5 Great Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language

1. Improve your English – I know this might not make sense at first but hear me out. As a person who speaks only one language you have no basis for comparison; all you know is English. In different languages the same idea is often expressed in different ways. Knowing another language gives you a great measuring stick. It will help you better understand tenses, prepositions, and all the other parts of speech we normally take for granted. You will find yourself speaking and writing more precise creative sentences. There is a reason most great writers and poets are students of many languages.

2. Enhance your travel experiences – Traveling is one of the great joys of life and also one of the most expensive. Why not get the most out of your experience? As a person who doesn’t know the native tongue you are completely excluded from the culture. The locals shun you and you are relegated to sightseeing and taking cheesy photos. Knowing even a few phrases of the language will make a huge difference. You will meet many more people and find it much easier to get around. People are much more receptive if you make an effort to speak their language. This can turn a frustrating experience into the trip of a lifetime.

3. Languages are beautiful – Language is what makes us human. It is the medium we use to share our thoughts with the world. Could you imagine thought without language? Great language also has a wonderful musical quality. Learning a new language is like learning a new way to think and a new way to sing. I am often struck by new phrases that are profoundly meaningful and melodic. At those moments I feel grateful to be alive. Don’t sell yourself short by stubbornly ignoring every language but one.

4. Join the global community – Believe it or not, the majority of the world does not speak English. We are so isolated that we hardly realize this. The truth is new thoughts and ideas are happening everywhere and they are not being immediately translated. The world is getting smaller and we are coming into contact with more non-English speakers all the time. Gain an advantage for yourself in business and personal relationships by being able to communicate with people in their language. This will set you apart and gain you immediate respect and credibility.

Last, but not least:

5. It’s just plain sexy – I’m not saying you should learn a few corny Italian pickup lines and go saying them to everyone you meet, but knowing a foreign tongue and applying it tastefully is undeniably attractive. It implies education, good taste, and refinement, and it will certainly make you standout against the competition. Imagine saying a beautiful phrase with perfect pronunciation to a lovely coed. You will immediately have her attention; she will be dying to know what it means. I know this from experience.

Now that you are dying to improve your mind by learning a foreign language you are probably wondering how to go about doing it. The task appears daunting at first, but have no fear, in my next post I will detail how to teach yourself a foreign language in less than an hour a day. I’ve developed this method through personal trial and error, and trust me, it works much much better than the way your were taught in school. And best of all, it’s tons of fun. Once you start making progress you won’t want to stop.

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  • http://learnmegood2.blogspot.com Mister Teacher

    Great post! And I agree wholeheartedly! I am currently taking a Spanish as a Second Language class, in part because I teach at a largely Hispanic-populated school, but also just for my own personal self-development.
    I will probably never learn French, though the one phrase I CAN say is “I did not cut the cheese.”

    • Yourmum

      shh language is pointless so stop commenting

  • http://www.bigtimespanish.com Jamison Kelly

    Great article, John! Especially the point on improving your English – I never really appreciated how English is constructed until learning Spanish.

    It really shows how much one takes for granted their native language and what it really takes to learn another one.

  • http://www.italki.com/ Victor

    I totally agree those are great reasons to learn a language. I’d also note that technology has made it easier than ever to learn languages. In addition to podcasts and videos, with Skype and other IMs, you can actually learn from native speakers directly. Why learn on your own when you can find someone to learn from? It’s a plug, but it’s worth checking out http://www.italki.com to find language exchange partners and tutors. As with so many things on the internet — it’s free.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Very interesting, I’d love to find someone to speak a bit of French with. I’ll have to check that out.

  • http://www.oluf.co.uk F0ul

    obviously written by a monoglot who lives well away from any other countries! :)

    I like your reasons for wanting to speak a new language, although learning a non European language is quite a challenge -I would suggest learning Mandarin – I’m trying to but its quite difficult, even when you already have three languages under your belt!

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I’m an American, what can I say? I tried a bit a Mandarin too, and would agree that it’s very difficult to get the tonal part right.

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  • http://www.letutor.com/blog Foreign Language Blog

    I can attest to #1. When I started learning French I learned so much about English. I had moments where I said “That’s why we say it that way”. It’s sad but when it’s your native language you don’t think about it.

    #5 is also very true.

