My languages

My native language is English, and I am fluent, more or less, in Mandarin, French, Welsh and Irish. I can speak German, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Japanese and Spanish fairly well, and can get by to varying degrees in Esperanto, Italian, Portuguese, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Czech, Russian, Breton and Dutch. I’ve also dabbled with a number of other languages, including Arabic, British Sign Language, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Latin and Turkish.

Since 2007 I’ve sung in a number of different choirs in Brighton, London and Bangor, and attended singing courses and workshops in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. I’ve learnt songs in many languages, including English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, French, Spanish, Italian, Corsican, Latin, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Georgian, Russian, Zulu, Xhosa, Northern Ndebele, Yoruba, Tswana and Maori.

Current language use
The language I speak most often at the moment is English. I also have fairly regular opportunities to use my French, Welsh, German, Dutch and Mandarin, and occasional opportunities to use some of my other languages. Since 2010 I have been going to a French conversation group every week; in 2013 I started a polyglot conversation group where I have opportunities to speak various languages, and to share my languages with others; and I use my Irish at a summer school in Ireland every summer. Apart from that most of my language use involves listening and reading, plus some writing on Multilingual musings my other blog.

A year of languages
In July 2013 I decided to spend a year focusing on a different language each month in preparation for the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin in June 2014. This involves writing and recording something on Multilingual musings every day, listening to online radio, reading stuff, and trying to find opportunities to speak the languages. I focused on Irish in July, Scottish Gaelic in August, Manx in September, Welsh in October, Breton in November, and Dutch in December. In November I realised that my Breton writing skills were decidedly lacking, so I didn’t manage to write much in it on my blog, and in December I decided to start a completely new language, Dutch. Since January 2014 I have continued to study Dutch, and to work on a number of other languages.

Language goals
Ultimately I’d love to be fluent in all the languages I’ve studied or dabbled with, and in many others. I recognise that this is perhaps overly ambitious so am concentrating on maintaining and improving the ones I already know reasonably well.

Wish list
Other languages I might get round to learning one of these days: Basque, Cornish, Greek, Hawaiian, Norwegian, Scots, Swahili, Swedish

More details of my language learning adventures

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14 Responses to My languages

  1. Heru says:

    I read you are very amazing (mengagumkan). But won’t you be interested in Bahasa Indonesia?

  2. Simon says:

    I haven’t got round to learning any Indonesian yet – maybe one day I will.

  3. IronMike says:

    I like your idea of studying one a month. My wife calls me fickle about languages. I rarely spend too much time on just one. I am at the 2-3 level (ACTFL) in Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Esperanto, and lower (1-1+) in Cornish and German, with a smidge of Irish. I might be missing some. My Czech reading is about a 1, as is my Slovene.

    I think I’ll steal your idea. Perhaps this month I’ll try to get my Croatian back up?!

  4. Deja Koren says:

    Dear IronMike,

    if you need any help with Croatian, feel free to contact me, since I am a Croat and would love to help anyone who is interested. My email is: deja1502@gmail.com

    KR,
    Deja

  5. Akane says:

    Mike: you pretty much covered my ethnic background, all of it, with your chosen languages! I’m learning Croatian, too. I am a beginner, but I love THINKING in Croatian.

  6. Tim says:

    Hi there,

    A friend on Facebook told me about Wikitongues, and as I was looking through it, I landed here!
    I am teaching the language of my city (Penang, Malaysia) online. The language is called Penang Hokkien. If you have the chance, please check out what I have at:

    Learn Penang Hokkien

    Love to hear from you.

    Take care and thank you (or as we say in my language, kam1siah3 lu4 ce3-ce3!)

    Tim

  7. Andrej says:

    Croatian doesn’t exist as a language. It is politics in the Balkans messing with science, Croatian is an extinct language and Croats use a Serbian dialect called Kaikavian. The other dialects in Croatia are mostly spoken by Catholic Serbs who have been indoctrinated either during communism or by the pressure of medieval Venice.

  8. Deanna says:

    Always get drawn back to language studies. But also need to make a living. Any suggestions besides greeter @ Walmart? I love computers but want more people contact. I also DON’T care much for the idea of being a programmer. Right now my focus is on Italian. Through my years I’ve also studied Spanish, Latin, German, & French. My Japanese & Chinese is extremely limited. I even have some on Nintendo DS for fun.

  9. Simon says:

    Deanna – there are some suggestions for language-related careers on: http://www.omniglot.com/language/careers.htm

  10. Simon you are a true miracle. So many languages and so a nice and interesting website.

  11. Sue Torres says:

    Just reading about all the languages you speak, conversationally speak and are learning makes me happy. I love langagues. I stumbled on your site last night and spent 3 hours browsing and reading.

    I haven’t touched my languages in awhile. English and American Sign Language as first languages. Know German, Spanish. Learned Japanese, Latin. Dabbled in Chinese, Korean, Dutch, Hebrew, Arabic.

    I have interest in learning to read different language scripts.

    SUE

  12. Dean says:

    What an amazing journey and work Simon. I have stepped in and out of your website from time to time, and always find something interesting to read and think about. Those of us who studied Chinese and Japanese starting back in the late 80s now have such diverse lives and careers. I think yours has to be up there with the most interesting and unimaginable at the time (given that there was no internet back in those days!). Astounding that you manage to make a living from this and that you keep up your passion. I’ll try to be even more diligent with those podcasts in Chinese and Japanese from now on! Cheers. Dean

  13. Simon says:

    Dean – it has been an amazing journey so far, and it’s wonderful that I can make a living from something I enjoy doing, and have time for my other interests, particularly music.

    The people I met at the East Asian Studies alumni reunion in Leeds last year have certainly ended up with very diverse lives and careers. Some involve China or Japan, but many don’t. From what I seen on Facebook, you’ve strayed quite a way from Chinese and Japanese, and it looks like you’ve found an interesting niche.

    I try to keep my Chinese and Japanese ticking over by using them whenever I have the chance, and my Chinese is still fairly good, but my Japanese is very rusty, and never got to the level of my Chinese in the first place.

  14. gemma stone says:

    Hiya…I’d like to just add my two pen’orth…I lived in Holland in the 1980s and while there had a bad road crash while riding a motorcycle resulting in hospitalization and several months convalescing. ..I had a basic understanding and vocabulary and could converse albeit very limited. ..the basic grasp waa acquired through picking up bits during previous visits and also I studied a little in a course. ..anyway. ..during my two months in hospital and several months lodging with a middle aged dutch couple (neither of whom spoke English) I was thrust in tbe deep end and had to learn out of necessity. ..although I really enjoyed it once it all came together as I dutch speaking English persona is quite a rarity. ..so I would agree that if its a matter of necessity then one can pick up another language in adulthood

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