What’s On Your Language Bucket List?

I’ve been studying German for a while now. I’m still working toward my goal, but I’m itching to learn some other languages.

So in the interest of having a little fun, I sat down and wrote out my “Language Bucket List.”

By danny O. from Metro Manila, Philippines (jeepney) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By danny O. from Metro Manila, Philippines [CC BY 2.0], via Image Source

The concept of a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket.

So here are things I’d like to do before I go up to the language school in the sky:

1. Have a conversation with my mom in Tagalog.

I discussed this in a previous post, but this one has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. This is really important to me, and I’ve even been considering taking a break from my current program to do it.

I’ve picked up a few tricks and have a good idea how to get to a conversational level. I think I could be at a point where I’m having short but real conversations at the dinner table in 3 to 6 months.

2. Spend a summer in France speaking French.

Different people have different experiences in France. Some people have had unpleasant run ins with the locals. But I visited Paris and the southern coast, and for the most part the people were very kind to me. Yes, some people were unmistakeably rude, but in my particular experience, the nice people vastly outnumbered the rude ones.

I’m pretty reserved and a little shy around strangers, which I think is well received by people who value propriety. On the advice of a travel book, I made sure to say “bonjour” before speaking to strangers, and people were really accommodating to me and my family, even in downtown Paris. I had been expecting the worst, so it was a nice surprise.

I’d love to spend a summer in France speaking French, like Bradley Cooper, but with a little less hair, money, and charm.

3. Speak to Brazilian tourists in Orlando.

I live in Orlando, which has become a tourist mecca for Brazilians. Whenever I take my son to Disney World or Universal, I hear the familiar tones of Portuguese all around me.

I’ve love to be able to have conversations with some of the visitors. I’m also a lifelong on-again/off-again/off-again student of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it’d be awesome to go down somewhere to Brazil and train for a month and be able to communicate.

4. Read Faust.

Back in high school, my AP Literature teacher told us about this wild legend called Faust, popularized by a German writer named Goethe. He explained how it’s the story where we get all the “deal with the devil” stuff in movies and Bugs Bunny cartoons.

I have no idea why, but I’ve always wanted to read Goethe’s version in the original German, long before I got seriously into learning languages. I’m pretty close to being able to crossing this one off the list.

Wrapping Up

I guess my list is pretty short, but that’s what’s on my mind right now. What’s on your lists? I’m curious what you guys are planning.

  • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

    5. Teach the kids Tagalog. (Just a weird thought.)
    6. Read Faust in an original Gothic script.
    7. Speak to citizens of Orlando in their local pronunciation. (Come on, USA is big, there must be probably some subtle differences).
    8. Learn the French slang. (I reckon there must be at least 1000 words for “cop”).

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Re: #7 – There are a lot of differences, yes. My dad’s side of the family is from up north, which was affected by the northern Cities vowel shift – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Cities_Vowel_Shift …Florida’s accent is a mix of everybody who moved here, including Hispanic populations. It’s pretty cool.

      What are some items on your list, Roman?

      • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

        You already know – All the Tongues. Or, even if not all, then all major European languages. I also want to improve my pronunciation in English and find someone to Skype with in English. (For many months I can’t find anyone).

        • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

          I completely take it for granted that you speak English. Your written English is so natural. I’ll keep my eyes open for any English-speakers interested in doing a language exchange in one of your languages.

          • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

            Oh, my pronunciation in English is atrocious. It’s as imperfect as it can get.
            Also, I should’ve written “the USA”.
            I got this level in written English after extensive reading. With other languages I will be not so fortunate.
            My bucket list also includes all other Englishes: British (like Robbie Williams), Australian (like Monterey Jack), Canadian (like Brent Butt and the whole of Corner Gas), cowboy American (like J. R.)…

        • http://fluenthistorian.com/ Natalie

          Роман, может быть, мы можем помогать друг другу. Мне очень хочется говорить по-русски по Скайпу. Конечно, я могу помогать вам говорить правильно по-английски.

          • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

            Согласен. Я shinkarom.