  • bob dylan

    I’m soon going to study Linguistics/Semantics/Rhetoric-Persuation/Semiotics and general philosophy of conlang. Eventually, I’ll get on to learn a programming language and syllogism/formal logic.

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  • http://www.thelinguist.com Steve Kaufmann

    Tyepad is giving me trouble so I will simply paste here what I have been trying to put up on my own blog at http://www.thelinguist.blogs.com. I will eventually put it up there but in the mean time…. oh, and, by the way, John, I am not a monoglot,. I have learned Mandarin as well as nine other languages, and I do agree with most of what you say on this subject

    Five Great Reasons to Learn Spanish

    Here are Five Great Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language from an intriguing blog that I have started to follow, called “Pick the Brain, an analytical approach to self improvement.” I am starting to follow a number of blogs in various languages using Google reader. Any good Russian posts I find, I just import into LingQ and integrate into my Work Desk.

    Here is my take on “five good reasons to learn a foreign language”. I decided to focus on Spanish. If English is the most widely studied second language, Spanish is certainly next, and with good reason.

    Five great reasons to learn Spanish.

    1) Spanish can be fun to learn.

    The iPod and the internet have changed language learning. You can enjoy learning Spanish from all kinds of podcasts, blogs, websites, audio books and more. It is easier and faster than it used to be. No more sitting in a classroom. No more studying grammar. No more annoying questions and drills. And you can do it whenever and wherever you want.

    2) Spanish is good for your mind.

    Language learning builds up your brain like exercizing builds up your muscles. There is no decline in language learning ability as people get older. So why not start improving your brain fitness, whatever your age. If you already know Spanish, you can learn another language.

    3) Spanish is written the way it is spoken.

    To learn a language you need to listen a lot, but you also need to read a lot in that language. Some languages, like English have irregular spelling which makes life miserable for the learner. Some languages use a different alphabet like Russian, Arabic or Korean. Some languages are written using thousands of characters, like Chinese. Spanish is clear and consistent. In Spanish, what you see is what you say!

    4) Spanish will increase your language power.

    Not only will learning Spanish make you confident that you can learn another language, it will also improve your ability to express yourself in other languages. Spanish is an easy entry door to all the Latin based languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, French and more. These languages are spoken by over 750 million people all around the world. Even in English about 65% of the words are of Latin origin. Learning Spanish will make you a linguist.

    5) Spanish can be useful.

    If you live in the United States, there is a growing market of people who speak Spanish. But wherever you live, you can travel to a country where they speak Spanish or a related Latin based language. Or you can just use the Internet to connect to all kinds of fun content in Spanish, about Spanish speaking life, history or culture. Your life will be changed forever if you learn Spanish.

    Please note that we are gradually adding to our Spanish content at The Linguist and we are looking for more. If you are a Spanish speaker please record yourself in Spanish and share with us. Talk about your life, or your friends. Or record something that is free of copyright. There is more information on how this works on this Demo.

    • Kymwright

      I would like some published research to back up what you are saying.  I am a Spanish teacher and while I know that it helps students understand English better just because of my 7 years of experience in working with elementary aged students learn the language, I would love to have some hard evidence to offer parents on why it is about more than just learning the language. 

      • Calebmilojevic

        Radical homey G pece out

    • Kymwright

      I would like some published research to back up what you are saying.  I am a Spanish teacher and while I know that it helps students understand English better just because of my 7 years of experience in working with elementary aged students learn the language, I would love to have some hard evidence to offer parents on why it is about more than just learning the language. 

  • Julee

    Are you learning Chinese? How long time do you learn Chinese and mandarin? Do you want to know your current level and achievement? I suggest you spend 5 minutes to know your Chinese level through watching a video on http://hello-mandarin.blogspot.com/search/label/Level%20Test

  • Dan

    You make some very good points. But you’re assuming that 1) someone has the time and energy to study a language, and 2) they have the ability to gain a reasonable level of procficiency. That’s not always the case.

  • http://www.thelinguist.blogs.com Steve Kaufmann

    Dan,

    I only assume that a person is motivated, or at least can get motivated, by realizing that learning another language is useful, potentially enjoyable and not that difficult. Without motivation it will not happen. With motivation a people will find the time, and will learn to the limit of their ability. I have found that motivation and not ability is the greatest predictor of success.

