Learning another language is something that many of us say we want to do, but that few of us actually follow through with. We all know that we're supposed to learn another language, but for many of us it just seems like too much of a large undertaking that would take too much time and effort. Many of us also think that we just wouldn't be able to learn even if we wanted to – with the argument being that we weren't very good at languages in school so why would we be able to learn them now?
In fact though there are many good reasons to learn another language, and these mean that it's something that you shouldn't just talk about (no doubt in English), but should actually try to make good on. Here we will look at some reasons that learning another language is such a good idea.
It's fascinating: Learning another language doesn't just teach you another language, but it teaches you about languages in general. It shows you the common ways in which languages work and it shows you a lot about the origins of certain words. At the same time it also shows you how you think and how language dictates the very way we form our thoughts. The first time you dream in another language for instance will be truly fascinating. It's a very personal journey and one that is great to experience.
It's impressive: Being able to speak another language demonstrates that you are intelligent, thoughtful, cultured and generally impressive. It will greatly impress friends and will also be a fantastic way to help pick up members of the opposite sex – everyone loves being spoken to in another language.
It's polite: A lot of people from other countries have a bit of a grudge against those who speak English, and arguably this is for good reason – if you go to almost any other country you will find that you encounter mostly people who have learned English. In fact their signs and their instructions are often in English too – even in areas that don't have a huge tourist industry. As such then it's only right that we should make some effort to learn the languages of places you are visiting. Apart from anything else it's almost just embarrassing that we are the only people who can't speak multiple languages and makes us look very comparatively bad.
It will open up a lot of career opportunities: Being able to speak another language is a very useful skill that will benefit you greatly in your career and open up whole new careers. If you are young and looking at starting a new career then this will for example mean that you can start a new job such a translator (very highly paid) or teacher (always in demand). You could even be a spy for the government potentially as one of the main requirements is that you be able to speak another language. Even within your current organisation though there are likely lots of ways you can benefit from learning a new language. For instance it will enable you to speak with your foreign clients, and be transferred overseas. On a CV it will put you leagues ahead of the competition, and when you start work it will make you the number one choice (sometimes the only choice) for a whole realm of different opportunities.
It's very good for you: When you learn a new skill your brain physically changes shapes as new connections are formed in your brain and you use more brain areas more regularly (taxi drivers have larger brains than those in any other job). Learning a language is one of the very best ways to develop your brain in that way.
At the same time we are greatly restricted by our language. Did you know that in countries where there is no word for a certain colour they can't differentiate that colour at all?? Our language dictates our capacity for thought and thinking outside the box, so being able to step into another language and another perspective will greatly enhance your lateral thinking and your creative solutions.
It opens up a wealth of new things: If you can speak another language then this actually roughly doubles the number of things there are for you to read, the number of people there are for you to meet and the number of experiences there are for you to have. This means that you can find new books, comics, films, television programmes and films that you previously would not have been able to appreciate. And it's much better to appreciate things in their native language. It opens you up to a whole new culture and that's fascinating.
It's useful for travelling: Of course speaking another language is very helpful for travelling to other countries. More than anything it's of course useful for travelling to the country where that language is the native tongue, but at the same time it can also help you to travel everywhere else as even if you are in France and you only know English and German, they will be more likely to be able to speak one of these languages or that you will be able to find a word you both recognise. Languages like French meanwhile are spoken in many countries throughout the world, and even in African countries.
How to Learn Another Language
So you've decided you should learn another language, but how do you go about such an immense undertaking? Particularly when school proved so unhelpful? One way is with audio lessons, and it's possible to download these for free online. Alternatively you can buy a book and follow the lessons on a daily or weekly basis and practice them in the meantime.
The best way really to get your head around a new language though is to actually live there. By plunging yourself in at the deep end you will learn the basics that you need to learn rather than spending too long dealing with perfect grammar (which is the problem with learning at school). At the same time if you are abroad you will be forced to read signs and to practice your pronunciation. Go on an extended holiday to the country you want to learn the language of a few times during your learning then and you should start to pick it up.