  • Hitrizie

    Nice post, Ron :-) Me too, I’m itching to learn some other languages too :D. Just borrowing Türkisch in 30 tagen from library, :-) but not yet finish with the french tree on duolingo and arabic book:-)

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Very cool, Hitri! I’d recommend Türkisch für Anfänger, but that’s something else. hahaha

    • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

      It’s because of this itch our languages will always be imperfect. #polyglotproblems

  • http://www.tobefluent.com/ Stephanie

    I don’t have a ton of language wanderlust. But sometimes I think about learning Russian, since so many of my students have Russian as a first language, or Mandarin, since we’re sort-of-kind-of-maybe thinking about moving to Taiwan for a few years.

    In the meantime, though, I have my hands full with Tagalog and Spanish!

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Those two are definitely a handful! Wow, living in Taiwan would be exotic. Sounds exciting.

    • http://lindsaydoeslanguages.com Lindsay Dow

      I can relate! I also have a lot of Russian students and have often thought I should give some time to it for that reason. :)

  • Kass McGann

    I read you a lot but I don’t think I’ve ever posted. I’m in the throws of perfecting my Irish this year. But I already have my sights on the next language. Like you, I have a family language goal. I want to learn to speak the Nones dialect of Ladin (itself a dialect of Italian). It was the first foreign language I ever heard because my grandfather spoke it. Next on my list are Dutch and Farsi. I want to relocate to the Netherlands, and Farsi I came across its beauty while studying Persian costume history. Also, living in St. Croix, you meet a goodly number of Danes and their friendliness makes me want to learn Danish. And Punjabi. And Mandarin. And… =)

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Hi Kass! Thanks for breaking your silence and commenting. :-) …Very cool goals. I’m laughing at your last line, because I understand how that is. It’s interesting that you and I live in tourist destinations, and we both want to learn the language of people visiting/visit-living here. Our ears must be attuned to the exotic.

    • http://allthetongues.hol.es/ Roman Shinkarenko

      I adore those who are interested in rarer languages. Check out Radio Tehransit, Kass: I was very amazed when learned that there can be somehting pleasant for my ears in Persian.

  • Ana Guardia

    Oh Faust! That is awesome, best of luck. For me Goethe is also a dream, for now I’m focusing on properly saying his name 😉 Baby steps!

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      LOL, awesome. I always have trouble with the ö myself…tricky problem, since I lived in Kreis Böblingen. hahaha

  • http://fluenthistorian.com/ Natalie

    Oh, Ron. You just had to write this post and spark my language wanderlust. I have SO MANY things on my language bucket list. :) I think the one at the top of my list is learn Serbian. It may sound random, but I have very intense good feelings towards Serbia and the Serbs, so I’d love to someday learn this language.

    And as for Faust, I can relate. One of my favorite books, The Master and Margarita, is supposed to be heavily influence by Faust, so I feel like reading it would be beneficial for me. I’ll settle for reading it in English, though. 😉 If you do read it, be sure to blog about it so we know how it is.

  • http://atriplethreat2.blogspot.com/ Angel Armstead

    Good luck on all those. I would love to
    Spend Winter in Japan speaking Japanese.
    Read Marx books in German.
    Read and write in Arabic.
    Have a conversation in Mandarin Chinese.
    Learn Russian and read many books in that language.

    I think you have inspired me to work on a new blog post.

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Hi, Angel! Thanks for the encouragement. I’d love to be able to cross all these off my list someday. :-)

      Your goals are pretty awesome too. As far as Arabic goes, you can’t go wrong with “The Arabic Alphabet: How to Read & Write It.” It’s a decent start to get you used to the letters being standalone, connected, etc.

      Another good book–which is free–is the PDF from Pimsleur: http://pages.pimsleur.com/lostandfound

      At least comprehension-wise, Arabic reading/writing is not *that* difficult to start to pick up after you understand how the writing system works. It still takes time and effort, but it’s totally doable.

      Good luck! Please let me know when your blog post is out.

  • Jeremy Clark

    I decided to learn Japanese almost solely for manga, and it’s still my favorite part of using the language every day. I’m obsessed with comics in general, and I’ve started to learn Chinese (Cantonese over Mandarin for various reasons, but I’m still learning to read Standard Written Chinese) so I can read Manhua. They just look so epic and beautiful. France has a great comic book tradition, and there are a number of series I’d love to read in the original French someday.

    My favorite novel is Crime and Punishment, and I’d love to read it in Russian. I can’t see myself learning a whole language to that level for one book, but you never know.

    Aside from reading dreams, I do sometimes fantasize about walking around Hong Kong and just going into restaurants and ordering whatever I want in Cantonese.

