I decided a few years ago to learn new languages. But I was so good at procrastination that times. And a few years later (today) still nothing big. As I am around 50 days of German learning on Duolingo (53 to be more concrete), this post is just to speak about how much it is important to learn a new language. It sounds hilarious to create a blog post on achievement every 50 days right? But this is a good way of motivating myself and motivate others. So why the heck would you want to learn a new language, since you already know how to speak English?
1- It opens your eye to some details
I am pretty sure you know Mark ZuckerBerg, unless you don’t have a Facebook account and you are more than seventy-nine. I have noticed recently (and probably many others have already) that his family name ZuckerBerg is in fact a combination of two words in German: Zucker which means Sugar and Berg which means Mountain. So, the guy is a sweet, gentle huge man. OK the example is weird but since I have started learning German there are a lot of tiny little things I am now able to notice. And in fact, I did not realize those little things have actual funny meaning (or even a meaning at all). It is quite intriguing to observe that everything around us is not just laying there by chance. Every name we give to objects has profound funny roots (even family names), and it took me 50 days of German lessons to see it. What else will I discover by the end of the year?
2- You learn about a new culture
Learning a language is undoubtedly equivalent to learning a new culture. This is a real journey to another world where you learn how people greet, how they eat, what they appreciate most (I did not know that beer was so present in German culture), how they name colors just by sitting in front of your computer. A journey that is worth to make. Nothing more to say here
3- You think differently
French language is really gender oriented. Most of the words are either male gender or female gender. And as French is my day to day speaking language, I was convinced that some words should absolutely be linked to female gender and some to male. The mistake I was making in my thoughts is the use the should. Why are we obliged to bind everything to either male or female gender? The world is not so dichotomous, and should not be. On the other hand, what makes English so easy to learn is the non-gender oriented usage of the language. Words are in the same basket and the “gender” things are kept to humans (he/she), problem solved. I was really surprised to see that we can turn the problem into something more interesting: add a neutral gender to give diversity to the language. It took me some times to be accustomed to the fact that “girl” is neutral in German: das Mädchen. I think that our perception of the world is just from one angle and tiny linked to our day to day language (opinion). Why should “girl” be female gender? And why not? Why should we have to add a “neutral gender”? Those are really contemporaneous interesting questions and for sure answers are related to your speaking language (opinion again). Maybe learning a new language can change your point of view.
4- If you move a lot, sooner or later you will meet a non-english speaker
Frankly, I started learning German because I wanted to be able to read and understand some German books. There is a lot of English books out there and almost everybody speaks English nowadays. But you can not be able to compare books if you are not able to read by yourself those written in other languages. Also, 20% (I found the information on babel website) of people in this world speaks english. 1 out of 5 people is huge, but if you move a lot around the world, chances you will find a non-english speaker are high. It is simply a charm to be able to communicate with people in their languages. You show how much you are able to make a step toward others.
To conclude, pick a language you really feel you should learn (even for fun). Stick to your learning curve for a couple of years and you will never regret. I hope I will be able one day to write a blog post in German.