My studies of Czech are progressing slowly. So far I’ve only really got to grips with the first lesson of Colloquial Czech, and am working on lesson 2. Yesterday I had a quick look at the later lessons and wondered whether I’ll ever get that far. I know I shouldn’t let this put me off, but it a bit disheartening to see how far I have to go.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to make this comparison, but learning languages has quite a lot in common with climbing mountains. You start off in the foothills where the going is relatively easy, as long as you are physically fit / your language learning skills are up to scratch, otherwise you might find even this stage a struggle. Past the foothills there will be some difficult climbs and some long, hard slogs up slopes of varying steepness.
You might come up against some seemingly unscaleable obstacles, though with time and effort you probably find a way over or round them, perhaps with the assistance of a guide/teacher. When you think you’re not making much upward progress, or are even going downhill, it might help to turn round to admire the view and to see how far you’ve come.
Even when you reach the summit, you’ll probably see further summits to scale. You might also look over at neighbouring moutains (related languages) or distant ones (unrelated languages) and think that it would be interesting to climb/learn them.
As you’re climbing, you might look up at the mountain every now and then and think it looks steep and difficult to climb. This might inspire you to try harder, or to stop and enjoy the view / put what you’ve learnt to good use. If you decide to give up and do something else, then come back to your climbing/learning, you’ll probably find the going easier the second time, as you’ve already been that way before.
With Czech I’m pootling around in the foothills at the moment. When I look up towards the summit, I wonder whether this is a mountain I really want to climb, or whether I should stick to more familiar mountains.