6 Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language

We all dream of eating pizza near the Pantheon, skiing down the Swiss Alps, munching on a macaroon in the gardens of Versailles.  I don’t know many people who wouldn’t love to drop everything for a trip to Europe if time and money permitted.  But when it comes to foreign language, most people quickly say no way, non merci, no me gusta.  But I’m going to challenge you to rethink foreign language if the first words that pop into your mind are useless and boring.Version 4

There’s incredible power in “I don’t know.”

I love being right, and I love being in charge.  I like being the expert—we all do, right?  But at the same time, nobody likes a know-it-all.  In some subjects, you BS your way through, but when it comes to language, spewing out random words can make for an interesting situation.  There is no language learner who gets every question right.  Even if you study every single thing you’ve learned thus far and write a fab paper, there’s still a tense you haven’t learned or a word that doesn’t translate perfectly.  When you have to say I don’t know, je ne sais pas, no se, it may not feel the best, but it’s a good reminder you don’t need to know everything to enjoy something.DSC_0217 copy

Foreign language teaches you humility.

Now I’m sure you’re about ready to sign up for a beginner Italian class because you’ll get to be humble, right?!!  Yeah, right.  Humility isn’t fun because it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing.  Even if you say the right words, a native speaker may be holding in a giggle at your cute American accent.  And while you may be able to cram in three hours of statistics or skim over a novel you conveniently didn’t start till the night before the timed write, there’s no crash course for foreign language.  And while I absolutely hate when people tell me this, it’s beyond true: it takes time.  There are some kids who are geniuses in calculus or chemistry, and while you can be very intelligent in a foreign language, you can’t just learn a few formulas and just figure out the rest.notre-dame-paris-france-travel-europe

You open your world to another culture.

I’m very grateful to have been born in America, but at the same time, it’s one big fat bubble.  And it needs to be popped.  When you learn another language, you understand so much more about different culture and realize your home is incredibly different than everywhere else in the world.  The moment you realize your way isn’t the only way and other culture’s sometimes even have better ideas, you’ve arrived.pantheon-rome-italy-travel

You learn to become comfortable in the uncomfortable.

Wow, I’m really selling foreign language because you can be wrong and uncomfortable all the time.  Lol jk.  But in all sincerity, foreign language is all about the unknown.  The moment you pick up an article in a foreign language your head will start swimming around and doing flip turns because you know maybe 27.6% of the words on the page.  And a lot of people give up there.  But I don’t think this is much different than life in general.  Life is full of question marks and uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean you can live under a rock (sorry, Patrick Star).  It’s easy to get caught up in “I don’t know this word” and “my head hurts,” but focusing on what you do know makes it a puzzle.florence-italy-ristorante-europe-travel

You expand your communication skills.

This is a duh but definitely not something to overlook.  When I went to France two years ago, my mere two years of French helped me order and get directions.  And when I went to Disney World, I was able to have multiple conversations with native French speakers working there.  Sharing a common language is such a valuable connection whether you’re traveling abroad or even still in America.

You can travel.

Now that you’ve learned the virtues of humility and being uncomfortable, we can get to the good stuff: travel.  Knowing the native language makes any trip so much less daunting.  Everyone told me Parisians would be so mean, but I found just the opposite.  Make the effort to say bonjour and je voudrais, and they are more than happy to help you out.  Whether you’re studying, volunteering, living or traveling abroad, being fluent or even just dabbling in a foreign language is a good excuse to leave the country.

You may be eyeing the stack of Spanish grammar exercises waiting for you.  Or wondering why you need to learn how to get to the park in German.  I’ll be honest: learning French vocab words on recycling and the environment was not my favorite (desolé, Mme Thompson), but you gain so much more than just constructing a sentence and vocab lists from taking up a foreign language.

Bises,

Kristin

{Why do you like learning a foreign language?}

14 comments

  1. Lovely post. You can tell you love your languages. Me too.
    I teach English and Spanish and my students think I’m crazy because I just get so excited trying to teach them. I really think it is such an mind-opener, learning a language. It’s sort of a passion with me, not just a job. Keep calm and keep learning!
    Regards. Marie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello and hola, Marie! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. It’s so hard for me to understand when people say, “foreign language-no, thanks!” I love that I can learn more about English when I learn French with word roots, expressions and such. Thank you for sharing your passion with me!! Merci et au revoir!!

      Like

  2. I had the same experience in France. Everyone was so nice and accommodating! When I was in college, a friend was able to take advantage of a summer program in France that our university offered. When she came back she complained that the French were rude and that when you spoke in French they pretended they didn’t know what you were saying. Fast forward twenty years later, when I finally got to go, and my French was super rusty, and my experience was totally different than what my friend has reported. I spoke French with a horrible accent (was focusing so hard on remembering the right words that I paid no attention to my pronunciation) and people either humored me and responded in French, or felt sorry for me and responded in (perfect) English. There was one waiter who was amused by my attempts, but even he wasn’t rude. Everyone was so smiley and accommodating. And personally, I felt like I was performing some kind of magic trick. I spoke French to real French people and they understood me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow!! Thank you for sharing your experience. When I went to France, I’d even ask “comment dit-on ___?” so I could learn new words as I was there. Travel is definitely a learning experience which makes it so worthwhile. Thanks for reading, Melanie, and happy traveling (and French-ing)!!

      Like

  3. The European people know almost more than one language, I speak for myself, that I am two hours from a border of one country or more. It’s always another culture, another language and another way of life. I like to learn some languages, to be always ready when I want to cross this border, without difficulties, you know? Are in total 4 languages ​​learned, and some that I understand a bit. It’s funny! 😊😅

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with all you wrote. When I learned how to read Spanish (what I would call fluently) it seemed as if another world opened up. Reading books, magazines and newspapers from other cultures and countries is a cool experience. As I understood more I could talk to more people and blend into a scene instead of watch from the outskirts.

    I learned the language for fun and it’s what I found.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s