There are so many benefits to speaking several languages starting with your ability to communicate with a wealth of people all over the world. While the world’s most widely used language is English, it’s such a benefit to have another language under your belt.
First of all, traveling becomes much more fun especially when going to places where they speak the language you are learning. You are able to immerse yourself deeper in the culture, you can identify more with the people, and interactions just become more exciting and special.
Being able to speak a second language is also really beneficial when you want to tell someone something in secret. Start speaking French in public and people will certainly be confused. Furthermore, it's a very impressive talent to be able to communicate and share your ideas in different languages because each one shapes your character in a distinct way. So, for those of you who might think learning a language is hard, here are a couple of tips to help you get through that introductory level:
- Love the language! The truth is if you are not interested in the language, it’s going to be much harder for you to learn and remember things. Don’t be stubborn, and keep an open mind. Enthusiasm is key to becoming fluent. There is only so much a teacher can do; in the end, it is your job to keep practicing and working on memorizing everything you learn. So stay motivated!
- Keep practicing! In a history class, you might get away with pulling an all-nighter, learning all the material, taking a test, and then forgetting everything about World War I, but languages are extremely different. It is a building process. You cannot forget how to conjugate verbs, for example, because that is the basis of how you form sentences. Therefore, it is important to go back and review things that you might forget so that you are ready to add on to your knowledge for the next step. Besides, everyone is different and learns and memorizes things at different speeds or have unusual ways of remembering things, so you have to work with yourself and identify how you will remember best.
- Leave your comfort zone! Don’t be shy or scared to speak up in class just because you feel like you’re going to say something wrong. It’s OK! That’s how you learn, and the teacher is there to correct you. Try to be as open as possible because the more you talk, the more comfortable you will start feeling about the language and pronunciation. Listening to your teacher and hearing how she says something is important, but it isn’t enough for you to say something correctly. You need to speak and hear yourself say the sounds too to get help in case you’re misunderstanding something. Also, make sure that you try to really immerse yourself in the language and start thinking in that language instead of your native one because you will get confused and pronounce things incorrectly if you don't. Don’t ask too many questions about why something is the way it is. The point is to accept it and build from there, not try your hardest to compare and contrast it to your own language. Most of the times there are no patterns, but if you try hard enough, you will be observant and eventually it will all come naturally.
- Travel to a place where they speak the language! Try to engage in the language as much as possible. Learning to speak and write Spanish or French in a classroom gives you a strong foundation, but you never really learn a language until you’ve heard it and experienced it in the real world because a language encompasses much more than words. It defines a lifestyle!
Learning a language takes time, but it’s definitely worth it. After you’ve learned your second language, strive for a third or even a fourth. The more languages you study, the easier it gets. This is because you are able to form more connections between them facilitating your comprehension. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself because languages are extremely useful in the long run.