Languages Open Doors!
You might wonder what’s the point of learning a language that you don’t need to speak in order to get by. It’s a question worth asking and there’s more than one answer. Languages will help you in some obvious ways and some ways you might not expect, whether it’s opening doors to travel, providing job opportunities or giving you a unique perspective on the world.
One of the obvious advantages of learning other languages is that they allow you to see places you wouldn’t otherwise see. Nearly every city that people travel to has something called the “tourist circuit.” What that means is there’s an area of the city filled with hotels, restaurants and activities like boat tours that are mostly reserved for tourists. These places are easy to visit, because everyone who works there speaks English. Sure, anyone can appreciate riding an elephant in Laos even if they don’t speak Laotian, but there’s much more to see in a country.
If you go to Germany and speak German, you can talk to a local on the bus and find a club to see some good live music. If you go to China and speak Mandarin, you can leave the tour group and find out what “Chinese food” really is. More than that, just being able to have conversations with the locals is worth it. There’s a feeling of satisfaction from having worked at learning a language and reaching the point where it can get you more than the ability to read a menu.
Languages also help with your career. Businesses from video game testing to restaurants to customer service often search for employees who speak a second language. If you’re in sales and you happen to speak Korean, you have a leg up in the industry when dealing with Korean customers. Businesses know that. It might seem strange to be learning Portuguese in an English-speaking country, but that means when an employer needs someone to edit documents written in Portuguese or deal with Portuguese customers, you have a rare skill that gives you a huge advantage in the job market.
Knowing an additional language will also give you access to another culture. You get a master key to a whole set of books, music and movies that most other people can never see. Even within Canada, English news and French news will give you different points of view on the same issue. If you can read both, or if you can listen to your local Spanish radio station, you’ll know about things that other people will never have heard of and you’ll have more well-rounded knowledge about your city and environment.
There are plenty of ways to learn a new language. Many people start learning in high school, but you can also attend private classes. Probably the most exciting way to learn is through a foreign exchange to an area that speaks the language. After all, studying a language will give you all the basics you need, but you have to actually use it if you want to understand it and to speak it smoothly.
So if you happen to find Italian interesting, take your school’s Italian class even if you can’t see how it will help you right now. Follow your gut and you’ll end up in fascinating places.