Six Reasons why you SHOULD learn another language
About two months ago, I wrote a hub entitled Six Reasons why you shouldn't learn a new language. In this hub, I went over, what I believe to be, the dark side of language learning. However, I want to clear a few things up in this hub, namely that I love language learning and believe it is something everyone should do. In fact, here are six reasons why.
1. Your native tongue's vocabulary helps you learn.
As you sit in that boring Spanish 1 class in high school, you start to realize that the teacher is torturing you with vocabulary lists that you must memorize. And while it's true there is some vocab that must be learned this way, there are a lot of easier ways to help you learn and remember words. In another hub I've published, I discussed a few cheats that Spanish has that helps you take your English vocabulary and turn it into Spanish vocabulary. And while this cheat doesn't work in all languages, there are very few languages where you can't use your native vocabulary to learn new words.
For example, in Spanish, you can take English words that end in -tion and change it to -cion, and voila, Spanish word. In French, you can take an English word that ends in -able, and turn it into French. I'm not sure how this skill translates to a language completely foreign to English like Chinese or Russian, but any languages with Latin bases would this work.
2. Your native tongues' vocabulary improves.
Again, I can only vouch for this skill in Spanish and French, but again, for the majority of English speakers this helps. There are a lot of words in Spanish that sound very familiar to an English word you already know, or should know. It might be one of those vague terms you only read in those boring English lit classes, but it is a more sophisticated way of saying something. For example, comenzar in Spanish means to begin. What does that sound like? To commence? How often do you use that word in English? So you start learning all of this vocabulary that helps you remember not only your native tongue, but the language you are learning.
3. Your job prospects increase.
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bi-lingual. What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Tri-lingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? An American.
While this joke doesn't necessarily spell true, it does teach us a little something about the American mentality. I hear this all the time at work. "If they want to live in our country, they should learn our language." Well guess what? America doesn't have an official language. And Foreigners are not going to stop moving here. And because so many people have been kind enough to start learning their languages, you are only doing yourself a disservice by refusing to learn another language.
Getting a job at a bank used to be a pretty decent job that anyone could get. But, in my area at least, most banks highly recommend their workers to be bi-lingual, and usually that's the person who gets the job. This is just one example. So why handicap yourself because you have some sense of ego? Not only that, but usually at the job where you already work, the next time raises come around, you will have a very impressive new skill set to show off. Anyone can learn a new job in a few weeks. It takes years to master a language.
4. Your brain is re-wired.
True, I used this as a reason why you shouldn't learn a new language, but if you can get over the embarrassment of having a brain that doesn't function at 100% when you are learning, that new brain will serve you very well. It's not just in language, everything else that you learn or do becomes completely different. You approach every new task in a completely different manner because you no longer think the way you used to. You learn new things easier because you've learned one of the hardest things there is to learn. Unless you've experienced it, we are so wrapped up in our native languages that when another one gets into our heads, we become a different person. They say you're not truly fluent until you start to think in your new language. Our thoughts are our innermost person.
5. You now have a new culture of people to make friends with.
That population of Spanish workers down the street will become your best friends if you can go up to them and converse with them in Spanish. Why? You become a link back to their home. And you think that Spanish food they make in the restaurant is good? Wait until you've tried a señoras dish that she put her heart and soul into. I thought I could learn a new language without delving into the culture, but it's simply not possible. And you'll be better off for it. Most cultures are a lot more friendly and inviting than the American culture, and the diversity in food will open your palate to a world you've never known.
Plus, if you can't find that special someone, you've now got a whole new group of people to repulse!
6. If you do it right, it's really not that hard.
While I'm not saying it will be easy, it definitely isn't the impossible task that people claim it is. Especially languages like Spanish and French that are so close to our English. There's a really good book called "How to learn any language" and the author breaks down how you can immerse yourself in a language without actually immersing yourself. Because let's face it, you won't learn if you don't immerse yourself. We can't all go to a foreign country, but we can still make learning a new language an everyday thing. You don't have to spend $1000 on expensive learning software. You can pick up flash cards, or make them yourself. You can pick up recordings for cheap. And there is an endless supply of people to practice with who will welcome you into their friends.