Learning A New Language

If you’ve talked to me in the past two years, you’ve probably heard me complaining about my Russian class. We’re required to take two years of a language for my degree program, but these past two years have been for kicks and giggles. I’ve been learning a foreign language in school since the sixth grade, when I started taking French. And after I finished my freshman year of college, I switched to Russian.

So, why should you learn a foreign language?

I can remember being in the eighth grade and learning that Spanish was probably going to become the most spoken language in the United Sates. And while it seems as though English is spoken almost everywhere these days, Mandarin comes in as the most spoken language, followed by Spanish. English comes in at third, while Hindi and Arabic are a close fourth and fifth. We’re slowly becoming a more interconnected world, especially with the social media boom, and while English is great, it’s difficult to expect everyone to know to speak it. Learning a new language helps to bridge that gap. 

For those who want to work in a field that is truly global, having a second or even third language is a strong selling point on your resume. And for those who love traveling, think of how many more doors can open up for you once you can speak the language of the countries you’re going to.

I can’t begin to express to you how much I enjoy being able to speak a foreign language, especially when I’m in public with a friend and we can have an entire conversation in front of people and not have anyone know what we’re saying. If you’re in college and/or have the capability to take a foreign language class through a community center or local college, I would highly recommend it.

If you don’t feel like you have the time for a formal class, there’s a bunch of software out there, the most well known being Rosetta Stone, which will teach you how to speak a multitude of different languages. And for those who don’t want to be confined to a computer or pay money, there are apps, the most notable of which is Duolingo, which is free, and which treats learning a language like a game, giving you points for completing lessons.

Today was the last day of Russian for the semester, and, for me, the last day of a formal language class. For all my complaining, learning Russian has been a blessing. Not only have I been able to immerse myself in a different culture, but I’ve made friends, and acquired a skill that not too many other people (at least in the United States) have. However, I know that just because I'm no longer in a classroom, learning a different language doesn't have to end. 


Emily Karlsson