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My Czech father and Brooklyn-bred mother met while living in Israel. I spent my childhood in the suburbs of New Jersey holding two passports, hearing three languages, and visiting family in four countries. I took it for granted that I would one day speak a second language, not to mention live abroad. It didn’t happen. I studied French on and off for seven years, took a semester of Spanish after spending an awestruck three days in Barcelona, tried Hebrew immersion on a kibbutz and in various classrooms from Hebrew school through college. I never made it over the fluency hump (nowhere near it) with any of them. In my 30’s, with my life somewhat settled in New York City, I thought I had come to terms with the disappointing realization that I had grown too old to become bilingual or start over internationally.

Then in February of 2014, the polar vortex and a gnawing malaise led me to take an impromptu solo trip to Argentina. My language and travel bugs quickly came out of remission and inspired me to make some big life changes post-trip. I committed to jump-start my Spanish and French with classes and conversation groups. I overhauled my budget and set up a sabbatical savings account. And I promised myself that after two years, I’d become the itinerant ex-patriot I always wanted to be and set off on an open-ended immersion adventure.

In the meantime, I started this blog to keep me motivated and accountable, and to find a like-minded community of people who are determined to gain foreign language proficiency despite the hard work – both academic and emotional – that it requires.

So… what brings you here? Please leave a comment to let me know!

[Update: In February, 2016, I flew to Dakar to start my adventures abroad, right on schedule. This blog has gotten a lot more interesting since then…]

You can write to me at talkforeigntome at gmail dot com.

49 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi,

    First I’m sorry if my English is not perfect. I’m Belgian, I speak French and I try to learn English.
    I found your blog through your twitter ! You added me there is maybe a week.
    And by curiosity, I wanted to see it.

    And It’s awesome ! I appreciate your blog ! I’m always impressed by people who have a blog, I don’t like to be constraints to write something ! But I think to create a youtube channel to share with people and your blog pushes me to do it !

    I saw than you have the same reference as me, like “Fluent in 3 months” aka Benny Lewis !
    This guy is my God ! In one video, he was able to give me the desire to learn languages.

    It’s a pleasure to read you, I look forward to reading your next article.

    Best regards,


  2. Pingback: investing in experiences | talk foreign to me

  3. Hey Ruth!

    I think I found your blog by searching the “french” tag, because I also have a blog dedicated to chronicling my language learning journey… and what do you know, we also picked the same WordPress theme! haha I love that you’ve been so consistent about posting…that’s where I’m struggling.

    Anyways, good luck to both of us!

    • Jenny, thanks for leaving a comment. Your blog is great! I look forward to reading more of your posts – however consistently or inconsistently you write them. 🙂

    • Merci, Bendilyn, et de même pour vous! J’aime beaucoup votre écriture.
      J’ai ajouté le bouton “like,” c’était une bonne idée.

  4. Pingback: My own personal not-very-dramatic cliffhanger | talk foreign to me

  5. Hola Ruth,
    Good for you! We are never too late in life (I was 63) to start learning another language. Glad you are taking another whack at it. Immersion is the best if not only way to learn well. Fluency is something of a mirage, there is always more to be known and we’ll chase it across the desert, picking up more language than we’ll ever need and still feel parched for more. At some point we come to terms with who we are in the culture that infuses the language. Words aren’t language; grammar isn’t language. These when infused with the cultural context make the language. And you can acquire both (and an accent) by immersion. ‘Querer es poder.’ ‘!Si se puede!’

  6. Your story is really interesting to me! Reading your international background, I would also ‘take for granted’ that you’d be bi(tri-/quadri-)lingual, and it’s so cool and inspiring that you’re taking the time to become so as an adult. Buena suerte with your language learning endeavors!

  7. Pingback: I don’t know if I’m coming or going | talk foreign to me

  8. Hi Ruth! I came to your blog because my daughter told me about your impending adventure in Africa and, as someone who had her own wonderful adventure back in 2008 travelling solo down through West Africa, from Morocco to South Africa – and at the already ripe age of fifty-five, and survived! – I am excited for you, wish you well and am willing to help in any way I can by way of advice, recommendations and by sharing some of my own personal experiences. Deirdre

  9. Hi,
    My name is Helberth.
    I´m brazilin and I´m learning English,
    I´m happy for know your blog, because you may give me a lot of advice about learn a language. Have a nice day and thank you for your great work….

    I´m sorry for my mistakes. I´m just learning english….

  10. Hello Ruth
    Here is Lara, the social media voice of HelloTalk, maybe you have seen us online (I hope so!). I found your blog by searching tag language and your story of immersing in learning is really inspring.

    If you haven’t heard of HelloTalk before, it’s a mobile App, compatible with Android and iOS, and allows users to connect with native speakers of their chosen language. HelloTalk’s intuitive tools focus on providing users with an enhanced learning experience while speaking in foreign languages.

    HelloTalk has over 2.9 million users worldwide who are searching language partners in our app. We have our own “Language community”- Moments column in HelloTalk, users from around the world share their language learning progress while making friends globally.

