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Why Learn a Language?

There are many different reasons to learn a foreign language, in addition to utilizing it when you compete in foreign countries. A clear idea of why you're learning a language will help to motivate you in your studies.

  1. International Study

    If you plan to study at a foreign university, college or school, you'll need a good knowledge of the local language (unless the course you want to study is taught through the medium of your native language.) Your institution will probably provide preparatory courses to improve your language skills and continuing support throughout your main course.

  2. Travel

    If you're planning to travel, knowledge of the language(s) you're likely to encounter will be useful. A basic ability in a foreign language will help you to "get by", i.e. to order food and drink, find your way around, buy tickets, etc. If you have a more advanced knowledge of the language, you can have real conversations with the people you meet, which can be very interesting and will add a new dimension to your experience abroad.

  3. Culture

    Maybe you're interested in the literature, poetry, films, TV programs, music or some other aspect of the culture of people who speak a particular language and want to learn their language in order to gain a better understanding of their culture.

  4. Getting in touch with your roots

    If your family spoke a particular language in the past you might want to learn it.

  5. To understand your own language and culture better (contributed by Evona York)

    Sometimes learning a foreign language helps you understand your own language and culture better through comparison, or through the relationship between the foreign language and your mother tongue. For instance, studying Latin in high school taught me an incredible amount of English, because English has so many words that come from the Latin. Same with Greek.

  6. To become someone else (contributed by Janet Gil)

    As a teen, I wished I were someone else. Learning Spanish let me be part of my best friend's family and have friends in college from South America whom I may not have met had I not had such an interest in learning Spanish. I liked myself with these other people more than I liked my American self (if that makes sense).

  7. To better understand our thought processes (contributed by Judah Kay)

    All of our thought processes are conducted in language, so really our entire existence or essence or soul, however we phrase it, is inextricably bound up to and with the languages we speak. Try to think without language for instance. However, we see that the language is in essence superficial, since many languages exist. To understand the true roots of our thought processes, the real nature of the human soul, knowledge of several languages may be necessary.

  8. Family and friends

    If your family or friends speak a different language, learning that language will help you to communicate with them. It will also give you a better understanding of their culture and way of thinking.

  9. Work

    If your work involves regular contact with speakers of foreign languages, being able to talk to them in their own languages will help you to communicate with them. It may also help you to make sales and to negotiate and secure contracts. Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips.

  10. Cuisine

    Perhaps you enjoy the food and/or drink of a particular country or region and make regular trips there, or the recipe books you want to use are only available in a foreign language.

  11. Linguistic interest

    Maybe you're interested in linguistic aspects of a particular language and decide to learn it in order to understand them better.

  12. Challenging yourself

    Maybe you enjoy the challenge of learning foreign languages or of learning a particularly difficult language.

  13. Sounds/looks good

    Perhaps you just like the sound of a particular language when it's spoken or sung. Or you find the written form of a language attractive.

  14. To keep your mind healthy

    Learning a second language has been proven to delay the onset of dementia.

  15. To better understand the rest of humankind

    Language is an aspect of humanity, and learning what a fellow human speaks teaches you more about humankind as a whole. The more languages you know, the more you understand our species, and that is beneficial no matter what the situation is.

Adapted from "Why Learn Another Language?" Guide to Written Language as cited in – Discover Reasons to Learn a Language


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