Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The geek way of learning a language

I just used the word "drudgery" in one of my writings and while I was doing this, I wondered where I learned this word. And after a short moment of contemplation I discovered where.

It was in this game

And then I started wondering about the way I learned English. I never did well in school, I was a loner, didn't pay much attention and yet I managed. I often wonder why. I'm Dutch, so English isn't my primary language, as matter of fact Dutch isn't either. I speak a seemingly weird dialect called Limburgs, which is a mixture of Dutch, German and a wee bit of French.
So what helped me become quite proficient in English? It was cartoons, movies, TV programmes, documentaries (oh, how I loved them!), music and games, lots of games.
I was absolutely hooked on Star Wars - The empire strikes back when I was about five or six, I was always dreaming that the Millennium Falcon was mine and that I would have amazing adventures, zooming around in the galaxy. We progressed quite soon to the Knight Rider, The A-Team, Buck Rodgers, Star Trek, Air Wolf and many other popular TV Series. I was always reading subtitles like crazy, and at some point started to get to know some of the English words and started understanding some of the basic grammatical principles.
By the time I was thirteen I got interested in Fantasy, especially the Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, and a tradable card game called Magic the Gathering. I immersed myself completely in the world of fantasy, I was slaying dragons and fighting evil monsters all the time. Magic the Gathering helped me expand my English vocabulary significantly. The cards were beautifully designed and contained lots of text and game related card rules, it was awesome! 
Once I reached the final year of school and was preparing for my English exams, my teacher told me I didn't have to do the mandatory practice routines anymore, there wasn't anything he could teach me. I aced the final exam with only three errors.
Unfortunately I sold all my Magic the Gathering cards in 2008, I had amassed quite a large collection.
What did I learn from this? Find something you're passionate about, especially if you have ADHD. Immerse yourself in it, be eager to learn and you will learn! It has helped me prepare in a way I could never do while I was at school.
Now I don't claim that I've mastered the English language, not even by a long shot, but I love it, I love to write in English and I will keep doing so!
Being a nerd has its perks!

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