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?

Comments

Stela.M's picture
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Stela.M 4 June, 2013 - 11:35

no problem..Jonathan is possible that we can learn german words and use them in comments...this would help natalija a lot..................can u tell me pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee? greetings from albania

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JoEditor's picture
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JoEditor 4 June, 2013 - 12:44

Hi Stela.M
Thanks for asking first before starting to teach Natalija some German words. We ask all our users to write comments only in English so that everyone around the world can understand them. So I think it's best if you don't start teaching each other German here. Is that OK?
Thanks a lot and we're pleased you're all practising your English here on LearnEnglish Teens. :)
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)
 

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Stela.M's picture
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Stela.M 4 June, 2013 - 20:40

Hi Jo.that's great.At least i know now that i can't talk in albanian,german or other lanuages except english.this site is crated to practise english not other languages ,so i think this is understandable ...however,i hope i dind't bother you cause these days i have been learning english more than ever before and so happy about that...that's why i keep asking everywhere and everyone about all the things i don't understand....tell me if i have caused problems to you..hope i haven't...:) greetings from albania...stela

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 29 May, 2013 - 12:21

I'm also interested in learning German language, but I barely know few words:(. I'll take up a German course this summer, so I'm looking forward to it. How long have you been studying German, Stela? Have you been studying it at school or by yourself?
:)

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Stela.M's picture
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Stela.M 29 May, 2013 - 08:59

hi jonathan ....can you tell me please who is from germany in this site ...cuz i have been talking with many teenagers and no one is from germany..i'd like to talk with him/her so i can practise my english and german language....i hope i didn't bother you ...greetings from albania :)

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Jonathan - Coor... 29 May, 2013 - 11:14

Hi Stela. It's no bother, you're very welcome to ask. ;-) I can't give out any users' personal details but let's send out the question to everybody: is anyone out there from Germany? Is anyone else learning German? Write in and say hello.

Just a reminder to keep your conversations on this website in English so everybody can understand and join in. Thanks! 

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Stela.M's picture
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Stela.M 26 May, 2013 - 19:54

hi everyone.....except english i am also learning german language...it's so important to learn foreign languages so you can also communicate with other people not just in english .....it is so helpful...who is from germany ????????

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 25 May, 2013 - 22:06

I have two questions. Do we say "I'm not an expert in this/on this? I was so sure it was "in this", but the answer in the answer key was different. And do we say "The alarm went off" or "The alarm went on"?Thanks in advance for helping me:).

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Jonathan - Coor... 26 May, 2013 - 08:02

Hi! Good questions. I think you can say "an expert in" or "an expert on". I checked in a few dictionaries and they all agreed both prepositions are ok. About the alarm question, the first one is better (phrasal verb go off = start ringing). But it's a bit confusing. In some other phrasal verbs, "off" means to STOP, not to start (e.g. switch off / turn off) ... but this one is different. Does that help?
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Shikako 25 May, 2013 - 21:55

i strongly agree with you, because i can speak Chinese mandarin and English. it is great when you able to speak two languages and it also will benefit you lot when you are looking for a job. i also want to study Japanese when i go to university

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ellen's picture
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ellen 25 May, 2013 - 18:37

I love to learn foreign languages.
However, I learn English, Spain, Germany, and Arabic languages.
It is very nice language.
I think languages are very important, because they unite people from all over the world, and make them closer. I think that every language is important for something. For example, if you wanna express love, Spanish and French are the best, since they're the romantic languages. If you want to communicate with some foreigner, English is the best, since it's the most spoken language among people.
Do you mean English is your major at University?

