Languages are Incredible
One of my goals with this blog is to either inspire people to learn, or to help people that are already on that path. This is why I want to add a section on learning different languages. Why? Well guess what? THERE ARE 7102 LANGUAGES IN THE WORLD. Yes, 7102! There is more to life than just English, guys.
I was first curious about why people don’t really learn languages anymore when I started really getting into European history. It was incredibly common to be fluent in several languages in Medieval times. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I could speak, read, and write in 6 languages fluently… by the age of 11. ELEVEN! What in the world has changed since the English language took over the world?
Knowing how many languages there are in this world, it’s really become apparent to me how rude it is when people say, “this is America, speak English”. Hello?! How ignorant can people truly be?! I would say, “this is the world, learn another language!”. For some reason, we view languages as just an “elective to pass” in school too. It’s more about just learning enough to pass your exam than it is to actually learn the language. I mean, we looked at all classes like that to be honest. There was no passion in learning at school- it was all stress so you could do well on tests.
How I Learned Spanish
I was lucky though. When I was 14-15 I had an amazing Spanish teacher, and then I started working at a place where there were mostly Spanish speaking workers. My teacher was American, and I have found that it is much easier to learn a language from someone who speaks your mother tongue first. She was amazing, and I learned SO much from her. And being able to put it in use at work was incredibly helpful.
I was obsessed with learning Spanish too at that point. I used to translate songs from Spanish into English so I could learn more vocab, grammar, sentence structure, etc. Thus began my love of reggaeton and bachata (Aventura especially was a favorite of mine!). I also ended up with 2 boyfriends back to back that spoke Spanish as their first language, so I was immersed in it all for years- and I got to learn about a few different dialects and cultures!
These days, I don’t have anyone to chat with so I can’t speak it as well, but luckily I can still read and understand it pretty well. I hope to teach my son once he’s ready (he is half Latino!). My husband is 100% Latino but for some reason no one felt like teaching him Spanish as a kid (he’s still baffled about that). Funny story though- he though *I* was Latina because I could speak it fluently, so he was both shocked and impressed when he found out I wasn’t.
Why We Should Learn Languages
Honestly the main reasons why I think we should be encouraging more language learning goes along the same lines as why reading is so important. It helps stimulate your brain, makes you think critically, and it’s actually really fun. You become exposed to so many new things if you learn a new language: foods, cultures, history, music, TV shows, movies, and more! Plus if you become fluent enough, you could have more job opportunities open up. Many employers are looking for bilingual employees now.
These days, we are so connected virtually too so it’s even easier to find internet pen pals to converse with as you both learn. It’s also helpful if you ever want to travel of course, and it’s bound to make your trip much easier if you can learn at least basic skills in another language.
One thing I have noticed myself- it is SO much easier to learn a 3rd language if you’ve learned a second. I’ve been working on learning Korean over the last year (one of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn) and it really has made so much more sense because I know so much of the lingo from learning Spanish. Conjugations, formal speech, understanding different grammar structure- it’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. But friends of mine that don’t speak other languages find Korean nearly impossible to learn, so I do think I have a bit of an advantage.
So be on the lookout for Spanish lessons, and maybe even Korean in the future! If you’re interested in this, please let me know in the comments.