  • Dan

    Steve,

    Sometime motivation isn’t enough. I’m self employed, and a single parent with an autistic child. My time is spent working, or working with my son. That’s about 16 to 18 hours a day. I (generally) don’t commute to work, and have little down time — hey, I need to eat the occasional meal and sleep once in a while :-).

    Seriously, though, I have tried to learn two foreign languages — and failed miserably. I was dedicated, I was motivated. But once I got to a (very) basic level of proficiency, my progress leveled off. No matter what I did or how hard (or softly) I tried, I made no further headway. So, you can’t really tell me that ability plays no part in this.

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  • http://www.spanish-schools.com.ar David Green

    Those who can speak one or more foreign languages as well as their native language have many advantages. From a business perspective, it can be quite beneficial to know foreign languages in order to connect and network with people from all over the globe. From a cultural perspective, learning a foreign language gives you a chance to experience an entirely different culture in a very intimate way.

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  • http://www.edufire.com Jon Bischke

    These are some great reasons but I think another really important point (Steve alluded to this) is that learning a second (or 3rd/4th/etc) language opens up new pathways in your brain. There’s a great book about this that escapes me right now but it makes a very solid case for learning another language, especially early in life.

    Our goal @ eduFire is turn language learning from something that often is viewed as a chore into something immensely fun and social. All we have up now is a blog at http://blog.edufire.com but we’ll be unveiling more soon. Beunos dias!

  • http://helloindifferentlanguages.tumblr.com janderson013

    I wholeheartedly agree with number 2. Having traveled both in countries where I know the language and where I don’t I can attest to how much easier and more enjoyable a trip can be, even with the most basic language abilities.

  • http://www.ecpod.com Susan Lee

    When in Rome, why not let the Romans teach you?

    In Huangshan (黄山) southern Anhui province in Eastern China, Fu Shou-Bing logs on to the computer in the public library near his village. Since discovering ECpod.com (http://www.ECpod.com), the retired High School Chemistry teacher has been logging on almost every day to the English-Chinese teaching website. Sometimes he cycles the 25 miles home, cooks himself a simple lunch of rice and stir-fried vegetables with salted fish, often returning once again to the library and his new hobby in the evening.

    ECpod.com boasts an educational website that teaches members conversational English or Chinese (no “this is an apple” stuff here) via video clips contributed by other members. After a vetting and often transcribing process by language tutors commissioned by the site, the clips are available free of charge in YouTube fashion. The twist? Members
    film each other in everyday activities, hoping other members will learn not just their native tongue, but also cultural innuendos lost in textbooks and more conventional means of language learning.

    “One member filmed himself cooking in his kitchen. We got a few emails asking what condiments he used,” says a bemused Warwick Hau, one of the site’s more public faces. One emailer even wanted to know if she could achieve the same Chinese stir-fry using ingredients from her regular CR Vanguard (华润超级) supermarket. “We often forget our every day activities may not be as mundane to people on the other side of the world,” Hau adds. Another such clip is “loaches” – a Chinese mother of 3 filmed her children and their friends playing with a bucket of loaches – slippery eel-like fish the children were picking up and gently squeezing between their fingers.

    Lately the members have also begun to make cross-border friends and contacts. The ECpal function works much the same way sites like Facebook.com and MySpace.com work – members can invite each other to view their clips and make friends. And it has its fair share of juvenile humor as well. “Farting Competition” features two teenagers and graphic sound effects. Within several days, the clip was one of the most popular videos that week, likely due to mass-forwarding by the participants’ schoolmates.

    For other members keen to learn more than the fact juvenile humor is similar everywhere, there are many home videos featuring unlikely little nuggets of wisdom. “The last thing I learned from the site is why you never find green caps for sale in China”, says Adam Schiedler one of the English language contributors to the site. Green caps signify cuckolded husbands, particularly shameful in China as they are a huge loss of face. Adam vows not to buy any green headgear for his newfound friends.

    The subject matter of the videos often speaks volumes about its contributors. Members choose their own content and film the clip wherever they please, some of their efforts drawing attention to rural surroundings and the quaint insides of little homes otherwise not seen unless you backpack your way thru the tiny dirt roads and villages along the Chinese countryside.