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Jonathan - Coor... 22 May, 2013 - 08:17

Hi elene! Thanks for signing up. I hope you enjoy practising your English on here. Where are you from? What languages do you speak?
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 21 May, 2013 - 15:43

Hi, Onedirectionerlover:)
It seems you know many languages, well done:). I guess that Chinese and Hindi're very difficult. What do you think? What language is spoken in your country?
:)

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engleskigaga 5 February, 2014 - 09:27

Hi Natalija,
You are very good with English I can see. Your comments are great and the best. Do you want to be my friend?
What language do you speak in your country!
Best wishes!!! :)

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onedirectionlover2002's picture
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onedirectionlov... 21 May, 2013 - 14:02

I'm now very well in English so I'm learning Chinese. I'm learing French, Italian and Spanish too and I know Urdu, Persian(bit) and Hindi. I find it useful for when I go abroad, I can understand what taxi and bus drivers, shopkeepers say and sometimes guides use bit of their native lanuage too, so I think it's important!

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 24 May, 2013 - 05:25

Hi One Direction Lover 2002 :)
I'm learning Chinese too :))
By the way, I also like 1D, especially Nial! Nice to meet you.

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lami narita 21 May, 2013 - 12:21

i learn english cuz i love it and i want to be able to speak english this is very important to me to communicate with others easily and i will do anything to learn it but because we don't use it in our country it makes things very difficult to me but ok i'm trying and i need some help thx

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 20 May, 2013 - 15:25

Thanks, Bethan Morgan:). Yes, many people told me I have a gift for learning languages, but I won't study them at university. I find it useful for studying abroad.
:)

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 19 May, 2013 - 17:14

I think languages are very important, because they unite people from all over the world, and make them closer. I think that every language is important for something. For example, if you wanna express love, Spanish and French are the best, since they're the romantic languages. If you want to communicate with some foreigner, English is the best, since it's the most spoken language among people. Chinese and Japanese're the languages of technology and of the future. So, knowledge of any language is valuable, but I'd never study language. I enjoy learning it and speaking it with my foreign friends, but I think that we don't need to study them at university to speak it well.
I learn English and French at school, and speak Spanish and Turkish very fluently, since I lived in Spain and Turkey for a while.
I'm currently learning Arabic by myself, and I'd like to take up German the next year, but it'd be very difficult to make it. I hope I'll succeed.
Languages can really help us to overcome all the misunderstandings among people, and I really appreciate the value of it.

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Noon's picture
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Noon 14 December, 2013 - 16:11

Hey !
It's a nice thing that you are learning Arabic, it's my first language & it's the most beautiful language hhhhh
Wish you the best

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hongphuc_916 5 June, 2013 - 10:57

Wow, you left a very great impression on me! I'm a Vietnamese and I try hard to learn English but you even can speak 6 languages ^^! I found it very hard to learn a language without living in this country. Here, I have no one communicate with me :)

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 8 June, 2013 - 09:05

Hi, hongphuc_916:)
Thanks for your words:). Well, I don't speak 6 languages fluently; English, French, Spanish and Turkish are fluent, but I've just started to learn Arabic and German, so I'll need some time to learn it. Anyway, thanks, your words motivate me to continue learning languages:). I agree with you that it's very hard to speak a language if you don't live in the country where that language is spoken or at least you have someone to communicate with. You said you didn't have anyone here to communicate with, so I'd like to be your site friend if you want:). If so, let me know:).

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sirajkhan 30 May, 2013 - 22:42

hi Natalija,could you help me ,how to learn language,why not learn punjabi language thats very good in tone and accent

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 1 June, 2013 - 20:20

Hi, sirajkhan
Thanks for your comment:). Of course, I could help you, as much as I can:). What's your problem about learning languages? You come from Pakistan, and I think English accent there is not so close to British accent. I understand it completely, since I come from Central Europe and people here don't have the perfect accent in general, but I think it can be built with years. I practiced a lot, and I think I overcame that problem and that my accent is closer to British than earlier. If you want to improve your language skills, no matter English or any other language, you must be very patient and do give your best, and I think you're doing that:). I recommend you to read the books in English, to watch English films, to read English newspapers etc. Grammar can be learnt, and you just need some time to put it on the perfect level. I'd like to be your site friend, so we could practice together and write in English, if you want. And why not, I'd like to learn Punjabi language, I"m always interested in dares, and it would be a nice language skill to get. Is Punjabi native language in Pakistan? Are there any other languages spoken by people in Pakistan? How old are you?

