Why study languages beyond school?
TOP 10 REASONS
Many consider English the ‘international language’ but did you know that it is only the 3rd most widely spoken language (after Mandarin and Spanish)? Only 6% of the world’s population consider it their mother tongue. According to UNESCO the other most common languages spoken are Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, German and French.
Learning other languages means you can talk to more people. Be different! Don’t be one of those people who refuses to speak the ‘lingo’ on holiday and only goes to chain-restaurants that you can find at home. If you understand the language, use it to explore the local restaurants and shops- you never know what you might discover!
When you learn a language you also learn other things without even realising. New sounds, ways of seeing things and even unknown parts of your personality! Learning a new language is learning how to act in another culture. And did you know that many words and means of communicating exist in other languages that don’t exist in English?
Cognates are foreign words that look like English and have the same meaning. However sometimes words have different meanings altogether and you just need to learn them. When a language is translated into English, sometimes the real meaning is lost and it can be hard to translate properly. Would you not rather understand exactly what it means?
Many employers seek linguists, whether they are a technology company working with clients abroad, or a charity providing support to vulnerable people. Most big companies have offices in more than one place, too. For example, Google has 70 international offices - so being able to speak a second language could increase your chances of getting hired!
Speaking languages increases brain capacity, improves memory and decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, which will affect 1 million people in the UK by 2025. Studies show that bilingual brains process information more quickly than monolingual ones. So, multilingual people are literally smarter than monolingual ones, on average.
Listening exercises will enhance vital communication and literacy skills and help you throughout your whole life. Speaking tests are also great practice for presentations and speeches you will have to make when you start work. When you practise writing, you are embedding the spellings and words you are learning into your memory.
Just take a simple greeting, for example. We all know that Mediterranean people tend to kiss on both cheeks while northern Europeans prefer to shake hands. Is it the warmer climate perhaps? When you learn a new word or concept in another language you compare it to your own to better understand the similarities and differences.
More often than not you meet people whose mother-tongue is different from yours, and you want to talk to them. You will understand a whole lot more about them and their culture by learning their language. You might even get to know your future best friend or loved one!
You don’t have to go far to practise a new language as we have a growing number of community languages right on our doorstep. A qualification in a community language would be very useful for your CV - particularly if you want to work in social work, health care, youth work, education, legal aid, immigration law or community development.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language- that goes to his heart. Nelson Mandela
Politician & Philanthropist