    Idyllic countrysides and cooking lessons aside however, ECpod marries the latest video sharing technology with the old school way of teaching a language – from the native speakers on the street. It’s a modern, more convenient alternative to spending 6 months in China. And why not let the Chinese teach you?

  • Jenny

    I am 13 and i a ma learning norwegian so i can converse with freinds from norway. i believe that learning a new language can be fun, and i also agree with all the things said above. (i am also learning french)

  • http://www.childhoodspeech.com Hanifa

    Totall agree. The pursuit of language should be everybody’s business especially for adults who have children. I do not live and am not raised in a monolingual or mono-cultural society. I have developed the confidence (like many of my fellow friends who speak more than 3 languages) of meeting people from a totally different background.

  • http://nmwoodworks.com/life BillinDetroit

    I was in Aruba last week and had my first encounter with Papiamento (sp?). Until last Saturday, I didn’t even know that the language existed.

    I -really- need to get out more!

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    Learning a foreign language can be easy for some people but not for all. The best way to learn a foreign language is to tailor a custom program for the individual. Visit my website

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  • Mike

    Wow some really make huge posts… my 2 cents:
    I did find another one, apart from the ones in the comments:
    http://www.studentteacherexchange.com/ which is completely free and uses chat/video/voice and whiteboards as well.

    They are new but my guess is they will be booming soon since they charge nothing.

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  • Tasker

    En realidad, aprender un idioma extrangero, es de gran ayuda para desarrollar una mejor comprensión de lo que sucede a nuestro alrededor, el mundo no se mueve en un solo idoma, ni aún cuando Roma domino ‘todo el mundo’(el mundo que conocian entonces) el Latin, si bien fue de dominio ‘mundial’, no fue un único idioma aglutinante sino que fundiendose con otros tantos forjo nuevos idiomas – los que hablamos hoy en día (practicamente todos los idiomas europeos, en mayor o nemor medida, tienen ifluencia del latin) – y aun estos se estan fundiendo y generando nuevas formas de hablar; en este orden de ideas por ejemplo el Ingles le debe mucho al Frances -que de echo era el idioma real de la monarquia britanica, a diferencia del ingles que idioma de los plebeyos-, el Español se nutrio de muchos idiomas amerindios, igual que del arabe y a su ves influyo en otros idiomas como el ingles, que a su vez influyeron en el.

  • Viktoria Ironpride

    Sorry, folks, but it is impossible to learn any foreign language with any proficiency if you don’t start learning it from earliest childhood. The older you get, the harder (or more impossible) it gets. At best you will only be semi-literate in the target language and make all kinds of verbal gaffes. Most college students I should say want no part of foreign language classes; that is why they are required at so many universities–to keep TAs employed and the foreign language department open and running–

    • chris

      You are wrong

  • http://www.guyfarmer.com/diversity Guy Farmer

    Thanks for your thoughts. I speak English and Spanish fluently and have found that it gives me an insight into two different ways of looking at the world. I speak some French and it gives me a third perspective. It’s like being able to choose from more items at a buffet.

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  • http://www.emlsgnrtch.com Cecil Gamma

    I am always invstigating online for tips that can facilitate me. Thank you!

  • Mike

    I have some experiences with text to speech software programs, I recommend Panopreter Plus ( http://www.panopreter.com ) as a tool in language learning, it can read text aloud and enables you to make audio books on your computer. You can improve listening and pronunciation skills with it.

  • http://www.triflemc.blogspot.com Shaun

    This is a response to:

    <<>>

    PLEASE run and look me up on youtube. My name is Tanheavy and the title is: “Black american man speaking spanish on Grand Concourse”

    in fact here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkM_fmMMhp0

    I began my spanish study at TWENTY FIVE (25!!) years old and people told me i COULD NOT LEARN it or that i would sound horrible but you know what? I did it! and I am on to the next language! Also , i am ENTIRELY self taught with books, audio CD’s and more books and constant speaking. EVERYDAY.

    For the guy with the autistic child, why dont you put the spanish name of every object on stickies and place them on everything you own. Pics, DVD players, Mirrors, Microwaves, Untensil drawers. I did this until EVERYTHING could be pictured in my head at the side of the english word. I learned the 100 mont important verbs and actually hurt my brain memorizing them but you know, it was SO worth it. Please try

    after a year i moved to the DR and to be honest, my town was filled with foreigners and NONE were learning spanish, even though we were surrounded by it. So I made $$ teaching them after 6-8 there myself!

