It’s estimated that almost half the world understands more than one language. If you fall into the other 50% of the world, then learning a new language can benefit your memory, career, travelling and can even improve your understanding of English. If you want to learn a new language but don’t know what to do or where to start, following these five tips will help you narrow the search.
With China being Australia’s largest trade partner, a working knowledge of Mandarin is definitely high on the list as a top benefit for developing your language skills in a competitive market. German also ranks highly in the corporate world, being the number one spoken language in the European Union. If you want to stand out in the international job market, then choosing a less popular language that has a lot of native speakers, such as Portuguese and Russian, can help you set you apart.
Languages with a rich history such as Latin, Greek, Hindi, Arabic and Russian, have deep roots in the creation major civilisations, as well as a huge impact on society as we know it today. Being able to read great works of philosophy, history and literature in their native language will give you a deeper understanding of the text that may otherwise be lost with translations. Learning the native language of some of the biggest empires in history will also open up a richer world and allow you to explore the culture of the region in which the language is spoken.
Despite English being spoken in many city capital cities around the world, not everyone is going to be able to speak with you in English – some may even flat out refuse. Depending on your destination, a few simple phrases can go a long way. In many countries, a lingua franca such as French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Danish or Spanish, is used to bridge the gap between those who don’t share a common first language. Speaking some French to a native Spanish speaker with French as a second language is a better option than a stalemate of charades or a slew of indecipherable words. Many lingua franca languages are also great gateway languages to learn other languages or dialects spoken in the region.
Multiculturism is one aspect of Australia that makes it so unique, with an estimated one-third of the Australian population born overseas. Understanding our cultural heritage or the cultures of our loved ones gives us a greater sense of kinship and belonging. If you wish to learn a new language to speak to family, friends or discover your cultural heritage, then learning a new language to overcome linguistic barriers are a great incentive to immerse yourself and gain a sense of community. Native speaking friends and family are also a great resource for practicing and reinforcing the language you are learning.
Grammar, Punctuation, Knowledge, Fluency. All words that ring true for those of us who love a linguistic challenge. And if you’re looking to test the limits of your abilities, some languages are more challenging than others. Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Polish and Danish are among some of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn due to grammatical rules, structure, and sounds that don’t exist in English. The rewards for learning a challenging language are great, not only will you be able to watch Chinese anime without subtitles or read a Scandinavian crime novel in its native language, but you will also obtain an understanding of a unique alphabet, script or grammatical system, which will make your third, fourth, of fifth language easier to pick up and master.
Sometimes your choice is more obvious, such as holiday locations you’re passionate about visiting, or if have family whose first language differs from yours. There are challenges present in learning any language and perseverance will help you succeed, whether you’re learning Vietnamese, Dutch or Indonesian. The important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself and practice! Just a bit of practice each day will help you get to where you want to be in your language journey.
Still deciding on your next language? Why not take a look at our 22 languages on offer?