    I’d like to require if you have any opportunity to test HelloTalk and write an article on your blog?
    I look forward to hearing from you, have a good day!

  11. Pingback: Two years of “talk foreign to me” and two months of talking French while foreign | talk foreign to me

  12. Hola Ruth, You have an impressive background in language. I didn’t start until the age of 63 (I’m 72) but became fluent at 65 in both language and well-versed in Mexican culture. As you read, I am also connected to a Mexican congregation which keeps me ‘in Mexico’ all the time. Learning a language is easier for adults because we know the abstractions of grammar (children don’t), we have a large vocabulary with cognates, and the discipline to follow through — which you have done. As we get older, however, it’s harder to understand another language AT FIRST because we have learned to tune out everything not conforming to English. You can overcome that, as well. So, thanks for the like. You’re on a good path, you’re still young (from my perspective!) with a lot of time and opportunity to move to native speaker level in Spanish or Hebrew. Buena suerte in whatever language you are studying.

    Oh, and I’m here because you liked my post. I try to write about once a month on practical aspects of language learning, or Mexican culture. I have an as yet unpublished memoir about how learning a second language late in life can transform the life you’ve had up to that point.

  13. Hi Ruth, So wonderful to stumble on your blog. But, oh quel histoire! I can relate to your juggling lots of languages (or at least attempting to); I too grew up with a bundle: English, French, Hebrew & Yiddish (!!)..with a smattering of Romanian. That wasn’t enough: I decided I had to learn Spanish. Then I traveled through Russia and by the time I got to Moscow, I could actually carry on a rudimentary conversation. Most recently, because why not: Indonesian. I think I’m done, though Italian would be nice 😉 Looking forward to reading more about your adventures in Dakar and elsewhere. Stay safe & healthy, but keep those adventures coming!

  14. Salut Ruth! What a great story, you are very brave to have undertaken such an amazing trip and life-changing decision! You are very inspiring. It is funny because I was also very interested in languages but my first trip to Argentina made me realize that I also wanted languages to be a part of my personal and professional life, not just a hobby. Does Argentina have some kind of magical feature that pushes us in the right path? Haha 🙂
    Keep up the good work, your posts are very interesting! And do not hesitate to check out Lingolistic (https://www.lingolistic.com/blog/), it’s a platform we created with language lovers, like you and I. I hope you like it!

  15. Reading your profile made me want to work more seriously on my “about” blog section! Definitely following your blog in the future.

  16. I’m actively reading you now my friend! I love your blog and the way you pen your stories. Missing you in NYC 🙂
    Hasta prontito!

  17. Hi Ruth 😉
    Your blog looks really interesting. I am myself a language lover and have been living in different countries when growing up.

  18. Hello Ruth!

    Nice to finally write to you! My name is Dora and I am a foreign language teacher (and always a learner) based in Athens, Greece. I currently speak and teach six languages and I run http://www.languageproject.gr, a foreign language learning blog! Feel free to explore it anytime!

    Since I have been following your site for quite some time now and love your work, I would love it if we could collaborate through Affiliate Marketing. What would you think about that?

    Stay healthy and safe and keep up the amazing work!

    • Hi Dora, belated thanks for your comment and thanks, too, for reading my blog! I don’t do any marketing with this blog at the moment, and unfortunately my past attempts at collaboration have been foiled by my lack of consistent free time. But thank you for your inquiry!

  19. Hi Ruth,

    I too struggled to realize my dreams of language acquisition! It has been a long journey, but I now feel confident because I’m starting to read academic material in German. I tried to learn Chinese while I was in China and got to the level of being able to use it in elementary contexts, but I didn’t have my method down at that point. I could use it to do most things on my own, though, and I loved wanting to learn about things I didn’t understand!

    I’m interested in reaching out to others with the same interests and expressing myself in writing and finding opportunities for publicizing my experiences. I really want to encourage others and share them my journey.

    I would love to share more with you and your readers about my language learning journeys and travels if you’re interested.

    It’s so cool to see someone else sharing their own journeys.

    Thanks for your consideration and time.

    Thomas Bergman

    You can email me back at thomasbergman(at)gmail.com

    • Thanks for your note, Thomas! I don’t do guest posts on my blog because I don’t have enough time to manage that. But I hope you’ll start your own blog and send me the link so I can read about your language learning adventures. 🙂

  20. Hi there!

    I found your blog for my English classes, the platform of the school have the link to “Talk foreing to me” (sorry if my English is not good) and I’ve been watching your photos, I liked so much Slovenia’s pictures. I’ve never travel out of Mexico. I’m from Mexico by the way. So I am here watching your photos and striving to improve my English, so I can speak with English speakers around the world. I’m studying Psychology at UNAM and the degree requires me the English. I´m learning another language like you, nevertheless you at this moment surely have improve a lot.

    Have a nice day, afternoon, evening, night and travel.

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