    Its not just going to absorb BY ITSELF which is a misconception! I tell people all the time that i learned more in NYC than in the Dominican Republic simply because I put in the work. I always heard “You’re in America, learn english” but it is US from the States that were living abroad NOT learning the “tongue of the town”.

    And since Victkoria seems to think you will be illiterate déjame terminar este comentario hablando el español de modo que ella sepa que no es imposible aprender a escribir y leer. Uno tiene poner su parte y ya, salen palabras de la boca fácil.

    Muy atentamente,

    Shaun

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    With the help of Rocket Spanish you can follow an interactive course that is practical and will allow you to discover how to speak in virtually any circumstance. Not only will you pick up another language, but you will do so quickly, easily and effectively. You will be on your way to becoming bilingual in no time.

  • Viktoria Ironpride

    Chris, if you were referring to my opinion, I wish I was wrong, and you were right–but I still don’t think I am. And, Shaun, congratulations on your language ability. Some people are blessed with language learning ability, just as some are very good in math. Unfortunately, I am neither. I am not stupid, I am just no good in language learning (no doubt my unfortunate first experience has something to do with this)–

  • Tom & Marilyn Bennett

    We’ve never really thought how our on language was not spoken more then any other.It really is something to ponder on.My wife and I have been struggling with weather to teach our children to speak Spanish at such an early age. This has helped us make I think the right decision for our children.The way our culture is changing it can only be a plus for our children. Thanks
    http://www.articles411.com/article/Education/Language-learning/6001-how-can-i-learn-spanish.html

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  • http://www.sharinglanguage.com Jose

    Hello,
    thank you for this article.

    Knowing a second language has a lot of advantages. One of them, I think, is the fact that it helps you better understand other cultures, other people, other ways of thinking.
    And for sure, it is really a satisfying experience when you get to converse with a native speaker of the language you are learning.

    I want to tell you about something that can help you on your determination to learn a foreign language. It is a website developed for you to meet people who speak the language you want to practice. You will be able to practice any languages, with native speakers. Free of charge.
    Welcome to http://www.sharinglanguage.com,

    best regards

  • sasikala

    it is great and even fun learning or knowing more than one language apart from your mother tongue.

  • http://www.languages4free.com Braeden

    Learning languages is a lot of hard work, but worth it. Languages are the best way to challenge the brain. I have been told by people that it’s better than crossword puzzles. I go around searching and trying out language programs to let people know how to learn and where to start. Nobody wants to really spend money, especially in these hard economic times. So I always suggest to start at http://www.languages4free.com.. This is 100% Free. They never charge to learn. They are limited on languages, but I have been following them for three years and have seen them really working hard to improve and add languages. I then suggest http://www.sharinglanguage.com because after learning and building vocabulary, you can go to this http://www.sharinglanguage.com and practice with people. I have plenty of suggestions but this article has really touched upon them. Great writing. I hope I helped your readers with this new information.

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  • Charlestani

    Beautiful post..I myself am learning Brazilian Portuguese.
    Splendid language!

    Charles(Nairobi,Kenya.)

    • Maithe Souto

      I totally agree with you. I am Brazilian :)  and I am currently practising German in a social network language exchange website.  Join the portuguese group on.   
      http://www.fluentfuture.com 

  • Lindaduong99

    so helpful

  • Lindaduong99

    so helpful

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    I get to
    know more about the other culture and it really is interesting. Plus, it adds to my
    knowledge.

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  • Jonasvanderbuud

    Good Post!!
    Nowadays Learning a new language is so important.
    First of all, learning a new language is like sharing someone else’s culture. If every single person try to learn at least one another language than their own, our world would be more peaceful because knowing another language  is like trying to understand each other. 
    Second of all, learning a new language will boost your career. Knowing another language will shine on your resume. Employers who rely on international sales will want people speaking different languages because again speaking a different language is like connecting one another. 
    There are different programs out there who offer great opportunities to learn essential and widely spoken language such as Chinese, Spanish, Portugues, French…The cool thing is that you actually go to these countries to experience a total language immersion. 
    Website: http://questexchange.org/
    link: http://questexchange.org/programs-languages-abroad.php

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  • Chineseschool12

    Very interesting, I’d love to find someone to speak a bit of French with. I’ll have to check that out. 
    Thanks for post..

