Learning languages is a passion of mine and if you’re reading this blog, I am sure you might be as well. But how has learning languages benefitted your life?
That’s right. Being more aware of what’s going on in the world around you rather than just on a national or even local level. Politics do play an important role in our lives even if we often get incredibly passionate about certain topics. You can also see how your home country is currently impacting other countries for better or worse. If you’re an activist, it can help you reach out to a larger audience than you ever thought possible. You can also learn about how things are run in countries that speak your target language(s). If you enjoy talking about politics (and know you’re not going to cause arguments or confrontations) then learning how to share your opinion in another language will become invaluable for you to learn. Even if you utterly avoid and despise discussing politics. It helps you become more aware of what’s going on in the world around you. Both the positive and the negative. The truth and the propaganda. You get the idea! 😉
2) Making Travel More Meaningful
I cannot stress this enough: Learning another language before you travel to another country will be make your experience absolutely incredible. You can avoid so many misunderstandings (keep in mind that you still need to learn about the customs of the country or countries you plan on visiting too.), find like-minded people who enjoy the same hobbies as you, navigate your way around like a local, give your opinion about a certain topic, and so much more.
When I visited Japan for a second time back in 2012, I noticed that not only had my Japanese improved but I was about to get around Japan and do more than I could only speaking little to no Japanese. I tried to use my Japanese at any chance I had. However, staying at Youth Hostel and making new friends there ended up causing English to be the default language. But when I was on my own, I did whatever I could to practise my Japanese at any opportunity. Such as ordering food at a restaurant, having a conversation with the bar/pub staff, asking for directions, and asking the shopkeeper if they carried a specific product. Not that impressive but hey, it was much better than not being able to say anything or just the clever: “Can you take a picture of us, please?” which in Japanese is: “ちょっとすみません写真撮ってくれませんか？(Chotto sumimasen shashin totte kuremasen ka?)”, which is ended up not being used. What a shame!
3) Connecting With More People Outside of Your Mother Tongue
Whether you’re looking for new friends, attending an event with like-minded people about a subject you’re passionate about or even just establishing new business contacts to facilitate working overseas. This could be open the doors to new opportunities just from learning a new language. How cool is that? Obviously, it won’t just be handed to you. You have to seek out these opportunities by networking with others through your language skills. I would recommend using forums, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc), and niche websites to make these connections with people. If you travel overseas a lot that’s a plus too. You will have several opportunities to meet people from travelling. Sometimes, you can make friends just being in the country and being social with others. Obviously, be aware of your surroundings and make sure you feel safe around others. Constantly, looking behind your shoulder wondering who is going to jump out and harm you is definitely NOT a good idea. Not to mention encountering people you would much rather avoid. Meetup is a great tool to consider when collaborating with others in person. While the internet is a fantastic place to connect with people, we eventually need to leave the house (especially in this community!) make the connection in person.
Believe it or not, you can actually use your language skills to enhance your job prospects. I know that becoming a tutor on italki has been incredibly beneficial for me the three years. I was able to meet so many awesome people from all over the world. Not to mention that I can use this experience gained into a future career. Obviously, you will still need to have some sort of degree or certification to get specific jobs related to the translation/interpreter field. There does seem to be this catch-22 of having the experience but lacking the degree or vice-versa. Keep that in mind before you go off and start looking for new jobs blindly. Fluency is also an important factor to consider when applying for these jobs. How fluent are you in your target languages? Be honest with yourself. Can you honestly communicate and use your target language to carry out the required tasks of that particular job? If yes, then by all means go for it. If no, learn about that job in your target language. This could mean learning specific vocabulary related to that job and being able to discuss topics surrounding the position. Don’t underestimate or overestimate your abilities when seeking out these jobs.
5) Being Able To Make Use of More Resources
Have you been frustrated that you haven’t been able to find enough information about a certain topic in your native language? Learning a new language will enable you to access a plethora of new information that would have been unattainable otherwise. Researching has become so much more enriching from being able to access multiple languages. You can find so much more information just from using a different language altogether. I myself have noticed that I was able to deepen my knowledge just from making a search in German or Japanese. Even though English is the most used language language on the internet. You will find that there’s still a great deal of information gathered in several different languages. It even helps keep you immersed in the language. Who doesn’t love discovering more from beyond one’s mother tongue? It can also be useful when writing papers for classes (for those of you who are still in school or at university)!
What do you think? Do you agree with these benefits? Do you have more to add? I would love to hear from you!