The Girl That Forced Me to Learn Her Language FAST
In 2009 I got the opportunity to go on an exchange program in a small city in the south of China. The goal was to learn some Chinese in five months.
For some reason I’ve always been deeply interested in other countries and cultures. When I heard about the exchange program in China I was all in!
After a few weeks I got to know a nice local girl and she became my girlfriend....
Only one problem, she didn’t speak a word of English…
So, I had to learn Chinese and I had to learn it fast.
At first, I wasn’t sure I had the confidence to learn Chinese quickly, if at all. But my girlfriend changed all that and forced me into the situation where I had to learn the language.
In the end, by the time I left China, my Chinese was pretty good.
I remember that night at 1 a.m. when I walked back from her place to my dormitory through drenching rain. After 1 year in an exchange programme, I had to say goodbye to her and I thought I’d never see her again.
At the time, it broke my heart, but later it started to change my perspective on things.
I’d learned to speak a new language in only five months, after being told when I was younger that I was terrible at languages. But I’d learned enough Chinese to find love.
So, for the first time in my life, I started believing that I could become successful at learning languages.
This changed my ability to learn foreign languages and eventually, my whole career and life.
And it was all because I picked up two basic principles that made it a lot easier for me to learn Chinese, and later also seven other languages including Russian.
It wasn’t just because I was living in another country.
And it wasn’t just because I fell in love with a native speaker, although that did help.
At the time I didn’t even know what those two principles were...
I only found out a few years later...