On Learning A Language

On Learning A New Language

                So I figured that learning another language is difficult.  I had this blind perception that learning a language is similar to how I speak and write. Just like right now. I can talk and write well, don’t I? Same thing with you. If you can speak the first language, what is so hard speaking another language?

I guessed I was wrong and I should have known any better since I’m a student of an English course in college. We discussed about the methods of accumulating a new language. There is audio. You need to be able to hear it. You need to speak it. You need to write it. Most importantly immersing in that language. None of which I am getting in the new language I’m learning. Listening to an audio, doesn’t help even though I know some words. The audio has to be one hundred times slower. And I did slow it down several times. My aide is also just the internet.

Last year, I decided to jump into Russian language. I chose from the many languages and simply chose Russian. So I listened to some videos on Youtube and learn some phrases. I told myself I will learn and be consistent to this. It never came. There were days I learn. Other days I don’t. And it’s really really really hard. I’m not being pessimistic here. So just after a month, (I didn’t really give up.) I was not committing to the time anymore. I kept on telling myself tomorrow. I don’t have time for today. You know, the usual procrastinating drama.

A year after that, this November, where most of my schedule were unloaded I decided to jump back into it. I’m not new to creating a hobby and doing something. I knew what will be going on in my head and I set my reasons to it. The first thing I do, is decide that I can write. My head immediately jumped to reasons.

You’ve been here before.

                You can’t maintain it.

                You tried last year. Tried again at the start of this year. You will never be consistent.

                I said, hmmm. Will see. Since writing a novel is something I don’t have to tell myself anymore. Not writing a novel or editing a novel for a month is impossible. I decided that learning this language will be the same too and because it’s new in my schedule, I set to do it first things first. My first activity for the day. I will not start anything until I decide to attend to language learning. That’s what I did so far. I opened some clips and watched. I was like Holy Sh** I can’t really understand anything. Even though there is a subtitle and translation I can’t follow the words they were saying. It was like they were from a different planet. Worse, the things I tried to learn last year were all forgotten. Where had the efforts go? I have to start again. Back to zero. Of course, another valid reason came in.

If you forgot what you learned last year, then learning this will be useless. You’ll forget them anyhow.

                Another one?

You know you need immersion to learn a language. You know better than that. No immersion to the language will lead to forgetfulness.

                Another one?

Even if you learn something this day one and even if you put a lot of hours. You think you’ll be able to remember this on December? Come on. . .

                Two months after, even if I put three hours today. I will forget it. I’m wasting my three hours! I could have spent that writing.

                As if you’re going three hours. Can you survive something you don’t understand for three hours?

                Am I crazy for still jumping through? I mean, I don’t have anything else to do aside from writing a novel. I could make this possible.

And that’s what I did. I ignored the noise in my head and pushed through. Is the last reason valid? Yes, I think so far, it is. Today, is December 2, I’m in Seattle’s Best, drinking my Hot Classic Mocha Large cup of coffee, pumping the caffeine in my system. Do I remember what I learn the first day I jump? No. Not a single thing. Can I communicate well? Absolutely not. In fact, after logging 35 hours for November, I can’t still speak Russian. No, I mean not fluently. I mean answering simple questions. Like what is your name and where do you live. 35 hours and still nothing?! So last reason is already proven.

But here’s what. I started learning Russian November. 04. The world around us can always be on the side with what we want. In some way, the universe is giving us signals and we have to be aware of it. I hope I don’t sound like a woewoe shit. I downloaded season 2 of Strain in my laptop. That’s the series I’ve been watching this month. The first season was in English. Guess what the second season is?

YES. You’re right. The entire season 2 is all in freaking Russian. What is the freaking coincidence? In fact I wouldn’t have known they were in Russian until I rewind dozen times. And actually have to slow the show by miniseconds, just to pick some familiar words they were saying. Okay, that familiar words is one to one hundred. So it’s Russian. Out of the many languages it could have, it’s Russian. Is it a queue for me to jump in? But it’s already second to third week of November and I’m already self-studying.

Guessed what those three weeks are? Monday-Saturday I was able to put in at least an hour of learning, of watching phrases from not so looking Russian people and I had another website just to start things of. So this show doesn’t really say anything. I’ve been committed with or without the coincidence of the show. I just looked in the future and hoped that one day, I’ll open that again, watch the series and be able to understand what they are talking about. By the way, I found out how to turn on the English language eventually. It turned out each video has two languages. Russian and English. The Russian was activated when I downloaded it as if the universe was with me. I almost replaced the entire season and it took me a lot of time just to figure out how these things work, anyway back to learning.

