Learning a Language: What's The Point?

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I hated learning French at school. Learning languages seemed like an unrelenting circus of panic revision for vocabulary tests, and dense, nonsensical grammar rules. Hell, basically. And, unless they spoke another language at home, everyone else seemed to find it equally taxing. Spanish was slightly better, but I still felt embarrassed when I had to speak up in class, and was so bored by learning about how to order in restaurants, or say the words ‘post office’ and ‘ham sandwich’. It didn’t feel relevant to my life. And so I put the whole foreign languages thing on ice. I mean, what’s the point? All my friends and family speak English. It’s the language of business, right? Plus, other countries are so good at learning English, it would be pointless to try and beat them at their own game.

 But, here’s the thing. Learning a language can be pretty useful. When you go on holiday, a lot of people may speak some English, but there comes a time when the language barrier becomes a concrete wall, as you speak in slow, simple English and wonder how you will ever find out the way to the centre of town. This is not an effective way to go through life (or find a supermarket). In fact, it’s pretty arrogant to believe that English is the best and most important language out there.

So, here are my top five reasons why learning another language is actually worthwhile:

You get to meet new people

There are so many different people you could be getting to know, if you only knew how to talk to them! The best way to find out about another culture is to experience it directly. Plus, it opens up a whole new world of dating opportunities…English people will find your new ability (and accent) wildly sexy, and you will now be able to say ‘you’re fit, let’s go out’ to thousands more people. Everybody wins.

 You can show off

Most people can’t be bothered to learn a whole new language, so listening to someone who has managed to will amaze them. You’ll be able to switch dialects effortlessly and leave people in awe! However, you need to be careful that you don’t become ‘that smug weirdo who thinks they’re so cultured’ and end up being cast adrift by people who are sick of hearing about it.

New opportunities

The world is your oyster if you are fluent. You can work or study abroad. Exciting. And if you speak the language, you will feel more confident, and get more done!

 You learn about a brand new culture

You can engage with new kinds of media, fashion and music. You can read books, watch TV, and immerse yourself in a new way of life.

 It’s not that hard

All you need is motivation. Mine is that I love Spain and want to live there someday (to escape our sh*tty weather), and I’m also doing work experience there soon. So I don’t want to feel unconfident about speaking up, and then sound like an idiot when I do. And it can be fun! You just need to practice a lot. And ignore people telling you to shut up when you’re practicing sentences over and over again while they’re trying to watch TV.

 So get on it! Employers love it, and it will be a rewarding challenge. And if you ever falter, just remember all those sexy people you’ll be able to chat up in another country. 

Naomi Anderson Whittaker

Writer from London. Studies sociology in Leeds. Hates cold weather. Eats cheesecake. Drinks Whiskey. Reads horoscopes (sometimes).

Website: livebythepen.wordpress.com/

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