I really enjoy reading this thread, so I want to join in now.
I did not start learning English until my fifth year in school (which was then normal - today they start in English in 3rd grade), but I soon discovered a certain love for my first foreign language, took part in school exchange programmes early on (and I must say being thrown into the English speaking world for two weeks after just two years of school English was an interesting experience… my exchange partner hardly spoke any German at all, so I was forced to use what little English I had. And it worked.)
Then I chose Latin as my second language at school. I loved it, because I was one of those weird kids who loved analysing a language and its grammar even more than actually speaking it.
I took French as my third language when they offered it, but unfortunately the class hardly ever took place, because our teacher went on sick leave for months after a serious injury, and the teacher who took over the class was only able to offer it every second week.
Anyway, whenever there was a language club offered at school, you’d be sure to find me there. That’s how I learned a bit of Russian and Spanish. I found it hard to reach a conversational level with Russian, but Spanish went quite well, and when my aunt took me on holidays in Spain I was surprised to find that I could actually chat away with the people working at the hotel we stayed at. I fear I’ve lost most of my active Spanish due to lack of usage over the years, but I guess if I started again it would come back quickly enough.
Well, on to university… and again… language clubs. I went on with a little bit of Spanish, added Brazilian Portuguese to the mix, joined the English Drama Club. Then went to study in Glasgow for a year with the Erasmus Programme. That’s where I first started to really learn to speak Scottish Gaelic in an evening class (I had started with the “Teach Yourself…”) books about a year earlier.
Back in Germany I tried to get back into Spanish and Brazilian… but funnily enough, I was perfectly able to understand everything the teachers said, but when I tried to speak all that came out was Gaelic. So I took a break from the Romance languages and went on with Gaelic… attended a weekend workshops here and there. Forward a couple of years… and my husband’s work took us to Ottawa, Canada for a year. I joined a little Gaelic choir, took part in singing and speaking competitions at the US Mòd as well as Mòd Canada. After returning to Germany I enrolled for long-distance learning at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to take first the beginner’s and then the advanced course. I am thinking of taking another online class while I’m pretty much stuck at home for weeks now… I could really use some conversation practise again.
I think it was at one of the Gaelic workshops I mentioned earlier that someone told me about a Welsh course book that her German Welsh teacher had written… which I immediately added to my growing library of language related books. So I started to work my way through that book… until I found out about SSiW… since then I’ve been learning Welsh with SSiW on and off, always depending on how busy I was at work and with the kids. I just seriously got back into it this year, when I suddenly realised that my half-hour commute to work is the perfect length to do a whole challenge in one. Guess what… while I really don’t miss teaching at school that much, I really do miss the commute . It’s so much harder to make time for the lessons when I’m home with the kids all day.
And guess what… I never went on to study languages at university… I certainly considered it, but in the end my love for physics won over .