Growing up I’ve been aware that there are many different languages spoken by people around my town and the rest of the world. I grew up in a household that spoke English predominantly. Any words spoken of another language would generally be colloquial in nature. I’ve even spent twelve years of my life learning isiZulu in school yet I’ve not been able to stick on it.
A few years ago I found employment in the western part of Southern Africa called Stellenbosch in which the majority of the people in the town spoke Afrikaans. I’ve spent two years at Stellenbosch having to navigate my way around struggling to pronounce names of people and places.Luckily for me the people in Stellenbosch have been extremely welcoming and accommodating and spoke to me in English whenever I couldn’t understand the Afrikaans being used.
After having these experiences, I found myself very interested in wanting to learn new languages. If you do simple research into language learning, you will find various articles on how understanding multiple languages increases your ability to think, be more creative and have a greater appreciation for the people of that language and of course the culture they share. Recently I’ve also come to realise that there’s many career opportunities that can arise by understanding more than one language. I now certainly believe that everyone should be bilingual at the very least.
So getting started in picking a new language to learn isn’t really easy. There’s many factors to consider:
- Which communities speak/read the language?
- How much learning resources are available for the language?
- How much effort/time is required in learning the language?
- What are the opportunities for you to make use of the language you’d like to learn?
The above four questions were some I needed to answer before choosing a language to learn. I found myself interested by other languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, German, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Hindi, Kannada, Russian and a few others. I still remember a few words from each of these languages, however at the point of each of these languages I had to deeply immerse myself in the language and culture. I tried to learn each of their alphabet, watch movies, listen to songs and read news in each of these languages. One of the biggest lessons learned is that you need to try your very best to develop persistence or really just a habit of involving the language in some part of your life everyday.
I’ve finally settled down on learning Spanish as it’s an easier language to get started with and there’s a lots of resources and opportunities available for it. The majority of the world has been influenced by Spanish tradition and culture. From music, cartoons, movies, songs, food and clothing, their influence is evident. Having a career in the technology space has certainly pushed me in wanting to learn Spanish more than any other language.
For the last month or two, I’ve been actively making use of an app called Duolingo. You can find the app here: https://www.duolingo.com. I’ve really enjoying using this app. It has many cool features and most importantly it’s free! I love free things and Duolingo has found a new evangelist in me. The structure, content and repetition the app provides is really well thought off. I cannot say that you’ll be fluent or master a language by using the app, but it will give a fantastic starting point in learning one of the languages it has.
I can only hope that my interest in Spanish grows and that I will eventually become fluent in it. I also wish for you to start learning an additional language, and if you do, I wish you all the very best!