Have you guys ever heard this joke before?
What do you call a person who can speak multiple languages? Multilingual. What do you call a person who can speak only one language? An American.
This is sad but mostly true. According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2009, only 20% of Americans speak a language other than English at home. Now that data was from almost a decade ago, so we can only hope the percentage has increased.
The stereotype against Americans and this stat makes me wonder if Americans don’t understand the value of learning a new language. I think in some ways we can easily blame our education system in the US treating second languages as optional versus mandatory, as it is in other nations. That said, we now have so many resources available to us that allow us to take steps to be able to learn. So why not?
I’ve recently signed on to be a Partner with italki HK Limited, an online language learning platform where students can take classes in over 100 languages. On this site, more than 1.5 million students are enrolled in private language lessons with native teachers from around the world. I am excited to dig in and share the benefits of this site in more detail, so stay tuned! If you’re interested, scroll to the bottom for a special discount to get started.
Why Everyone Should Learn A New Language
Learning a new language will open a lot of doors for you. The benefits of being multilingual are never-ending. To shed some more light on this topic I’ve compiled a list, though not comprehensive, on some of the major highlights when learning a new language.
- Make new friends and build connections globally
I’ve discussed this before and I’ll say it again, one of the easiest ways to make friends while traveling is to learn the local language. You can’t assume going abroad that everyone speaks English. By opening a conversation in the local language, you will earn major points. Also, just by making the effort, you’ll be able to build new connections, even if you aren’t fluent.
- Become humble
Language learning as an adult is a constant exercise in humility. I’ll share my own personal experience in learning Spanish in a more detailed post soon. In general, most of the time I’ll feel embarrassed I don’t remember a phrase or maybe I pronounce something wrong. It’s all part of the learning and at the end of the day, I am more humble. I’m constantly putting myself in situations where I have to say and admit to myself, “I don’t know.”
- Improve your overall travel experience and open your mind
By knowing the language, you can better navigate a destination outside of tourist attractions, by chatting with locals. They can share insider tips including do’s and don’ts. You will also feel more welcomed abroad as your effort in practicing the language will be met with smiles. Well, not everywhere in the world, but you know what I mean, for the most part! Interacting with locals will give you more insight into culture and open your mind to their way of life.
- Travel like a local
As part of my Forbes column dedicated to exploring ways to enjoy more travel, I have been interviewing locals to share insider tips. So far in the series, I have covered Paris, Italy and Iceland. Each include tips from locals on how travelers can experience these places like a local and also what locals want them to know before going. I’m sure many would agree that when visiting another country, knowing the language will improve your interactions with locals and allow you to travel like a local.
- Because you can only rely on Google Translate for so long
I downloaded so many languages on Google Translate when traveling. I would be lying if I said it didn’t save my life (OK, maybe I’m a little dramatic). Although there were also multiple instances where I was really annoyed with it. Especially when I would want to learn slang and it would give me a very formal translation, word for word, that made zero sense. Obviously if you’re in a scenario where you can speak the language, you don’t need to rely on a translator (human or app), which is a game-changer.
- Become more creative and gain a deeper cultural understanding
When it comes to language learning, you’ll also be able to uncover cultural similarities and differences. Sometimes it’s words, phrases and concepts that the English language doesn’t even have. They can mean an entirely new feeling that isn’t in English and will open your mind to new ideas. For example, in Japanese, “Koi No Yokan” translates to the “sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.” These ideas can be common conversations in other languages, which really gives you insight into their culture as well. Check out these foreign words we could use in English and 30 words with no English equivalent if you’re interested in learning more.
Learn A New Language: italki Discount
Get started today! Get $10 USD in italki credits with your first lesson purchase by using this link:
Click here for additional details on how to take advantage of the offer. Once you make your first purchase, the italki credits will be deposited into your account within 48 hours. This is an affordable and convenient way to take action towards learning a new language. I’m excited to share even more on this platform soon!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by italki HK Limited. All opinions are my own.