Why Language Studies Deserve More Love Than They Get

By Teen Blogger: Hanna
Social Media Link: @hanna_bnrd

The image of the English speaker going around the world, demanding everyone understands them (and indeed now the rest of the world does) has perhaps created the misguided idea that learning a language is not an efficient use of time.

But don’t snub the study of languages, as learning other languages is much more rewarding than it appears at first sight and can bring a host of benefits. Some of these are obvious, but others may be more implicit, such as:

  1. Discovering cultures: learning a language also allows you to learn the idioms of that language and to become more familiar with the history and customs of the different societies whose language you speak. Meanwhile, you are likely to improve your geographical knowledge by broadening your interest in different countries and their locations.
  2. Take advantage of more possibilities available to you: many more career, internship or even university opportunities will be available to you if you speak or learn another language. We live in a highly interconnected world and most companies require their employees to interact with different people in different countries and being multilingual (and hence multi-cultural) puts you in a stronger position.
  3. See the world. You can of course travel the world speaking only one language, but it is much easier to get off the beaten tracks of mass tourism when you speak the language and can interact with local people, allowing you to discover hidden gems of the countries you visit and be more in touch with its real identity.
  4. Boost your confidence and meet people more easily. You can of course meet people who speak English but be aware that not everyone outside your country speaks English, especially in small towns. In addition, it is often easier and more rewarding to connect in the local language. You will feel more comfortable in conversations if you speak the language of your interlocutors.
  5. Improve your memory: speaking other languages will better your memory in several ways: remembering the verbs, grammar and vocabulary of a new language will constantly challenge your memory and sharpen it.
  6. Improve your command of your own language; from the experience of someone who studies in a language that is not my own, speaking several languages often leads to a situation where you find the perfect word for your sentence in another language, but cannot find it in your target language. This will push you to look for synonyms, and thus expand your vocabulary. Moreover, speaking several languages will force you to stay focused so as not to mix up, for example, Spanish and Italian, and will make you pay more attention to your verbs, your grammar, and more generally to the way you write and speak.

As a linguist myself, I can’t stress enough how cool and enriching leaning languages is. And that next time you talk to someone who is wondering about the aims of language learning other than your own and that studying languages is ‘easy’, you may have some arguments to convince them otherwise. And by the way, in case you wondered, my mother tongue is French :)

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