Polyglottery as a PhD student

Hi all,
I messaged Steve for his advice and he suggested I post on the forums.

To keep it brief, basically my question was, is it possible (and if so how) to seriously (as seriously as one can) pursue polyglottery study as a PhD student? I will be entering a PhD program in the fall and likely will not have the opportunity to study languages as much as I would like and given the nature of my program probably won’t need any further study of languages I already do not know.

Therefore I was wondering how it was possible to continue to study languages as a doctoral student? Is anyone else in a similar situation or does anyone have similar concerns?

Well it depends. I don’t think its possible to become a polyglot in the 1-4 years that it takes to get a Ph.D. Are you already a polyglot?

I have a habit of studying only things that I want to study (such as languages), then ignoring my schoolwork. If you are able to separate your studies and manage your time well, I don’t see any reason why you can’t devote two or so hours a day to language study, in addition to listening to tracks on loop throughout your day on your mp3 player.

What are you studying? Don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to study whatever you want.

I will be studying Anthropology but my degree is focusing on Japan and I am already more or less fluent in Japanese. The given workload and proposed topic probably won’t allow me to do anything more than refine my Japanese skills, but I typically enjoy working with more than one language simultaneously.

I also don’t see why I can’t fit in 30 mins - 1 hr of language study a day, seeing the amount of time students spend on facebook, twitter, etc.

It’s a lifelong project anyway. :slight_smile:

Studying for a PhD is often like having a full time job, and sometimes it is like having two full time jobs, but usually it is like having a part time job. I think you will find that you have enough time to study several hours a day, if indeed that is what you want to do.

I’m a fourth year Ph.D. student (computer science) and I enjoy studying language for fun, but I find that sometimes I have to be obsessed with my work and devote the entirety of my motivation to it, which means no language study. Other times things are slower and studying language is a healthy way to engage the mind. Doing research can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster, so its probably good to have a side hobby.

@PaulKorean
Just out of curiosity, how did you become “more or less fluent in Japanese”? Course work, classes, web site, immersion in Japan, tutors?

I see some other PhD students I know spending some time on facebook, doing other hobbies, etc. So I am sure it is possible to fit some time in. I thinking making use of listening through things like iPod and just having it in the background may be best utilized here, especially when I am showering or something. I was wondering how do you all make use of things like that. I have always been a more active learner using grammatical books, vocab learning, etc. How to best utilize something entirely passive like listening?

@MetellusCassius
I have studied Japanese for over 6 years I would say. On and off, at times very diligently other times no studying at all. Basically TYS Japanese old and new versions, Genki books, some random old books that really toned me up for my first visit, then as a graduate student took classes, but largely have been studying on my own. If you are having trouble send me a message and I can give you some more detailed advice, but even now I am not 100% fluent, often times need to check dictionary when watching TV, and look up a lot of kanji characters when reading.

@PaulKorean “f you are having trouble send me a message”

I was just curious, that’s all. In life we frequently hear of people who speak more than one language well. Often these people are movie stars or international concert musicians and singers, and I often wonder how they achieved their mastery. Besides immersion (and conceding that ‘immersion’ is not always easy to define), I believe that the LingQ way is the best way to become fluent in a language. This is not to say that other ways can not work, because of course they can, and so I was curious what your path to fluency was (even if you are not exactly 100% fluent). You seem to have pursued a variety of methods.

@PaulKorean
I actually just finished a BA in Anthropology and I’m currently working on a Masters in Literature and Language. I was able to use my driving time (going to school, work etc) and walking between classes to get as much as 3 hours per day listening to audio, including lots of Lingq materials. With full-time school and two jobs it has been mental overload once in a while and I had to back off the extra language stuff. But I find if you are reasonable about your expectations with your ‘extra’ languages you can do pretty well.

Just curious, I’d be interested to hear about your research topic.

@kimojima
I love Middlebury but it is a little pricey. It may be worth it for that DML, it sounds great.

@Rumi,
Just wondering how and what you listened to? Did you listened to materials you knew 90% of or to materials that were somewhat challenging say knowing 50-60% or did you listen to something a bit out of your league say 15%? I have always been someone who liked to listen to something and have a transcription with them, so doing that while driving would be a nono but I am just curious as to what you listened to and how you absorbed it?

My topic is looking at Japan’s immigration policy, though it is very tentative at the moment!