How I learn new languages

I have had French in school, and have learned English on the side (my father actively encouraged us family members to learn English – which is an invaluable skill in this modern world today!). I have also taken a shot at Spanish, and have learned Russian from my heritage, and German by living and growing up in Germany.

My brother speaks and writes Chinese (he has studied Sinology). I wonder how he picked up those symbols? It’s like a secret code!

In any case, language skills seem to run in the family.

For some time now, I have had this “mad project” of reading Don Quijotte in the original, Spanish. (It turns out that this is actually old Spanish, which even modern Spanish readers find challenging, but this is not what I’m getting at).

Learning to read in Spanish (or any other foreign language)

To do this, I have started to read Spanish romance novels on Kindle. Kindle has a translation function. At first, it’s pretty slow going – you have to translate a lot of words. One of the first words I learned this way is “abuela” (grandmother), I still remember it very well.

By the way, if you are a fan of historical romance novels, Julia Quinn is an author I would recommend. But I digress.

Having finished several of these romance novels in Spanish (I only read Julia Quinn’s books in their spanish translations), I tried to read one of her books in French. I enjoyed the process. I’m picking up a new language, and get to enjoy a story as it unfolds, too.

In some ways, you even follow the story more closely, as you are trying to understand and translate a lot of words. Soon, single words become strings of several words, and you understand idioms in different languages.

Really enjoyable.

But so far, the opposite process had me stumped – I can read and start reading in a different language, but how do I actually learn how to write / communicate in a different language? For example, for chatting with French and Spanish speaking women? Or chatting in Russian?

A solution for learning to write Spanish, French, Russian, …

Today I had a final epiphany: I can use ChatGPT to train these skills, and I would like to share my idea with you. It’s a process by which I am polishing my spelling in Russian, but it could be used to learn to write in any language.

Let’s have a look at learning to reply in Spanish, as that might be easier to read than Cyrillic characters:

My goal is to chat with a woman in Spanish. Instead of writing the sentence in English, translating it and copy & pasting it, I came up with the following concept:

Correct the following Spanish (also written to a woman I am chatting with in a romantic context): Buen, es una dia que pasa very quickly. No habia tempo por comidar, I have eaten after returning a la casa

As you see, I know some Spanish words (and am using them incorrectly, e.g. with the wrong grammatical gender). I just replace words I don’t know by English words. And I ask ChatGPT to correct my sentence. Then I carefully read the sentence it wrote, to learn from it’s response.

Sure, here’s the corrected Spanish for your sentence:

“Bueno, es un día que pasa muy rápido. No había tiempo para comer, he comido después de volver a casa.”

A solution for learning how to flirt?

I am also currently experimenting for using ChatGPT to rewrite my responses to women, and suggest better alternatives. In a similar vein, I am learning how to flirt by giving it a suggestion from my side, and looking at what it comes up with instead, and choosing a mixture of the best replies.

Flirting, after all, is also a language. Or – in a broader context – a skill. Any skill can be picked up by training, and having a mentor (in this case ChatGPT!)

I like working with ChatGPT. It is non-judgemental, patient, and there when you need it.

Photo by 1983 (steal my _ _ art) on Unsplash

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