For the last few months, I have been what I like to call “loosely employed.” I love my job at the American BBQ place in our neighborhood, but it’s been very part-time. This has left me with an incredible wealth of free time, and I’ve been finding all kinds of ways to fill it. I’ve been making things to sell in my new Etsy shop, helping my boyfriend renovate his house, writing a lot, and searching for more work. But my favorite use of my extra time has been learning new languages.
A few months ago, a friend of mine shared a link on Facebook to a website offering free online classes. It’s called Future Learn, and the classes offered are all from well-known universities around the world (some of the classes can even count as credits toward a degree). I started off with a creative writing class, but I saw one called “Introduction to Dutch” and I was curious.
I’ve had a Dutch boss, and made some friends from the Netherlands on my travels; plus, one side of my family has a strong Dutch dairy farming heritage. I figured it could be both fun and useful.
Taking the Dutch class led to downloading the Duolingo app to keep practicing (it’s amazing, try it- there are 16 languages to choose from), which then led to polishing up the German I’d taken in high school, and then trying out Spanish to add to what I’d heard growing up in Southern California. I’m even doing a bit of Welsh now, just for fun.
Some of it has been a challenge; the parts I had expected to be easy often haven’t been. I thought knowing some German while learning Dutch would be an advantage- instead, I just end up spelling everything wrong half the time because of the similarities. And I expected Welsh to be quite similar to modern English, but in reality it’s completely different and one of the most challenging things I’ve learned. I like that though- it’s unique.
For me, the best part of all of this has been getting to feel a connection to the rest of the world while I’m temporarily stuck at home. I’m not able to travel right now, to go and see all of the places that I’m learning about (besides Australia, of course). But through learning new languages, I get a glimpse of countries and cultures that I hope to see one day; plus I’m gaining a valuable skill for once I do get there. What’s really nice about the Future Learn classes is that while they give you the grammar and vocabulary skills that you need, they also have a good chunk of cultural information to give you a well-rounded understanding of the place and it’s people. I love that.
For anyone thinking about learning a new language, or brushing up those skills from high school, I really encourage you to look at Future Learn and Duolingo. They are both free (FREE), easy, fun, and a good way to connect with people around the world. To get you started, here are a list of upcoming classes on Future Learn that may interest travelers and eager minds. I’ve signed up for a bunch of them, so feel free to hit me up as a study buddy!
NOTE- Even if the class has already started, you can still sign up. As long as you sign up while the class is still in progress, you will be able to do it at your own pace and have access to the materials even after it ends. I took WAY longer than the 3 weeks given to finish Intro to Dutch.
Introduction to Dutch (August 15)
Italian for Beginners 1 (September 5, part 1 of a 6 part series)
Cultural Studies and Modern Languages: An Introduction (September 12)
Spanish for Beginners 1 & 2 (1 has begun, 2 begins September 12, another 6 part series)
Introduction to Frisian (September 26)
Introduction to Italian (October 17, shorter course than the 6 part series)
And so on that note, I’m signing off and wishing everyone good luck should you choose to dive on in!
Bye for now! Tschüss! Adiós! Doei! Hwyl!