Career Skills

5 reasons why you must learn a foreign language when studying in a foreign country

Soumi Das
Soumi Das
Posted on 15 Feb 2022
14:30 PM
The prerequisites for learning a foreign language are interest and dedication.

The prerequisites for learning a foreign language are interest and dedication. Shutterstock

Knowing the local language of a country will help you understand the business or research terminologies better and will increase the likelihood of finer collaboration with local clients, researchers or academicians
Classes in a language school and learning through apps, videos, interactive virtual sessions available on the internet are some of the ways to master the local language of a foreign country

Taking up a foreign language in school as part of the curriculum has been a prevalent practice for quite some years now. Beyond school, however, it is your willingness that will lead you to learn and master a foreign language. The prerequisites for learning a foreign language are interest and dedication.

Plan how you’re going to learn the language

If you intend to learn a foreign language, then it is absolutely necessary to draft a plan. And even more important is to stick to the plan.

  • You need to find useful methods of learning, methods that appeal to your learning style.
  • You need to have a structure and routine. You will have to set aside days and hours in your calendar which will be dedicated to learning the language.
  • You will have to be patient and persevere. A language can’t be learnt within a week; it takes time and patience. Rest assured that you will make a lot of mistakes but remember to learn from the mistakes and do not give up.

Some tips and tricks to keep in mind

If you are motivated to acquire foreign language skills, remember that your options are not only limited to taking face-to face classes in a language school. You can learn through apps, videos, interactive virtual sessions. The internet is filled with useful resources waiting to be discovered. Language apps like Babbel and Duolingo among many others serve as excellent tools to help a learner get the hang of a language.

There are various YouTube channels that are created and curated by native-speaking language teachers and they often provide interesting insights. Joining language groups on social media platforms also yield benefits as they bring aspiring language learners and language trainers closer, forming a community where sharing and exchange take place. Of course, you need to choose wisely which YouTube channel to subscribe to, or which language group to join. Be assertive to opt out if you feel they are not serving your purpose.

Here's how learning a foreign language will benefit you:

Once your will is set, you will find your way through the labyrinth of language learning process – the grammar, the pronunciation, the vocabulary, all of it. But why will you take the pain?

As an individual who migrated to a country where English is not the dominant language, my key mantra was to learn from anyone anywhere. It took me some time to uncover the reasons that eventually pushed me to pull up my socks and dive into the language learning journey.

  1. Purely professional: The first and most obvious reason to learn a foreign language is to smoothen the process of academic or professional selection. For instance, if you are applying for a PhD position in Germany, knowledge of the German language will certainly earn you brownie points and so would your French language skills if you are going for a professional project in France. Knowing the local language will help you understand the business or research terminologies better and will increase the likelihood of finer collaboration with local clients, researchers or academicians. You might be expected to participate in a conversation in the local language at your workplace and this is part of professional assimilation. You might often receive emails in the local language and be expected to respond. You, as a foreigner, will need to have a grasp on the nitty gritty of communication in the local language.
  2. Social integration: Learning the local language is one of the initial steps one takes towards integration in a foreign country. It would be an exaggeration to say that you cannot survive in a foreign land with only English; it is true that you cannot survive “well”. You will always be considered a member of an out-group if you resist learning the local tongue. It makes your social life harder if you don’t take an interest in learning the local language. Knowing the local language is of immense importance if you want to make friends with local people. From taking part in an after-work event to chatting with your local friend’s grandparents, you will be amazed to discover how exciting knowing a foreign language could be.
  3. Gritty realism: Learning a foreign language ensures ease of living in a foreign country. For pragmatic reasons, you ought to learn it even if you’re staying in a country for a short period of time. From applying for your residence permit to understanding the ingredients in a food item you buy, from finding your apartment to talking to a doctor, a good hold over the language will make life less hard for you. The administrative burden of settling in a foreign country is a lot less if one can use the foreign language properly. Often it helps break the ice between the locals and the foreigners.
  4. Access to different cultures: One of the biggest advantages of learning a foreign language is to get an entry pass into a different world, a different culture, different customs, food, literature and more. And these are all worth exploring. You get the opportunity to learn about the past of a foreign country from the locals, experiment with a local food recipe where the ingredients and mode of preparation is known by an aging local and discern the moral code through folklore. You may argue that you have access to almost everything in the world in English but my experience convinces me it is not that simple.
  5. Cognitive benefits: A significant amount of research has been done on the impact of learning a new language. The overall findings are very encouraging. As reported in an article in The British Academy, learning a new language may enhance the cognitive flexibility of your brain and contribute towards an increased level of creativity. Research also suggests that learning a new language helps people improve their analytical skills and boosts their level of empathy. Some researchers have also discovered the positive impact of learning a new language on functions of attention and mental alertness.

Learning something new could be anxiety-provoking and exciting at the same time. Enjoy the process of learning and you can be certain to reap the benefits in the best way possible. Try talking to natives, cook a meal following the recipe in the language you wish to learn, watch movies in the original language with English subtitles or watch it in English with subtitles in the original language, listen to artistes who sing in the language and read books — it’s better to start with children’s book — in that language. Do not make language learning a task, make it an experience and make it an amusing one!

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