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What learning a language says about me

In a nutshell, having the ability to understand and speak a foreign language is a genuine asset to anyone regardless of age, background, gender or race. The skill promotes a lifetime of effective communication as language is the most important part of our very being. To learn other forms of communication besides our own says more about a person than anything else. As a teacher, daily I would hear students say things like: “There’s no point if I’m not going to get a good grade”, totally missing the value that I and other language enthusiasts rightly see.

I had a display in my classroom, a flow chart of what learning a language actually says about a person, and each time I was faced with that comment, I would direct them to that. I desperately wanted and continue to want everyone to realise what it really takes to even start the journey into learning a language, and the skills that are naturally developed of which people would never consciously realise. Learning a language isn’t just about ticking a box for an exam board, or getting a certain grade on a set of results. It is, and must be seen as, a lifelong skill; an enriching experience that of course develops your knowledge, but more importantly enables you to become a well-rounded individual.

15 things that learning a language says about me:

  1. I am brave – some people say that languages are really hard and quite scary.
  2. I persevere – Some bits are difficult, but I stick at it.
  3. I am open to new experiences and cultures – I am not the sort of person who thinks that my way must be the right way.
  4. I am confident – I don’t worry if what I say isn’t perfect, as long as I can get the message across.
  5. I perform well under pressure – everyone finds some parts quite stressful.
  6. I am culturally aware – I know that life is different in other parts of the world.
  7. I have a good memory – I learn new words all the time and how to spell them.
  8. I can think on my feet and express myself verbally.
  9. I am creative – I have to think of interesting things to say and write.
  10. I have highly developed listening skills – I can hear the detail on the words you say.
  11. I am literate – I can read well in another language as well as my own.
  12. I am able to multi-task – I often have to think of several things at the same time.
  13. I can see and apply patterns – the more I see them, the more obvious they become.
  14. I can solve problems and think outside the box – I can think of another way of doing or phrasing something.
  15. I can think logically – I am often able to guess what words mean because of the context they are in.

These characteristics are relevant whether you are at the very beginning of your learning journey, or bilingual. Regardless of ability, the message you are sending to people is the same: you have the bravery to jump on the language learning rollercoaster. There are definite highs and most certainly, plenty of lows along the way. Nevertheless, it never ceases to be exhilarating. You never lose the excitement when something clicks, you never lose the enjoyment of being able to communicate in a way you never thought possible because, no matter how many peaks and troughs we encounter, the longer we stick at it, the stronger we become.

Happy language learning!

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