So why learn a second, third and so on languages and if you make that choice, it may in the long run, be helping you.
Why because I do think learning 2 or more languages rounds a person out.
Here is the scientific proof:
This is an important advance,” says cognitive scientist Phillip Wolff of Emory University in Atlanta who wasn’t connected to the study. “If you’re a bilingual speaker, you’re able to entertain different perspectives and go back and forth,” he says. “That really hasn’t been shown before.”
What is illustrates is that people that are multilinguistic mentally have a creative advantage of monlinguistic people.
Also, further research suggests that knowing and using other languages can reduce dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Case in point as a young man I lived in Canada and was forced to learn French. It wasn’t until I moved to Quebec and was forced to learn French to get around Montreal when I learned French. Maybe being a Canadian, taught me why learning 2 languages was important. But I decided to learn more than 2 but 3. So I also learned Spanish too.
I took an intensive Spanish mainly in conversation in my last year of college. It was great because by the time I completed my degree I was in the U.S. and was speaking Spanish with my Latino friends. Yes, friends because after taking the class and instead of doing nothing I decided to talk only Spanish with them.
That was another indication to me that it was conversation and not verb declension that makes the real difference of my becoming fluent in both French and Spanish. Needless to say, one I got into my profession I have let my language skills slide.
However, I have once again decided to get my fluency back and in particular, now that I live no longer in Canada but the U.S. and in particular, in Spanish. Later I will explain why.
Europeans put us American’s to shame because they learn more than 2 or more languages than we do in the U.S. I do think it is a disgrace that this is not the same situation in the U.S. The problem is that most American’s are monolinguists I am afraid.
Here are some European facts that might surprise you.
“Just over half of Europeans (54%) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25%) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10%) are conversant in at least three.
The five most widely spoken foreign languages remain English (38%), French (12%), German (11%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (5%). Almost everyone in Luxembourg (98%), Latvia (95%), the Netherlands (94%), Malta (93%), Slovenia and Lithuania (92% each), and Sweden (91%) are able to speak at least one language in addition to their mother tongue.”
I believe the language of choice for Americans should be Spanish because there are so many more Spanish speakers in the U.S. And in the case of Canadians or those closer to the Canadian border like New York City, the choice might be French.
So what is the problem in the U.S. that suggests that there are so many college students that are not fluent after years of studying a second language?
So does my going to high school and college taking language really work? Here are the facts,
Recognize that there is a big difference between learning a language and studying .it. Did you know that only 4% of the students taking a language at school become fluent in that language? To me this statistic shows why college fails in its attempt to teach any language. The fact that 96% don’t tells you there is a huge problem with studying vs. learning a language. Are the schools teaching language fluency the wrong way?
So what is fluency which might seem a lot different of which college students have missed?
“In my view, fluency does not mean perfection or even being at a native-speaker level (which linguists define as “bilingualism”). Fluency means being able to maintain a conversation, forming coherent sentences and understanding replies.”
Notice it isn’t about verb declension of even going over a lot of rigorous studies that one would do in college. It is conversation of which most students miss in studying a foreign language.
Case in point:
KIDS get it right ADULTS get it wrong. Why it is because we hate to make mistakes, but kids by making mistakes learn language skills each day. We adults give up far too early.
“As you may well have noticed, children acquire their mother tongue through interaction with their parents and the environment that surrounds them. Their need to communicate paves the way for language acquisition to take place. As experts suggest, there is an innate capacity in every human being to acquire language.”
In college we study but not learn a language but a child’s success is because they learn.
Children are into learning and not into studying. They grab onto phrases here as they begin listening to their parents speak, and somehow come up with meaning. It is in the conversation process and making mistakes and correcting them where they learn and not just studying grammar from a text. If you want to learn you need to become like a child and TALK, TALK and TALK and in time, you will become fluent too.
As you may well have noticed, children acquire their mother tongue through interaction with their parents and the environment that surrounds them. Their need to communicate paves the way for language acquisition to take place. As experts suggest, there is an innate capacity in every human being to acquire language.
But before you begin, you have to find a BIG WHY you want to learn another language.
Berry Lewis explains why.
“Benny Lewis a polyglot once he found this secret learning a language became easier. Here is how he got motivated he said this is the way he finally began to learn his first and many other languages. It was his motivation that changed thigs as he states here.
When I started out, I didn't have a clue about learning languages. I'm not "natural" or "gifted" with languages. And I don't consider myself a particularly dedicated learner.
How have I learned so many languages?
Here's what changed things.
In other words, I found that if I simply started speaking a language, from day one, and immersed myself in that language, I naturally picked it up.
By meeting interesting people, and wanting to know more about them, I found I wanted to learn.
Motivation was key - and I'll show you how to find yours. Confidence is also vital - again, I'll share how you get that. With confidence and motivation, you can learn any language. But you will hit roadblocks. That's why I developed systems to help me learn faster.”
So let’s go over a few simple steps that I have learned to learn 2 languages MYSELF.
Find someone from the other language that doesn’t speak as much English which will motivate you to:
Stop speaking English!!
The more you can converse in your ideal language you are setting up the parameters to succeed.
Step 2. There are two ways to go about learning a language: The first is conversation which many colleges don’t teach very well. In fact, I have had language teachers that even struggled conversing in the language they were teaching and in fact, used teaching grammar as a crutch.
I believe your learning has to be split into two areas of study if you want to move past the basic to an intermediate level. If you want to be advanced that will take more effort but many of your polyglots are simply into basic conversation and maybe even intermediate and remain at that level.
So in the beginning it is best to take time to learn conversational rather than simply getting a language study book to get started.
Step 3. There are plenty of courses out there you can use like Babbel and many others. The problem is that you have to pay for the course on a monthly basis. A free version is www.duolingo.com.
I try to find video on the internet rather than getting a monthly subscription. Go even to Barnes and Noble and pick up Spanish in 100 days for example that costs may $40 but you have to work at it daily.
This site is free which will help you get some of your grammar, but remember to find someone you can talk only using his or her language and not English. The problem is that many people all over the world want to speak English so they may want to be your friend to learn to speak it. However, if you find a friend that only speaks let’s say in Spanish and they want to learn English, maybe you two can take turns.
In summary, learn as a child learns in bits and pieces in groups of dialogue you try to do the same as you converse with a person who is from that other language. Grab videos on You Tube to start, and write down not just words but groups of expressions you can use in conversation with your friend.
And on the other side, find a book or course like duolingo.com that you can use to get down the basics of a simplified grammar. No longer use methods of study that no longer work and find your own way, through SELF translation.
Suerte (Spanish); Bon Change (French); or plain Good Luck with your language quest.