In this series of articles, I explain the place of languages that I speak in my life like an Algerian and like a student. With a special emphasis put on my English learning journey where I explain the steps I came through and what motivated me to go forward.
The evolution of my level in English
When I entered university, I was in the discipline that I wanted (it is by far not the case for all Algerian students). So I started to read every book that I found about the topics that the professor taught us, rapidely, this doesn’t suffice me and I started to learn about topics that I myself choose. Usually, I prefer read in French, I am way more comfortable with it, but there are few books in the library in French language, and I read all those I am interested in, so I was obliged to read in Arabic.
The problem of reading books on political sciences in Arabic is that the majority of what is written is a remake of English and American books. If the Arab author didn’t understand well enough the subject, which is pretty frequent, the reading of the book quickly becomes a nightmare. I did this observation very early and I was obliged, if I want to understand things more thoroughly, to read the original works made about the subjects that I study.
At this time, I already started to read about political sciences and International Relations in English. I was not reading a lot but just enough to make this remark. I decided to read more on the subjects that I was interested in and I found that it was more easy to understand that I thought. in fact, though I don’t speak English, my contact with the language made me acquire a “passive vocabulary” that I can use in order to understand when I read. But my level still very low, I was obliged to take the dictionary several times in every page I was reading to check the definition of words I didn’t know or I wasn’t very sure of the meaning in the context of the sentence.
I continued with this method until I became a PhD candidate. When I was preparing my master dissertation, I was comfortable enough to use a lot of English written bibliographical references (90% was in English, 10% in French). Now, I really want to speak English, not just because I need it to publish my studies in decent journals, but also to expand my vision about the world, getting to know more people, make friends. In fact, learning English became a real pleasure to me. I am entertaining myself by learning it. Normally, this is my method of learning pretty much everything, I read a lot of history, politics and strategy because I just enjoy acquiring knowledge. As a matter of fact, instead of going on vacation somewhere, I prefer sitting in a foot of a mountain and read about something interesting.
The desire of learning English (and some other languages) doesn’t come to me overnight, it is a long process that revived and developed my attraction to languages and feed in me this need of speaking them. I think that studying International Relations is a motivation because we are constantly learning about what other governments do in their interactions, their history and what drives their behaviors. At a point, we develop a feeling to a lot of cultures and nations because we loved their history or for whatever reason. I just came to wanting to know “the others”. and I think that it is important to do it, not especially by learning languages, in the aim of understanding them, how they think, how they live and how they themselves interact (and interacted) with other cultures. I think that by doing so we get rid of hatred and fear. ignoring other cultures and people drives us into a circle of incomprehension that inevitably leads us into misjudging them and finally hating or fearing them.
This is especially true when we get familiar with exotic languages and cultures. Those which are far from us geographically and culturally. This allows us to become more aware of what is going on in those countries and not just believe what media telling us about them. I am very sensitive of the subject because, as a Muslim, I don’t recognize myself in the lens of the Western media, and I understand that those who are exposed to the discourse of these media believe in it and shapes their vision about the others. The average person don’t question the information that he says in CNN or other channels. I believe if this person takes an interest on how a particular community works, its cultures and its language, he would be less sensitive to the message that these kind channels carry.
A second thing that made me want to learn languages, is the image that some polyglots that I follow on Youtube like Luca Lampariello, professor Argilles, Richard Simcott, and many others. I just want to be able to talk as many people as I can from different cultures, just like these guys do in such a straightforwardness that they make it look so easy to speak many languages. Watching these polyglots made me realize that learning languages is not that difficult. if they learned 10 and more languages, why couldn’t I learn at least 3 or 4 more languages.
So this was my third and last post about my language learning journey that just start. It is the main reason what I started this blog: to increase my English level by trying to write more and more with this language.