6 Reasons why you Shouldn't Learn a New Language
When people learn that I can speak two languages, they become very interested in learning about how and why. I would wager that other than xenophobes, there aren't a lot of people who would say they don't want to be able to speak at least more than their own language. There are many, many reasons to learn another language. However, what if I told you there were reasons to not learn another language?
That's right. After having devoted the better part of the last few years of my life to learning Spanish, I can honestly say that I have loved every minute. But language learning is definitely not for everyone, and here are six reasons why.
6. Your brain is literally re-wired.
How could this possibly be such a bad thing? You know those people that say learning another language makes you smarter because it does something to your brain? Those same people forget to admit that during the rewiring process, your brain becomes something akin to that brown jar of golden liquid in the back of your refrigerator.
It's just like anything else that is under construction. You're sure looking forward to that day when you take a step back and look at your brand new house, but how much does it suck to have to take showers out of a five gallon bucket?
Your brain works in the same way. While you're learning new ways to express yourself and how to not only speak but listen and hear your target language, your old language begins to suffer. Don't believe me? I am constantly trying to hold a conversation in English, and either I have bad luck and also developed ADHD, or my mind just isn't recalling simple things as good as it used to.
5. You now have to remember two, if not more ways to say the same thing.
Probably the most frusterating moment in language learning, is when you're talking in your new language, then you don't know how to say something, but what's worse is you turn to your personal translator and you can't tell them what you want to say in English.
How can you ask someone to help you remember how to say something if you CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY? This is especially annoying when you have a captive audience. I remember trying to explain to a few Spanish Speakers how welfare works, when it became obvious to me that I could no longer remember how it worked myself. There's not a lot to say about this area. It's something you have to and will experience when you start learning a new language.
Worse than that, there's a difference between every day conversation and specific vocabulary. Medical translators probably have it the worst, because you now have to learn how to say those stupid phrases in yet another language. I work at a home improvement retailer, I don't know how to say drywall in spanish! Then if you're religious, there's also a whole new set of terms there that you have to learn. Which I do recommend starting to go to church in your new language if possible.
4. Your brain literally hurts after long exposure
This is something akin to burnout after studying for a test. Your brain cannot process too much information at once, and once it hits overload it shuts down. I remember when I was first learning piano (yes I'm going to build myself up that much) how I thought it was just so cool when I could play a song where people would recognize it. So I played it and played it over again. But you just have to give it a rest sometimes.
You will notice this if you ever go to any event where you will hear lectures or discourses in your new language. At first it's exciting to see how much you can comprehend but after awhile, you notice you cannot pay attention any longer. Or, and check this out, say you have a boyfriend/girlfriend whose family speaks the target language. This will happen to you when you go to that big family reunion where they all want to meet you and find out your life history.
3. The people aren't as friendly as you think
For some reason, there is this idea that people will be extremely friendly to you just because you can speak to them in their native language. While this is true in some instances, it is also equally as many times not true. I was kind of spoiled because I already knew a lot of Spanish speaking people and they just let me into their lives. But I have tried to speak to some Spanish people in day to day life, and they get expasperated with you if you can't keep up with them. And let me tell you, there are some people who try their best to make you feel like you don't speak their language, no matter how advanced you are. I know someone who has been speaking Spanish for 15 years, speaks better than most natives, and there are still snobs who try this on him.
I think that TV and Radio personalities do this too. Every once in a while I will turn on Spanish radio and they talk so stinkin' fast! I can converse with most people pretty easily, but I can't understand hardly any radio, or Puerto Rican people. Oh yeah, that's another thing...
2. Dialects suck!
There are always other dialects that make it seem like yet ANOTHER language. Spanish isn't just Spanish. Puerto Rican Spanish, Cuban Spanish, even Spanish from Spain is quite different. And I'm sure it's the same with other languages. In the interests of Spanish, some people even want you to call it Castellano, or Castillian, because Spanish is such a more specific term.
What happens with dialects is the phrases change, words themselves change, pronounciations change, even the grammatical structure can change. When I talk to Puerto Ricans, they have a nasty habit of letting the last bit of their words trail. Imagine barely understanding what a word means, now you have to insinuate that this word that sounds similar is the same. Remember when I said you have to learn two ways to say something? Imagine three, four, five, even more. Just remember, we do the same thing in English. There's American English, UK English, even English within the US is different. A southerner will talk different from an East Coaster will talk differently than a West Coaster will talk differently than a...
You get the point. Dialects blow.
1. Your friends feel betrayed
You might as well have moved to another country. Suddenly you are spending time with people who are completely different from you and your group of friends. It's enough of a challenge for you to get involved with them, not to mention your friends. Why would they want to go to that party with you when they won't understand anyone?
But this also comes down to something different. If you go through such a big change as your culture, people around you start to feel, "Why is he doing that? Why is that culture better than ours?" Because believe it or not, culture and language go hand in hand. You haven't just taken steps to learn the language, you've also begun to change your culture. Refer back to reason 6, language learning changes who you are as a person.
Don't get me wrong, learning another language will change your life for, the most part, better. There are probably a million reasons why you should learn another language. However, these 6 reasons are just a few of the dark sides that nobody points out.
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