Ciao! Bonjour! Hola! You definitely know what these three words mean, but could you hold a conversation in any of these languages?
The Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language. Duolin-GO!
Despite the UK’s role on the global stage and its melting pot of cultures, the country largely remains a nation of monoglots. In fact, the number of pupils taking French for A-Level has almost halved in the last ten years, while the number of students studying languages at undergraduate level has also been in a steady decline (12.6% to be exact, from the year 2014/15 – 2018/19).
But learning a foreign language comes with so many benefits. Not only does it boost your brain power, helping your mind to develop key learning skills like cognitive thinking and problem-solving, it also improves your memory. A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra also revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings and can easily spot anything that might be irrelevant or deceptive.
Additionally, as result of learning another language, your first language is improved! That’s because thinking about word formations and sentence structure makes you more conscious about the nuts and bolts of your own language. Other studies have also shown that multilingual students scored higher on standardised exams in maths, reading comprehension and vocabulary, compared to the scores of monolingual students.
You don’t necessarily have to commit to taking a language for GCSE or A-Level, as they can be tough and take the fun out of learning a new language. There are numerous language resources outside school such as Apps like Duolingo and Babbel, meaning that you can learn French, Italian or even High Valyrian (the language from the Game of Thrones universe), whenever you have the time! All you need is your trusty smartphones and you’re good to go.
Duolingo especially makes language-learning fun as it is set up like a game – so if you’re someone who loses motivation for such things quickly, Duolingo helps you stay on track. Encouraged (and occasionally slightly threatened) by the tiny green owl, Duolingo mixes up its questions with a range of speaking, listening and comprehension exercises, to make sure you are tackling all aspects of a language.
As it’s on your phone, it means you can practise your French/Italian/Spanish/High Valyrian wherever you are and whenever you have a spare moment! Of course, it is no replacement for rigorous language learning in a classroom, but it is perfect for learning the basic tenses and vocabulary one might need. And it’s FREE!
If you’re someone who tends to be foreign language shy, it’s helpful to remember that our brains are like rubber bands. The more we practice something, the more it can stretch and grow. Just 5 minutes a day of learning a bunch of new words or reading a short story in another language, can strengthen that rubber band. Build it into your daily routine if you can.
Vége -- Die einde -- Y diwedd (the end:). Can you guess the three languages?
Learning a foreign language: The benefit for your cognitive and mental health (smh.com.au)
Why learn a foreign language? The benefits of bilingualism (telegraph.co.uk)
How Learning a New Language Changes Your Brain | Health News | US News
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