Learning a new language can be an exciting challenge, right? For the many reasons that you may be learning a new language, learning for love is like no other. The personal rewards that you achieve from it will double, as, like all of us in love, you will feel a deeper aspect of it.
Despite living in one of the biggest cultural hubs of the world, many Londoners still do not see themselves long term with a partner that is not from their culture. I myself never imagined falling in love with a non-English native speaker. By nearly committing to the idea that I had to espouse myself to the British culture, I realised how many of us take for granted the abundance of languages and communities that exist in London.
I had meddled with language learning before, with an A-level in French, and English actually not being my native language (as a native Spanish speaker)… I ambitiously took on the challenge of learning the Lithuanian language. Call me cray cray.
I always believed that learning your partner’s language is one of the sweetest things you can do. Even if the only sentences you can form are about your cat… (Don’t blame me, I still try.)
Why learning your partner’s native language is so important:
- It will make them feel special. This pretty much goes without saying. This reflects the effort that you put into them as a person. It also sets a tone of admiration, a feeling of “I want to be like you”, which will flatter them as well as touch them.
- It shows commitment. Whilst you can give or receive tokens of love and appreciation, intellectually investing yourself is an act of commitment that comes unrivaled. Putting in the time and effort (and even money!) in learning the native language of your partner shows them how invested you are.
- Why does “I love you…” sound more meaningful when we say it in a language that is not our own? Like the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words… or in this case, it may be the opposite. On many occasions, being told “te amo” and saying “tave myliu” have melted my heart more than any “I love you”. There are many ways you can express your love to someone, and somehow, by learning how to express these feelings in your lover’s language will show them how much you mean it.
- It brings you closer to them. It is a known fact that by learning a language, you expose yourself to different ways of thinking. The more you get to know the language, the closer you become to their culture and begin to understand it. As humans we naturally want people to be interested and understand us. When someone shows an interest in any form, we feel special, even if we won’t admit it. Having made the effort to gain a deep understanding of that person’s language and culture will not only make their day, they will appreciate you more for it.
- Brings you closer to their loved ones. This may only apply to those families that speak very little to none of the common languages you and your partner use. By being able to introduce yourself, and at the very least hold some sort of decent conversation about absolutely anything – for me that will be me telling them about my cat, and possibly randomly blurting out the date or time. It will add to their idea of what kind of character you are. If you want to be in the family’s good books, this is a safe bet.
Tips on learning your partner’s native language
Here are some tips that helped me, which can help any aspiring language learner get started on their journey. Just reading this is a start, so keep listening:
- If you have a native speaker at your disposal, use them! You won’t get a better understanding of the language than with first-hand lessons on it. Although it may not be so technical, you will be able to see how the language is really spoken; something that is very useful to know. If you have ever taken language classes and tried to put them into practice with native speakers, you realise how alien you sound…
- Apps! Apps! Apps! These have been my go-to learning resource. There will often be a couple of apps dedicated to any language – believe me, if I can find at least one good Lithuanian language app, you can find anything. An amazing app I have found is Simply Learn (pictured below), which comes in over 50 languages and has amazing material. The beginners’ basic category is free. For an upgraded version where you can learn from all the categories (pictured below), it is only a one-off payment of £8. It’s worth it.
- Google really is your best friend. Like always, Google will come to the rescue in your desperate, lazy, worrying times. The Google Translate app is free and you can download pretty much any language, which means you can use it offline to translate anything at any time. Pretty handy, right? This has been my transport entertainment since downloading it, just out of sheer curiosity you will start learning how to create sentences.
- Immerse yourself every once in a while. Find some music that you like in the language you want to learn, read a children’s book, find a film or TV streaming platform and watch with subtitles. This may seem difficult, perhaps too difficult at this stage, but you are teaching your ears to listen to (or to read) the language which will make it way easier to pick up in the long run.
- JUST DO IT! You can do it. Learning a language is one of the most worthwhile ways you can spend your time. If you want to become a pro, you will. It is not an overnight success, and some languages may be harder than others (yes Lithuanian, I’m looking at you) but it is not impossible. Even the slightest bit of genuine effort will get you a long way.
Learning your partner’s native language out of love is one of the most rewarding reasons to learn a language, which you will be absolutely adored for. Because who doesn’t love a trier?