02/08/2016 03:01 EST | Updated 02/08/2017 05:12 EST

Learning A Language Is Like Falling In Love

Couple whispering together indoors
JGI/Tom Grill via Getty Images
Couple whispering together indoors

To my latest language flame:

Language learning is like falling in love. In fact, I have to be in love to learn a language, and I'm in love with you, my newest language.

It's just an affair, though. I don't have to marry you to get to know you. I can even have an affair with you now, and then move onto another language affair later. But while I'm learning about you, I'll be faithful to you. I know I learn faster when I'm faithful to one language.

Just like anybody in love, I want to spend as much time with you as possible, to hear your voice and read your thoughts. I want to learn the many words and phrases you use to express yourself. I think of you wherever I am.

I try to notice all the little things you do and every day discover new things that I hadn't noticed before. Some of your habits seem peculiar or confusing but I am slowly getting used to you. I hear you, see you and even repeat some of your words and phrases to myself, throughout the day .

Just as in any love affair, there are things about you that I don't like, but I don't let these things bother me. I focus on the things that I like. I don't want to question why you behave the way you do. I just accept you. I just want to spend time with you and imitate you -- the highest form of appreciation, by the way.

I know my love is one-sided. I know you don't love me back. But I know you won't criticize me, no matter how badly I use you.

I also know that you are not jealous of me, not of my previous language affairs nor of my future language affairs. I know you don't really care if I carry on an affair with another language at the same time as I am with you. But I won't.

As with any relationship, this can can create problems... On the other hand, I'm not jealous of other people who love you. In fact, I love to meet people who are in love with you, and to compare notes with them.

Being in love with you is its own reward. I don't care what you think of me. I'm enjoying carrying on an affair with you and really don't expect anything in return. But I know from experience with other language affairs that I get more out of my relationship than I put in. The rewards are personal, cultural and even professional. The rewards are immense.

When I've tried to get to know a language without loving it, it hasn't worked. It hasn't been enough to just want to get to know a language for some short term goal, a job or a test.

I always try to find something I can like or love in a language. It doesn't have to be everything, just some things. There always are some things to love in the culture, history or some of the people associated with a language.

So please understand me, dearest Language. I want to get to know you as well as I can. For the longest time I hung around you, listening and reading and getting used to your words and phrases, enjoying your personality. I didn't start to speak until I knew you fairly well.

At first it was difficult to figure you out. You're quite hard to get to know, a real coquette. But now I understand you better. As is always the case, the better I know you the more I love you, and the better I can use you.

So, happy Valentine's Day, dearest Language, and thanks for everything. I am not about to let you go anytime soon.

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