The Man With a Sharp Tongue: My Ambition To Become a Polyglot And Why.


A sharp tongue can cut through the greatest of borders. Having been raised in a Kweyol speaking household, languages and the concept of multilinguism is far from an alien concept. 

The Backstory: 

As mentioned before, I was raised in a Kweyol speaking household. Born to a father from Dominica and a mother British born and raised by Dominican parents (the flag flies high between these walls!), the language was and still is often heard flying around. But in the abscence of decent resources (my problem) and time (their problem) I found it difficult to take to the mother tongue. 

I “settled” with French. I remember trying to teach myself  French from the age of 7. The first addition to my library being the Gold Stars “My First 100 Words in French” sticker book. I beamed with every gold star, eager to eavesdrop on my parents’ conversations with my newfound vernacular. (French and Kweyol have striking similarities). I remember soon after pestering my mum to buy my first French phrasebook in a book sale at Willesden Library. The sheer fact that I remember as far back is probably testament enough… I love languages and I love Francophonie to be specific. 

My library soon grew. Numerous French dictionaries, short stories, CDs and Tapes later… donc alors here we are! 

I sat my GCSE and got an A. I was two marks off an A* at that! 
Fast Forward (French): 

A at GCSE French and a brief flirtation with AS level later… I’ve used very little of the language since and as such, slipped back in the regiment like discipline that I had from the past. I’ve lost most of it. 

I’ve gained a greater sense of direction in my life from starting my undergrad degree in law. The greatest aspiration being sitting a masters degree in France. It’s all well and good to rely upon tuition in the English language if you want to live in a book for two years. 

I’m not on that. I want to live and take French life, given the opportunity, with both hands. 

On that note, I visited the Institut Français based in South Kensington for inspo with my girlfriend, who is an amazing linguist herself may I add. I sat the placement tests offered and was surprised (and pleased) to find I was a borderline B1 (I’ll explain the framework below).  My speaking and listening a bit below par but that’s expected if you’ve not used it orally for some time. 

I’m on an ambitious enough target to become a strong B2/ borderline C1 (rudimentary fluency) by this time next year and to have learnt 681 of the most commonly used verbs by the end of the year… modest enough target of 3 verbs per day. 

Donc alors. C’est tout! 

On the other hand I’m juggling Mandarin Chinese too. For less grand reasons than the above: I just want a challenge… that and one day I fancy a jaunt to Hong Kong. 

I’ve saddled myself up with the amazing Chineasy books and a few dictionary. It’ll be a more arduous and challenging experience than what’s really just a “refresher and tweak” of my French but just as romantic an experience. Especially when dating someone who knows Korean!
A whole new world:

For me, the idea of becoming a polyglot is an experience and a lifestyle more than a quirk. It can help break down borders; forge friendships with the unlikeliest of people and even take your career in directions you’d never have set course for initially (evidently). 

The greatest attraction towards polyglotism for me is the immersion into the lifestyle and cultures of a totally different land to your own. I soon forget I’m sat within a maisonette in London’s zone 3 as I start to pick up bits and bobs of the other country’s culture; beliefs; rules and systems; cuisine and even their politics. 

Hands up if we know our Farage from our Fillon and Fung!
I’ll drop in from time to time and share my experiences on this. No doubt I’ll be tweeting vociferously about it too!
Speak soon! 

A bientôt! 

很快
This one is for Sylviane and Nazlin. Two of France’s finest. 

The greatest of big ups ,however, go to my mum and dad. You couldn’t find more patient or supportive parents if you tried to this day. 

Big birthday big ups to Sadé. She knows why 👀. But more important of all follow her Korean and Swahili journey : http://www.twitter.com/SadeOkayla  

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