Why spend time and effort in learning a foreign language when I can travel and communicate with the people without speaking their language?
Well, there are so many reasons that I would need hundreds of posts, but I’m going to set out only the couple of ones that works for me. The reasons why I learn another language and the positive effects I can take out of it.
I love languages with all my heart, starting for my mother language, Spanish, and continue with all the rest. I speak French and English and started learning Chinese and Italian, even though I stopped temporarily due to a lack of time… but I’m determined to retake them some time in the future.
When I was a teenager, the main reason why I was interested in learning English was only to understand the lyrics of the songs but that was the beginning of it all…
The interest in learning and improving my English made me go to England for the summer months. Living in another country and interacting with people in another language that wasn’t my own opened my mind. It was the first time I saw a different way of doing things, of acting and thinking, and that was great. I just wanted more. Two months wasn’t enough, I really wanted to stay longer and keep learning; it wasn’t only about the language anymore, because the languages are inevitably entangled with the culture, the people. So when I came back from my “British experience”, my motivation for learning a new language was renewed and wider, and it was tangible. It wasn’t only for my CV or being more competitive – which is still a good reason – but because knowing a new language would allow me to know a new culture, first, which would widen my horizons. That was great!
After that experience, I started to learn French, and I chose very carefully the academy. I absolutely wanted a native teacher, not only for the obvious reasons: it’s their mother language, but because a native teacher would be from another country, with another culture and another way of thinking, which was terribly attractive to me.
I finished college and four months later I was on my way to France. I got a job as a Spanish assistant teacher in a high school. I was ecstatic. I was going to do the two things I love the most: teaching my own language and learn another one. Wasn’t it wonderful?
The time I spent in France was absolutely enriching. I improved my French to the point of being able to communicate in all kind of situations and express my feelings without any problem – I’ve got to know that one of the most difficult things in learning a language is express emotions – but, what was better, I understood another culture beyond the stereotypes.
And here comes other reason that moves me to know a foreign language, the fact that with the language, you learn, not only a culture, but a new pattern of thinking. It’s clear that every different language is constructed upon the necessities of communicate something of every different group of people and their ways of seeing the world, so these two aspects would have prevailed in the construction of the language. Getting to discover this underlying patters takes time, but is something that I think should be in the base of every good teaching method. It now comes to my mind that every language teacher I’ve met tell the students not to translate from their mother language, but to think in the language they want to communicate. That might be harder and more difficult, but it will be better in order to improve your communication and knowledge and broad thinking in the long run. I personally love the moment when I reach the level when I stop translating and start thinking in the foreign language.
Finally, the last positive outcome of learning a new language for me is that knowing another language and another culture gives you the opportunity of having an outside perspective about you and your culture. It will make you multicultural and give you a new view, a new way to see yourself.