Seven Reasons to start learning a new language
I am often asked about how I came to learn each of the 4 languages I speak fluently and the 2 more I am an intermediate/ beginner at. And I am sure you can imagine that language learning and speaking has had a huge impact on my life.
Like everybody going to school in Luxembourg I learned Luxembourgish, German and French. And I learned English in High School. As my fathers' origin I learned Italian in addition, in the top of that I am learning Russian as an adult.
Although digital platforms can enhance the language learning process in a certain limited way, learning in a classroom together with mates still has advantages.
Whether you decide on one option or the other, here are seven main reasons for learning a new language.
1) To get that dream job … or the same job somewhere else
Speaking more than one language can improve your job prospects even if you don’t work in the areas of teaching and training, translating and interpreting, or proofreading and editing.
For every highly specialized language expert, there are hundreds of non-experts using a second language on a daily basis at work. While the ability to express oneself is certainly desirable, there’s room to improve one’s language skills on the job when grammatical and lexical exactitude isn’t a necessity.
This means you can do the same old 9-to-5, but in the infinitely more stimulating environment of a foreign workplace.
Furthermore, the acquisition of a foreign language makes you a more rounded and employable candidate wherever in the world you end up planting roots.
2) Learning a language is fun — and enormously fulfilling
Fun was the first reason I ever learned a language. I started learning Italian at the age of six. What reason does a six-year-old have for doing anything?
I figure it either comes down to fun or obligation, and one normally cancels out the other.
I decided to learn Italian on the beach during the holiday with my sister. Learning together with her and people’s joyous reactions to our attempts were all we needed to convince me it was fun.
And the rest is history!
3) To get more out of that next vacation
The realization that one can get so much more out of vacations has been a huge motivator for me ever since. I remember buying, together with my sister, ice cream on the beach in Italy.
Yes, you’re less likely to miss the ferry or end up paying to much for souvenirs, the most striking difference, however, is you’ll recognize that you feel comfortable in new environments. Everything may seem unfamiliar, but you’ll be able to find your way around with help from the best guide there is — human interaction.
Language learners will have wonderful experiences when they are abroad.
You’ll be met with appreciation by locals, as well as varying levels of surprise depending on the obscurity of your language combination: you’re English and learning French? Wow! Have a tea on the house! Packing a few words of the native language in your suitcase before setting off on a trip always pays off.
That is the reason why there is student exchange.
4) To discover a new side of yourself
Multilingual people often report feeling different — even to the point of having distinct personalities — in different languages.
This can even happen when you come to a language later in life.
Let’s take the example of humour, which can surely be considered a pillar of personality (especially for Brits!).
Humour is one of the hardest things to convey when you’re not fluent in a language. Language acquisition constitutes a genuine journey of self-discovery.
5) To understand the world around you better
The languages we speak shape the way that we see the world.
Not only does a new language bestow new perspectives, but it also enables you to reflect on your own language and understand how it works. Some languages have the same origine, so they may share the same grammar rules or the same words.
This is one of the things that makes acquiring further languages significantly easier.
6) To stay sharp and lead a lifetime of learning
Even if you now have your dream job in a foreign country surrounded by palm trees and happiness, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to stop learning.
Even people who have accomplished their goals and feel confident in their jobs feel the need to keep challenging their minds. Language learning is a common way to do this. Why?
Besides the obvious utility, it can provide those all-important mini-motivations to keep you hurtling towards new goals: for example the first time you correctly conjugate a verb in French without thinking.
Also people will admire you and your language skills.
7) To be groovy
During his stand-up performance Dress To Kill the British comedian Eddie Izzard delivered one of my favourite justifications for learning a language — to be groovy!
Since that performance, Eddie learned German from scratch and gave a performance in German every evening for six weeks in Berlin. Given his surreal brand of comedy, many of his sentences had likely never before been said in German. He now plans to do shows in Spanish, Russian and Arabic. Now that’s groovy. You can find his show on YouTube! So, do yourself a favour and have a look at it.
Asked why he was learning languages, he answered “because it is a lot of fun.” Reasons to learn a new language.