• Caleb Johansen

My Journey with Languages

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

At a young age I was fascinated with secret codes and languages. I learned Morse Code when I was eight and liked making constructed languages with my sister. I would always see people speaking foreign languages on the news and think to myself how crazy it is that they understand perfectly what they're saying, yet to me it sounds like complete gibberish.

When I was nine I attempted to learn French with my sister. We got about an 8th of our way through Duolingo's course, but we never got the pronunciation right. We would always say random things to each other and practice our incorrect pronunciation of words, but we never really got anywhere with it.

Norwegian - Norsk

When I was thirteen years old I decided that I wanted to learn a language by myself, but I couldn't decide which one. Well, me being a classic boy and all, I decided to learn Norwegian because of its viking history. Over the following six months I studied this language nearly every day and got myself up to a level where I could have basic conversation. To this day I've still maintained a decent amount of that knowledge, though much of it has been forgotten.

Dette er norsk. Hva synes du?

Spanish - Español

After Norwegian (Norsk - pronounced /noshk/) I started to move on to other languages. I would practice speaking Spanish with my sister and over just the summer of doing that, I was already conversationally passed most everyone that would've finished a year of Spanish in high school. Granted, I didn't know how to say 'Pedro was looking for the bathroom at 2:00 P.M.,' but you don't really need to know how to say that to have a conversation.


After Spanish I began to move from language to language fairly quickly while not having learned much in any of them really. These languages included Hebrew, Greek, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Welsh, Xhosa, Icelandic, Swahili, Swedish and Irish. I little later on I went back and studied up on my Mandarin, Hindi and Hebrew, but at this point I can mainly say basic phrases and sentences in those three.


שלום! זה עברית.

नमस्ते! यह हिंदी है।

Japanese - 日本語

About a year into my language journey I found Japanese (日本語 - pronounced /nihongo/ or /nippongo/). This is a language that my mother also took in high school and college and is a language that my uncle speaks fluently (伯父、こんにちは!). I blazed past the rest of my classmates in my freshman year and started studying the language outside of school when I dropped out of the class due to it being far too slow. I am still studying Japanese today and am at a basic conversational level. Soon after, I began with Russian and Turkish, but that was before I found the two languages that I love most of all.


Persian - فارسی

Persian (فارسی - pronounced /farsi/) is the official language of Iran and is spoken by 110 million people. I decided to start learning it in 2018 and found an immediate love for the language's sound and structure. After a month of study I was able to construct basic sentences and say a couple phrases. Three months in and I was able to construct elementary sentences and have basic conversations with Iranians online. This is one of my favorites, if not my favorite language and I plan to be conversationally fluent within the next decade or so.

این فارسیست. فکر می‌کنم که فارسی خیلی زیباست. چه فکر می‌کنید؟ ایا نوشتن را دوست دارید؟

Arabic - العربية

Arabic (العربية - roughly pronounced /alarabia/) is a language that I'd wanted to learn for a very long time. I loved its writing system and I found its sound beautiful and interesting. I attempted to study on my own, but it was extremely difficult due to the lack of accurate learning resources on the internet. Eventually I found someone who offered to teach me Arabic for free on the language learning platform known as iTalki. I started learning in February of 2019 and continue to learn it from my Egyptian friend today.

هذه اللغة العربية.

French - Français

I started studying French more recently, within the last couple months or so. Another uncle of mine is also a native French speaker. I love the sound of French and it's honestly really fun to speak. I hope to learn more in the future and get up to a decent conversational level.

C'est le français. J'aime vraiment apprendre ce langage. C'est très beau.

Thai - ภาษาไทย

Thai is also a language that I started recently. I became fascinated by it's writing system so I decided to learn it under the light of moon at 1 A.M. It took me a couple of days and I'm still learning the rules that govern their beautifully, unnecessarily complicated system. Everything about this language is difficult and that's exactly why I love it and hate it at the same time.

The following is the first, and one of the only sentences I've been able to construct.


Thank you all for reading. I will continue to post my progress on these different languages along with any new ones that I decide to start.


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