Learning a language is like traveling

Traveling and language, Norfolk Virginia

As summer closes in, this morning I was thinking about traveling.

I love the anticipation of traveling somewhere. Even the planning. I don’t like being on the road, but I like that sense of possibility when you get out of the car in a new place and you try to take everything in: the sights, the smells, the air, the way the wind blows.

Then I noticed this quote staring at me from the spine of an AFAR magazine:

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Isn’t this what we’re doing when we’re learning a new language? The anticipation of finding out a new way to express a thought or a desire; the way the mind races to see what you can do with a new word; the feeling that it will reveal a world unknown.

I like the planning of language learning too. The laying down of pencils if you’re old school – red is for feminine nouns, green is for masculine, purple is for neuter. The logging into the app. The points, the lingots, the levels.

That feeling when you get out of the car and take in a new place. That feeling at the end of the session when you know three more words. What can you do with three more words in a foreign language? The possibilities are endless.


* I took the picture on the waterfront of Norfolk, Virginia.


  1. Jennifer Kennedy

    Hi Mickey!!

    I was inspired to come check out your blog by the comment you left on my post!

    I love learning different languages. In high school and college, I studied Spanish, which I absolutely loved. I’ve even taken German classes and learned a bit of French when I lived in West Africa.

    You’ve actually inspired me to start incorporating language lessons in my day! I used to brush up on my language skills, but I’ve become really busy these days. I’m definitely going to check out an app. Thanks!

    1. Mickey

      Hi Jennifer,

      I do Duolingo every day for German (for now) and I would recommend it for beginners and pre-intermediate levels. It has a very helpful community built around it. Also, it borrows from gamification theory, so it has points, levels, rewards and reminders to keep you motivated.

      Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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