Adventures in Metalearning

How might learning one thing prepare you for entirely another?

Month

June 2017

How I became multilingual and how it changed how I learn anything

Part 1  (11 mins.)

The deepest learning experiences change us. To experience life as something or someone different always fascinated me. Indeed, who never longed to be different? It’s a bit like applying to join the club that won’t have you as a member, but somehow still getting in. This is the story of my trying to become a Frenchman in my late teens and where that led me. It was an impossible undertaking but also an adventure that taught me so much. As well as accelerating my learning of many other languages, it has affected how I learnt everything else since.

I spent my first 18 years stuck in a small rural village in West Yorkshire called Badsworth. We lived in a crumbling 18th century sandstone rectory that had belonged to the 12th century church down the road where I was christened. Badsworth is even in the Doomsday book of the year 1086 when an earlier version of that church stood there. After a thousand years of growth, it had only reached 500 inhabitants in the 1980’s and has not grown much since. It wasn’t what you would call a cosmopolitan hub. To speak any foreign language fluently was … Read more

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