How Learning Languages Changed My View of the World

The link between language and how we view the world is something that has always fascinated me. Language isn’t just a tremendous form of communication, it’s also intertwined and influenced by culture and history. It saddens me how much high school ruins languages for so many people. I hear countless people say
“Oh I took French in high school” but five years later they’re left with practically nothing. Something so wonderful is turned into a chore and into something that you have to suffer through. The experience of learning and mastering a new language is incomparable. It’s truly unlike anything else. And more than ever I think we need to be learning other languages to bridge the gaps that exist between us. So I thought I would share my experience learning foreign languages and the journey that it has taken me on. I’m going to start from the beginning here. So I technically come from a bilingual household. Both of my parents are from Argentina. When I tell people this they usually think “oh so you must have been bilingual your entire life.” and that is very far from the truth.
I wish things were that simple. It’s true that Spanish was my first language
and I spoke it until the age of four. but both my parents speak excellent English and when I started to go to school in the United States where I grew up, and where I was born, I quickly lost any ability to speak, or even understand, Spanish. English very quickly became the only language that was present in my life. When I was 13 my family took a trip to Panama. and I remember not being able to understand anything that the locals were saying and that became a huge source of frustration and embarrassment. I felt limited. I can’t speak Spanish. Not being able to speak the language that the vast majority of my family could speak felt like this massive, insurmountable obstacle that was blocking me from my own roots and from interacting with tons of different people. Due to a long series of events and me desperately trying to get out of the US public school system I managed to convince a Rotary Club to sponsor me to study for a year in France. I was 16 so this was still in high school and looking back, this was a very pivotal moment in my life. I’ve mentioned France a couple times in previous videos of mine, but it’s difficult for me to describe just how formative this year was for me. So, August of 2014 I suddenly find myself in a new continent, and unable to understand practically anything anyone is saying around me. I was starting from scratch.
I could only speak English. France up to that point was just this far off place that I had only had the most superficial understanding of. Just stereotypes really. The people don’t wash themselves.
They eat snails. And that they wear stripes. If you take a moment to think about it, it’s really a limited view of how things really are. I knew that to bridge the gap I had to start speaking the language of the people. And it was crazy what that was like. People literally construct their thoughts differently in other languages so in a sense you’re learning a new way of thinking. I was absorbing every word that I possibly could and for the first few months I was there
so much slipped through my fingers like water. I remember being so tired at the end of every day because I was desperately trying to grasp on to what was taking place around me. But with time it was like my brain started to connect the dots, and little by little I was able to put my thoughts and feelings into words that were new to my lips. It gave me a better understanding and appreciation of my upbringing, and where I come from. In so many moments during my time in Europe, I was made to reconsider my ideas and opinions. It’s kinda like when you’re looking at a math problem, and you say to yourself
“Holy cow, there’s so much I wasn’t considering here” I returned to the US after that year abroad
and it was immediately apparent to me that I was addicted. If I could do this once,
who’s to say it couldn’t be done again? And that’s exactly what I did. I saved up my money for a couple of years and then I left to live for a few months in Argentina. Once again I was in a place that I knew very little about and was really putting myself in foreign circumstances. This time it was a little bit different.
I was digging into my past. The history of my family. I don’t want this to sound like it was all perfect and easy. It actually ended up becoming a very difficult period in my life on an emotional level. But what I’m saying here is that yeah, okay maybe it was difficult. But it was absolutely worth it. That experience gave me a level of gratitude for what I have that I did not have before. I’ve had amazing work opportunities thanks to the fact that I speak Spanish. I mean there are more native Spanish speakers than there are native English speakers. Kinda crazy. Due to very poor media coverage, I originally had a very two-dimensional perspective on things but I walked away from my time there with completely new eyes. I think one of the biggest lessons that I learned is that there’s almost always more than one way to do things.
You know? To prepare food, to socialize, to structure society. What blows my mind is that there’s an unlimited amount of opportunities to have this kind of experience. Every time you learn a new language you’re interfacing with and encountering new things. It’s not just pizza and pasta.
There’s a whole universe to explore. It’s difficult, it’s not easy to learn a new language.
But it’s worth it. I think the trick is to have really solid habits in place and also to play to your strengths. Go towards the things that interest and excite you. I’ve come to realize that languages exist in many forms. Of course there’s French, Spanish, and Italian but music is also a language. Coding is a language. Film and photography are visual languages. All of these things that were learned and incorporated into your life are enriching and expand what is possible in your present reality. These languages are just ways to connect dots and to put meaning into your time here on this planet. If there’s one thing that I hope you walk away with after having watched this video it’s that, even though throwing yourself into the unknown and learning a new way of seeing the world is difficult extremely difficult, it is worth it. So, So,
Good luck!

