Where does one find other people with our same passion?

General discussion about learning languages
Cavesa
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Re: Where does one find other people with our same passion?

Postby Cavesa » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:59 pm

I didn't mean it as an offence towards learners of just one language or people who take into account practicality, sorry if it sounded wrong.

What I meant was different. The fact someone pays for language classes abroad doesn't automatically make them a person with the same passion. Neither does the fact they chose a foreign language as the field to study at university (it is unpopular to say it publicly but many humanities students in general trully chose their field only because it is easier than technics or science). I've met students who even do not read their required books in the language they are studying for their degree! They are not that interested and they don't see it worth the time investment.

It is not wrong that people often aren't learning for any other reason that career, it is just not correct to assume too much you'll find language enthusiasts in such a group. It's just as naive as automatically expecting medicine students to be good people or teachers to like children. Yes, in ideal case, it should be so. But people are not ideal.

While there are people dedicated to one foreign language, awesome and passionate learners, there are as well people who learn three or four foreign languages only for the career promises, no extra interests included. It's not about the numbers.
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aokoye
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Re: Where does one find other people with our same passion?

Postby aokoye » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:33 pm

emk wrote:I sometimes think that I'm actually really odd by the standards of the HTLAL community, because my only serious language is French! But this is a combination of a few things:

  1. Where I live, I'm exposed to fewer people speaking foreign languages in an entire year than I've heard on the streets of Boston in a single day. And of course, Boston is nothing compared to some major European cities. So even if I spoke B2 Spanish, I'd normally (without making an effort) get to have a 5-minute Spanish conversation maybe once per year, and maybe overhear a couple of parents speaking to their kids. Anything beyond that, I would need to seek out deliberately.
  2. Getting a language to B2 or C1 requires a pretty significant time commitment, especially for active skills. And I don't have a spare thousand hours just lying around! :-) OK, admittedly a chunk of those hours could be spent reading or even watching TV, but it's sometimes it's even hard to find time for those in any language.
  3. I find French far more enjoyable now that I can take take basic conversation, books and most media for granted. Personally, I don't want to try to maintain a bunch of A2 languages. I'd prefer to have fewer but sharper tools.
Now, that's not to say that learning lots of languages is bad. It's awesome! I'm continually in awe at the fact that all you amazing folks exist, and that you humor a puny two-language learner like me. :-)

But I do find it much easier to find people who are really into one language, at least in the US. There's a meetup group about 90 minutes from where I live that's full of people who teach French, or who grew up as mostly-bilingual anglophones in Quebec, or who spent 10 years working in Paris. Even there, I only know of one real polyglot, and he mostly learned his languages while serving in Europe with military. He always jokes he did it for dating reasons.

I think that for the many people, getting languages up to C1 or above is a lot of work, and most people don't bother unless they have some professional or personal use, or if they have a burning passion for that specific language. If you want to find passionate polyglots who love lots of languages, you could try hanging around on places like this forum, or in foreign language bookstores like Shoenhof's in Boston or Michel Fortin in Montréal. Or you could just talk about languages with your friends sometimes, and occasionally you'll find a really cool polyglot who speaks a few, or who is at least very passionate about one language. A surprising number of polyglots basically never mention it, because they don't want to seem odd or sound like they're bragging, but if somebody doesn't occasionally mention it, the polyglots will never find each other!


The important thing for me is how excited or enthusiastic people are about language learning. If someone has that sort of passion it doesn't (to me) mater how many languages they want to learn because I can still related to them on that level. Mind you I also only really want to focus on a handful of languages (German, French, and the other Germanics) so I might also be an anomaly.
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Re: Where does one find other people with our same passion?

Postby 1e4e6 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:01 am

It is true that many university students going to a foreign university are not all learning languages for fun, interest, or just to be able to socialise, but just to pass a certain threshold to enter the programme or be eligible for a grant and such, but I meant like those who just like to have a more international view by living in other countries and/or being able to socialise with people from many different places.

Like the Norwegian girl that I met, she learnt English in school which is mandatory, and needed a certain level to be able to attend a UK university, so this was most likely not for fun for English. But before that she must have learnt Dutch to get into the university in the Netherlands with a certain level, but at the same time, she must have learnt it because the culture interests her enough to make such a big decision to do abroad. She could have stayed in Norway, but liked the atmosphere in the Netherlands (and later the UK). She also knows German and still more or less is okay with it. Whether it was her mandatory choice for an L3 in school maybe it was, but if she keeps up with it I am guessing that she probably likes it because from what she told me she never lived in any German speaking country nor had any intention of doing so. Then she said that she is going to Copenhagen in a month to do a MA, so I guess that she learnt some Danish. True it might be just for the programme, but she liked the country so much to do another move there again.

Language classes are another matter, it is true that a lot are just learning it for the class, but I meant those who are in non-language programmes, some might learn a language for their Erasmus programme if they do it, but like in the international student societies, I think that quite a few of them just like a wide range of cultures and then learn their languages. Like in the society I met someone from Bratislava who knew Russian to at least B2. He kept going to Russia for fun but had no intention of living there besides his intensive classes in Moscow. I think that he just liked the language and the culture so it was a passion for him. There was another guy from Norway who went all over the place, that I am not sure if he did it to live/survive there or because he liked the language itself, or both, but he moved all over the place, France, Switzerland, Italy, then UK.

