Hello, I am Ivy from CA, USA, a magpie currently suffering from imposter syndrome

Hi, I’m Ivy, and this is my first time here at the Polyglot Conference. As indicated in the title above, I feel I’d be an imposter if I claimed to be a polyglot when I’m actually more of a magpie whose shiny objects happen to be languages. In other words: I know a little bit of several languages, but I can’t claim to speak any fluently.

Some of my magpie-like language obsessions (introductory/beginner-level):
– Georgian: Hello fellow students of Georgian. It’s been nice taking lessons with you all here.
– Persian
– Vietnamese
– Greek
– Mandarin
– … anything with a different alphabet than the one I’m currently writing in is likely something I’d like to learn

More focused studies:
– Korean: This is my main one. I’m at a level where I can almost convince myself to join a conversation group. Almost. Started learning because of the music, continued because I want to have enjoyable conversations with the 아줌마s and 할머니s I meet at the Korean Music Festivals in Los Angeles.
– Japanese: Took some classes in college. Started learning because it was rare to find a Japanese course elsewhere, continued because of the phenomenal teacher, kanji, and a general fascination with their geology, architecture, and public transport system. (currently on hiatus from this, and am probably very rusty)
– Spanish: Took it in high school. Started learning because it was the only second language option available at my school, stopped for several years after a bad experience in college due in large part to me being hard-of-hearing (this REALLY doesn’t match well in an immersion class with no written transcripts available). Re-started thanks to a friend teaching group lessons online, and my desire to be able to research the history/origins of dances (like Salsa, Mambo, Cumbia, …) from non-US sources.
– German: Just started! Started because I wanted to know enough to travel comfortably to Germany with my mom to visit a friend of hers someday, staying because my teacher is fantastic.

My question for you all: What was your initial “Oooo! Shiny! Must learn!” magpie moment/motivation for learning the languages you are learning/know, and what new motivations have kept you going?


Hi Ivy,
Thanks for sharing your experience and your motivation. Hmm on my initial Oooo! Shiny! must learn moment.

Japanese (int) : I represented my university as a Karate-ka and the sensei was a Japanese.Fascinated by the work ethics and the discipline of the Japanese way, that’s when I say I must learn it.

Korean (beginner) : I was and still am driven by the desire to watch K-drama without subtitles. By now, I can understand what’s being said but not confident enough to speak it yet though.

French (beginner) : Visited France and was captivated by the savoir-faire, the cuisine and the outlook of life of the French. Plus, I have been a big fan of Napoleon and when I found out that he was a prolific writer himself, I am adamant that one day I will be able to read his writings in French.

Some other information about myself;
I am a Malaysian based in Hong Kong.
The languages that I am fluent in are English, Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese & Hokkien (a Chinese dialect)


Hi Ivy,

I really love your analogy of being like a magpie :upside_down_face:

My shiny objects currently are:

French (Intermediate): started learning it at school because at this school we needed to take a second foreign language and I didn’t like the alternative (Latin). Stopped studying it for years after I finished school and only just started again about a year ago. I have to say I was positively surprised by how fast I got back to my level :slight_smile:

Russian (beginner): hmmm this is more of a love-hate relationship. I started studying it at university because I was really interested in it but soon got stuck and felt discouraged, so I dropped it again. Took it up again sometime last winter because I found an amazing teacher - and to keep myself from taking up Spanish again… Still not sure where my journey with this language will take me, though.

Spanish (low intermediate): started studying it together with my boyfriend, who stopped after only one year, claiming he didn’t have enough time. As this was something we wanted to do together I stopped studying it, too and concentrated solely on Arabic. I didn’t want to continue without him, but when my cousin started studying Spanish early this year, I just couldn’t resist any longer!

Arabic (low intermediate): This really was a “oooohhhhh must learn” thing for me. What sparked my interest? I really don’t know, maybe because it is so different from all the other languages I know. Started studying this at the same time as I started Spanish, about 6 years ago and stuck with it :slight_smile: It is a lot harder for me compared to Spanish, but I’m just in love with this language!