100 thoughts on “How Learning Languages Changed My View of the World”

  1. I wish language learning in school would start out with some sort of intro period with focus on the actual benefits and reasons for learning it. That way there's a chance It could actually spark some kind of real interest among the students, instead of just adding another subject to their schedule. School had already made me learn English from third grade, so adding another language seemed like so much work, when I in sixth grade had to choose between French and German. Luckily I never hated French as a subject, but I got close to nothing out of the first 3 years of having it in school (6th – 8th grade). I learned the colours and weekdays yeah, but I had no idea of what I would use it for, so none of the information stuck with me. After discovering my love for traveling, language learning and cultural exchange in tenth grade, my language classes changed from a chore, to something I was truly grateful for, and looked forward to every time.
    It's crazy how much more you learn and pick up on, when you have a real motivation and interest in a subject, so I wish this was something I'd discovered earlier on.

  2. I can't believe that I was missing out on your channel when all this time this is the content that I needed! You are so inspirational! Being in the liberal arts studying European studies, your videos have impacted me to be more open minded about things and develop greater skills to push through with the goals that I have planned. Thank you so much, dude! 💗

  3. Muito obrigado! o seu videos as vezes conseguem me tirar de crises horríveis e incapacidade e indisposição pra realizar coisas. Muito obrigado, de novo!!!

  4. i tried to learn german, loved it at first, but it was so focused on grammar and spelling that i barely learned how to pronounce things. i quit after 2 months.

  5. Can you please talk about the survivor paradox in your next video( or whenever you can…) I really want to know what you think about it…

  6. I feel like each language that u learn gives birth to a new person if u speak 2 languages that means u have 2 persons within like an english one and a frensh one for example !

  7. Hey! I'm not sure if you are going to read this comment but I'm from Argentina, and I'm 16 years old. I've always lived here and I find your video to be really inspiring. I hope I can someday do what you did and learn new languages. Por cierto, tu español es perfecto. Ni siquiera tenés acento jaja. Ya que estamos te hago una pregunta. Lograste entender el significado de boludo?

  8. Very nice french skills. I am a french-native speaker (Swiss) and I can tell you that your French is really good! Learning languages is really good to expand your mind, everybody should learn many languages if they can. That's just beautiful to talk to local people when we travel. I speak French, English and Japanese 😉

  9. Chabooon me re sorprendi cuando hablaste español!!! Y tenes acento argentino papaaa bien ahiii 👏🏽👏🏽 jajaja 🚀🚀🚀

  10. I am someone striving for mental clarity and productivity. I am so glad I found someone who I can relate. Wish you the best on years to come.

  11. I used to make up accents and speak to tourists and they'd ask me about my nationality which made feel good because I realised I did a good job in speaking the languages fluently. Many people will feel bad if you speak French or English and they'll immediately respond in a defensive way by using their main languages which is sometimes dialects; only because English or French is attached to an image of somebody who is rich. If you found yourself being laughed at because of the way you speak a particular language; that is the moment where you learn how to coach yourself. Languages, expressions and also accents influences people's thoughts on you. This video can be helpful to educate many people from different backgrounds and change their most gross behaviours towards others. Bravo Nathaniel!

  12. when you talked about your experience in France it really gave me strength
    I've been in Japan for a little over two weeks now (I'll stay for 10 months). Last week someone held a speech in school which really interested me but I could barely understand anything. All I understood were the pictures shown while the woman was talking. Since then I've been really frustrated about my Japanese. I'm not able to understand my classmates, teachers, people in stores or anything around me. I've had nightmares of going home in 10 months and still being at the same stage of japanese language skills but you just gave me so much hope that it takes time and it'll all be fine. I'll keep on fighting for my goal of mastering japanese. thank you 😊

  13. Wow, this is so cool! I wanted to study abroad in France when I was in High school and seeing your experience makes me wish I was allowed to at least travel to Europe before I graduated. I hope to teach myself french and i can't wait to see the world like you do now ✌

  14. Wow , je suis canadienne et je peux confirmer que tu parles très très bien , it’s kind of scary haha 😂❤️ well keep going , boy you got skills.

  15. I've been learning English for years now so I've gotten quite used to it now. However, watching your video made me realise how magical and precious it is to be able to understand a different language and to see the world from its lens 🙂 Thank you so much for such a wonderful and inspiring video <3

  16. I was born in Italy, but my parents sent me to live with my mother's family when I was 8 and now I'm 18 I can just make basic conversations in Italian but want to be able to speak Italian again so I want learn again.

  17. Well, I'm bilingual too. I couldn't speak fluent English till 11th grade. I started working for it from 8th grade and now I can amazingly speak it. My first language is Hindi and despite having English around me for most of my life , I didn't care. I could understand , write , even rhyme but couldn't speak.

  18. Yey, I've got 7 subs now, and I've just released a short film about Polyglotism and the beauty of languages!… I'm excited about sharing this message | I'll love to hear your thoughts on this 😁

  19. Montpellier!! 😍😍😍
    Ça me fait tellement plaisir de voir qu'on a cette expérience en commun.
    J'admire ta perception des langues (que je partage) et je suis encore plus content d'être un abonné à ta chaîne 😊

  20. I love this video, it has really shown how beautiful languages are and the values they give you. I have always wanted to learn languages and become fluent, to be able to connect to more people and learn more cultures that way.

