Why Learning a Language is Worth It (Even if You’re Not Planning to Flee Abroad)
Learning a language is often seen as almost impossible compared to other skills, and yet, nowadays, if you have an internet connection you have the potential to learn almost anything!
But before you start having flashbacks of dull lessons in high school with archaic textbooks, just know that language tech has really hit back with some fantastic products that can help you learn from scratch, and that there is a whole community of language learners who are eager to talk, joke and laugh with you on your journey.
Rather than see this as a long slog to get to a certain language level, see it as an opportunity to learn about another culture, make friends and pick up a genuine skill that will never expire.
But first, let’s smash some language learning myths.
1) You need to study really hard every day and spend years learning a language in order to master it.
Let’s break it down. If you’re someone who wants to discuss philosophy and literature in another tongue then yes, it might take a while. But if you want survival language skills, then learning can be a matter of months.
For native English speakers, languages like French, Italian and Swedish are close enough to English that getting to General Proficiency only takes around 24 weeks or around 575 to 600 hours. (That’s six months!)
2) “I don’t have a natural knack for languages” / “You need some kind of higher intelligence” / “You have to be born into it” / “I’m too old!”
Scandinavian speakers (in general) have a reputation for having excellent English skills, and yet, do you genuinely believe that everyone in Sweden, Denmark and Norway is some kind of language genius?
Even if you’re learning languages later in life, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and there’s science to back this up.
3) “I don’t need to! Everyone speaks English.”
NEIN. And do you have any idea how much money we lose each year because we don’t speak another language? Not only is it presumptuous that you assume everyone speaks English, but in this international age, it’s bad for business.
So, how can you start?
- Using apps like Duolingo and Memrise, you can get a head start and these apps are not only free and available on both Android and Apple devices, but these apps also test you, let you choose a daily goal and reward you with points for each achievement!
- Once you’ve nailed the basics you’ll actually need to talk to someone. Websites like Rocket Languages and Babbel offer some excellent courses for self-study, but if you’re looking for a qualified teacher online, try italki.com. This website not only allows you to search for teachers by language but by price and through reviews by other users! If paying for a teacher is a bit out of your budget right now, apps like HelloTalk and Tandem are great alternatives.
- OK, but what about content? If you’re going to watch Youtube for hours in English why not take it further and use Fluentu, Yabla or find some Youtube vloggers living in that country? This way you can pick up real culture and language tips from people who have already done it!
- And finally, don’t give up. It can be daunting and for the first few months of learning anything it’s always tough, but there is real proof that learning a language in your home country is possible!
Kitty Lai is a tea fuelled English graduate with a severe book buying habit. Find her on LinkedIn.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.