Obie Using Languages: Yiyin Zhong ’18

Yiyin (Mia) Zhong is currently a second-year international student double-majoring in East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature. Mia enjoys learning languages. She believes learning language can help her to comprehend a culture deeper. 

 

How many languages do you speak?

Chinese and English. I am learning Japanese and German right now.

How can you manage so many languages at the same time?

As for Chinese and English, I am already fluent in both languages so I don’t have to devote so much time in learning them. Japanese is not super difficult for me because it shares the same root as Chinese. For German… yeah, I kind of struggled there but as long as I follow the pace of my class I think I’ll be fine.

Why did you decide to learn Japanese or German?

First of all, I want to major in East Asian Studies and Japanese is one the requirement for EAS. Another reason that I chose Japanese was that I am also very interested in Japanese literature. When I also decided to study literature, I wanted to dig deeper on Japanese language. I didn’t have a clear reason to learn German, but it’s fun to learn a language entirely different from your own. I hope I can read some German literature as I continue learning.

What are the difficulties you have had in learning two languages at the same time or just in learning languages in general?

Languages sometimes mingle with each other. In German class, I always want to speak Japanese because it is much easier for me to speak. Also, I really don’t like memorizing vocabularies, which makes everything hard and new vocabulary keeps going out. Even though I have managed all the grammar points, I still cannot communicate in this language because I always need to stop and ask which word to use.

What do you think is the most effect way to learn a language?

Well, do your homework nicely every single day.

Are there any benefits, you think, to learn two languages at the same time?

Actually I find learning the two languages together sometimes disturbing as I come up with things in one language when I’m trying to speak in the other, but it’s fun to switch among the languages and different pronunciations and tones.

Why do you want to learn so many languages?

I enjoy learning languages. Some people would have the expectation that if I learn a language, I will use it at some point in the future because it’s a practical skill. I’m not sure if I can use all my languages and it’s a pity if I don’t have the chance to speak them and forget them all, but the learning process is still very fun. It’s like some courses you take in college which are fun but will probably be forgot in the future, you learn them anyway. Also, I can travel to Japan and Germany alone when I’m fluent in them.

 

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