For as long as I can remember, I struggled with learning other languages. There are studies that show that children who are exposed on a regular basis to more than one language from a young age more easily pick up new languages in adulthood.
I was not a child that was exposed to more than one language. Though my great-grandfather was French Canadian, and my mother knew bits and pieces of French when she was growing up, we spoke only English in our household.
In the Canadian school system, children begin learning French (our second national language) in the fifth grade. I was lucky enough to be in a grade 4/5 split, so I began learning the language when I was 9.
I found it easy enough when I was in class, but as soon as we went away on summer vacation, I’d lose half of what I’d learned. My brain just wasn’t moulded in a way that picked up and held languages well, and I didn’t use it on a consistent enough basis. In high school, as we continued on with our French studies, I lost interest and thought it was a stupid subject. In fact, instead of learning in class, I’d carve out pictures of goofy children from the 1990s that populated my textbook and plaster their faces later over my friend’s locker. The only French word I retained was “pamplemousse” (grapefruit), as I thought it was a hysterical word which I would try to slip into my conversations with friends.
I now regret my disdain toward my language class when I was younger. If I had embraced it, I may be more able to converse in the language now. There are many reasons why I’d love to learn another language at this point.
If you are travelling long term (or even for just a couple of weeks), it’s very difficult to adapt when you can’t speak the language. Asking for a beer when you really want the bathroom is problematic and confusing. I’d feel more comfortable travelling to other countries and places if I knew the language better.
If somebody approached me with the opportunity to live in Paris for a year, my first instinct would be to jump at it. My second instinct would be some major hesitation, because I would have a hard time functioning not knowing the language.
Opportunities like this come your way more often when you are familiar with the language, too.
Not only will you get more job opportunities if you can speak more than just your native language, but you also may be able to do a wide variety of duties, or be paid more. You likely will be able to get a more desirable job (such as a government job) due to being bilingual.
People that speak more than one language are in high demand in the job market as they aren’t as common as you might assume.
Keeping an Open Mind
Exploring and learning new languages can help you keep an open mind, as well. It helps you become more cultured and by learning another language, you also tend to learn a bit more about the countries that the language is native to.
Being able to converse with people native to that language and read literature in that language can also help you learn and keep an open mind.
They say that once you learn one language, it is easier for you to learn another. Learning different languages can help you phonetically which thereby making it easier for you to be able to develop into new sounds and speech.
There are many benefits to learning another language. Now that I’m older I’ve been trying to absorb more French words and one of my goals has always been to be able to speak French.
Do you speak any other languages? Do you find you have more opportunities in being able to do so?