What do you do for a living and how is that relevant to language learning?
I have been a researcher in digital accessibility since 2001. This line of work has little to do with language learning, but I do most of my work in the context of European research projects, so I have encountered many varieties of English: not only British and American English, but also “French English”, “Spanish English”, “German English”, etc. And as a Dutch-speaking Belgian living in Germany, I juggle at least two foreign languages every day, namely German and English.
What is your language learning experience?
I started learning French in the fifth grade of primary school and continued with this at secondary school, where the French language classes were taught entirely in French.
At secondary school, I also learnt Latin. By number of classroom hours, Latin was my biggest language then; in the first year, we even had 9 hours of Latin per week. In later years, this number decreased to 6 and then to 4 hours per week.
From the third year onward, we had three hours of English per week, which was also taught directly in the target language. From the fourth year onward, we also had one hour of German per week.
At university, I studied English and German (both literature and linguistics), and I added some Spanish in the last year.
In 2006 I started learning Standard Chinese in adult education. One of the reasons why I started learning Chinese is that all the languages I had learnt up to that point were Indo-European languages, so I wanted to experience the difficulty of learning a completely unrelated language. I learnt Chinese for five and a half years in Leuven, after which I moved to Germany. Unfortunately, I could not find Chinese language classes at an intermediate level after moving to Stuttgart, so my level of Chinese has stagnated in the last few years.
I also have a website about language learning techniques and resources.
What brought you to Language Learning Stack Exchange?
Working with a Chinese language partner and reading books about language learning (e.g. Gabriel Wyner’s Fluent Forever) made me think again about effective language learning techniques, language learning theories and even language teaching methods. These are the kind of topics that are discussed on Language Learning Stack Exchange. My first question on the site was inspired by one of the problems I observed in Chinese students who are learning German, i.e. the confusion between “very” and “too” (or “sehr” and “zu” in German).
This answer was adapted from Interview with an LLSE Contributor but feel free to use any other format you like.