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Kendo to Tango: How Hobbies and Physical Skills Get You Speaking Foreign Languages
November 25, 2014 - By: - In: Language - Comments Off on Kendo to Tango: How Hobbies and Physical Skills Get You Speaking Foreign Languages

Whether you find yourself abroad or in your own hometown, hobbies are fun as well as great for language learning. You can easily pick up new words while you learn new skills. You can also make friends with this new vocabulary in common, even if you lack other common vocabulary.

Hobbies, like professions, come with their own set of experiences and vocabulary. And when you add hobbies that come from foreign shores, you can find yourself naturally adding foreign words to your vocabulary, like different dance positions or even counting in another language. Ask your teacher too. He or she may have studied their art abroad and have more experiences and vocabulary to teach than at first glance. Then if, on the other hand, you find yourself on a foreign shore, that common hobby vocabulary can give you a common language with others. It makes taking classes a good way to meet people, even if you otherwise can’t hold a basic conversation with them. You might find shared moments of triumph when successfully executing a particular move or shared incomprehension when the teacher introduces something way above the level of the class.

For example, kendo lessons taught me to count to ten in Japanese and follow some basic commands. Bollywood dance classes got me trying to lip sync in Hindi and understand the lyrics of songs. Yoga classes got me chanting. Bharata Natyam classes got me to listen to the chants of others. Tango lessons got me laughing with Argentines.

I can still remember the songs in French and Spanish that I learned as a kid in summer school and then sang at home to amuse myself because they had a catchy tune. Did this help when I later formally studied these languages? Probably. On the other hand, learning to count to ten in Japanese has probably had little effect on my life, but hey, it may just come in handy yet.

What hobbies or physical skills have taught you about foreign languages?

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