Exploring the Factors Influencing Language Learning
“What we need is to get motivated and immerse ourselves in different cultural experiences when learning a new language”
Educational travel consultant at Edukt Violeta Petkova explores the influencing factors and decisions that young people and adults make when choosing a new language to learn.
A fundamental decision for young people to make is choose which language they want to learn. However, I believe it is not always clear which language is best for them, and may even become confusing because it’s a choice that touches our lives when we decide on a school, college, profession, living space, goals and how we approach challenges.
Sometimes it depends on several factors: a parent´s suggestion, current trends and social surroundings, family background, special books, movies, musical influences, professional development, favourite travel destinations, love stories – there are many personal reasons that can make you think about and reconsider your choice of language.
“So how can a person choose the right combination of languages for them?”
We know so much about global trends and the benefits of speaking foreign languages. I truly believe it is a big disadvantage to not becoming fluent at least two foreign languages. It’s no secret that learning a second language will make your mind sharper, more perceptive and you will build multitasking skills. Also, it will make your career and travel more enjoyable.
Today there are various ways for young people and adults to pursue a second language: they can undertake a short-term exchange program, summer camp, undergraduate degree, or even learn at home.
Technology has made it easier than ever to learn a new language using a mobile device, anytime from anywhere in the world, using Apps or programs such as Duolingo, Babbel or Rosetta Stone; there really is no excuse. Duolingo has more than 25 million monthly active users, while Babbel says it picks up on average 1,300 new users every hour, so there are plenty of people worldwide taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities to learn different languages.
So let’s talk about language choices. Why do we choose one foreign language over another? What reasons do we have for learning English, French, Spanish or German? What’re the most important things to consider when selecting a language to learn?
A few months ago, a British Council report identified Spanish, followed by Mandarin, French, Arabic and German as the tops languages to learn in 2018. In the US, Spanish is the second most important language to use and obviously opens the door culturally to many more opportunities. And UK translation service K-International has selected the top languages to learn in 2018 as Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian, French, Japanese, Hindi Bengali.
“What we need – and the sooner the better – is to get motivated and immerse ourselves in different cultural experiences when learning a new language”
Eat Japanese food, learn how to dance Salsa, watch German movies, listen to Argentine tango or visit Paris: feel the language and connect to it with all your senses.
We have so many opportunities to learn various languages and to explore new cultures: just find out which one identifies with you the most. I strongly believe that language travel and the power of international education helps us to make the best choice and to find our life purpose.
What language would you like to learn next?
Violeta Petkova is from Sofia, Bulgaria. She is a social anthropologist and an educational travel consultant at Edukt Estudios en el Extranjero.