Did you happen to catch my little grammatical error in the title: that was my failed attempt at being subtly ironic. Language is one of the most powerful tools that we use every second of every day in order to communicate our thoughts and feelings to other people. We receive our first language lessons as infants, yet learning a new language is arguably one of the hardest tasks to do. Why is that, and how can we change it?
As I’ve said before on this blog, language learning is my passion, it’s what I enjoy to do in my spare time. But that doesn’t make doing so any less hard. Learning a new foreign language entitles learning a new alphabet, and learning a new number system, and learning how to greet people without offending them. You’re literally learning how to communicate your thoughts and feelings, the way you were taught as a child. And as Americans, it isn’t as stressed to learn a second language like other countries because you’ll rarely need it. You don’t walk into Olive Garden and speak in Italian, and if you did, they wouldn’t even be able to speak it back. We’ve set up a society to where we can believe that English is the universal language, because it’s what you’ll need to master in order to get by here. So our lack in need of a second language is a factor that is holding us back, from our curiosity to learn.
Reasons people feel that learning a language can be a hassle is due to their misconceptions about learning a new foreign language.
- Expensive: In order to learn a new language, you have to get the $1,000 Rosetta Stone monthly subscription. I’ve been really studying Spanish for about 2 years, and I can honestly say that I haven’t spend 5 cents in doing so. Español es fácil y no es caro. It’s 2015; there are THOUSANDS of free apps and websites that you can access in the click of a button (a few of the ones I use will be listed below). And local libraries always have a foreign language section- its my favorite section.
- I spend so much time talking in English: This is precisely the reason you need to get away from it for a little bit. Our English can get so good, that over the years it can avert you from wanting to learn a new language. If you tell me that the food I made was piquant, then I’d have to bust out my English to ENGLISH DICTIONARY! The irony is that you want to find more ways in which you can express yourself in your native language, but what’s the point if no one understands you? But if you haven’t heard, there’s a large population of people in China that would love to hear about how piquant my food was, if you don’t mind translating it.
- Too hard/Overwhelming: Foreign languages are vastly complex, and in all meanings of the word, “foreign.” So instead of dreaming about how cool it would be to know that language fluently, let’s start small and set some achievable goals. Examples: “by ___, I will have memorized the alphabet. and by___, I will have learned the common greetings.” It’s only difficult if you make it that way.
- I’m too old to learn a new language: YOU CAN DO IT OLD MAN! It is fact that a child can retain more information than someone who is older, but in this case you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
- I don’t have time to practice: Yeah, you do. Remember last week when you were sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones on Netflix for 4 hours? What do you call that, a business appointment? You can ALWAYS make time for something that you want to do, and you have to really WANT to learn the language or you won’t be successful in doing so. The mini lessons on all these language apps take up a solid 5 minutes to complete. And while you’re riding in the car, or in the freaking bathroom, you can think about what you learned to really lock it in your brain. If you don’t have 5 minutes of your day to spare, then you must be Beyoncé- only excuse.
The benefits of learning a new language go beyond impressing your friends.
- You’ll be smarter: Research says that learning a new language can improve cognitive skills such as problem solving and memorizing. It’s just proven science.
- Job opportunities: Not only is being Bi- or Multilingual a plus in all fields, but it also opens the door into government jobs. Language skills are crucial when it comes to international affairs. Other jobs available are translators, teachers, and tour guides. Multilingual employees tend to earn more than the other employees because they can get the job done and have the advantage.
- Widens global perspective: This factor is so important to me because I do enjoy studying different cultures and histories. And believe it or not when I say that you can not learn a language without learning about the culture. A good example to further explain this is when you want to say the phrase “Thank you” or express admiration in Farsi, you will often hear the phrase Ghorbanet Beram, which literally translates to “May I sacrifice my life for you?” … Crazy. But this goes to show that in order to fully grasp a foreign language, you have to fully understand the culture and the people behind it. A good way to start learning is by listening to their music. You can learn the words and translate it back to English as a tool to study grammar, sentence structure, and culture.
My motivation for continuing foreign languages was definitely sparked by Tim Doner, the youngest hyperpolyglot in the world who can speak over 20 languages. If he could learn 20 as a teen, then I can surely learn at least one more.
So I hope you learned something from this blog post. Next time you go to an authentic Italian restaurant (and not Olive Garden), try to do some reading up on the beautiful language, and learn how to say “Posso avere il menù per favore?” Make it your own, personal Learning Experience. Next stop:
(FREE) Resources for you:
- This is a language education TV sitcom from the 2000’s, that you can watch and learn from by looking them up on Youtube. The show has 4 versions: French, Spanish, German, and English. I love that they speak slowly so you can pick up what they are saying. And it’s hilarious.
- This website not only provides a way to connect with other people from around the world, but also allows you to learn languages from them while they learn a language from you.
- This is one of my favorite apps on my whole phone. You make/search digital flashcards (so you can stop wasting paper ones) and you can play memorization games with the cards you made or searched up. This app has helped me memorizes tons of information, most of which not even pertaining to language learning.
- This app also helps you learn everything.
- Skype isn’t known as the language learning app, but you can connect with native speakers or people from different countries and work on your verbal and audio skills with a partner, teacher, or tutor.
- This is the most popular, and my all time favorite learning app. Just get it please, just get it. You won’t regret it
Smoothie cleanse update: Out of the 6 days I’ve been doing this, I’ve messed up on 3 days. The odds aren’t in my favor so every day I mess up, I’ll add a day. Smoothies I’ve had:
- Green smoothie w/ kale, spinach, carrots, apple, frozen honeydew, oatmeal
- Sweet strawberry and soy milk smoothie w/ Stevia (to curve ice cream cravings)
- Watermelon and ice smoothie (more like icy)
- Strawberry, oatmeal, soy milk.