Learning a new skill is one of the most beneficial things that you can do with your spare time and with more than 6000 different languages spoken globally, to learn a language is one of the most practical skills you can learn. Below are the top 5 reasons why you should learn a new language and ways to start learning today.
Connect and Relate to Your Community
Learning a language is one the best ways to connect with the people around you. Oxford’s population is very diverse with 46% of the population coming from non White-British backgrounds, therefore, Oxford is one of the best places to be able to speak another language. On top of this, Oxford University have noted that over 65% of their students originate from outside of the UK, so as a student it may be important for you to speak another language to be able to connect and relate to peers from other countries.
By speaking someone else’s language it opens up the communication between you and another person and breaks down those initial barriers you may have when first meeting a person. To connect with someone with their language you then have something instantly in common.
Increase Employment Opportunities
Learning another language can increase your employability. Some organisations will pay you more if you can speak another language, especially if the organisation is global with international partners. Even smaller organisations such as Bicester Village will pay more for Mandarin or Cantonese speakers as the majority of the clientele for the village speak those languages. It is a good idea to research roles that may interest you and read the stipulations to see if they require or would ideally prefer someone who speaks another language.
Train Your Brain
As you get older your brain becomes a little slower which leads people to undertake hobbies and interests that keep your brain active such as Sudoku, puzzle solving or apps such as brain training. Learning a language not only stimulates your brain but you are also learning a valuable skill at the same time. By practicing the language of your choice every day you will be stimulating your brain just like if you were doing puzzles or Sudoku.
Deepen Your Knowledge of Other Cultures
We have all been abroad to another country where we have struggled to understand the locals or have struggled to immerse ourselves in the country and its culture. By understanding and being able to speak the language of the country you are visiting you may find yourself getting a better understanding of the country and learning things you may not have realised you are missing out on.
Make Travelling A More Immersive Experience
Understanding multiple languages makes travelling to another country easier. You are able to communicate your needs and wants, find areas and activities that you may not have known about without speaking the language, in a crisis you will be able to solve the issue quicker and if any issues arise you will be able to speak to the right people and resolve the problem. For tips on travelling abroad see the Reach Local Backpacking Article.
How easy is it to learn a new language?
Every person learns differently and therefore learning a new language for some may be easier than for others. Take your time and learn at your own pace. By taking a short amount of time each day and going over things you have previously learned it will help you to imbed the language and allow you to become fluent in the language eventually.
How do I start learning a language?
There are many ways to learn a language. If you have the time and the means, the quickest way to learn a language is to live in that country for 3-6 months and undertake classes or courses in the language. By immersing yourself in the country you are forced to utilise your learning and practice your language skills on a daily basis, therefore you will be learning for an extended period of time each day.
If you do not have the time or means there are many courses in the UK that you could undertake. There are evening and weekend courses or even online courses that will take your learning to the next level. These can be a little expensive and they require you to have the time to attend the courses for an extended period of time, meaning that you would need to be sure and be committed to learning the language.
Vocabulary books and exercise books are another way to learn a language. These are great tools to learn the written side to languages as well as to learn the basics. Books are limited though as you cannot hear or practice the verbal dialogue so it may be beneficial to incorporate an app or even utilise a tutor to practice the verbal side of the language.
Most of us work, study or have childcare obligations and may not have the time or fund to travel abroad or undertake courses to learn a language. There are many apps that you can download that can help you learn a language of your choice. Some you have to pay for and some are free. A very well known language app is Duolingo.
Duolingo can be used for free to learn a huge number of languages straight from your phone or tablet. There are both free and paid versions of the app with the difference being the number of “lives” per day and the access to extra learning areas.
With the paid version you have unlimited lives meaning you have unlimited access to lessons every day and can learn as much or as little as you want across as many or as few languages as you desire. The free version limits you to 3-5 lives a day meaning you can make up to 3-5 mistakes before you have to wait for them to refill. The free version is perfect for those who only want to learn a little a day and for those who cannot afford to spend on apps. For those wishing to learn a bit quicker the paid version may be for you.
When should I begin to learn a language?
You can learn a new language at any age or stage in your life and it is up to you to determine which language you wish to learn, if at all. It is not imperative that you are bilingual but as discussed, knowing more than one language can open many doors for you either through immersion in cultures, understanding of people, training your brain, opening the communication channels with others or increasing your employability.