  21. I believe there isn't any feeling that we can compare to the one when you're learning a language by yourself, or when you're learning a very special language (I hate to miss my english classes out of school)

  22. Sono rimasta super impressionata positivamente dalla tua voglia di fare. Io sto cercando di imparare la mia terza lingua(tedesco), cercherò di metterci tutta la grinta che mi hai trasmesso. Fantastico!

  23. I’ve always considered that learning languages made me more human and help me to see that there is many ways to see the truth, I don’t know exactly how but my way of thinking changed completely; because of languages I started to see how much people are the same ! I talked about this in my blog I wish you can read it thank you

  24. It was really great for me to seeing this video, because I'm learning english and I could understand most of the things you said.
    I think you would love brazil, our language and our culture.
    (Eu acho que você amaria o Brasil, nossa língua e nossa cultura.)

  25. Il problema è solo quello, ho fatto meno fatica ad imparare il tedesco (nonostante il mio livello sia basso B1) partendo da zero che non l'inglese dove avevo già delle basi. L'inglese (dove vivo ora) se non sai il tedesco (lingua madre della zona) è l'unica valida alternativa

  26. Wowwww dude you really sound amazing in spanish like you actually lived in Argentina your whole life. My native language is spanish, and I am trying to learn a 3rd language. Either French or German so I can go and study abroad. However I would like to be able to speak 4 languages at least decently fluent. You
    are really an inspiration for many of us!

  27. Nathaniel, u r absolutely right about connecting the dots to the others. I personally speak Russian, English, German, Polish and my mother language is Uzbek. Currently I’m learning French and Italian simultaneously. And seeing that we always get used to learning such hard stuff that will consequently pay back. Anyways thanks to the meaningful vlog to give me motivation to sip French and Italian even better my friend. Allora, buon vlog et pouces vers le haut 🙌🏻💪🏻👍🏻🙋🏻‍♂️

  28. I’m Bilingual (Italian and Spanish) and I Learnt English by myself,just reading news and watch movies.
    Now that I live in England most of my colleagues can’t even tell if I’m foreign or not.
    Now I planned to learn other 2 languages (French and German) and learn to reply everyday questions in Polish,Tagalog,Chinese.

  29. Tienes muy buena pronunciación. Me inspiras a seguir mi sueño, yo amo el Inglés y tengo como objetivo dominarlo mas que antes. Actualmente estudio inglés por mi cuenta todos los días. Pero me frustra un poco saber que no tengo con quien practicar y creo que eso es un punto muy importante. Me encantaría conocer y viajar por diferentes países solo espero dominarlo mejor para así poder viajar y tener contacto con nativos.

  30. People say that whats the point in learning a lagnuage because most of the natives will speak english anyway but thats not the point.

  31. You in my town!! And you inspired me so much, I'm learning french and planning to learn more langauages, it's simply an underestimated art.

  32. I'm an exchange student in France with 1.5 month and I can't feel my language is developing… could you suggest me something?

  33. English is my second language. I stared learning it in school and the weird thing is it never felt like I was actually learning in a sense like I was learning math or something. It felt way more natural and I really enjoyed every lesson. Later on I tried to learn French for almost seven years in school and for some reason I never really got into it wich was really frustrating for me. But maybe it just wasn’t the language or the technic for me. But I really want to try another language like Swedish or even try French again. 💪

  34. I can't believe how inspired I walk out of every of your videos. After watching this I just want to travel, to learn, to find myself in a new environment where I need to learn the tools to understand how it works. Thank you, seriously

  35. Your very smart. I am mastering Russian. I am refining it.Its very difficult to master because I want to be an interpreter and I literally need to learn EVERYTHING.

  36. I think my favorite part was when you said music and photography are languages as well ! I'm a singer and a geographer (making maps is a language of its own !)

  37. C'est très bon mec ! J'avais la même expérience. Je suis un Mexicain qu’avais immigre aux états unis quand j’avais 11 ans.

    J’au eu beaucoup de difficulté quand je suis arrivé à la Californie, mais après j’ai appris la langue y despues fue bastante facil hacer amigos y adaptarme a un nuevo lugar con costumbres completamente nuevas para mi.

    I also study abroad in Paris, France for a whole year thanks to a program offered by my university. While living here, mi sono rencontrato con una ragazza italiana che mi ha imparato l’Italiano. Adesso, cerco d’migliorare tutte I idiomi che parlo. E molto difficile continuare ma n’impossibile.

  38. Me sorprendio lo bueno que era tu castellano//español y tu "osea" entro muy natural muy argentino y no sono como que estabas haciendo tiempo entre palabaras que le pasa a muchos extranjeros. Felicidadess!!

  39. How do you learn language so fast i have been started to learn english since elemntary in school but until now my english isnt so great 😂

  40. Nathaniel, could you please recommend some of resources for learning Italian? Maybe do you know interesting books for self-education ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *