Why learn a language?

Learn a language? Why? Which? How?

Travel – Even a little knowledge of the language can make a difference in attitude when you meet people from other countries. Speaking another language helps to break down barriers.

Work and business – It can help you give an added advantage in your career if you work for an international firm or a company with international customers or contacts.

Music, film, arts and culture – If you like literature, fims or music from other countries, learning the language will help your appreciation and understanding.

For a challenge – You can learn a language in short, bite-sized sessions and you’ll enjoy a sense of satisfaction from achieving short-term goals, such as learning how to say hello, introducing yourself or numbers 1-10.

Which language to learn? Which is the easiest/hardest?

In general, the more similar a language is to your own in terms of sounds, grammar or vocabulary, the easier you’ll find it to learn.

Different languages pose different challenges for each individual.

For example, you may find vocabulary easier to learn in one language but its pronunciation harder. With another language you may find the opposite.

How to learn a language

There’s no single universal foolproof method to learn a language. Try different ones and use the one that works for you, or a combination.

Little and often is best. Ten minutes every day tends to be more effective and manageable than a longer session once a week.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. Have a go and you’ll learn much more quickly: most native speakers will already appreciate you making an effort.

Listen to language learning CDs or podcasts during idle times, such as when travelling to work.

Watch TV and video online in the language you’re learning. You may not understand much of it but it will help you get used to how the language sounds and, with the help of the visuals, you’ll pick up odd words and phrases.

Write words on post-it notes and stick them around the house.

Say phone numbers out loud, make shopping and other lists or memorise orders in a bar or restaurant.

Repeat activities to consolidate what you’ve learnt.

Visit to a place where you can use the language you’re learning – if anything, it will keep you motivated.

Find a learning partner.

Go back every now and again to something you did early on. You may be surprised at how much you’ve learnt.