We are constantly and everywhere called upon to learn a new language – just think of public transport advertising, YouTube Ads, or advertisement in newspapers. Regarding the target language, everything is possible, from English as a lingua franca to our official languages German, French or Italian. You even have the choice to learn a language with a different alphabet such as Chinese or Arabic. Being able to speak a foreign language opens new doors and has many advantages for your professional and personal life.
In the blog series Reasons Why You Should Learn a Foreign Language, we explore one reason in each post with the aim of convincing you of learning a foreign language or improving your foreign language skills. Having said that, we will present some personalized learning strategies and tips in the blog series Learning Strategies.
Language skills will help you get around places
First and foremost, speaking a foreign language makes traveling easier. Without a doubt, good knowledge of English will help you in a popular tourist area since taxi drivers, restaurant staff and tourist guides tend to have a basic knowledge of English. In order to be able to ask for their help, for instance to travel from one place to another, language skills are essential.
Learn the local language to dive into a new culture
However, if you travel to more remote places, it is quite possible that speaking English is not enough: knowledge of the local language could become necessary. Why could that be beneficial? Well, if we make an effort to speak the local language, this is not only a sign of respect, but also a chance to get to know the people and their culture since communication is most authentic when they can speak in their mother tongue, using gestures and facial expressions.
Engage with local communities – thanks to your language skills
Work and Travel, Volunteering Abroad, … The terms are many, but the meaning is the same. More and more people want to volunteer while traveling. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity to interact with the locals, to learn how other people live and to engage with local communities. However, as you might expect, language skills are often required.
Create and Maintain Strong Friendships
Language skills enable communication between people from different countries and cultures. This again facilitates sharing ideas, ways of thinking, practices and traditions. What is more, not only does this mutual exchange make it possible to create friendships but also to maintain them. Furthermore, talking to your new foreign friends via letters, phone calls, text and voice messages offers you a great opportunity to use the acquired language.
Practice languages and improve your skills
And that brings us to the last argument. We can either learn a language in order to be able to travel or we travel in order to improve our language skills. Obviously, it is essential to learn grammar, memorise vocabulary and so on, but the best way to learn a foreign language is to go to a country that speaks your target language and live in close contact with the local population.
To sum up, foreign language skills not only make travelling easier, but also more interesting and enriching. Additionally, they help us to get from A to B, ask for help and communicate with the local population. Moreover, mastering a foreign language allows us to dive into a new culture and, thus, get to know how other people live. When volunteering abroad, where language skills are often required, we can get involved in local projects and gain valuable experience. Cultural exchange can lead to long-lasting friendships, through which you can actively use the acquired language. This in turn is the best way to improve your language skills.
So, have we already convinced you to learn a foreign language? What do you think are the reasons why it is worth learning languages? What experiences have you had while travelling or living abroad? Tell us about it in the comments and let us know whether you liked this blog post, what was missing and what topics you would like to see in the future.
von Nelly Müller – Sprachen Akademie