Thanks to technology, understanding foreign languages is easier than ever: we can translate ideas, articles, and answers in virtually any language with the click on Google. Forget phrasebooks, there are apps that will help you communicate in any country with any person. We can even take pictures of text and have it translated in moments to the language of our choice. We have the capacity to connect with one another in ways that were not possible before, without doing so much as downloading an app or finding a decent internet connection.
With technology able to do so much heavy lifting for us when it comes to communicating in a new language, there would seem to be very little incentive in investing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into becoming multilingual. Why spend so much money and time to learn how to say something Google can tell us in seconds? What’s the point in learning vocabulary that will be forgotten if not used regularly?
While digital tools have surely made talking to one another much easier, they cannot truly replace the advantages one receives when they acquire a new language. Proficiency in a second or third language enables us to travel easier, learn more about the world and people around us, enhances our resumes, and improves cognition. Many Canadian provincial governments encourage newcomers to know both English and French. We can become closer to our heritage cultures and start new social circles. If technology has made you push learning Japanese or Italian down your to-do list, you may want to reconsider - take a look at our top 6 reasons for learning a new language!
Learn more about learning international languages in Canada.
1. Travel easier
One of the best reasons to learn a new language is that a whole world of travel opens up. Imagine taking your winter holiday in Mexico, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic without having to stay in a typical resort or tourist hub and being able to converse in Spanish with locals and business owners. You’ll know how to ask for directions if you get lost, and will likely get a better response from staff and servers when they know you have made the effort to learn their language.
Travelling becomes much more easier and rewarding when you learn to communicate in the language of the country you are visiting. You can make new friends and build connections with others, read signs, respond to the questions of authorities and service providers, and better understand all the dishes on a restaurant menu or street market stall. When you speak the language, you will feel more confident about getting of the beaten tourist path and exploring the country in ways that the world does not often see.
2. Expand Your Social Circle
When we take on the challenge of learning a new language, we almost immediately get the opportunity to broaden our social circles. Taking a new class will bring you into contact with new people who may have similar interests as you. You’ll have a group to practice with and even enjoy socializing with after class or on social media. Cultural centres can also be a great source of activities and an easy place to meet native speakers of the language you are learning. Find out if there is a cultural centre nearby - and you will likely find many events and groups of people you can join to listen to native speakers or practice conversation.
If you are travelling, you may also find that locals are also trying to learn conversational English, and are eager to find people to practice with. This is a great opportunity for a language exchange - you can meet new friends that will help you with your language learning as you help them with theirs. With plenty of practice, everyone will be speaking fluently.
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3. Improve Your Resume
The job market is competitive, and being multilingual is an asset that can make you a stronger candidate. Canada has two official languages, not to mention large communities of people who speak Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, Arabic, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Spanish, Swahili, and Portuguese - just to name a few. Being able to speak French and English can make you a competitive candidate for numerous jobs in banking, government, education, tourism and more: many jobs, particularly in government, have French proficiency as a prerequisite.
Having another language on your resume makes you look prepared to handle a broad variety of clients. You can work abroad, communicate with overseas counterparts, or be in a better position to connect with others. Bottom line? Becoming multilingual may open you to new career opportunities, so don’t just treat it like any other hobby!
4. Understand Your Heritage Better
If you are one of millions of Canadians with cultural roots in another country, you will find that learning your heritage language is a step toward understanding your ancestry better. It’s not uncommon for second and third generation kids to lack fluency in their parents’ or grandparents’ language, and simply speak fluent English. Learning the language of your ancestors can help you to feel more closely connected to your cultural community, and perhaps even enable you to communicate better with senior relatives. You’ll feel more in touch with your roots and possibly even develop a stronger sense of identity.
Find out more about taking language classes in Vancouver.
5. Access a World of Books, Media, and Apps
Learning a new language will also open you up to a world of media, writing, and apps that you might not have been exposed to otherwise. One of the best ways to learn a new language is to consume content in the target language: music, TV shows, books, news broadcasts, sports and social media. Turn on the subtitles as you watch, and you will quickly learn new words as you watch your favourite sports team or sitcom. As you consume international media, you’ll likely learn that an entire universe of artists and perspectives exists beyond your own - which can be eye-opening.
It’s easy to get locked into eating the same foods, consuming the same music, and reading the same perspectives over and over again. When you learn a new language, and embrace the culture that comes with it, you can truly broaden your horizons and perhaps uncover passions and interests you would have never known otherwise.
Another great way to learn is through the burgeoning selection of language learning apps. Not only are language apps fun (skip the textbook!), they give you a chance to hear how words are pronounced, and even different accents. Ditch the flashcards and try out language learning tools like Duolingo, Babbel, Busuu, and Pimsleur.
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6. Cognitive Enhancement
Finally, learning how to speak a foreign language is good for your mental health and well-being! Studies have shown that multilingual people have a lower risk of developing illnesses like dementia, and can help you sharpen your memory and communication skills. If you take classes and become socially active in your language learning, you spend more time with other people - truly a relief in a world where so much of our work happens on a computer screen. Once you have trained your mind to learn one new languages, you will be well equipped to learn more. Many languages are interconnected - Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, for example - so once you learn one, the others follow fairly quickly.
Learn more about learning languages in Montreal.
Start Learning a New Language Today
So if you’ve been wondering whether or not to enrol in that first language course, the answer is to go for it! There are so many good reasons to learn a new language, and this list truly only scratches the surface. If you are finding that you don't have a lot of time, don't worry - many schools offer languages online. Become the polyglot you were born to be.
To kickstart your learning, why not find a private tutor or teacher on a site like Superprof? Superprof connects you with local native speakers and teachers that can help you get started virtually or in person, at times that are convenient for you. Check out the Superprof site today!
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