We Asked, You Answered: Why Learn a Foreign Language?
Have you ever wondered “Why learn a foreign language?”
I recently asked members of the Fluent in 3 Months community their reasons for learning a new language. The response was amazing! Over 200 language learners chimed in with a startling variety of answers.
I thought it would be fun to take a look at what all of you said and explore your motivations to learn a foreign language. Check out some of these responses and see if your reasons match up with your fellow language learning enthusiasts!
Languages Help You Connect with a Culture
The most popular answer had to do with learning about cultures. As you might know, this is also my main motivation for learning languages. I truly believe that language and culture are intertwined. By studying a language you gain a deeper understandings of a culture and it’s people.
Here are some of the great responses that came in related to cultural learning
You Have a Love for Languages and an Urge to Study Them
For a lot of you, your studies are motivated by a deep love for learning languages. You just enjoy the whole process of studying and learning how other people communicate. Some of you even went so far as to say it was an undeniable urge!
For myself I don’t really have a love of studying languages (I know, it sounds weird, but for me it’s mainly a means to an end). But I can appreciate those who have a passion for it and have dedicated themselves to the study of a language.
Here are some of the great replies we got. You can really feel the passion and love for languages in these words!
Knowing a New Language Can Enhance Your Romantic Relationships
A fair number of you are looking for languages to help their love life.
Just to be clear, knowing lots of languages doesn’t guarantee a love connection. It does, however, increase your chances of meeting someone. The more people you can speak to, the more people you can meet, right?
But, most of you who responded are already in a relationship, usually with someone with a different native language. Naturally, to connect better with the family of your significant other, speaking their language can go a long way to getting to know them better (and letting them know you better too).
Here are some of the responses from those looking to enhance their relationships.
Studying a Language Helps You Connect with Family and Relatives
Some of you have a pretty diverse background! And naturally, with family members or ancestors from all over the world, the desire to know where you come from can create a strong impulse to study their language. It’s a great way to better understand your cultural roots.
It’s the reason I decided to study the Irish language and it has definitely helped me connect with who I am and where my family comes from.
Language Learning Helps You Make Friends
Even if you aren’t a social butterfly and suffer from a lot of shyness like I used to, learning a language can be a great way to connect with others and make new friends.
The best way to learn to speak a language is to just speak the language and naturally you need native speakers to help with that. Learning a language and meeting people who speak that language are two things that go hand-in-hand.
And, fortunately, it’s never as scary as you might think!
Languages Make Traveling the World and Living Abroad More Pleasurable
I don’t need to tell you that I love travelling. Exploring the world and it’s cultures is the whole reason I study languages in the first place. So when a bunch of you say that travel or relocating to another country is your impetus for learning a language, I totally get it!
Whether you’re planning a short trip and want to make the most of your journey, or you’re moving to another country and putting down some roots, learning to speak with native speakers will give you a leg up as soon as you hit the ground.
Here are some of your responses related to travel and relocation.
Studying Languages Can Exercise Your Brain
I mentioned in another post about the brain-boosting benefits of learning languages and some of you even state this as a primary reason for studying langauges.
Besides the many benefits listed in that post, such as being better at math, improved test scores, improved studying skills and increased creativity, studies at the University of Edinburgh show that studying languages improves the “elasticity” of your brain and keeps it young!
Languages Help You Explore Your Hobbies and Have Fun
For many of you, studying new languages helps you dive even deeper into your hobbies and interests.
Whether you’re learning Japanese to improve your Judo, or you’re exploring Spanish for salsa dancing tips, languages are a great way to enhance an appreciation of your interests.
I love to combine language learning with my hobbies because it can be a great way to both increase your enjoyment of the hobby, and develop a better command of the language.
Naturally we have some pretty funny responses among the 200+ people who chimed in, so I’ve included a few of these fun ones too.
Languages Support Your Education and Enhance Your Career
If you’re looking for an advantage with your career then learning a language can definitely provide a boost. One or two of you also stated that learning a language would help with your schooling, which is also great.
Of course, work or school shouldn’t be the only reason you learn a language, but it can definitely provide extra motivation.
What really matters is how you plan to use the language, so once you have that underlying motivation, it gives you that much more leverage to push through the challenging times.
Languages Help You Become an International Person of Mystery
I think this was my favourite category of answers. Apparently we have a lot of burgeoning international spies in our midsts! A surprising number of you looked at languages as a way of hiding or gathering information from the people around you.
I had my own experiences blending into the local environment in Egypt so I definitely know where you’re coming from. Whether you want to blend in like a local, or you want to know what the native speakers are saying without their knowledge, studying a language can help you enhance your covert skills.
Sneaky, sneaky! 😉
The Best Reason to Learn a Language
So, you might wonder, with all the variety of answers, what is really the best reason to learn a language? Which of these myriad reasons is the most effective?
The great thing about languages is each person will have a different answer.
The most important thing is to not learn a language “just because” you want to. Find a deeper reason that resonates inside you and provides that extra motivation to push through and do the best you can.
Learning a language isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work.
But if you start from a place that is important to you — it means something special and brings you happiness, fulfillment and a bright future — then that extra bit of emotional leverage will help you push through challenging moments and come out the other side a fluent speaker!