Learning a new language can truly open international doors for you but the one door that’s most important is the door to a better YOU.
Sure. there are endless other practical reasons to learn a new language. To start with, more than half the world’s population speaks more than one language.
Whether you’re working, going to school, or looking to travel to a new country, the list of reasons to learn a new language is far from short. But these are all external motivators.
Perhaps the best reason of all to learn a new language is what it can do for you as a person. Beyond passing tests, impressing potential business partners, and ordering coffees in a café easily, learning a new language can do something for you no other subject can. It can help you become a better person.
Often, all a person needs is a little motivation to get moving. Maybe you’ve held off on wanting to see the world because you’re afraid of how you’ll be able to get around. Or, maybe you’re a little embarrassed that you won’t be able to speak the language well and that you’ll have a horrible time.
It happens. But many of the “horror stories” people have when traveling are from a simple issue: difficulty communicating. Misunderstandings often avalanche into uncomfortable unpleasantries. But armed with even a little understanding of the local language can put your life at ease and make traveling an incredibly enjoyable experience.
But Traveling Alone Isn’t Enough to Enlighten You
The true heart of a place is more than a sum of its unique locations. While Paris, for instance, has its Instagram worthy pictures, you’ll never truly explore a place unless you dive deeper than the photo opportunities. In fact, as great as traveling to a new place can be, at some point, a church is just another church. The people are what make the difference.
And knowing the language is the best way to connect with the people. Imagine eating at a restaurant in Paris. You connect with your server over a few broken phrases in French, and you manage to ask for a recommendation on a neat local place to hang out. She directs you to a spot around the corner. When you arrive, they’re locals chatting. You introduce yourself and spend the night exchanging stories.
Moments like this change you. You get a deeper feel for what it means to be a local. And those stories can broaden your world perspective. But understanding the language is the key. Without it, that door will stay locked for you.
The Value of Success in Personal Development
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”– Bernice Johnson Reagon
Learning a new language isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would speak multiple languages, and you wouldn’t have a world full of people who’ve spent years studying a language only to walk away barely remembering how to count. It’s challenging. Think back to how long it took you to learn your first language. Estimates for the amount of time you need to gain fluency in a new language start at around 500 hours for category 1 languages and go up to 2200+ hours.
You could potentially spend years learning to master a new language. But hard work pays off in more ways than one. As you learn more and more of your target language, you’ll feel a greater sense of satisfaction and self-accomplishment. Success builds on success, and you’ll be inspired to try new activities you may have previously avoided.
Sometimes all a person needs to be successful is to feel successful. And learning a few key phrases can be enough to inspire you to learn more. But there’s one huge part of learning a new language that you cannot avoid: making mistakes.
It’s inevitable. You’ll mess up when talking a lot. People who don’t speak multiple languages often get caught up on this (something linguist Stephen Krashen refers to as the Monitor Hypothesis). It’s worse for adults. We don’t like feeling “stupid” and making mistakes often feels that way. But if you’re going to be confident in speaking a foreign language, you have to be comfortable making mistakes. And that’s a talent that can go a long way.
The more comfortable you are with messing up, the more likely you’ll be to try new things and experience more of what the world has to offer. As a result, your perspective changes. If you can walk up to a total stranger and ask for directions in a second language in a distant country, suddenly asking someone out on a date or taking up dance lessons doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
Learning a New Language Connects You to an Increasingly Global Community
Pushing yourself to new heights, reaching out to and connecting with new people, exploring the world, all of these characteristics help you embrace the increasingly global world we live in today. When you learn a new language, you also learn a new culture. You realize that there’s more than one way to express yourself. And you grow to understand the true culture of a place.
Whether you’re watching films in a foreign language or talking to a local, you get direct insight into just how diverse people are. But shockingly, at the same time, you realize how connected we all are.
Someone on the other side of the planet has to deal with the same problems that plague everyone’s lives. Once you realize that, the universality of the human condition becomes far more apparent. And that’s the kind of insight that will take you far.