For all those Strathcona students studying a language or those who have studied a language in the past and are now desperately regretting having given it up! (By the way, it’s never too late to start again😊) It is also for any parent out there who may currently be studying a language. I’ve heard of many people who were looking for a little more inspiration during our long wintery lockdown last year who decided sourdough loaves were best left to the experts (very wise!) and so decided to embark on learning a new language or to further improve on one they learnt looooong ago. To all of you, I say “great decision!”
Anyone who is learning a second or third (or even fourth) language should always feel proud of themselves. Language learning is good for the soul and for the brain. Here are my top 6 reasons why you should be feeling pretty proud of yourselves:
1. Sounds impressive
Being able to speak another language always sounds impressive to others. It’s right up there with being able to play a musical instrument. It’s one of those things you often hear people say. “Oh, I’ve always dreamed of being able to speak Italian! (or Chinese or French or Spanish or Silbo Gomero…)” Well, if you keep up your language learning, you will be one of those envied individuals.
2. Career goals
Everyone knows how the world works today. We are living in a globalised society. Firms have offices all over the world. If you want to get a job (and let’s face it, most of us do!) and if you can say that you speak another language you set yourself apart from others – you gain an advantage and can open up more doors for yourself in the future.
3. Enhance your travel experiences
Most people know the feeling of arriving in another country where the only words you know are “Hello”, “Please”, “Thank you” and “Do you know where the nearest toilets are?” All perfectly valid phrases to learn and use when you are visiting a foreign country. However, you are not really going to gain an insight into the lives of these lovely people if that is all you can say. However, if you go to a country where you have gone to the effort of learning their language, just wait and see the reception you will get! You will immediately be accepted and you will have experiences that other travellers can only imagine. Believe me – this is not something to be underestimated!
4. Confidence booster
Learning a new language can be quite confronting. You have to put yourself out there and expose yourself a little, and inevitably, we make mistakes. Like the time I thought I’d told someone I’d just bought a lovely yellow jumper when really I’d said I’d bought a lovely yellow chicken. Once they realised that I hadn’t actually gone out and bought a chicken and they realised my mistake (the 2 words are RIDICULOUSLY similar) it explained the expression on her face. But honestly, it is the action of making mistakes and learning from them that actually makes us realise that mistakes aren’t the end of the world and that they are always learning moments. (I never mispronounced the word for jumper again!!)
5. Food for the brain
I chose to learn languages because it was something that I absolutely loved. I love my French and Italian and I speak some German. I have yet to try my hand at Chinese! The point is I did it for the love of it. However, for all you language-learners out there, whether you are doing it for the joy you get out of it (or for the bonus you receive in your ATAR!) you are getting much more value for your money than you may realise. Learning a language feeds your brain. Not only does it improve your memory, it also enhances your problem-solving and critical thinking abilities. It improves your concentration and you even become a better listener. When you are learning a new language, new pathways are created and strengthened in the brain making you ready for more and more learning.
One of our keywords this year is ‘connection’. This is important on so many levels. Being able to connect with someone from a different country and a different culture leads to greater empathy and tolerance in the world. Learning about a country’s history, food, customs, art, music, politics can help to highlight what we all have in common and be more accepting of and value differences in the world. Afterall, wouldn’t the world be a boring place if everything was the same?
So, keep learning that language, hang in there, do some more Education Perfect tonight! Don’t give up! Find the joy in what you are doing, for you are making the world a better place and yourself a better person by learning a language.
Mrs Virginia Prior, Head of Languages