Finding a Hobby: Foreign Language Learning

Remember how it seemed that, coming up through school, everybody found a hobby-turned-passion? There was the girl who played the violin so well Stradivarius himself would’ve been proud. Another discovered art, blurring the boundaries between paper and subject. You know how it was. There was always somebody known as the kid who did ______ (insert hobby) really well. I wasn’t one of them, though. I mean, how on earth do you make sound (excuse me, music) from rubbing two sets of strings together? And I always thought my stick figures were the pièce de résistance of my short-lived attempt at art. But, you know, critics . . . What can you do?

Then eighth grade brought me a unique opportunity: foreign language study. I always enjoy a challenge, but nobody in my family speaks anything other than English (and even that’s questionable at times). I figured that if learning a foreign language wasn’t a challenge, I didn’t know what was. Armed with an expansive vocabulary of señor, señorita, uno, dos, and tres, I made the plunge into Spanish I.

Years later, I find myself studying Spanish in college, and of all things, minoring in Russian. Ironically, for years friends told me to try Portuguese but I just couldn´t imagine it. I mean, I’ve never met anyone who speaks Portuguese. And could I really learn yet another language? Having conquered Russian 101 this semester, I decided it was time to try my hand at a fourth language. Like I discussed in my first post, self-study and I don’t mix. So, after hearing for years about Rosetta Stone, it was time for me to get in on the action.

In just a few short months, I’m now able to listen to Portuguese radio on my iPhone and read the news in Portuguese. Yeah, Spanish and Portuguese are similar, but that doesn’t count for much if the learning approach isn’t solid. Truth be told, if I’d had this program in middle school, who knows what I would’ve achieved by now? Learning so much so quickly, broadening my passion for language in unforeseen ways, I can’t wait to fill you in on where I go from here!

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Josh Wilberger

Josh Wilberger currently attends Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in Spanish with a minor in Russian Studies. As a boy who took speech classes in kindergarten, he never expected to find an interest in foreign languages. But from the tildes of Spanish to the Cyrillic alphabet of Russian, he now enjoys languages as ways to grow and learn. Not having traveled abroad, Josh has a dream itinerary that includes Spain, Brazil, and Russia, among other destinations. He hopes to further augment his linguistic background with Italian, French, and Polish.
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