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Bethan Morgan's picture
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Bethan Morgan 20 May, 2013 - 11:42

Wow, it sounds like you have a gift for learning languages! Good luck if you do go on to learn German, I think it's great that you can speak so many languages :)

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 18 May, 2013 - 18:38

Dear Bethan Morgan,
Do you mean Spanish is your major at University? Because my sister chose Chinese as her major at University while her friends almost chose something relates to economics. Everybody (include my parents) couldn't understand why she did that. They said foreign language was just a tool, not a speciality for a job in the future. At first, she determined to follow her passion (learning foreign language) but now she is gradually confused. She is getting tired of those questions from other people : "Why chose Chinese?" "Which jobs to do with merely learning Chinese?" "Why want to do such a low income job like interpreter?"

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Bethan Morgan 20 May, 2013 - 11:40

Hi Lavender,

Yes, that is what I meant. I think it is important to study what you enjoy, but at the same time it is also important to think about the future! What would you like to study?

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Lavender 30 May, 2013 - 06:00

Hi Bethan Morgan, I'd like to study Chinese at university because I like translating. I find it interesting! I hope I can translate books and news in the future :) I also like to teach children too. The job as a teacher make people younger I think :)

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Natalija's picture
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Natalija 19 May, 2013 - 17:19

Hi, Lavender
My sister is in the same situation as yours. She's studying French at university, and no one understands her, and everyone's telling her to choose something more useful, like medicine, law, economics, engineering etc. But she's certain about her choice, although she didn't get almost any support, except our parents's. She's on the third year of University now and she's planning to move to France, to Sorbonne.
Even I judged her, and told her that languages are just a tool, and she was very upset, but luckily, didn't listen to me, and followed her dreams. I'm happy because of her, and now I know we all should follow our dreams and study whatever we want.
Greetings:)

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Lavender's picture
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Lavender 30 May, 2013 - 05:55

Wow, it's interesting that I found somebody that my current circumstance likes hers, Natalija. I admire your sister, she must be a strong girl who dares to fulfill her dreams.
I agree with you that we don't need to study languages at universities to speak well. Because universities train us to do the jobs. So if our jobs relate to foreign languages, we can study that languages by ourselves. But what if someone (like me) wants to work with languages as her/his job? Universities will give students the skills that schools don't do. After graduating, students can not only use that foreign language fluently but also translate it into another language naturally :) And they can translate books, movies, news, contracts or translate in meetings. We call them interpreters and translators.
So whatever career that we choose, we should be happy about that choice :))

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MALINE 18 May, 2013 - 14:52

hi,everybody I like learning English a lot,I can communicate with all you and learn from you,I love been able to share my thoughts and experiences with people from all over the world.
I hope that you can help me with my questions, for instance how do you write a letter,what expressions do you use to start and finished a letter? Thanks beforehand.

I´d like to learn chinese,I think nowadays is very important to speak it. see you,bye

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Bethan Morgan's picture
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Bethan Morgan 20 May, 2013 - 11:38

Hi Maline, thank you for your comment :)

When you write letters it depends who you are writing to - is it formal or informal? For example, if you are writing to a friend you would use 'To ......' but if you are writing a more formal letter you would use 'Dear ........'. Some other ways of starting letters include 'To whom it may concern' or 'Dear Sir/Madam (if you do not know exactly who you are writing to.

To end letters, you can either use 'Yours sincerely' or 'Yours faithfully'. Generally, we use 'Yours sincerely' for someone you have met, or spoken to before, and 'Yours faithfully' is used for someone you don't know at all.

I hope this is helpful! :)

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