As citizens in a global world, having a couple of languages on the tips of our tongues is a must, right? Now in some countries, the locals switch between a handful of languages as easily as changing their shoes but we’re not all like that are we? Legendary stragglers in the language speaking contest are invariably native English ones. Because so many people speak our mother tongue almost as well as we do, we kick back and let them do all the work. But that can’t go on – at best it’s laziness, at worst arrogance!
Read on for the Top 10 Reasons to learn Italian, Russian, Hindi or whatever.
10 – Makes travelling so much easier
These days, in less time than it takes to say Tajikistan, you can book tickets to anywhere but as soon as you step onto the foreign tarmac, you’re out of our linguistic comfort zone. Yes or no? Having a few key phrases up your sleeve will get you the basics – accommodation, transport, food and drink. And if you ‘re heading off the beaten track to where no tourist has gone before, a smattering at least of the local lingo is essential because you can bet your bottom dollar, in remote villages, people won’t know yours.
9 …and cheaper
If you’re happy paying premium (aka rip off) rates for rooms, trips and souvenirs, continue in your native tongue. But if you’re on a budget and looking for a bargain, I’d recommend negotiating in the local language…you’ll be parting with fewer rupees in India or real in Brazil.
8 …and more authentic
One of the most fulfilling and memorable aspects of travelling is chatting to local people, not just other backpackers or tourists with a wheelie suitcase. You’re more likely to be invited to someone’s home or be recommended places, the monolinguists won’t have even heard of. How smug will you feel then?
7 – Makes you more employable
Foreign countries are not just for sunworshipping or temple hopping. You could actually work in an exotic place IF you speak the language. Even back home where 100+ people might be applying for 1 vacancy, you could really stand out from the competition by adding ‘Mandarin/Russian speaker’ to your CV because in these globalised times, many companies are doing business overseas.
6 – Makes you smarter
Studies have demonstrated that learning another language sharpens brains, keeping them agile. By mastering Arabic or Japanese verb tenses, memory is enhanced, concentration span extended. There’s evidence too that learning another language helps with problem-solving and decision-making.
5 – Keeps Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay
If you’re a millennial, you probably feel light years away from old age but if history ‘s anything to go by, it’s gonna happen. So, just as it’s smart to secrete money away in a pension fund, it makes sense to keep your brains in good shape right to the bitter end. Science has proved pretty conclusively that learning another language can be a brain boot camp which may reduce the risk of developing dementia.
4 – A confidence builder
If you’ve spent half your life muttering (in English), ‘I’m no good at languages’ and then, bingo, you actually become fluent in say, Portuguese, wow, your confidence will definitely soar skywards. With increased confidence under your belt, not even the stars are the limit to your potential achievements.
3 – No more subtitles or translations
Yes, obviously you can read the subtitles squashed onto the bottom of the screen of foreign movies or read translated books but seriously, so much is lost in translation. Imagine the thrill of being able to read Plato in the original Greek (!) or War and Peace in Russian! And by the way, not everything has been translated…being monolingual means we’re missing some amazing masterpieces.
2 – English is an endangered species
Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but in the future, we can’t rely on English being king of the linguistic universe….think dinosaurshere. The jury’s still out on which languages will be most widely spoken but French, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Arabic are all likely contenders.
1 – Language learning on a plate
These days, after a long brain draining day at work, you don’t have to shuffle to an evening class to learn Norwegian. There are so many options: on that boring journey to the office, you could plug into an app on your phone and get the better of the French present perfect tense. Or curled up on your sofa, you can sign up for online classes. Lots of places have language cafes where you can commune with other language learners over a latte.
So, no more lame excuses; don’t get left behind in this ever-changing world. Get up to speed and learn a language…and then another! Apparently, it gets easier with the second, third and fourth ones!