Do you know your passion?
For me, it took almost 20 years to figure out mine. It was always in front of me, my eyes would go shiny when it was around, I dedicated my free time to it, but it never dawned on me that it was my passion. And then my life itself put me face to face with it making it impossible not to see clearly: there it is, my passion—foreign languages.
I was born and lived all my life in Russia. Reaching other countries didn't seem very realistic to me due to the financial situation in my family. We were not necessarily rich, but neither were we on the brink of poverty. My family members didn't travel much outside the country, they didn't actually want to. But I was inspired to see some places in the world with my own eyes.
Every time I came across some foreign words in diffirent languages cheering for Candy from an old Japanese cartoon, reading fiction literature about Genghis Khan or Ramses II the Pharaon, or masterpieces of Shakespeare, worrying about Indian Zita & Gita or Rosa Garcia from a Mexican series, memorizing expressions in German or songs in Yoruba, every time I got the hold on any kind of a phrase-book with phrases to make a dialogue, I'd write them down somewhere and imagine in my head how I use them in a conversation with someone from that culture. Quotes in Latin, phrases in Spanish, some old Russian words—I had plenty of little notebooks and pieces of paper with notes like this.
My family members would say, "Alina, why do you need it? It serves nothing." But passion is usually stronger than rational arguments about practical applications.
After graduating from school, I started to work in a travel agency and got to see Egypt—the country of mystery and ancient history, pharaons and gods I read so many fiction books about. And then, 7 years later, I met a guy —my future husband— from a faraway land where I have never been. And this man changed my life completely.
First of all, English replaced Russian in my everyday communication. Also, together we went to live in different countries, and in order to be able to communicate with people there, at least a little, I would learn their language: letters, words, grammar, phrases.
Having him in my life made me stronger and I could start doing what I truly enjoy: teaching English to others, helping people to achieve their goals in life that can be dependent on this knowledge of the language. Because for me knowing English changed a lot: if I didn't know it, I wouldn't be able to talk to my sweetheart and we would never be together. No travels, no languages, no discovered and pursued passions.
Passion lives fully only by inspiring others. Teaching English is my true call, and the success of my students proves it. And here is my next humble attempt to inspire more people to learn a language: I decided to go on a grand virtual adventure this year, on a language "trip" around the world, or
Though the word is kind of funny, it captures the essence of the challenge. I commit to venture into different languages (through online, audio and paper materials) to understand their basics, alphabets, and how they shape the culture and mentality. It is just 2 weeks for each language, so I can discover as much as I possible during a year, and I don't expect to get a deep understanding or to learn 26 languages.
I just hope that this adventure will result in some common concepts for language learning, or maybe in solutions to avoid daunting struggles while taking on a new language, or —who knows?— will grant us all with some unexpected discoveries.
I know, a "trip" like this one is not going to be easy. I struggle with languages the same way everyone does. My memory ain't magical, and words slip away, and rules may not stick. So the greatest help of all, honestly, is your support, guys. Your cheers to persevere, your ideas about what I found on the way, your thoughts on the languages you know and your stories about the struggle and challenge you went through when acquiring a new language.
It is time to wonder into the unknown. Meet me in your language!
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