In those free moments when I get to read for pleasure, which are becoming rarer and rarer as the school semester wears on, I have been reading a pretty fabulous book that everyone [who obsesses about languages and language learning] has been talking about for the past few weeks. I’ll write more about the book itself later, but on days like today I need some extra motivation to work hard, and no one is more inspiring to me in that regard than one of the “characters” of the book, Alexander Arguelles.
Professor Arguelles is a self-trained hyperpolyglot and a man who has devoted his life to the study of languages. I discovered Professor Arguelles a few years ago and fell really geekily in love with his youtube videos. In fact, I first heard about the book before it was released by way of this video:
Inspired by this video, I attempted, for a solid 1.5 weeks, to study five languages using the Arguelles formula. Needless to say, I am not the self-disciplined superhero that this man is, but hey, a girl can dream.
As I said, he has dedicated his life to the study of languages, and not just to his own study; he is genuinely concerned with effective and solid language training for everyone. Some of his youtube videos are several-minute-long reviews of language learning packages; some of them are talks about understanding what kind of learner you are, what to expect if you hire a tutor or a conversation partner, how to manage your time effectively, etc. And here’s what I admire most about him: he’s not trying to sell you anything. On this weird wonderful thing we call the internet, you can find dozens of self-proclaimed polyglots who have discovered the number-one foolproof way to learn any language without breaking a sweat, and they are happy to sell it to you for a very reasonable fee. Arguelles is the opposite. He will tell you that you need lots of different materials to learn a language; that it takes time and work; that gimmicks are…gimmicky; that learning a language can be very hard, but very rewarding. And he’s not selling anything. As far as I can tell, he just loves languages, and loves learning them, and wants you to learn them, too.
That makes me feel very hopeful. And challenged. And intimidated. And… a little bit vicariously sleepy, listening to him talk about his schedule. But mostly inspired.