How To Learn A New Language (Or Anything, Really) In One Stress-Free Step

While in high school, someone asked me a very interesting question about language. It was whether or not I thought of words in Korean first or English. The truth is, I can do both. Korean is my mother tongue, but I was able to learn English at a very young age. And it’s gotten to the point where I’ve been told I have a slight American accent in my Korean. (That’s ridiculous, right?)

For the past two weeks, I’ve been immersing myself in Spanish. I’ve been listening to Spanish music, watching Spanish TV, attempting to read Spanish news articles and translating them as I go…and it’s been fairly difficult. I’ve also been using Duolingo and Mindsnacks Español to help me with vocabulary. I’m surprised I haven’t given up already! But as I learn Spanish on my own — well, with the help of some new friends in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia — I’m reminded of growing up with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans and how they were able to fearlessly and masterfully glide over the language. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so dedicated to learning the language, to sound just like them.

During my entire middle school and high school career (if you could call it that), I was thrown into taking French. If there’s something I’ve learned in my brief time here on this Earth, it’s that you won’t learn unless you want to. And I didn’t want to learn French. I didn’t want to learn Spanish then, either. I didn’t want to learn how to play the piano. It was all forced on me.

If you asked me then what I thought about learning a new language, I would’ve told you that it was awful and that I had no interest in it. If you ask me today, if you ask me now, I would tell you I’m enjoying it. I love it. Of course I get frustrated from time to time. That’s a given, right? I’m rewiring my brain to be able to conjugate this new language on the fly and find the correct vocabulary to fit in the right syntax and tense. But if you enjoy it, then the frustration is worthwhile. And I think this goes for anything!

(This goes out to everyone pursuing their dreams!)

On top of learning Spanish, I’m learning an entirely different language: Python. I recently purchased $3500-worth of programming classes for just $30 and I plan to stick with it this time. I have a goal and I intend to achieve it. I’ll be entirely honest: I tried learning Python on my own last year and gave up because I didn’t know what to do and how to follow the instructions in the books I had bought. This time, it’s a step-by-step video, which will show me how to perform certain tasks. I also took the free CS50 at Harvard course, but assembly language is something I’m not interested in, so my motivation faded with every class I took. This time will be different!

And that’s what I want to point out. You set a goal and with the help of your passion, or your interest, you achieve it. I think that’s the key. When you end up doing things you aren’t interested in, you end up half-assing or giving up at the first sign of frustration.

My goal is to be able to think in Spanish, just like how I can in Korean and English. And I think I can do this in about a year. And my second goal is to be able to code something by the end of the year.

I think I’ll include some photos of New York City with every post here. To serve as a reminder of this great city, to introduce you to this amazing place, to bring you the mundane, the quirky, and the interesting.

Have you seen anything like this before? Of course you have. It’s the Oculus. And it looks like a giant ribcage. A lovely one at that.

Looking south, near the piers in FiDi.

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