Odd sources of motivation
I was starting to drag a bit on Danish and it was becoming a bit of a slog for me to get through, but I really wanted to finish my tree before switching my focus to another language.
Then one day, in a conversation on Duolingo about the difference between speech and subtitles in movies, someone mentioned the German version of Let It Go. I watched that and enjoyed it, so out of curiosity, I looked to see if there was a Danish version as well. I watched that, and two things happened.
The first, is that I was surprised how much of it I understood. Not most of it, but much more than I'd expected. The second was that I was hearing spoken Danish for the first time outside of Duo's language bot, and oh my god but Danish sounds awesome.
Since then, I've been a lot more engaged with my learning and it's actually become something I want to pursue further than I'd originally planned, as initially I'd just wanted to be able to read it and not worry too much about my speaking ability. That's now changed for sure. There aren't many things in my life where I can point to a single moment and say "This right here is what inspired me to do X" but I can now say that listening to "Lad det ske" of all things is what got me to take learning Danish seriously and really lit a fire under me about it.
Anyway, does anyone else have any completely random sources of inspiration or motivation like that for their own language learning?
I have an aunt who is obsessed with polar bears (what can I say, I have a strange family). She asked me to translate an article in German about the polar bears in Vienna Zoo, and rather surprisingly, I could understand most of it, even though I did not have an access to a dictionary. I definitely needed the boost of confidence. The next step: Immersion!
I was traveling back to Costa Rica last week when one of the local volcanoes decided to send enough ash towards the airport to close it, canceling my flight. So stuck in the Atlanta airport I started reading and translating all the volcano articles I could get my hands on from the Costa Rican online newspaper--uploading some of them to Duolingo's immersion to make it easier. Being able to inform my family, coworkers in Atlanta, and the other people on my flight about what was going on was AMAZING. There was a lot more detail in Spanish than in the single (and rather sad) English-language Costa Rican newspaper. If I didn't already have a strong motivation to learn Spanish that would certainly have reinforced it!
On the same trip I wound up talking to two people at the airport entirely in Spanish. One was from Venezuela, but the other was from Italy! The Italian man spoke more Spanish than English, so it was good that we shared another language. I found to my surprise that I speak reasonably good Spanish when dead tired.
I find myself often telling the story oh my maid in Switzerland, she spoke German, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, using Spanish I was able to converse with someone who didn't speak my native language. I hadn't used Duo yet, however I wish I had, thank you. Careful for when you speak your desired language, as many more may be able to understand than you intend,
I was in a big city for classes in '12 and had a lady come up to me while I was waiting for the library to open and ask me if I spoke Spanish. Coincidentally, I was studying my Spanish homework and was able to translate enough to find out that she was looking for some place. With that I was able to ask around in English for the building and then tell her in Spanish that I was finding out and we were able to find it.
Ultimately, I mangled my Spanish and was probably a horrible translator. But, it made me want to learn more for the next time I had a chance. It was motivating enough to help me get an "A" in the class, but more than that it made me realize that I can speak to way more people if I know another language.