite the Greek alphabet when you see me! Demand that I count to 10! Dangle my phone over the edge of a cliff and tell me that it’s going to be beyond repair if I can’t order a coffee with two sugars and no milk in a Greek restaurant!
Learning a second language is no longer just a goal for me, but one of my main priorities. Here’s why.
1. As some of you may know, my boyfriend, Kyriakos, is Albanian but grew up in Greece. His family live in a teeny tiny village in the South and we visit them for a month every year. That’s one of the main reasons that I’m learning: I want to be able to communicate effectively with his Mum and Dad, preferably without the need for a translator or a series of elaborate hand gestures. I can already hold a very basic conversation (when you’re there for a month at a time it’s impossible not to pick something up!) but I certainly can’t discuss the world’s current affairs. Or remember the word for “fork”, for that matter.
2. Secondly, I just feel a bit lazy only knowing English. 43% of the world’s population are bilingual. My boyfriend is trilingual! He absolutely puts me to shame. The truth is, that I have a massive amount of privilege when it comes to languages. I’m lucky enough that I was born in England and therefore am pretty much able to get by in any country that I’ve visited on holiday. However, I don’t want to just “get by” any more. And with today’s technology (aka Duo Linguo), I really don’t have an excuse.
3. Finally, if me and my partner decide to have children at some point in the distant, distant future, I want them to learn both English and Greek from birth. Of course they need to be able to speak to their grandparents. Of course I want them to be as in touch with their heritage as possible (which may mean me embarking on a mission to learn Albanian at some point too!). And of course I want to be able to understand what my own kids are saying when they’re not speaking English!
With those three reasons in mind (and now on the internet!), I think it becomes difficult for me to put off studying. Not only will it massively benefit me as I become more and more proficient, but it’s actually kind of selfish for me not to learn. Knowing a second language is something that is so much bigger than just myself. That’s why I’m determined and excited to make this time different.