Learning a new language is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. A new tongue can transport you to other worlds, boost your CV, improve your communication skills, teach you about another culture and give you another perspective. Languages can help us to connect in a global and multicultural world. Ever since I could remember, I have adored picking up new tongues and imagining worlds beyond the horizon that I could only dream of. I loved the way a foreign language would sound and how I felt different according to each language I picked up. Languages are a fantastic way of growing as a person and opening up an incredible range of possibilities for your life.
The great news is that there is no shortage of languages to learn. However, it can be overwhelming. Which language should I pick? Which language can I learn easily? Which language would suit me best? I’m here to give you the ropes and advise you for semester 2. I speak French and Spanish fluently as well as having an intermediate level of Italian. I have been taking beginner Chinese classes with the Chinese Hong-Pao society. Some cultural societies like the Japanese society offer weekly classes for a membership price of £3. Additionally, the university runs a plethora of evening language classes ranging from Gaelic to Arabic. Having learnt these different languages, I am going to discuss the nature of the language, the cultures you would be engaging with and the challenges you could face.
I will start with Chinese. As you many of you may already know, Chinese (Mandarin) has a reputation for being one of the hardest foreign languages to learn, especially for Westerners. This is no exaggeration. Although it is the most spoken language in the world and looks great on CVs there are many difficult elements to this language. Firstly, there is traditional and simplified Chinese. You would be learning simplified. An immediate challenge is the lack of an alphabetical system. Characters represent words. Moreover, writing Chinese can be complicated and requires more concentration and finesse than other languages do. When you learn Chinese all the words can be written out in a western style called Pinyin which acts as an alphabet for learners. Pinyin is phonetic. If you are good with memorization and are more mathematical Chinese could be for you as learning extensive characters requires an excellent pictographic memory. There are 5 tones when it comes to speaking Chinese. If you are musical or have a good ear, then this language could be for you. It is incredibly important to be able to hear the different tones so bear that in mind. Some sounds are also hard for Westerners to make. However, the language has a fascinating history and comes from an ancient culture. China is a diverse and fascinating country and is increasingly becoming more significant on the global stage! Chinese is not for the faint of heart and already having mastered one or more foreign languages might help before attempting to learn this unique tongue.
Now I will move onto Italian! Who does not love a good pizza or spaghetti carbonara? I certainly love Italian food, which is automatically a reason to learn Italian. The food is delicious, and Italy is a stunning country. From the majestic Dolomites in the North, to the sun- set fields of Tuscany to the beautiful and colorful Amalfi coast Italy has it all. Not to mention a captivating history. If you fancy spending days in museums marveling at Italian sculptures and pottery, then why not learn some Italian too. The duomos are astounding too. Anyone interested in Italian food, such a beautiful country, fantastic art and sculpture or ancient history should learn Italian. However, if you are not very keen on spelling then Italian might not be for you. If you are not a fan of multiple vowels jammed together then Italian might be your worst nightmare. Apart from that, grammar is not too difficult, and the pronunciation is not too hard either. Moreover, this language has such charm and charisma attached to it. So why not give it a go!
French is also a superb language to pick up. Having visited France each summer and having had my mum speak to me in French sometimes when I was younger, this language for me has very familial connotations. I associate it with my childhood and France feeling like a second home for me! I have always found the accent quite easy, however it is quite nasal, which could pose difficulties for some leaners. The grammar is harder than Spanish but on par with Italian in terms of difficulty. Yet again, French is a global tongue, and the accent and cultures vary significantly. You can explore French speaking Canada and the outer seas French territories (Outre-mer) which over a more tropical vibe. France itself boasts scrumptious food, charming chateaux and lovely countryside! It is a wonderful country to explore with a rich history of chivalry. One of the best things about learning French is sampling the yummy patisserie, (French cakes). French patisserie is famous for being delicious. There is no shortage of the diverse types of patisserie you can try! Additionally, there is a high correspondence between English and French as some words are similar. Basically, French is a fantastic language to learn!
Finally, Spanish is a fantastic language to learn too. Firstly, it is an incredibly easy language to learn. The grammar is very comprehensible, and the accent is not hard to get a grip with. The double rr can be a challenge but that is really it. Moreover, this language opens up South America, Central America, and parts of the Caribbean. This is truly a global tongue with multiple cultures to experience and learn about. Spanish food like tapas is delicious and it is a warm and welcoming culture. The Spanish lifestyle is a nocturnal one therefore if you are a night-owl then Spanish might be for you! Spain is a beautiful country with a rich history to explore! In other words, Spanish is a wonderful language to learn!
To summarize, learning a new language is a great thing to do! Not only can you boost your CV, but you can also enrich your horizons and have incredible opportunities and experiences you wouldn’t have been able to do without a rudimentary understanding of a certain language. A new language gives you a whole new set of ideas and perspectives. When you speak a foreign language, you can reinvent yourself! Moreover, it’s an effective way of meeting new people and making new friends, especially given how important it is to stay connected to others this semester.