Where do I start? I was born of an American soldier and a Japanese mother who spoke very little English yet somehow my parents managed to communicate well with one another.
As I grew up and my father being deployed out to sea for my young years, my sole company was mom. She spoke to me in Japanese so that is what I learned first. When my sister came along, same thing. We were in our happy little world of Japan in our home. But when mom had to go shopping or do business, she had some difficulties but managed she manage to speak broken English enough to get what she wanted across.
It was natural to speak Japanese in our home so when dad returned from deployment, he was glad that we were learning to speak my mother's language but concerned. One hitch... we were military kids so that meant we would be going to American schools whether it be in the U.S. of A. or overseas. My mother realized that she would have to be the one to teach us because dad went back out on deployment so she decided, then and there, that we no longer spoke Japanese in the house except when we slipped. As little ones, we are sponges and we learned to speak English in no time. Dad returned we all were able to communicate in two languages. When my youngest sister arrived, it was strictly English with her for a while.
Then my dad got assigned to Japan. It was an easy transition for us because we spoke the language already, as young as we were. We fit right in. Then more languages came into our realm because a lot of the soldiers who were stationed in Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, France and other countries, married women from those countries and their kids learned to speak their mothers' languages. So going to school, I heard them and got interested in speaking their languages as well. But being in grade school, we wanted to learn the bad words so we taught each those and had fun with them. We lived there for 10 years so we soaked up a lot of different cultures and languages.
As I grew into my teens, my curiosity of languages continued and I decided to learn Spanish completely, not just the bad words I heard from kids in school. Being that it sound like Japanese when spoken, I found it easy to learn, especially having had moved from Japan to San Jose, CA where a lot of kids were Mexican Americans. Being around them, I learned their way of speaking as well as the Spain's way of speaking Spanish, which was a little different and some times confusing. Once I grasped the language where I could speak it easily, I moved on to French. Being that it is another Latin language, I found the similarities to Spanish yet at the same time, noticed many differences. It took longer to learn as there were not many French speaking friends so I resorted to finding a French Club in school. When I graduated from high school, my mother became fascinated with the Korean culture and she started to learn how to speak the language a little. Instead of speaking to us in Japanese, she would resort to Korean so we were kind of forced to learn it with her.
A few years later, my sister started to date a Greek man and that started the cycle of us all learning how to speak his language. Being highly intelligent and a valedictorian of his university, we learned that he spoke 11 languages fluently. It made me more determined to get more languages under my belt.
Today, I love that there are ample opportunities to learn easily online. You can learn what you want just by looking it up. Thus far, I have learned to speak 6 languages and am onto my 7th; Italian. Wish me luck! Ciao!