Ancient Egyptian (very low beginner): I’ve been interested in this ancient language for a veeeeryyyy long time and started studying it a couple months ago, because I found a teacher by chance and later found online group classes where I can watch the recordings whenever I have the time… I haven’t gotten very far with this yet and I’m only doing lessons sporadically because I simply do not have enough time :frowning: , but I really want to keep studying this language :slight_smile:

Apart from those, I also speak German, which is my mother tongue, and English fluently (it was my first foreign language at school, which is mandatory to study in most Austrian schools).

I’m interested in a loooot more languages (well, probably in ALL languages modern or ancient), but I’m already struggling to find enough time to study my current four-five languages, so we’ll see when I’ll take up something new.


Hi Ivan,

Those are some great motivations for learning those languages. Your comment about wanting to read Napoleon’s writings and your comment about wanting to watch K-Dramas without subtitles reminded me that another “ooo shiny” for me is wanting to read the literature version of some K-Dramas. Some are based off of web-toons, others from popular books. I’m partial to the historical/period dramas myself, and am slowly but surely working my way through 구르미 그린 달빛. I’ve also managed to re-watch all of 킹덤 on Netflix with Korean subtitles only… my reading speed improved drastically, but I’m still lacking in my understanding of vocabulary.

When you watch dramas (Korean or otherwise) do you know of good platforms that have subtitles in the native language? When I watch those shows on Netflix I’ve had bad luck with finding any K-dramas with Korean subtitles (킹덤 was unique in this case). At the moment the best alternative I can think of is Viki, but I’m open to more suggestions if you have them.

Hi Katharina,

(Do you prefer to be called Rina?)

Your mention of Ancient Egyptian reminded me that I had an “ooo shiny” phase with that back when the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz “Mummy” movies came out. I was so intrigued at the time, but I severely lacked the discipline to study the few resources I had available to me.

… I may have to put it back on my “to-learn” list again. Do you have any suggestion of sources I should look at for self-study?

It’s amazing how motivating having a good teacher or partner/study-buddy is. My experience with Spanish in high school sounds very similar to yours with French, and the main reason why I hadn’t picked it up again until a year ago was largely due to not having a teacher/community to learn with. It seemed to not matter that I had some solid motivations to re-learn, but when I found an online community it helped out massively. Sadly, I’d gone so long without looking at the language that it was like starting over again, but I have strong hopes that I’ll regain my former level in Japanese since I studied that more recently.

Good luck with your studies! May you continue to have good teachers and friends who support you and your language learning journey. And may your languages be forever shiny to you.

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Hi Ivy,

both are fine, no need to worry :wink:

I can totally recommend this YouTube channel:


I really like his teaching style! The videos are recordings of live lessons which happen every Saturday and there’s a Discord channel where you can ask questions. He’s also got videos from past courses teaching Coptic (which, as I understand it, evolved from Ancient Egyptian… So you could basically call it the modern version of Ancient Egyptian) and Hieratic (a script used to write Ancient Egyptian that evolved from Hieroglyphics).

I also found one iTalki teacher, who offers lessons in Ancient Egyptian:

Unfortunately, she only teaches on the weekends, which doesn’t fit my schedule at all, so lessons are few and far in between. If you do have time on the weekends though, I can also recommend her.

Before finding this teacher and the YouTube channel I tried to study completely on my own with these books:

How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs - A Step by Step Guide to Teach Yourself by Mark Collier and Bill Manley

Middle Egyptian - An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs by James P. Allen

But I have to say, I was having a hard time studying completely on my own and I didn’t get very far. Now, with the occasional iTalki lesson and especially the recordings on YouTube and the Discord group it is a much better setting for me to study this language. Only problem now is my lack of time :joy_cat:

I hope you’ll finde some of the resources helpful :slight_smile:

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Hi Ivy,

I recently installed this add on https://www.languagereactor.com/ . It seems to work on Netflix. It’s only on Google though.

Do give it a try. So far I can find native subtitles for my Korean movie with Netflix + this Add on.

For my Korean, I can’t escape from studying it to get fluent faster even though I only aim to use to watch K-drama.


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