Learning a new language can always seem like a daunting task, but in my opinion it’s always worth it, especially if it’s a language not many people learn. Of course, many people don’t enjoy learning languages in school, they’re often in larger classrooms and not as much attention is afforded to individuals, and often aren’t necessarily the language they want to learn. Many people in the UK have had to learn French, Spanish or German, but many choose not to carry on beyond an elementary level. In fact, the UK is one of the worst countries for learning foreign languages. However, I think that learning to speak a foreign language fluently is a vital skill for any person.
As someone who speaks Russian more or less fluently, the look of joy and surprise on the faces of many people when I’m able to communicate in Russian without any issue will never get old, and many an evening has been spent in a bar or in someone’s kitchen discussing all manner of things, from what sort of food you should be putting in your bliny to the nature of the soul itself, it’s clear that knowing a foreign language is the key to discussions you never thought you’d have!
Not only does learning a language help you make new friends and talk about new topics, it also opens up a number of opportunities you might not expect. For example, once you know Russian there are many signs that you can read in Belorusian and Ukrainian, and it is also a lingua franca in many countries, especially in the former Soviet Union. Closer to home, knowing one romantic language such as Spanish allows you to read and understand a certain degree of other similar languages such as Italian, French and Portuguese, though learning a few phrases in the language of the country you’re in certainly doesn’t hurt in many cases!
Language learning also pays huge dividends in terms of your own health and development, it is known to help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and improve your memory, making it incredibly useful to you as an individual. Many employers also value it as a skill, since it improves your memory and capacity to learn more new skills. An applicant for a job will stand out significantly among other applicants if they’re able to speak a foreign language fluently, especially if the language has a connection with the job in question.
Learning a language is an absolutely invaluable skill, it opens up a huge number of opportunities both career-wise and socially. For me, learning Russian has been one of the most useful things I’ve ever done in terms of my own development and has given me many opportunities that I wouldn’t have thought possible just a few years ago. Whatever your reason for learning, be it to travel, meet new people, to stand out among the crowd when applying for a job, or even just for fun, it’ll benefit you for the rest of your life.