As a native English speaker, you may be wondering whether it's worth bothering learning another language these days, especially as English is often seen as the 'lingua franca' of the world.
There's also the pervasive attitude from native English speakers holidaying or moving abroad that 'everyone speaks English' so it's 'not worth the bother of learning the local language, even a little bit'.
Personally I think this is a shame and is a very narrow minded perspective, so in this blog post I'd like to outline the top reasons why I believe you, as a native English speaker (aka 'Anglophone'), absolutely should learn another language (or indeed many languages!). And not only learn, but achieve fluency too!
It broadens your perspective on life
If you're a native English speaker, it's easy to think that the world starts and ends with Anglophone cultures, that they're the centre of the universe and that other countries are obscure foreign lands with strange sounding languages, funny looking people and bizarre cultural customs.
When you learn another language, you realise we're all just citizens of the world trying to do our best to get through this thing called life, and that the way Anglophones live their lives is just one perspective amongst many.
Instead of seeing yourself as merely 'British', 'American' etc, you can begin to see yourself as a global citizen and appreciate the uniqueness and charm of the many different countries, languages and cultures in the world.
Knowing more languages can also give you multiple perspectives on life, like looking at life through a different lens. For example in Welsh they view a week as being 8 nights (from the word 'wythnos', meaning literally '8 nights') rather than 7 days. There are many more examples of this in all languages.
You can enjoy media content in other languages
Learning more languages will also allow you to enjoy media content from other countries in the target language, i.e. tv programmes, films, books, articles, podcasts, etc. If you're tired of British or UK tv, for example, then learning languages will open up a whole world of other options from different countries to you.
One day you might watch tv in Spanish, read a book in French, listen to music in Italian - the possibilities are endless. And it's great fun exploring all this content from abroad too!
And once you get to fluency, you can do all this WITHOUT subtitles or having to watch something that's been badly dubbed in English. Bonus!
It's an extremely practical and useful skill to have
Unlike a lot of skills people learn, being fluent, even semi fluent, in another language is something you can apply to your everyday life right away. We live in a very multicultural world these days, and it's not hard even in the smallest of cities to find native speakers of other languages living in or visiting your city who you can practice with. It could be someone you work with, the owner of local cafe, a tourist you bump into when out and about - you name it.
It will of course be very useful if you holiday abroad or deal with clients from overseas too.
Languages are all about communication, and knowing 1 or more extra languages will help you communicate with a lot more people than if you only speak your native tongue. What other skills in life are as practical as that?
It's a personal challenge & gives you a goal in life to aim for
I believe it's important and beneficial in life and to your well being to constantly challenge yourself and have goals that you're passionate about which make you feel excited to get out of bed in the morning. Language learning can be all these things and more!
It feels good to set a goal for yourself and achieve it. It also gives you a sense of achievement when see yourself progressing in language bit by bit.
Mastering a language takes time and effort and doesn't happen overnight. Most people don't have the staying power to see it through to fluency and give a up too soon. YOU, however, are one of few who is different, and imagine how good you will feel and the respect you get from people when you DO reach fluency in your chosen language(s)!
It will make you stand out from other people
According to a study published by the European Commission, 62% of the British people surveyed don't speak any languages beside English, and only 38% said they can 'speak' another language (and only 'well enough to have a conversation', not total fluency). Less than 6% said they speak more than 3 languages.
So if you are one of the few who can master one or many more languages, you will be in a very small and rare percentage of the Anglophone population and this will definitely give you a ton of individuality that most people just don't have. Polyglots are very rare in Anglophone cultures, and God help us hyper-polyglots who speak 10+ languages!
It will immediately endear you to native speakers of other languages
In my experience, most people are really surprised and appreciative when a native English speaker makes an effort to learn their language and talk to them in their native tongue. I've certainly never experienced any negativity or hostility from anyone who finds out I know their language, and they're always been really supportive in helping me improve my level too.
You can see the change in demeanour in how people treat you when they find out you speak their language. As an Anglophone, you can sense there's some unseen/unspoken 'barrier' between you and them, but it immediately seems to break down and they instantly become more friendly and open towards you when you start speaking to them in their language. They sense you're different to everyone else because you're making that effort and are open minded enough to want to learn more languages and about other cultures. This happens to me all the time, and is one of the things I love about being a polyglot!
It makes you mentally sharper and is a great workout for your brain
Western society is obsessed with health and ways to keep yourself physically fit these days but often fails to consider that cognitive health is vital too.
If you want to keep yourself mentally sharp and give your brain a good workout, there is no better way to do that than to learn and use 1 more additonal languages. Forget all these gimmicky 'brain training games', Sudoku etc. What practical use do these have anyway? Just learn another language, and you will see the immediate cognitive benefits.
I've personally found that knowing many languages helps me to memorise things more easily as well as multitask better.
Yet more studies have proven that learning languages helps stave off dementia later in life, which is a good thing. So if you want to keep your brain as sharp as a razor for the rest of your life, then start learning more languages now!
It can enhance your career prospects
If you master one of more additional languages, it can do wonders for your career. You could work as a translator, interpreter, language tutor, or any other line of work where the languages you speak are needed. It'll also look great on your CV to state that you speak/are fluent in one of more languages besides your native tongue - I know from personal experience it's a great way to stand from other candidates going for the same job!
And finally....being multi-lingual is just plain great fun!
Living a multi-lingual life is just fantastically good fun. You might start your day with a bit of radio in Spanish, then have a conversation with a friend in Polish, have a quick chat in Italian when you buy some lunch, listen to some music in French, then watch a film or tv show in German, then read a book or article in Japanese. The sky's the limit, and it makes life infinitely more interesting than only being able to speak English.
I could never imagine being mono-lingual, and I think life is a bit one-dimensional if you only know one language.
So I hope I've convinced you that learning more languages is 100% a good thing than will enhance and enrich your life in many ways. So why don't you get started as soon as possible. At Neil Kendall Language School we will help make your language learning dreams become a reality.