There is little in life that can motivate you better than a good bucket list. Write down your aspirations, imagine those situations that get you excited and share if you dare!
In today's guest post, Shannon Kennedy from Eurolinguiste has taken the challenge of sharing her own language learning dreams.
A short while back, Kerstin shared a “language bucket list” post from Angel Armstead. I thought it was a fun idea (plus I’m a huge fan of lists), so I started planning something similar in the back of mind. As fate would have it, Kerstin got in touch with me and kindly asked me if I’d be willing to share my language wish list on Fluent. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to share my long-term language learning goals and I’m incredibly grateful to Kerstin for providing me with a platform for which to do just that!
My Background in Language Learning + My #1 Goal
In the grand scheme of things, I only have a few years of serious language learning under my belt. Like many, I dabbled with studying various languages in school, but it really wasn’t until I arrived at university that it became a passion for me. Now, I can’t imagine spending the bulk of my free time any other way.
In part, I feel as though I have to make up for lost time, because of my late start. At the same time, however, I also realize that language learning is a life-long venture. So why rush it? I have many years of study to look forward to over the years.
My late entrance into the game doesn’t imply that I haven’t always loved learning languages (I even recently found a paper from when I was about 14 years old that listed “linguist” as a possible career option). They’ve always played a part in my life, so much so, in fact, that I’ve always had this one particular language goal in mind.
As far back as I can remember, my primary language aspiration was to speak eight languages fluently (I’ll define what I mean by fluent below). When this idea first occurred to me, I had my eight languages picked out, but over time, this list has slowly started to change. There were languages that I studied in the past that I no longer find any interest in, while there are others that I started studying that I originally had no intention to learn.
It took me a while to get used to the possibility of changing my list (I’m stubborn like that), but now that it has, I’ve grown more interested in other options in terms of how and why I learn languages. There is so much more out there for me linguistically beyond my list of eight languages.
My Language Learning Wish List
I’ve had a general sort of bucket list or wish list tucked away on my site for some time, but I thought it would be pretty fun to create a language specific list. And Angel’s post on Fluent Language inspired me to do just that.
So here we go.
1. Pass the HSK Exam at a minimum of Level 4
I have both personal and professional goals surrounding the Mandarin language. To successfully achieve those goals, the HSK 4 is the minimum level I’d like to obtain. If I succeed in continuing past that, I’ll be absolutely elated. I really love learning Mandarin.
For those of you unfamiliar with the HSK Exam, it is a Chinese Proficiency Test issued by Hanban, an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. It became the official national standardized test in 1992 and it serves as a certificate for language proficiency for higher education and professional purposes. Like CEFR, there are six HSK levels, and so, the two are often compared. There is some debate over whether or not the comparison is accurate, and I haven’t yet taken the HSK exam to have an opinion of my own. But, if the two are reasonably comparable, HSK 4 is said to be the equivalent of B2.
2. Travel to Croatia and not speak a word of English during the entire trip
I really, really want to go to Croatia but I haven’t yet had the opportunity. Between you and me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this next year. My heart is really set on visiting Dubrovnik.
I’m often asked why I decided to learn Croatian, and in case you haven’t yet stumbled across my answer elsewhere, my grandfather (whom I’ve never had the opportunity to meet) was Croatian and I have other family who speak the same (or mutually intelligible) language(s). It has always been close to my heart and I’d love to travel there to reconnect with my roots.
I look forward to having a glass of vina (wine) while gazing out at the okean (ocean) after a day of exploring the old grad (city).
3. Read one of my favorite book series in every language that I speak
I’m really up for any of a couple different book series I enjoy (yes, I’m a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd) and I’ve already started to collect three of them in the different languages I speak. While I would normally read the series a second time in their original language, I want to challenge myself to re-read them in different languages. This means that I need to get my reading skills up to a high level in each of the languages that I speak (the books are rather dense).
4. Get up to a good enough level to read a ton of fantasy and science fiction books in their original languages
I read science fiction and fantasy in their original languages in both French and English, but I’d like to read books by Russian, Croatian, Italian, Chinese or Taiwanese, and German authors too. If you have any suggestions for me, feel free to leave me a note in the comments below! As of today, I’m only familiar with English, American, and French science fiction and fantasy authors.
5. Speak eight languages at a high level. Minimum of B2, preferably C1 if possible
These languages are English, French, Croatian, Russian, and Mandarin, so far. I thought that German and Italian were going to be on the list because I already spent a decent amount of time learning them, but for the moment, I’ve kind of lost interest in both. I really hate to give up languages that I’ve already learnt, but I want to remain open to the possibility that there are two languages that I might just love more that deserve to be in that group of eight. Or, who knows, maybe I’ll fall back in love!
6. Go to China and study martial arts in Mandarin
For the past fifteen years I’ve studied a variety of martial arts on and off (mostly off). I’ve spent the most time with kickboxing and kung fu and it’s my favorite form of exercise. My current school makes a trip to the Shaolin Monastery every few years and I’d love to go along on one of the future trips.
7. Learn enough Japanese to play video games
This would be a reading only goal (most of the games I play don’t have spoken dialogue).
I am a fan of the Super Mario and the Zelda game series. I’d love to be able to play the games in their original languages (and I already own a few of them). I also think it would be fun to read Pocket Monsters and other Japanese comics.
I know that there are a lot of people that feel as though video games are a waste of time, but I’ve watched the English of the kids on the French side of my family flourish over the past few years just because they play games in English (both online as part of communities and standalone on their tablets/handhelds). Games are engaging enough that they (in my opinion) have proven themselves to be excellent language learning tools. I’m ready to try it out myself.
About the Author
My name is Shannon and I am the blogger/language lover/adventurer behind Eurolinguiste. I am a musician first, but an avid language learner at heart. I speak French and English fluently and I am currently working towards fluency in Mandarin and Croatian. You can learn more about me and my language learning strategies of at Eurolinguiste.
If you have a language wish list, feel free to share it in the comments below! You can either link back to a post of yours where you already wrote about it, or you can just write your wish list in the comments. We can’t wait to hear from you.