Learning a Language

[Writer’s Stuff] Writing is a complicated skill. The more knowledge you gain, the better you’ll be. Pick and choose what works for you. Not everything will suit your style. And nothing is absolute when it comes to writing.

Going back to the post: the three ways to improve writing… [Let’s Improve Writing!]

I am learning Korean and helping Cyro learn Korean. We have found many places to learn, many teachers and at some point Cyro will get serious and need a serious teacher for it. An actual class, but not yet. [Wasting time with Korean] [2023 Goals ~ Let’s Go!]

The textbooks we have are good enough. The youtube videos we’ve found are good enough. The instagram teaching posts are good enough. Duolingo is good enough. [Duolingo] [@uofhorang.global] [@koreanbam] [@koreanhoon_] [@coreallandcleo] [@KoreanUnnie] [Elementary Korean] [How To Make Korean Sentences]

And my skills as a teacher with a strong skill learning languages is enough to improve Cyro until Cyro is ready for the next level of really learning (instead of half fighting and mostly refusing).

Part of that comes from the fact I understand English and language in general.

There are only three ways to improve: writing, reading, and living.

And the living part is universal. We all share the human existence. That’s how languages can translate. We mean the same things. We see the same way. In a general way, humans are literally human. We are all the same.

We are also different.

Cultures and lives are different enough to make a major impact on language. When I search for a word like coffee (African) or chocolate (South American), you’ll find it also universal in wording because it was a specific item that moved.

Whereas other things like potatoes are more broad in their expectation around language. Everyone has a different word meaning the same thing.

But if I ask for an Americano anywhere in the world – anywhere – I’ll get a watered down espresso (and perhaps a sour expression from my barista).

But when we’re talking language, we can’t think in terms of translation.

When you look at Korean and think in terms of English you’ll never look at the language on its own.

That’s the case across the board.

It’s not how do I say this in English then translate.

It’s what do I want to say and how do I say it in Korean.

I use Korean because that’s the language I’m more seriously learning at the moment (there have been others).

By using translation, you are putting one language in the lesser position. “I don’t know it though.” Which is fine if say you want to ask someone where the bathroom is. Use your translation app to get useful knowledge and directions. It bridges gaps. It’s amazing.

But refusing to learn a language from the language’s perspective will deny you learning a language.

It’s not a language for translation. It’s a full complete massively complex language in its own right.

That’s the first step to learning a language.

You look at it as the first step. As if you are a small toddler born into that language alone. You let your brain switch into the language. You lean into the nuances, the structural differences, the uniqueness that is found solely in that language.

The reason I am so quick with languages is because I keep looking at each of them with that open mind of a toddler. I am aware I know nothing. Translating doesn’t offer learning. It teaches in a way, but using strictly memorization if it’s a good translation.

You need to step into the mess of a language and figure out what makes it tick.

I started with English, one of the most complex, made through a series of chaos events. We basically steal other languages and convert it into English which is never quite right, but also can’t be wrong. (It does have similarities to what English speakers did on a global scale, thanks for noticing.)

Living gives me a leg up on a toddler learning though. I know how to give basic pleasantries in English. I understand formal versus informal. I can go on long posts [Writer’s Stuff] about English as a language and how to improve and what can be done. I write extensively. I’ve been learning the language a long time now and keep learning.

Those experiences, knowing they are far more universal than specific, offer me a short cut into any language.

I know I shouldn’t just start blurting out information at a stranger (unless asked). I should give my name offer a greeting. I know those are needed. Those are known by children even. That’s part of why in Education we start teaching a second language with greetings.

I also know my needs within a language probably differ from another’s. I should key in on how to say my allergies, my disabilities, my needed accommodations. Those are important for me to survive in such a place.

Everyone should start noting cultural differences. Greetings are different everywhere. A high five doesn’t always mean a high five. English/American ways of doing aren’t default.

Learning a language is learning a culture. (Not stealing a culture; English people really didn’t grasp that one.)

By learning the nuances found within the culture – the why – you’ll grasp the language better. You’ll realize why languages are the way they are. Because language is how humans communicate. Our need for communication is the same. But how we go about it differs based on where we live, who we are, and what requirements are in our life.

Why have a word for ocean if you are landlocked?

Why have a word for airplane if they didn’t exist before?

Why would someone understand driving if there is nothing to drive?

There are so many different pieces you need to pause and review.

No one is stupid for having no word for airplane. No one is stupid for not understanding how to drive or why they’d need to. No one is stupid for lacking specific phrases or words.

Until you see the ocean, you never realize how vast it truly is. Or how salty it is. Or how cold.

Until you see the vast deserts, you can’t fathom seeing nothing else in every direction; lost reaches new meanings.


Until you fully immerse yourself in the culture, you’ll never truly grasp the language. It is one and the same. It’s not about learning the history, even if it is. It’s not about learning one town’s specifics, even though it can be. Culture is vast and meaningful.

Don’t walk on a journey for language learning without being willing to step into the culture of the language.

And culture is a lot more than any one thing.

And culture is the reason media learning (movies, tv shows, books, etc) is actually a good way to gain language.

Although everyone needs a teacher when you’re coming in from far left field. No one can just pick up a bat and play in the major leagues. We all need a coach at times. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

And if there is something you wish for help with in English, I can be here for you. I am always open to chatter on my socials or through email. Leave a comment and you may see a post in the near future (or a link to one I already did on the topic).

More writing skill posts can be found on [Writer’s Stuff]. If you want to read some of my stuff check out my main page: [CatHartliebe.com].

If you have a suggestion for another post, let me know. I love explaining things.

I plan to turn my collection of writing skills posts into a book. I’ve been saying that for a while, though, so don’t hold your breath.


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