Along with traveling, languages have always been a passion of mine. English is my first language but I have studied, learned and utilized many others to varying degrees.
I studied Spanish for four years in high school and a couple of quarters at Western Washington University. One of those quarters I lived and studied in Morelia, México, staying with a family there. I have used Spanish in many Spanish speaking countries and am married to a Dominicana. I read write and speak it well, including legalistic documents so it is probably my top language outside of English. My wife did not speak English when we met but does now quite well. We drift in and out of both languages. Our poor kids.
The second language I studied was Italian. It had sounds and structures similar to Spanish so in some ways it was easy but I would also get them mixed up. I took a year of university level Italian and found myself communicating effectively in Italy, especially in the North where it was a lot easier to understand.
Then I studied German for a couple of quarters at the University of Washington in Seattle. I always felt like a machine speaking German as it’s grammatical rules were not natural for me, but I learned it fairly well and was able to communicate effectively when traveling. It is not a pretty language. When I learned German, suddenly Italian and Spanish separated in my brain. I wonder if such compartmentalization has been studied?
I did learn a bit of Greek working and traveling on the island of Crete. Following that I studied Turkish on my own for about 45 days and developed a pretty extensive vocabulary. I always believed there was a core group of most commonly used words that I could master to function well. Numbers, questions, adjectives, family relations and so on.
I then lived and worked in Norway for six months. I studied Norwegian every day and I believe I was at one point as advanced in Norwegian as I was in Spanish. I could read all the newspapers and so on. It is a bit musical and fun to speak. It shared many words with English, German anf French which helped. The sentence structures were natural for me as well.
I later studied a little French at a community College. I found French much more difficult than Spanish or Italian. Many more silent letters and pronunciation much more challenging.
In Abu Dhabi due to the international nature of the workforce, I learned a bit of Tagalog (Philippines), Amharic(Ethiopia), Nepalese and others. I did ok in Arabic and at one point could write its difficult alphabet but I am disappointed to say I did not learn it well. Languages for me have always allowed me to connect with people, demonstrate respect for their culture and provide me a window into their world. I do love languages.