Hi friends, I hope we’re all keeping well.
One of my major hobbies that I want to write about in this post is language learning. I want to use this opportunity to talk about the many uses, benefits, and advantages one can receive when they learn a new foreign language, my personal background with learning languages, and also hopefully motivate some of you to at least give it a try!
So, I’m sure many, if not most of you, have tried learning a language before, at least once in your life. Most of us were probably introduced to a new language at the beginning of high school, or even from our families. For me personally, I had the tremendous privilege of growing up speaking Mandarin with my mother, while also being able to speak English with my peers in school and the rest of society in Dublin. I never really realised just how lucky I was, to be able to grow up bilingual, until someone actually mentioned it to me.
My interest in language learning first sprouted when I came across a Youtube video featuring Tim Doner, a jaw-droppingly talented polyglot (person who can speak many languages) who could speak more than 20 different languages. Watching his progress and fluency with all these different languages amazed and inspired me hugely. I was about 14 or 15 when I first watched that video, and I very clearly remember how much I wished to be like Tim Doner.
If I’m being honest, I suppose my love for language learning first developed through a few shallow reasons first, in that I simply wanted to impress people and made them think I was ‘cool’ or some other nonsense like that. The more I went into language learning though, the more irrelevant those reasons became and sure enough I was soon learning languages for myself only and simply because I wanted to.
As for my language repertoire itself, I can currently speak fluent English and Mandarin. I would like to think I can also hold conversations in German to a very comfortable degree. I can also hold some basic conversations in Irish, and am currently focusing on Japanese on Duolingo. I do know there’s some kind of specific system to assess how proficient one is in languages, but unfortunately I haven’t had the time yet to actually take one of those tests. Might try it sometime in the future though.
Why Should I Try Learn a Language?
While I’m very well aware of the many scientific studies that actually do show the various cognitive benefits of language learning , I kinda just want to share my own personal reasons why I like learning languages 😋
So as mentioned before, my interest in language first sprouted watching these amazing polyglots on YouTube, able to effortlessly converse in all these different tongues. Essentially, I started out just wanting to impress people by speaking many different languages. And while that’s still semi-relevant today and certainly can still look nice on a possible future resumé and dating profile (that’s a joke by the way), it’s not really my main reason anymore.
Honestly, I’d say I just like being able to talk to different people from different cultures and countries. Mandarin has helped me connect with many new friends, and helped garnered many precious relationships during my time in China. My attempts to pursue Irish and Japanese has also been a great conversational topic with fluent speakers of the languages, and I’ve made a good few friends in those journeys.
As for German, well funny story actually. When I first began high school, and had the option to choose to study a foreign language, I originally wanted to do French, mainly because there were more people in those classes (and also maybe because my crush would be in that class too). Shallow reasons, I know. But my mum strongly, strongly pushed me to choose German instead (by strongly pushed me I mean she forced me), saying that it would be the more useful language down the line. While I was initially upset with having to do German, the more I studied it the more interesting I found it. I also loved the feeling I got when I could listen to a person speaking a completely different language to my native one, and still being able to understand them.
One of the reasons I pursue learning anything is because of the possible advantages I can gain from them further down the line. And it is my belief that language learning absolutely can yield advantages later in life. From job finding to networking, to improving memory and better concentration, there are many articles on the net, from both 1st person experience to studies, that outline the benefits of learning a languages. I found this one, for example, quite interesting.
Another reason why I find this hobby appealing is because of the sheer amount of free and easy to use resources there are. These days, you can quite literally learn anything from the Internet. Since it’s so easy to start and maintain, why shouldn’t I at least try learning a language? Anki’s library of flash card decks can sometimes completely cover your vocabulary needs, while Duolingo can help gamify the language learning experience. The r/lamguagelearning subreddit can also help connect you with many like-minded individuals that help boost your motivation throughout the language learning adventure. Resources and tools are shared on an almost daily basis on that subreddit as well.
While I understand these may not be the most optimal routes to learning a language, I argue that it is still certainly a start, and that’s what sometimes matters the most in any activity.
Well, those are pretty much my 2 cents on language learning. Fantastic hobby, highly recommended, for those of you who just scrolled to the bottom to find a TL;DR.
Alright, I’d say that’s about it for this post. I’ll hopefully see you guys next time, stay safe!