Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

The value of foreign languages

by : 
Bethan Morgan

 

People often ask me why I chose to study Spanish at University. And I always answer with “why not?” Because I believe that the importance of learning languages is obvious. But since I started learning languages many years ago, I have come to realise that not everybody sees it as clearly, especially those who only speak their own language.

Being able to speak a foreign language is one of the most rewarding and enriching skills I have ever been fortunate enough to learn. It has allowed me to travel, meet new people and learn so much more about different cultures and traditions. In this way, it has helped me to open my eyes and my mind to everything that is going on in the world, rather than just in the UK.

I started learning French at the age of 11 and Spanish at the age of 13. I still study Spanish now, and over this summer I hope to pick up my French again, as I will be teaching both next year. I can’t wait to pass on my passion and knowledge of languages to other people. In my school, learning French was compulsory, which I believe is important as otherwise not many students would have chosen to study it. Spanish was a choice that I made over other subjects based on how much I enjoyed learning French. To this day I am still happy with my decision and hope that in the future more students will make the same choices as I did.

Having a second or even a third, fourth or fifth language opens up so many doors for you that it is difficult to see it as anything other than an advantage. For example, in the restaurant I work at, we catered for 80 people from Argentina last week, which meant I could practise my Spanish with native speakers, something which is sometimes difficult to do. My language skills even came in handy when I had to act as a translator between the customers and other staff members.

I have recently realised just how much you can do with a language, especially in the world of work. If you ask someone to name the jobs you can do if you speak another language, the ones which always appear are: teacher, translator or interpreter. However, nowadays knowing another language is an advantage in just about any job you can think of. Most businesses will have offices abroad, or will want to do business with other countries, and therefore need people who can communicate in those situations.

So it is clear that speaking languages is incredibly useful in all aspects of life, and although it might be difficult to get a grasp of at first, it is always worth it in the end.

Discussion

Do you learn any languages other than English? Why do you think languages are important?