    There are so many languages I want to learn despite not having any real reason for doing so. I’d had to stop myself from playing around with Arabic, German, Swahili, Persian, Spanish, and Hindi over the years just so I could focus on Japanese and now Cantonese.

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      I like reading comic books too. Germany has a ton of gas-station comic books for kids, like Spider-Man with a toy gun attached to it, and those were great even when my level wasn’t that high. I think it’s awesome that those drive your language learning, because I know you’re actually enjoying your “study” sessions.

      It’s tough to find balance between focus and branching out. Like I said to someone on my Facebook page–that’s one of the nice things about a bucket list. There’s no immediate deadline, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing, but there’s still the possibility that someday you’ll get to learn those other languages.

      Good luck!

  • http://lightonspanish.com/ Jorge Sivit

    Hi Ron!

    I wanted to learn Chinese, but life brought me to Japan, so I’m learning Japanese first. When I get a little better with Japanese writing, I wan’t to try Cantonese. I love how it sounds.

    I also love the sound of Italian and I hope I can learn it some day; that shouldn’t be difficult for me because I speak Spanish and can understand Catalonian.

    I haven’t read Faust, but I read Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus in German. I recommend it too!

    Good luck!

  • Bryan

    Great timing on this question. I’ve finally gotten my Spanish to a level I’m happy with and have been considering Italian and/or German. I have to admit that German seems a bit daunting though. I’m more than a little envious of how well you’ve done with your German :)

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Congrats on getting your Spanish to a good level! I think you can’t go wrong with either Italian or German. Every language is possible, of course, but in your case Italian is a great fit with your background in another Romance language. German would be good too–I’ve enjoyed it all in all.

      I’m not going to lie: German has been a lot tougher than I expected. If I had to do it over, I’d pick up a textbook and grammar book at the very beginning and power through those for 3 to 6 weeks, while still doing the other stuff I like to do. This runs counter to my usual advice, but grammar has been my biggest obstacle in speaking German. I’d forget everything I learned, but I think it’d be in the back of my mind. Then when I segued into stuff like Pimsleur and Duolingo, which don’t provide a lot of explicit grammatical instruction, I’d get a nice review of the structures and practice by doing, rather than learning.

      Let me know what you decide! I’d like to follow your progress, for sure.

  • http://www.chatterplot.com/ Shana Thompson

    1. To spend the summer in France as well:) More hair than Bradley Cooper and less money. I’m not sure how much of his charm is real though… hm.
    2. Go to Latin America and dance salsa like in they do in Havana Nights and then actually make friends with locals at the venue (or outside or wherever it is)… which in my imagination will take place in Spanish and I’ll be speaking at a B2 level (cough).
    3. Order a meal in China and actually receive what I order. Instead of inanimate objects b/c my tones are out of wack.
    4. German: Curious if I get to a certain level in Hochdeutsch if I can understand Bayrisch. As of right now I understand it just about as well as I understand Scottish English.

    Entertaining article:)

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Very cool list! I like the eclectic mix of languages.

      Did you ever see the movie “Dance with Me?” I always wanted to dance like that dude in that movie. LOL…never happened, though. I’m more like Ricky Gervais in “The Office.”

      • http://www.chatterplot.com Shana Thompson

        Ha!!!! I love it. Elaine from Seinfeld here. Perhaps the language issue would not be the primary barrier for us!

        • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.


  • Clare Nolan

    I’m just starting C1 German next week but I’d like to learn Danish too. We get a lot of Danish / Swedish TV nowadays here in England and I just find Danish so easy to listen to. I know the odd word here and there (mostly swear words after the Killing!), but I couldn’t string a sentence together. It’s not really a language with many offerings to join a class around here though.

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      First, congrats on starting C1 German! I reached a C1 level in reading, but my speaking is lagging, so I know what an accomplishment it was to reach the level you have. Gut gemacht!

      Learning Danish sounds good. I’m going through the same thing with Tagalog. Not a lot of classes around here. My mom speaks it, but when I go visit Mom and Dad, I don’t want to break away for a language exchange, lol. Any luck finding anything online?

      • Clare Nolan

        There’s a good website actually http://www.speakdanish.dk/ but learning one language takes most of my brain power!! The course isn’t that much, but I just know I’d buy it and not do much with it until about a week before it was going to run out!