Learning a Foreign Language in today’s world is more than just a leisure activity. All over the globe, business establishments are expanding their commercial ventures overseas. For effective communication, it has become a necessity to acquire the knowledge of the native language.
Certain languages are most used than the others in matters which matter the most i.e. foreign trade, international diplomacy, cultural exchange, multimedia and so on. Such a universal language exists in the form of English, no surprise that it is known as ‘Global Lingua Franca’, which means ‘The Language of the Globe’. It is not that other languages are less important, it just happens to be – that English language has survived and thrived amidst the influence of the western world. Having said that China, Japan and other countries have risen to great positions and languages spoken in these countries have also gained a vast popularity. There are many reasons as to why someone wants to learn a new or foreign language. Those reasons could include: economic reasons, employment, travel, personal growth and many others.
One can learn any language and all by himself if he has the resources and the commitment. Learning another language is not difficult as it was in the past; at that time there were lesser resources to provide access to other languages apart from one’s native language. Today, the world has more to offer than it ever did before. The IT Revolution has brought Language resources to everyone’s home in all sorts of ways. One can choose a myriad ways of learning a language all by himself. Professional assistant is also easily available.
Why Learn a Language?
To develop Intelligence – Knowing a new language makes you more intelligent. As per scientific research – Young children develop theory of mind earlier if they know two languages and bilingualism in elderly people can delay the onset of dementia. Amongst adolescents, the brain develops better. An Australian and an Indian speak their native languages and even think differently. The knowledge of a new language changes the way a person thinks because whilst speaking he is subconsciously thinking like the inhabitant of a foreign land.
To study abroad – Studying abroad either in school, college or university, one needs a good knowledge of the local language. Sometimes, we might have to admit kids to foreign schools owing to our job commitment in that particular country. A pre-knowledge of that country’s language reduces the communication gap thereby harbouring friendliness. You won’t be studying all the time or stay in the campus all the time. You’ll have to venture out and interact with the locals for your various needs. Awareness of the native language reduces inhibitions, eliminates misunderstanding and enables effective communication.
To get Offshore Employment – Working in a foreign country demands the knowledge of the native language. Candidates who can conversate in native language get more preference than others. If your work involves regular contact with speakers of foreign languages, being able to talk to them in their own languages will help you to communicate with them. It may also help you to make sales and to negotiate and secure contracts. Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips.
To conduct business in foreign land – Many English-speaking business people don’t bother to learn other languages because they believe that most of the people they do business with in foreign countries can speak English, and if they don’t speak English, interpreters can be used. The lack of foreign language knowledge puts the English speakers at a disadvantage. In meetings, for example, the people on the other side can discuss things amongst themselves in their own language without the English speakers. Understanding, and using interpreters slows everything down. In any socialising after the meetings, the locals will probably feel more comfortable using their own language rather than English.
To Travel or settle abroad – Travelling to foreign country has become a norm for many of us, be it business or leisure. If you are settling in a foreign country, it becomes all the more necessary. Learning the local language will help you to communicate and integrate with the local community. Doing so will demonstrate your interest in and commitment to the new country.
To assist and or conduct a research – Researchers who are interested in researching about a particular language, need to have a proper knowledge of the native tongue. Some of the information about subjects you’re interested in, might be fully in a foreign language. Learning that language will give you access to the material and enable you to communicate with fellow students and researchers in the field.
To preserve and promote a language – Many languages are becoming endangered as they are no longer being used or have limited use due to various factors. If you speak an endangered language, or your parents or grandparents do/did, learning that language and passing it on to your children could help to revitalise or revive it. One can also get the local media to highlight the issue by making them aware of the scenario.
To gain knowledge about a culture – Language is more than just a speech; it is also an insight into the local culture and traditions, they provide opportunities to learn new ways of life, and new ideas. When you learn a language you also acquire the knowledge of the customs and traditions. For example – Language contains words which convey greetings, excitement, sorrow, pain, joy etc. These words are used on certain occasions and knowing this alone provides you the extra knowledge which you didn’t expect.
Learning enhances further Learning – The more languages you learn, the easier it becomes to learn new languages. Patterns start to emerge, and processes start to become very familiar. While there may be differences in how the language works and behaves, there is usually a fundamental base that all languages share.
To keep up with your family and relatives – Various people have settled in foreign lands but they still speak in their native tongue amongst themselves. But their kins, born and brought up there, may need to learn the native tongue to keep up with their families and relatives. If they don’t, they will be at disadvantage because urgent and or important matters are discussed in native language.
To Impress – Knowing more than 1 or 2 languages is also an asset, which can be used to flaunt your skills or impress anyone, be it your teacher, girlfriend, your community etc. Even the mention of the same in resume does impress the employer.
