For me, the most conducive part is a faithful, unflinching peering into the way others create symbols and glyphs and words and phrases to understand the world.
Language-learning, for the rest of us, is a reconcilitory activity. We are estranged and if youâ€™re like me, there is little you can buy that feels better than solo-time. But the great task of lifeâ€“and that which makes it worth livingâ€“is participating in the de-alienation,â€“that is, tearing down the Babellian walls, that keep us in tidy distance from the Other.
I took four years of Japanese: Two in high school and two in college. Now, many years later, I am left able to speak only a few phrases. But when I look back to why I was interested in learning Japanese, I remember I was curious. I was curious about the minimalistic culture, the people, the fantastic anime, the amazing technology. I wanted to know Japan and connect. I still do and hope one of these days I will get to spend some time in Japan and soak everything in.
Update: Speaking of language acquisition and Japanese, Siri can now speak Japanese.