The Belvedere Journal
The Happiness Class: Practising Languages
The best feeling when you are in a country where English isn’t the native language is being able to communicate effectively or deduce meaning of signs/menus/advertising from your linguistic knowledge. Practising languages is also proven to be hugely beneficial for both your cognitive development and boosting your wellbeing.
What is it?
Learning your first language is arguably one of the most natural things you can do. Learning a second language is about being able to make a connection with a wider network of people and it’s completely normal to make mistakes. It’s about communicating your message. It’s about making mistakes and learning from these mistakes. It means being able to use it, and being able to understand it in context. Learning a language does not necessarily mean mastery of it. I do not mean becoming fully fluent to engage in political or philosophical discussion, but to learn a few key words or phrases to be able to get by when visiting another country when we are able to. This sense of achievement is second to none!
What Are The Benefits?
Learning a language is so valuable for travel and developing an openness to the world around us. Not only this, but language learning can develop our cognitive skills, such as understanding concepts, mental flexibility, multitasking, listening skills and problem-solving. These are all incredible qualities we would like to have, but the greatest benefit is communication.
How Do I Do It?
The best way to learn a language is obviously spending a decent amount of time in a different country and immersing yourself in the culture. All of your MFL teachers have friends from their year abroad with whom they still keep in regular contact. Not everyone will want to live abroad, though, and you can still engage in this learning process by starting at word level, and making it fun! There are so many apps and YouTubers to teach you the basics. Practice, practice, practice… for short periods of time. Start with 20 minutes every day.
Where Can I Learn More?
Download Duolingo or Memrise. It’s free and fun. If you are going to be using your phone, why not make it a productive use of your time? YouTube is also an amazing platform to watch tutorials about learning grammar or useful holiday language, but you also have access to so much music and media in your chosen language. Enjoy!