To Pass time, Productively – Apart from reading or surfing the internet, one can utilise his/her free time to learn a new language. While travelling or waiting for any purpose we have a certain amount of free time which can be used to pass the time without getting bored. You can read a translation or watch a subtitled movie or anything which enhances your lingual skills.
To have Fun – Learning a new language can be fun, if you enjoy it. You can surprise any foreign stranger whilst travelling or on any occasion when you interact them and they least anticipated it. You can also make new friends from foreign countries when you chat with them in their native language. You can participate in any local quiz or games where lingual skills are required.
Best Way to Learn a Language
The best way to learn a language is the one which is Institutionalized i.e. education imparted in a formal manner in an Institute. It can be regular or through correspondence. The programs offered by institutes are very comprehensive and therefore, a great way to learn for those who have time and flexibility to complete the courses. The institution based learning is the best because we are prone to indiscipline and laziness. When we are accountable for our work we tend to be more disciplined and active as compared to a situation where we are not accountable to anyone. But then not all of us need rules to mend ourselves, all we need is conviction and determination. In the hope of further assisting in you in ‘How to learn a Language’, below are some fine points.
Know the Basics – The best way and the effective way to learn a language is to be thorough with the basics. Starting from any point can be useless and ineffective. Know the spellings, how they are pronounced and when they are used. Largely, it is the essential grammar rather than fine grammar. Basics can be acquired from anywhere. Books, here are more handy than any other medium. A Basics book should include simple and most commonly used words with basic grammar, one which has lot of drawings and pictures is more appealing and interesting. It should have small chapters to encourage and maintain interest and it should contain grammar exercises whose answers are provided at the back of the book, so that you can know your mistakes. Basic learning will require you to know about 800 to 1500 words. In the beginning, only essential vocabulary and basic grammar is necessary.
Build up your Vocabulary – Vocabulary is the building-block of any language. Go for the most common vocabulary words. Get a list of the most common vocabulary words, in order of frequency. When you have mastered the common words, it’s time to take the next step. Get to know more words. Put a target to the words, like learn 1000 words in a month. Language learning can be fun, quick to recall and more effective with the innovative, multi-faceted 200 words a day. Dictionary which works both the ways – English to Malayalam and vice versa is the best one. If possible buy a medium/small-sized one as it is easy to carry around.
Listen & Learn – Listening is the basic and foremost step to improve your Pronunciation. Listening materials can be songs, movies, radio, television, seminars, debates, public speeches etc. One should pay attention to how speakers pronounce various words and phrases and they should model their pronunciation on what they hear. Being a passive observer garners you a lot even if you are not listening attentively.
Make it Challenging – Challenges spice up a mundane or predictive routine. Give yourself some enthusiasm, a competition to charge up the learning activity. Plan a time and set yourself a target. Read like 10 pages a day, speak for 10 minutes a day or write 200 words a day. You can involve your friends or anyone who is interested to get a competitor. It can be anything which stimulates learning.
Put your learning to Practice – Use what you have learned in any manner possible, it can be done while taking a bath, waiting for a bus, whilst commuting or any other daily activities. Practice speaking, reading and writing. The more you practice, the better you will get.
Befriend a Native – Making friends is a good thing but for a learner befriending a native is an excellent approach to learn the complexities of a language. Moreover, practical approach is remembered better than theoretical lesson and the cost involved is almost nil, unless you are paying for such sessions. Even paid sessions are a good way to learn a language in the most effective way as you will get instant correction of your language.
Study in a Foreign Country – Not exactly, a cheap one but nonetheless one of the best. A desired countries culture, sights and sounds place an ideal foundation for learning. This provides a hands-on-approach. Attend the ceremonies or other occasions, observe and interact when any communication takes place. Visit socialising point’s viz. cafés, bars, hotels, restaurants, parks, library and talk to people. One of the easiest ways to approach a stranger is to ask directions. This way you will get the chance to talk to people and maybe make the acquaintance of a few. Even if don’t understand the answers, listen to their tone and pitch.
Private Coaching or Personal Tutor – Get yourself a Tutor or Coach who will provide you the essentials one one-to-one platform. Also, you can ask as much as you want though in a particular frame of time. Such a freedom may not be available in formal environment and where one may hesitate to ask, fearing criticism or satire.
At Student Visa Expert we have language school under the name JAX Language School . You can learn there French along with English. Contact us for further details.
If you are looking for good web resource for learning a language we recommend BBC Language Website : http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages . You will find here quality study materials/tutorials that will help you to learn over 40 languages.