New project; languages of Croydon

"Dabbling" with other languages that aren't Spanish has always made me feel strangely guilty and dirty. It is so hard to get a language into your brain and it is so easily dislodged that focusing on anything that isn't Spanish just seems dangerous! I also had a weird hang up for a long time that having language books for languages you didn't know yet or weren't actively studying is decadent and wasteful. I don't know why... and I guess I'm cured now because buying language books is one of my favourite hobbies...

Since the lockdown started and I've been spending a lot more time in the suburb of London I live in, I have been thinking more and more about learning languages spoken by my neighbours and local communities in my area. As I have been getting more adventurous with cooking, I have been more curious than ever about the languages and cultures of the food I'm eating. I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and love my local shops that sell food from a huge variety of cultures, and I want to learn more about them. Ellen Jovin's nine year blog to learn the languages spoken in New York has inspired me a lot.

So, I've decided as long as I can keep up my Spanish, I am just going to go for it and spend a month getting to know the basics of the main languages of my town that I haven't studied before. But on top of the language I also want to educate myself about the culture, food and history associated with each of them.

Right, so what does that mean in practice? Well, the last time the UK did a census was 2011 and another is due next year, so I figure that I will arrange my schedule to try get familiar with the local languages that I don't know before the new results are in!

In 2011, the top languages spoken in Croydon after English were the following. The ones that I have never studied about are highlighted:

  1. Tamil
  2. Polish
  3. Gujarati
  4. Urdu
  5. French 
  6. Portuguese
  7. Turkish
  8. Malayalam
  9. Spanish
My plan is to spend four weeks (ish) with each until the end of the year. That's not much time and I need to keep my foot on the gas with Spanish too, so I am going to follow a very simple roadmap for language dabbling from Marco Camilo
  • Learnt to present myself
  • Follow starter grammar structures
  • Memorise the names of my most frequently used objects
  • Practice different verb forms with the objects from step 3
I also want to research and write about the history and culture, find some local restaurants that serve food from each culture, and blog about the resources I found, so it could be a busy six months.

Lastly, I'm going to play it by ear with speaking to people. I'm not sure if that is realistic after a month beyond saying thank you, and I'm not sure where I will find language partners. I assure you that I won't just be looking for people who look like they might speak the months language and accosting them...

I'm excited for this project, let's see what I can do!

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