All over the world, people speak an amazing number of languages and while English might be one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, there’s still a lot to be gained from learning a new one.
Why learn a new language?
Wouldn’t it be great when you go on holiday to be able to ask for things in a shop or a restaurant in the language spoken by the locals?
While many people have a basic grasp of English, some cultures find it rude if you don’t at least have a go at speaking to them in their mother tongue. If there are countries you visit a lot, it might be worth trying to pick up some of the basics.
Even if you don’t travel widely, learning a language can show universities or prospective employers that you like a challenge and are willing to commit yourself to something that can require a lot of effort and concentration.
Learning a language is also fun. You may find that it’s not as hard as you might have feared: many languages have words that sound similar or mean the same thing.
Tips if you’re learning a language
Unless you have a parent who fluently speaks the language you’re learning, it can be hard getting the practice in.
You talking to me?
If you’ve got a mate who is also learning the language, a good way of practising is to speak in that language and nothing else whenever you’re together or phone each other up.
You might find it hard to take seriously or difficult at first, but you’ll soon find that you’re learning from each other’s mistakes.
More than words
To speak any language well, you have to build up a vocabulary. If you’ve nobody to practise with, when you’re out and about try and name everything you see in the language you’re learning.
If you can’t name it, note it down for later. Test yourself wherever you go. You could also boost your language skills when watching TV.
Try noting down whatever someone says on TV and try and give it a quick translation. You’ll soon find that your brain’s bursting with words.
Some TV channels show foreign language films with subtitles. Watch them but either cover the bottom of the TV with something or hold a card in front of you to hide the subtitles.
Take a look through the TV listings and see if any of the channels are showing educational programmes. They might be on late, so record them and watch them when you’re bored and see what you can pick up.
World wide web
Why not try and immerse yourself in the culture of the country where your language is spoken.
Search online for details of that country’s typical menu, what music they listen to and TV they watch and what their most popular web site are. Visit web sites written only in that language and see what you can make out.