Or it may be the case that it is both--they do it for a certain purpose in life like emigration, but also like the language/culture and go beyond the required threshold. Like B2 is, as far as I understand, the minimum to pass for citizenship in Norway and the Netherlands, probably other countries as well. So those who want citizenship have a high intensive to learn to B2. Some might let it go to B2, pass the exam, and let it sit there. Some might go further to break into C1 and later into C2. I had no idea what the hell I was doing before deciding where I would like to live long-term, such that I kept prioritising a pair of certain languages, then another. But then I never dropped a language, except Mandarin. I guess that the good thing about a passion is that if you do not know what you are doing or have no goal that must be really met immediately, or change your mind, you do not need to drop the language, like what happened a few times to me. There must be others :)

Also in universities, the societies for the language degree students were pretty fun. The Spanish/Portuguese society for example have both domestic and international students who study for both undergraduate and postgraduate for Spanish and/or Portuguese. The students who have language degrees, not all, but they seem to just do it for the passion. It was a good atmosphere with them. That and the food and drink :D
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Brun Ugle
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Re: Where does one find other people with our same passion?

Postby Brun Ugle » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:52 am

A lot of people that like studying languages for fun seem to prefer studying them on their own rather than attending classes because it's often faster and more flexible, and of course cheaper. Many people that go to language classes do it because they don't know any other way to learn a language or don't have the confidence to believe they can study on their own. I'm talking about those who study for fun, not as a school requirement. But in any case, I don't think you're likely to meet a lot of passionate language enthusiasts there.

The thing is, there is a difference between someone who takes a language class at a community center because they like to vacation in Spain and the kind of people you meet on this forum. Of course there are people here who are only learning a language for a specific purpose whether because they have to for work or school or because they want to for travel or social reasons. But there are also a lot of the sort who drool over grammar books and dictionaries.

It's easy enough in many places these days to meet someone who speaks more than one language, but that doesn't mean they are enthusiastic about languages or enjoy talking about them. It's kind of like with cars. I know how to drive one because I once had a need to learn, but I have absolutely no interest in talking about them. And that's the attitude I often see regarding languages. Someone might know two or three because of school or circumstances, but that doesn't mean they want to spend an evening discussing verb tenses or etymology or something fun like that. (Some people have no idea how to have a good time.)
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Re: Where does one find other people with our same passion?

Postby tastyonions » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:34 am

It's interesting, my experience at French meetups has been that most non-natives with a B2+ level in the language also have at least a low-intermediate level in a third language, with many of them looking to improve it. Though there is the occasional person who moved to a francophone country for purely business or family reasons and got an advanced level that way.

People who are into 5+ languages are a rarer breed, though.
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Re: Where does one find other people with our same passion?

Postby Chung » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:54 pm

sillygoose1 wrote:One thought that hasn't crossed my mind in the past 4-5 years is where to meet other people who love learning languages. This hobby of ours is in fact viewed oddly by a decent amount of people so I've never really bothered trying to meet other people who learn languages. I don't think I've ever met anyone in real life who spoke more than two languages.

Has anyone taken any language or linguistic classes in college or something where you've met other people who aspire to speak multiple languages? I was thinking about minoring in a language for fun + social aspect but I figured that French/Spanish/German/Italian classes would be full of people just trying to fulfill their language requirement and that languages like Russian/Arabic/Mandarin would be mainly heritage speakers looking for an easy grade. I wouldn't be sure what to expect from a linguistics course.

What do you guys think?


I have met plenty of people in the flesh who speak more than two languages. A few of them were former classmates from university (one of them was a native Slovak but she could also speak Czech, English and German while another was a Romanian who could also speak English and German to go with a bit of Hungarian). Over the last little while, it's been Couchsurfers who've made up my encounters of multilinguals. The Fennoswedes among them are fluent in English, Finnish and Swedish while one of my hosts in Helsinki was a linguistics grad student who was/is fluent in English, Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian and as I last recall was trying to pick up some Hindustani. Further south, my Transylvanian hosts were/are fluent in English, Hungarian and Romanian. At the same time, none of them were quite like me in wanting to learn for the hell of it (although that grad student was close and I admit that she was like a goddess to me - physically and intellectually 8-) ).

I've never taken a class with the goal of meeting other polyglots or polyglot-wannabes. I agree with emk's point that a lot of such people (including we on the forum) are self-effacing and like the degree of control that comes with learning independently. However, I see classes (and some groups on meetup.com) as an opportunity to get in touch with a native speaker (i.e. the instructor) and/or the local speech community (usually new immigrants or heritage-learners). The complications for me are that I'm into some less popular languages that aren't backed up by classes or meetup groups, and for better or worse, some of these language meetups are conflated with singles groups where language-learning or language-exchange is blatantly secondary to taking someone home.

Apart from that, I'm quite sure that the best place to meet others who fit the HTLAL-mould in-person would be a polyglot conference.
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