This is really a difficult language. I know some phrases now. I know some words but when I try to play the Strain in Russian, I still can’t understand anything. From one to one hundred, it became one point one to one hundred. Yes, progressed made.

Another mistake I make is learning the cases right away. My plan is to grasp the six cases of Russian and then to connect them with the phrases I was learning. Wrong. If you are learning Russian, don’t jump right away to cases. Know some words. Know some phrases. Words are more important as the spelling of the word can change, depending on its function in the sentence. A word can transform in a lot of ways. Here is a short summary on how a sentence goes.

In English there is man, woman and thing.

In Russian it is also the same but endings change.

Let’s take the word car. In Russian, this freaking thing, this item that doesn’t do anything has a gender. And it’s feminine. Yes, it’s good news for feminism out there. The car is a feminine. Not a thing. Okay?

In the sentence: My black car.

The car is the subject. It’s feminine. Everything in the sentence should also be shifted to feminine. The word black which has his own default letter, as in black should be change to its feminine form. And guessed what else? Even my should also be feminine. So going on with the phrase without learning each word will make it more complicated. This is what I did and I figured it late.

Here is the words:

I am all over the place as I learn. I was learning advance. And then I was learning newbie. But that’s how it is, right? Let’s learn from our mistakes and see what happen next. It’s all about learning. You’ll feel that sense of reward when you start nodding to yourself, ahhh, now I get it. And through this aha moments you want to learn more. And the downside, where you tell yourself I already watched this and I still don’t get it? I had one video of phrases where I watched it every day. From Monday to Saturday, I watched this twelve minute clip. Overtime when I master this, I move to the next video. On the side, I am learning cases. When you learn something you built the foundation. You build the building blocks. I’m not building my blocks and I’ll change my strategy this December. I hope I can maintain studying it, the way I did in November. Think about it this way. If you don’t know English, you don’t jump learning the difference between past progressive and past perfect tense and their differences from each other.


So what is my reason for learning?

It’s actually simple and embarrassing at the same time.

I have a big dream. . .

What is it?

To go to Russia. That’s it. I’m going to go to Russia and be a Mafia. Okay, I was kidding. So why Russia?

It’s for my novel. When I started writing a novel and in which I don’t have to tell myself and used a lot of effort to write, I did it in Filipino. My first language. After some time, I jumped to English. I’ve been writing my novels in English for years now. So there’s that. Maybe I’m bored and I need to spice my life.

Yes. It’s insane. The vision is for me to write in Filipino, English and Russian. To write a novel in three languages without any help from a translator. I just think of a huge marketing that would come to it. Think about it, if my novel is rejected a hundred times in English, I can try it in Russian. They will be more tolerable because not only I speak Russian, I also write them. Think of the wide possibilities. This is a sure way fire to be published. Time consuming, yes. So let’s consume time.

Okay. Now. The realistic side. I will never get to write in Russian. That’s already given. But speaking them will be something. I can talk in Russian. I can go to Russia, find a translator there and set a deal. I don’t have to write my book in Russian. I just have to be able to speak it for marketability. And then publish my book there. This is my grandiose and ultimate goal for learning Russian language. Top of the league.


Now, looking back at the difficulty and after searching how long before I achieve proficiency, it will take me about a dazzling six years.  To achieve proficiency in Russian I will need 1,200 hours of work. And the study didn’t say the step by step plan in learning it.  So there’s that?

Am I prepared? I don’t know and I don’t want to commit and write here, I will learn Russian for the next month and every day for the next six years. Grandiose. Vision. Let’s get this started. You see as an AB English major I know immersion is important. So far I’m missing that aspect in language learning. I’m not speaking in Russian. But I’m still willing to learn. It’s just like writing. Did someone tell me how to write before I started writing? No. Eventually, given persistence, I know, I feel it in my gut, I will be able to converse in Russian. I will be able to grasp the language. So that is my reason.

Nothing in life is ever easy. Everything is hard. Everyone is having difficulty. But let’s all choose the difficulty we jump in and direct the difficulties in our passions.

Another reason I’m learning is that maybe I’m just bored to death. Another one is I like to constantly learning and discovering things myself. It will only come through language learning.


I’m going to take a deep breath. One long breathe. Another long one. A big gulp. I’m going to save this article. Push my laptop away and start reviewing my notes.

Let’s begin. . .


Note to self: Learn words first before grammar. Memorized words. Then memorized phrases. And only then where grammar comes in. I did it the other way around. I learned grammar first, telling myself I should be able to write a sentence. But it’s wrong. Learn the way an infant would learn a language. Listen and communicate. If I can’t have the latter, I would have the former.

Let’s get this done.


Written: 12/02/16