A new language, a new life

Sixth year student Sarah Stirling takes a look at the importance of learning a new language…

Communication is this era’s currency. With Facebook now boasting one seventh of the world’s population, we are more connected that we have ever been. Businesses aren’t taken seriously unless they are global these days – you have to think big if you want to be noticed. So how do you stand out?

The best way is to take advantage of this current communication craze. And how do you do this? By learning a foreign language. The benefits of learning a second language are immeasurable; not only is it a fun way to improve your CV, it also provides you with opportunities for travel and meeting new people. It shows that you can work hard and that you are able to converse with others.

There’s a Czech proverb that says you live a new life for every new language you speak. A foreign language is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and get immersed in a new environment. It has been proven that studying a new language broadens the mind as it involves understanding cultural differences and interpreting words that have no literal translation in English. There’s a reason why knowing a second language receives such a big thumbs up from employers – communication is the key to the lock that is trade. Trade is how we keep the world running.

Not only is it sought by employers, knowledge of a foreign language allows you to really experience a country. Are you tired of every holiday resort looking the same? Weary of lying at the pool and turning pink? Having the skills to communicate with the locals opens the doors to the very core of the country and culture. People appreciate that you’ve taken the time to learn their language, as Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” The people you meet abroad will have viewpoints very different from your own and conversations with them can bring you fascinating insight.

It isn’t all about going away, though. The skills you learn provide the opportunity to encounter new media as well. Books can be read in their own languages so the subtle nuances can be savoured instead of getting lost in sketchy translations. A whole host of new films and TV shows are available to be enjoyed in their own language. This means no more reading subtitles and no more horrendous dubs! Not to mention all kinds of new songs and styles of music you will be able to listen to and understand. With Korean hit “Gangnam Style” smashing the UK charts, this is more exciting than ever.

Of course, there are myriad reasons why you might want to learn a new language. Perhaps you have foreign heritage and you want to feel closer to your family. Or maybe you just want to attract a member of the opposite sex with your fabulously fluent French. The benefits are endless and are definitely worth the effort it takes to begin speaking another tongue. So get started today and reap the rewards of knowing another language!

Feeling inspired? Have a look at language courses at www.ucas.ac.uk.

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