New Project: Learning My Wife’s Native Language

Scott H. Young
5 min readApr 22, 2020

Recently, I wrote about why now was the time to take on an ultralearning project. I figured I should probably follow my own advice!

My new project is to learn Macedonian, employing a modified version of the No English Rule, Vat and I used several years ago during our language learning trip.

Why Learn Macedonian?

My wife, Zorica, was born in what is now North Macedonia (formerly, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, even more formerly, Yugoslavia). She moved to Canada when she was 14. Although we met in our freshman year of college, we didn’t start dating until after having known each other for over eight years.

When we did start dating, I had just finished a year learning languages, so I was interested in learning Macedonian too. However, my wife is perfectly bilingual, and we already had nearly a decade of speaking to each other in English. So, while I learned a bit here and there, I never got to the stage where having a conversation was possible. Just random phrases here and there.

Like most couples, we continue to talk in the language we’re most familiar, in our case English.

Why Learn Macedonian Now?

I have two motivations that make this project particularly timely.

The first is that my son is now nearly three months old. Raising bilingual children is difficult — even families with two native speakers often have children who aren’t in fluent command of the language. But, if there’s any chance for our son to partake in his linguistic heritage, I’ll need to be able to speak in Macedonian too.

The second reason is that the current worldwide state of self-isolation offers a unique opportunity for immersion at home. Normally, a major problem of doing partial immersion is that if the surrounding environment doesn’t speak the language you want to learn, you’re constantly pushed out of the language you want to learn.

Our friends, for instance, don’t speak Macedonian. Therefore, if my wife and I are with anyone other than her family members, the conversation will need to be in English. It’s…



Scott H. Young

Author of WSJ best selling book: Ultralearning | Twitter: @scotthyoung