I loved learning French. It was like learning a secret to me. I soaked up all of the language that I could and had the best time trying to come up with new combinations of words. I was never fluent, but even to this day, with my measly two years of learning (more than 10 years ago... ugh...) I still surprise myself with what I remember.
A few years ago, I started attending a community church that offered its service in American Sign Language. My friend Ashley and I discovered that they also offer up free classes after the service taught by the deaf community. We started attending regularly, and before we knew it, we made friends in the deaf community and attended parties with them - where we might have been the only hearing adults there. I used online learning resources like ASLpro and lifeprint's ASLU (shout out to Dr. Vicars!). I used to practice on these sites for hours. I couldn't get enough (still can't...). Being completely immersed with our friends was amazing. We learned some slang and our new friends were more than happy to help us with new words. I have taught V a few signs like, "I love you" and "ready". We use these signs when we're unable to say what we want to verbally, and it's been really nice to have that. Here in Ireland, I don't recognize many of the signs that deaf people use - and I suspect they use British Sign Language - which I understand is actually closer relative to Japanese Sign Language than it is to American Sign Language. Funny stuff!
When I met V, and found he was from Poland, I was immediately interested in learning Polish. We started simple... things like numbers, colors, and simple greetings. As soon as we started learning harder words like "thank you" (dziekuje), we decided it was time to get Rosetta Stone.
Rosetta Stone has been a huge help in my learning! It not only teaches you words, but how to spell them, and how to pronounce different letter variations. For instance "ś" is pronounced in English as "sh". Also "ć" and "cz" are pronounced "ch". I'd probably not have learned to spell "hello" in Polish (cześć) without Rosetta Stone.
Now, a lot of the time, if I don't understand how to say something after hearing it, I can ask my husband to write the word, and I am fairly confident that I'll figure it out that way... most of the time.
Many of our friends here are Polish as well, and they're very patient and don't mind helping when I stumble on a word. Polish is hard, people. It is a difficult language, to be certain - but it is a labor of love because we plan to teach our children to be fluent in both English and Polish.
Some things that have helped me along the way with Polish, are the following:
Rapid Polish by Earworms
One Minute Polish by Radio Lingua Network
Learn Polish by Innovative Language Learning
...not to mention the countless times my husband has patiently sounded out a word or phrase. Love him!
Knowing what I know with these languages (and I repeat, I'm barely conversational - not fluent... yet), has opened up all kinds of opportunities to meet and learn about people I wouldn't have otherwise. Occasionally I've been able to help someone who doesn't understand English (or vise verse), which always gives me the warm fuzzies. I hope that someday I'll be fully fluent in these three languages and many more!
What languages have you learned/enjoyed learning? What methods did you use?