I started taking foreign language classes in middle school. For people in other countries, middle school is from about ten or eleven years old until about thirteen or fourteen years old. I don’t remember much about the classes other than my French teacher – Ms. Carlton – was very attractive. I’ve had an interest in languages for a long time but like many people I never had much use for it because the people around me are not speaking it regularly.

These days, I am more focused on business and what languages I should focus on if I am going to success in my business ventures. I am also concerned about where the world is going and how best to interact with people around me. Considering those two issues, I am now refocusing on two languages: Mandarin (Chinese) and Spanish.

With a large Spanish population in the United States, it has become more common for people to speak Spanish around me. Most people in the U.S. just laugh off people when they start speaking another language and just expect the other person to speak English. Lazy.

I traveled to China, Hong Kong, Japan and other areas and found that the language is difficult to adopt. But, with China growing in prominence, it is clear that the language is something that more of us should focus on learning. I am very surprised it isn’t one of the main language selection options in school. Schools might offer it more moving forward. More people speak Spanish and Mandarin globally than English. So, while I don’t see English going anywhere anytime soon, it is clear to me that speaking Spanish and Mandarin will open up a world of other options.

My short term goal is to learn 30-50 new vocabulary words every week. The top 100 words make up about 50% of language and the top 1,000 words make up about 90%. Here are the top words in Spanish and Mandarin.

I need to find a better way to immerse myself in the languages. The only way to get my brain to soak up the knowledge is to make it feel like the knowledge is needed to participate or survive.

Gary

I grew up in Baltimore and currently live in the Rodgers Forge community just north of Baltimore City.

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