So how many lives do you have?

There is an old Czech proverb saying: Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkěm. The translation would be: As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being, which means that you live a new life for every new language you speak. If you only know one language then you only live once. So how many lives do YOU have?

To speak a language doesn’t mean being able to say hello, thank you and I love you in 20 or so languages. Being fluent is to understand the native speaker and engage in a conversation with him. Just imagine that on your next vacation in Santorini you could talk to the very nice Greek lady at the store, wouldn’t that be marvelous?

But let’s be honest how many languages can one hope to learn well? What are the limits for a person taking into account everyday things like 8-hour work schedule? Well some people suggest the rule of seven. This rule states that most people can learn between five and nine languages. Easy right?

Well not so fast, as with everything in life we often become our greatest limitation. Your motivation, lifestyle and interests are as important as your ability to study. What possibly proves the hardest is to keep focused and stop complaining about not having enough time. But if you can update your Facebook status at least once a day, then you can find your time for studying. Let’s look at some tips that proved to be helpful.

1. Study the pronunciation of the language first and practice it on a daily basis.

2. Buy a good bi- and monolingual dictionary.

3. Read books in your desired language. Start with more simple ones e.g. short stories, plays etc.

4. Study the grammar. The most important thing in studying languages and being able to use them is to have a good foundation. It doesn’t matter how impressive your vocabulary is if you can’t construct a proper sentence.

5. Watch films, TV, news and basically anything you can in the language you wish to learn.

6. But the most important advice of all is to PRACTICE. Talk to people, use the language don’t be afraid of the mistakes.

So let’s pick up the language books and dictionaries and start learning! The reward is worth it. But to answer my initial question, I speak 2 languages (English and Spanish) and there are 3 (Greek, Italian and French) on my to learn list. How about you? How many languages besides your mother tongue do you speak? What other languages do you wish to learn or are you studying at the moment? Share your studying tips with us.

[Čeština]

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