Learning languages that are not native to you is not easy, but it is something that can be done by people who are passionate and dedicated. The easiest way to learn a language is through immersion into that language, and the best time to learn is as a child. Children soak up so much of what they see and hear all around them, that they can pick up a new language almost without even trying to learn it. However, as they get older and move into adulthood, the acquisition of language becomes more difficult and complex. It is certainly not impossible to learn a language at any age, but there are times when it is more difficult and times when it is easier. Taking advantage of the easier times (such as childhood) is the best way to learn something new and retain it into the future. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn other languages when I was young, which allowed me to retain them better than I would have been able to do when I was older. However, by not using one of the languages very much as I got older, I have lost most of the knowledge of it.
I am Korean, but I also learned Japanese and English when I was young. That would not have been a very likely combination of languages, but my father was a pilot, and I liked Japanese anime. Because of my father's job I got the chance to travel all around to many different kinds of countries. As I got a little older, I thought about developing my English skills more completely. That would let me travel all over the world and communicate with a larger number of people when I was older, and could also help me in the business world. Even in countries where English is not the first language, it is often spoken - and it is almost always spoken in business. When I wanted to talk to people who were not Korean, English gave me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I began to see English not just as a tool for communicating in the business world and being able to travel and talk to other people in other countries, but also as a jumping-off point for my future.
Just before I came to America to study, I had a great opportunity - I got to teach English to children at an English institute. That helped me to start to explore options and pathways for a potential career. I was able to have some teaching experience, and I was able to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I tutored others and worked to help them improve their skills in the English language. By helping other people improve their English, I was challenged to improve my own. I also enjoyed learning English and teaching it to children, so that kept me interested in learning all I could about my second language. Doing well is very important to me in anything I do, and when I find something I'm passionate about, I continue to work toward the mastery of that language or skill. While I understand that perfection is not possible - and not even necessary or required - that does not excuse me from not giving my all and doing all I can to learn to the best of my ability.
Japanese was a bit of a different story and I had a very unique experience with it, when compared to English. Two years into high school I began to learn Japanese. I was interested in the animation of Japanese stories and cartoons, and that provided me with enough interest to focus on learning the language as an elective. Even with that interest, however, I was not as focused on the learning of the language as I should have been, and did not take it that seriously. I was more interested in natural science. The teacher I had for Japanese language classes was not passionate about the language and did not seem to be very interested in actually teaching people to speak it. That made it more difficult for me to learn. Even if I had been highly focused on learning, it is very difficult to learn something as complex as the Japanese language when not actually being taught properly. The teacher was not focused on…