    Learn Mandarin

  • Maebelyn

    I planning to learn a couple of languages and Spanish is first on that list. But the problem is that I had trouble finding the right language program for me. I found this one: http://learnspanishprograms.org/Reviews/Tell-Me-More-Spanish-Course-Review.html   but I am not sure if it is a good program. What do you think guys? should I get one?

  • Marie4lopez1

    I know a lot of students (maybe too many) are motivated to continue learning Spanish because of the feedback they get from the opposite sex.  If done tastefully it can improve the perception other have of you in numerous ways.  I agree with #5 but in the end you need more substantive reasons to become fluent in Spanish.

    Marie
    http://learnSpanishprograms.org

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  • Cladin Red

    I am a complete beginner and looking for a great Spanish program to assist me. Is it advisable to get one or just enroll myself on a real Spanish class? Im thinking of having this program: http://learnspanishprograms.org/Reviews/Tell-Me-More-Spanish-Course-Review.html

  • http://www.learnfrenchlanguagequick.com/ Wendy Hugh

    I feel delighted to read such a good post. This post is good with regards of both knowledge and information. We appreciate that learning another language can be difficult, and maintaining motivation or even getting started is never an easy task.

    Different methods were intended to get you started, aiding you in your desire to learn french, spanish, or any languages.

  • http://screw9-5.blogspot.com/ Screw9to5man

    Yeah I’m currently learning Spanish, and have been learning for years, but still hardly know it. Still, it’s a very useful thing to have, so why not? It makes travelling much more fun also. Maybe after I’ve become fluent in Spanish I’ll learn French, it’s a sexy language. 

  • http://www.intercolleges.com/ Study in Cyprus

    I agree 100%! Even learning some very basic conversational language
    opens doors to another culture and interacting with local people.
    Languages are fun and on the inside loop of another culture is a
    wonderful feeling.

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  • Sweetgabbz

    thanks for having this up because i have an essay to write for the 8th grade and this is giving me a few pointers

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  • Charliewheele19

    i love number five :)

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  • Simito222

    Learning a language is never a waste of time. speaking a language is not only a means of communication but also a bridge to other civilizations. The more languages you speak, the more your brain functions better. Scientifically proven, that someone who speaks many languages has a great capacity of remembering and assimilating things.
    Med

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    To learn langusges is an amazing opportunity! I do agree with the points of learning a foreign langauge! Then after you become bettter at speaking and understanding the language you learn, you will be rewarded, as it is reallly great to be able to understand what other people say and talk about!  

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  • http://pen4pals.com/ Language exchange service

    Good article, but very short, there are more important reasons for learning language – improve employment potential, get married with your soulmate, secret communication, keep your mind healthy, understand how other people think and etc.

    • Sallyj5689

      I have decided to learn French to up skill my CV and to open doors to career progression. It’s actually a good idea because with the market been still, I needed to do something. Self-study is hard but I know it is going to be worth it in the end…

      I use easylanguageexchange.com which allows me to talk to natives, just like you would with skype and I have started feeling confidence when talking. There are lots of online resources but this one is helping me at the moment.

      Anyone who is thinking of a career step, this is definitely a good way to start.

  • Malaika_john

    DID NOT WORK !!!!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/the-how-to-of-learning-a-new-language Brian

    It’s all about #2 for me!  I still feel that I would’ve gotten more out of my honeymoon if I could have spoken the native language.

    • Erick

      I have learned german  and right now im just in love with it!
      learning a language its like learning an instrument, it might be hard but its worth it
      Plus Im a person who loves cultures, if you give me asian food, Ill get it, If you give me european food Ill eat it , well you get the point I totally agree with this article and the people who agree also  Languages Rock!

      • Erick

        Also, another good reason to learn a language is that you get to know the original peace of art, film, literature and music. For example Twinkle, twinkle little star is actually comes from a song mozart was singing to his mom a sad song to be specific.I recommend you to look it up:)
        (The pic on tehe bottom is a pic of german food)

  • Yourmum

    shut up u know nothing you stupid imature idiot

    • Meep1234

      Hi