I am, as they say, polyglot and speak a total of about 15 languages.I say ‘approximately’ because I speak few languages very well, but many languages are less good. 15 But these are the languages in which I can at least communicate in the land. If I could only memorize tourist sets, I wouldn’t count that. So, it’s going to be a bit long…
- German is my mother tongue (and Upper Saxon is my native dialect), I use it every day because I work in Switzerland.
Many of my colleagues here are Swiss or German, and I also use German outside the university. Unfortunately, I do not speak Swiss German, but I can understand it.
I write them at least every day because I talk and write with my girlfriend on Esperanto. But since she lives in France, we don’t see each other as often. I (or but we often go to Esperanto meetings, e.g. here in Zurich, at home in Leipzig, to local meetings, or even internationally, as at the end of the year in Poland.
Or when I meet other people with whom English is the common best language. Of course, I write and read a lot of English for professional reasons (I am a doctoral student in linguistics), and most of the films and series I watch are in English. It seems almost redundant to justify how often I need English. 😉
I can still do it quite well, but was a lot better. Unfortunately, I don’t need much. Sometimes I meet Chinese or Taiwanese friends, but I don’t usually have that much time for it. A few sources I need for my doctoral thesis are in Chinese, so I read something about it every now and then.
We have a Dutch colleague at the Institute, but somehow it is unnatural for us to speak Dutch instead of German or English. I like the language, i would like to talk it more often.
I am often in Thailand and try to talk Thai every day, go to conversation groups, meet Thai friends when I am passing through Bangkok. Here in Zurich I rarely have time for this. I sometimes chat with laots or Thais in Thai. I should do tandem again, that always worked out great. But I keep my vocabulary fresh with Anki, a clever vocabulary learning program with which I practice vocabulary every day.learn new ones.
It is relatively easy for me and is also easy to write thanks to Latin script. When I am in Zurich, I occasionally chat with their speakers (they are also called “Kachin”) on it, have grammatical questions, or I analyze texts or sentences. When I’m in northern Burma, I try to talk Jinghpaw as much as I can. Also because it is easier for me than Burmese.
On Wednesdays, a few other learners and I have a kind of Burmese self-help group where we read texts and talk a bit in Burmese. Sometimes a friend from Burma is there.
If it has to be, I can say a few things, but I’m very out of practice.
I use Klingon now more often because I teach the language (at the beginner level) and because there’s a lot of Klingon touson in Star Trek: Discovery (also to be read when you activate the subtitles on Netflix).But I should probably also meet more often with other Klingonists.
However, I sometimes hear Spanish at the institute and sometimes still understand quite a lot.
I still keep it fresh and learn new words via Anki, as well as with Thai, Burmese, Jinghpaw, and Shan (see below).
I have some books on Shan that I want to read, but I don’t have the time. Also in Burma I use Shan very rarely, because the opportunity does not arise. Since I don’t want to forget the language completely, I practice the 835 vocabulary I can use in the language, just on Anki (with the smartphone).
So as you can see, I actually use German, English, Esperanto, and from time to time Chinese, Thai, Jinghpaw, and Burmese, as well as Klingon.I wish I had more time for language tandem. Ideally, I should meet with a different person for lunch and dinner every day of the week to practice their mother tongue. 😉