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Jason Fried

You should try blogging in a Foreign Language

As everyone else do I want somewhere to belong, but my community should not be defined by where I am nor which language is my mother tongue. Since community is about commonality do we have to have something in common, but it should rather be defined by what interest us than by geography or language. Communities are (in my opinion) built through communication where language, although it does play a part, shouldn’t play the main part. If the community is inviting and including, language will play practically no part as long as we can make ourselves understood. However is it, as in most other aspects of life, a fact that you get what you give so working on your communication skills, including your language skills, will not only benefit others, but also yourself.

With my native language would I only be able to reach a tiny tiny fraction of the world population. Since my native language is only spoken in one country and practically unknown outside its borders even if there are languages with similarities is it simply not the best basis for gaining a readership and building community. Since the number of blogs would also be a whole lot less would it still be possible to build up a position within that language, but I would undoubtedly be left with the feeling that there was an immense audience out there that could have been mine.

Although you could claim that getting started blogging in itself is like learning a new language is there no reason to limit your learning to this aspect. I am actually optimistic enough to believe I can learn something within no less than three areas through my blog: the format, the content and the language. The reason I started blogging was that I wanted to relearn things I learned during my education, but rarely if ever use. Since English is another skill that I practically lost because I didn’t use it I decided to include it in my learning endeavor. So as far as the language and content is concerned will it thus mostly be relearning while the blogging part is actual learning.

What I have found so far is reaching out in a foreign language enriches your experiences. I guess you could say that the conversations from which you learn the least are those with yourself, almost as bad are those with people like yourself and only if you go beyond that will you really add to your experience and learn exponentially more. Besides is there something fascinating about communicating with people from other countries not to speak about other continents. If you want to interact with your local community you simply go out the door and participate in the activities, but if you want to interact with other cultures around the world blogging is surely the next best thing to actually going there. Besides does one not exclude the other. A number of bloggers travel to come together just as a number of people blog when traveling.

Thankfully is writing in English more a challenge than a struggle for me. Had it been a struggle would it be about trying to string sentences together, finding the right words and making yourself understood. The challenge on the other hand consist of bringing in more elements, being more precise and generally taking advantage of the opportunities that English offer to those who seek them. If it was a struggle would I probably have thought twice about it, but since I like challenges I didn’t need to think long before deciding. If you are unsure if your language foundation will hold up would I recommend that you begin reading and commenting on blogs in the language you consider. This will give you experience in using the language in practice and introduce you to what could be possibly be your future blogging community.

Remember that the basic language skills isn’t the goal, but just another stepping stone. Hence do I certainly have to keep working on my writing skills as will you. Even if you try adding to your vocabulary, using metaphors, analogies etc. and being as precise as possible will you probably never learn to write like someone writing in their native language. The fact that you will never reach perfection should never be a reason for giving up though. After all, how many things is it really possible to be perfect at? What counts is the effort you put into it and believe me people will recognize your effort when they see it. Since you will probably not be able to see your own mistakes there really isn’t any reason to get obsessed with them.

To sum up do I think there are more compelling reasons to blog in a foreign language. You will learn that language better, you will expand your horizon and you will get to know people who you would otherwise never have known. In order for it to work does it require a little more than the basic language skills, a willingness to continuously work on making it better and first of all a strong desire to reach out.

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