Learning A Foreign Language Can Change Your Life

The late Italian director Federico Fellini had opinions as controversial as his films. However, he made at least one remark that we can’t dispute: “A different language is a different vision of life.”

In a world growing ever-more connected online, understanding one another’s languages is one of the ways in which we can understand different worldviews. It gives us insight into someone else’s cultural values.

3 More Reasons To Learn

Apart from the window, it gives you into another culture, there are at least three more good reasons to learn a foreign language. As a new language helps you learn about another culture, it also shows you a different perspective on your own society. It’s an effective way to learn about the social assumptions, attitudes, and prejudices built into the very language and idioms of your community.

Secondly, speaking different languages will enhance many life experiences, from foreign travel to subtitle-free global entertainment. You can make new friends in other countries, while at the same time applying the cross-language cultural lessons to yourself and how your use of language reflects your own worldview.

Thirdly, speaking a foreign language widens your horizons, whether you are saving up for a dream holiday, or want to move somewhere with better prospects. If you speak English, Mandarin and Spanish, for example, you could find yourself employed on any one of the six inhabited continents.

How To Get Started

Be prepared to write down tangible short-term goals and stick to them. Bargains with yourself like “I will not check emails/play online games/surf social media until I have learned five new nouns, verbs and adjectives every day”, if enforced with discipline, can be effective. You can then reward yourself with the best pokies online games once you’ve done your memory work.

It is also useful to make a list of words you use a lot: although languages have large vocabularies, people generally use fewer than 100 words in regular conversation. Learning those words first ensures that you can make yourself understood in the tongue more quickly, even if you use English words to fill in the gaps.

Flashcards and language-learning apps are a useful aid when learning individual words, especially if you start with the foreign word each time, trying to translate it before you check the English meaning. Making silly associations with equivalent words also helps to fix the foreign words in your head. The Spanish for “eggs” is “huevos”, for example, which sounds a bit like “heavies”. If you pretend that from now on, you like your eggs “heavy”, you’ll never forget the Spanish translation.

How To Get Fluent

There is only one sure-fire method to get this bit right: practice conversation in the new language with a native speaker as often as you can, whether its ordering sushi or asking for directions. That’s why it’s so important to learn the most-used words first, even if you string together very broken sentences with them: if you can at least make yourself understood, you can attempt conversation.

Given English speakers’ global reputation for linguistic arrogance, many strangers will be so impressed that you’re even making the effort, they’ll do their patient best to correct your more egregious mistakes. Unless they’re French.