Three years ago, I found my body was malfunctioning and I needed some operation. Some kind of operation on my neck to relieve my spinal cord out of pressure. My appearance from outside is normal, but since then I got some serious pain on my left side - chronicle pain syndrome or something like that, which isn't visible from outside. Though it's very painful, I can ignore the pain, knowing that it's just a mis-interpretation of the signals from my left-side of the body, at some point in the neck.

By that time, I realized that I have limited life-span for the first time. I am 43. What can I do, under serious illness until I die? The pain always reminds me that I am broken and I'm dying.

Learning new things wasn't seem to be a good idea. If I were in my 20s, then... I would do everything to learn new things, just like what I really did in my 20s. But now, in my 40s, with my broken body, is it a good idea to learn something new? Especially if it takes years to learn...

I can speak Esperanto and Korean fluently. I had learned Japanese and Chinese to 'sufficient' level as a tourist. Knowing that I'm dying, it's a terrible waste of time to learn a new language, and it's obvious that I need to polish my previous languages to some higher level, and yet, it's only when some urgent neccesity arises. No more languages, enough is enough. Learning languages will kill too much of my limited time. I am already a polyglot. If I count those computer languages, I may be a hyper-polyglot. So it's enough.

Quite recently, however, I found interesting news on my Facebook, that some Irish guy (Benny the Irish Polyglot) claims that he can learn any language in 3 months, 'fluently'. ( ) He's now on his challenge to Chinese, reported on his blog, Oh my... That's interesting.

After some more Googling I found that there are more people who are hacking languages to achieve fluent level within months, not years. OK, then, even though I know that I'm dying, yes, I could try some new language, only if I could do it in months, not years, to a fluent level.

After even more Googling, I got confirmed that I could do that too.

In Hanoi, Vietnam, a World Esperanto Congress takes place this summer, and my family (me, my wife and son, an Esperanto family) will attend it. It's an Esperanto gathering, all I need is Esperanto. I can speak Esperanto fluent enough, though not perfect.... but, wait, if I manage to speak Vietnamese, wouldn't it be more exciting in Hanoi? It's terrific to give it a try, myself. I have 7 months anyway!

That's how it started.

My challenging point is that I'm tackling Vietnamese before my first step in Vietnam. My plan is to utilize available things on the Internet and guide myself as 'unconventional' as possible to get the short-cuts.

With Android phones and iPhone, I can get useful learning material for free ... and I started to search more materials.... oh my... there are way too more than I can chew. To get myself on some guided way, I needed some traditional methods. So I bought a little book with MP3.

Good. I'm on my highway.

First problem with Vietnamese is the pronunciation. It is very weird to me. I hear some consonants and vowels with tones, but I can't reproduce with my voice. Because I don't know why that specific letter is pronounced like that. 

I agree with Benny, that the languages are best learned by 'sounds', not by 'texts'. So I kept myself focused on the sound all the time... Vietnamese has very weird sound system, to my ears. More Googling guided me to the explanations why and how I can produce the sound. Vietnamese pronunciation is very difficult at first, but it's very logical and consistent, if you understand some basic rules.

I'm still not 100% accustomed with the sounds, but I am sure that I will be comfortable with the sounds in 2~3 weeks. Happy point is that Vietnamese has very simple grammar. After 2~3 weeks from now, pronunciation and grammar will no more be problems at all.

With modern social networks, I can communicate with Vietnamese friends and the Google translation works quite well for my neccesity at the moment.

I have 5 more months. I'm sure that I can speak Vietnamese by the time I step in Hanoi.

Posted by nomota multilingual

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