About

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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 foreign countries. I took 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 an awe-inspiring 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 mid-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 along with a growing malaise inspired me to take off on an impromptu solo vacation to Argentina. My language and travel bugs immediately came out of remission and goaded me to make some big life changes post-trip. I committed to jump-starting my Spanish and French with classes and conversation. I overhauled my budget and set up a “sabbatical” savings account. And I promised myself that after two years of tirelessly learning and scrupulously socking away cash, 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.

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32 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,

    Jeff

  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!
    Lara
    http://www.HelloTalk.com

  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!

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