Greetings, dear friend! I do hope this letter finds you well.
Last time we met, you expressed an interest in learning a language. I agree that this would be of benefit to any man willing to broaden his cultural horizons.
You shared with me your fears and concerns. You did not know where to start. You thought the entire task to be a monumental effort. You weren’t sure of how much money you should be allocating to your project.
Well, I’m here to tell you that learning a language is possible and a lot easier than you may have originally thought!
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
We live in a wonderful age, where technological advances open the doors that were previously closed to us. We have many more opportunities to converse with our comrades of foreign nations and tongues, than in any other time before.
Telegrams are an excellent means of communication and you’ll find them quite inexpensive to boot! They are deliberately designed to be short and sweet, making them perfect for those starting out on their language learning quests.
The average telegram in the Anglophone world consists of between 11-15 words. The idea is to get your message across as succinctly as possible, but by as equally as little means.
Remember that every word will cost you hard earned pennies – charged by those dastardly communications companies. Gee, they must make a killing off us ordinary citizens!
Make a Voyage to the Old World
Travelling has never been easier, my friend! In this modern age, steamboats have the capability of traversing the Atlantic Ocean in less than a week. What a glorious era we find ourselves living in, full of endless opportunities!
Just imagine – you and the wide-open ocean. Salty wind rushes through your hair and you can feel the sun pounding upon your back. Another land lies before you, teaming with possibilities. Opportunities to meet new people, feast upon decadent foods, acquire tasteful artefacts and sharpen one’s language skills.
Is money an issue for you? Consider the following solutions.
Befriend a member of the aristocracy, or of “old money” (or even new money, should the chance arise). Make yourself invaluable to them, so that when they embark upon their tour of Europe, they’ll have no choice but to take their closest confidant with them.
At the very worst, there is always the option to stow away. You can lay low and study your language books by day and sneak into the kitchens to feast ‘til your heart’s content at night.
Do Not Be Afraid to Exercise Your Tongue
Whilst on your tour of Europe, you will have the chance to converse in person with several learned people, who can speak multiple languages. Do not allow this opportunity to slip away. Indeed, you must make the most of this, by speaking in your target language whenever you have the chance to do so.
Yes, speak up, dear friend – you can and you must. How else will you ever achieve your goal of appreciating their company, if you’re too afraid to open your mouth and start talking?
Fear is the enemy and will do nothing but hold you back.
Find a Pen Pal and Keep in Touch
Foreign language is like any other skill we may set ourselves to learning in our lifetime – whether that be ballroom dancing, car racing, the exhilarating game of bridge or croquet. You will find that your knowledge and memory of foreign words, will only increase with repetition.
I hear of your concerns. That you will journey to the Old World, or visit communities of many cultures in the New World, on your own coin (or that of another’s, as was previously suggested!), worrying that it is a waste of time, money and effort.
Yet in this new and unchartered territory, you will feel encouraged to speak up and impress our brothers with your vast intellect and language knowledge. You will become assured in your ability to converse in a foreign tongue,.
Eventually, you will be required to journey back home. You’ll arrive on American or British soil, armed with a new set of skills… and accompanied by an old fear.
When one has acquired a new tongue, what must one do to ensure that their memory does not fail them – that these new and wonderful words and phrases are not lost to them forever?
The answer is simple. Practice.
You will undertake every effort to continue to converse in your new language. By doing so, you’ll ensure that it will continue to stay fresh in your mind.
Here is what you need to do.
While you are touring Europe, you must do all within your power to make yourself impressionable to your European comrades. Perhaps you’ll have a chance encounter with a gentleman who will be wishing to better his knowledge of your native tongue?
You will be able to come to a most suitable arrangement. Connect with him. Procure his address. Make a suggestion that will work out to be mutually agreeable.
Tell him, that upon your arrival back home, you will sit down at your desk and pen two letters. One text will be written in your native tongue, for him to study and use to his advantage. The other will be crafted using words and expressions that pertain to your target language. It will be a chance to test out your newly acquired skills.
You will address these letters to your foreign friend and send them by post at your earliest convenience, requesting in your postscript that he reward you with the same service.
We are lucky enough to live in an age where you can send your mail from anywhere else in the world and have it land within the eager hands of your recipient within a three-month period! At this rate, you will be enabled to swap pleasantries by pen with your foreign acquaintance upward of twice a year, without ever leaving the bosom of your homeland! Man has never known such conveniences before this modern era.
Connect With Other Language Learners in Your City
Whilst you are awaiting your letter from your new European friend(s), it will be become apparent that it will be in your best interest to practise your new tongue as often as humanly possible… on home soil.
You may feel as though you are at a disadvantage in your current circumstance, but I assure you that that is not the case.
You see, you are at an advantage. Remember that many individuals and families, from countries all over the globe flocked to the new world, and many also to this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (although I do dream of my state one day being independent) fuelled on by their hopes and desires for a better life.
Leaving behind the remnants of their old existence, they took with them their most beloved possessions and something that was of even more value, although they may not have realised it at the time – their culture and language.
These are the people you should look to connect with – there is so much you can learn from them. They can help you with tricky pronunciations, school you in slang and assist you in accent.
Not only that – out yonder in any of the 45 States with many millions of million inhabitants, I guarantee that there will be persons of a similar nature and with the aspirations that you yourself hold. Individuals who have spent hours, if not years, dedicating themselves to the pursuit of a foreign tongue.
My advice is to place an advert within your local paper, requestion the company of fellow language learners, not unlike yourself. For the investment of a few shillings, you will reap endless benefits!
Language Learning IS Possible!
As you can see, my dear friend, it is possible to acquire and maintain a foreign language. With the right contacts, a little spare change and a plucky attitude, you’ll find yourself broadening your mind, acquiring sought after skills, all while having the adventure of a lifetime.
God speed and good luck on this first day of April!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.