This is the lifestream of Kristin Colbert

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Posted on: Saturday, June 22, 2013

like many europeans my boyfriend speaks multiple languages, about four fluently. like many americans, i speak one: english. it could be debated whether many of us can even speak that fluently (thank you hip hop). of course, i took the requisite french in high school but, as the cliche goes, i have never even been to france and the most french i speak these days is telling people that non, je ne parle pas francais. 

the day after i landed from my first trip to south tyrol, i bought all five levels of rosetta stone deutsch. my time in south tyrol left me a little frustrated, linguistically, and inspired to learn something new. i dreamt of my triumphant return to schlanders where i would shock his family and friends with intelligent conversations in fluent german.  they actually speak a german dialect at home, but that's virtually impossible to learn without moving there. of course, like countless other impulses i've had over the years, my german studies got lost in the shuffle of a full time job, social activities, travel, and whatever else was more important to me that day like dawson's creek marathons on netflix

and so, i returned, merely picking up a few more phrases that enabled me to, say order a beer or a hugo (!) but overall, remaining just as dumb as the first visit. my popularity in south tyrol has bi-polar results depending on how much everyone has to drink. i'm either the conversational outcast (sober) or the most popular person in the room (not sober). this is mostly just because people tend to be self-conscious speaking english, though most are far more fluent than they believe themselves to be. a little social lubricant and everyone wants to try out their english or trick me into saying naughty things.

i came across this video today on THNKR and well, needless to say i am inspired once again to dedicate myself to my studies. seventeen-year-old tim doner taught himself to speak over 20 languages. he is what they call a hyper-polygot. at the end of the video tim explains that studying languages promotes an greater appreciation for a society's values and history and i couldn't agree more. my heart has found a connection in someone whose history and culture is completely foreign to me. i imagine how much greater our love could be with understanding. tim quotes nelson mandela "if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. if you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." 

do you guys speak more than one language? any tricks that helped you?


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