Hello! After reading the title of this article, you might be thinking “Why would I want to learn a new language?”. Then you might follow with, “I’m way too busy” or “There is no language that I want or need to learn”. I am going to share the reasons why I think learning a new language is important.
First, I want to start with what language I am learning and why I started. I have been studying and learning Korean for almost two years now. As I am currently in my junior year of college, I started learning Korean when I was a freshman. At that time, I had just started college and was feeling really unsure of myself, homesick, and lonely. I also felt very lost and unsure of my direction in life. One day I discovered a video of BTS on Good Morning America and I was absolutely amazed by them. They are very talented. If you have never watched them perform, I highly recommend you do, and I know you won’t regret it. Truthfully, I didn’t start learning Korean because of them, but it was more because I was really intrigued by the Korean culture which they introduced to me. I was fascinated by the Korean culture and how different it was from my own. As I mentioned earlier, I have been studying it for almost 2 years now, and I am an intermediate level learner. It has become one of my biggest passions, and I am really proud of how far I have come.
Now that you heard my story, here are the reasons why I think everyone should learn a new language (even if you only learn very basic vocab and grammar structures):
- It opens you up to a whole new culture: One of my favorite things about learning Korean is that I am also learning about the Korean culture. I listen to the music, watch the tv shows, learn about the history, eat the food, buy clothes and makeup from there, etc. I find the differences between the American culture and Korean culture so intriguing and it also made me realize that there is no one ‘right’ culture. I think sometimes we get so caught up in thinking that our culture is the best, but truthfully, I think it’s important to learn from people from other places as well. In that way, we can appreciate everyone’s cultures and not just our own.
- It helps you to understand how difficult languages are to learn, and in turn, you might be more understanding to people who can’t speak English: As a native English speaker, I have heard from many people who learned English that it is an extremely difficult language to learn. Every time I learn something new in Korean, I think about how difficult English is as a language. We have the weirdest grammar patterns and conjugation rules, words that can have multiple different meanings, and subtle nuances that make it more difficult. Even native English speakers don’t always know correct grammar. I find that sometimes people make fun of others who can’t speak English well, but in reality, they know their whole native language and then your language. To begin with, nobody should be made fun of under any circumstance so next time you see someone struggling with English, know that it took a lot of effort for them to get there, and appreciate all the hard work that they put into learning English.
- You are continually learning: Learning keeps your brain active and running, which is very important for your health. I consider learning as a form of exercising your brain’s abilities. If you are in college, I’m sure you feel like you are always learning and there might be no need to learn a whole new language, but learning a language challenges your brain in different ways than a college class would. Also, if you find a language that you really want to learn, then it makes learning a more fun and exciting process.
- You will feel really proud of yourself: Honestly, I never thought I would have gotten this far. I remember I was frustrated the whole first month that I started learning Korean because I felt like I wasn’t progressing, but now I am able to look back and see just how far I have come. I’m not going to lie, studying Korean isn’t always fun. Sometimes it feels like a chore if I am really busy or lacking motivation at that time, but whenever I study even for five minutes, I feel really good again.
Simply, I think everyone should learn a new language because it opens you up to another culture and learn about people who are different than you, it makes you appreciate and sympathize with people who are learning English, it helps your brain to stay active, and it’s something to be proud of. I hope you all try to learn a language, even if it’s just the basics for your next international trip because it really is a wonderful experience that I think everyone should be a part of.