To know the answer to this question, one has to know the advantages and disadvantages encountered in learning a language, especially by those who are learning it not only for educational reasons but also for the expansion of their horizons on the means of communication from people whose culture is different from theirs.
For the individual, learning a second language takes him to a whole new dimension in understanding different cultures based on the language they use. Learning a new language differs from just watching movies or TV shows and understanding the conversation, it opens up the minds of those who learn it on the customs and traditions of others, based on the usage of words and idioms.
Though the learning process may prove difficult, the end results could extend to more than just learning a few phrases and expansion of one’s vocabulary. As a person learns, the brain is stimulated to function better; memory, word construction, evaluation, and self expression is enhanced and improved. As a person learns how others express themselves, the individual can find more ways to integrate this knowledge in his own native language, thus broadening his expressive skills.
On a larger scale, having learned a second language helps break down barriers which prevents people from understanding different cultures. It can be used to prevent or lessen discrimination, racism and stereo typing of different cultures. By having a second language, a person opens himself up to understanding more about the places, food and cultures of a foreign place. It can also put that person in good light with the locals, as having knowledge of the language usually shows respect for the locals thus removing distrust and avoidance between people of different cultures or countries, thus making the adventure more exciting and mind blowing. In having the ability to speak a second language, a person would not be limited in learning about others rather it would be a great tool in gaining more friends of other nationalities.
Consequently, having a second or even a third language would be beneficial for a person working in a global environment. As economies and businesses today are geared towards the international market, a person who possesses a second language would be a much coveted asset for any company involved in dealing with international clients. Having the ability to communicate fluently with customers in their own language increases rapport and good business relations between companies, thus increasing possibilities of increase in sales and further expansions, therefore a person who can communicate in behalf of the company with their clients, is as essential as having the right materials to manufacture their products.
Methods in Learning a Second Language
With the knowledge about the importance of learning a second language, we now tackle the different methods on how an individual can gain this new skill. How do we learn a new language? Just like any other project, studying a new language may have its difficulties, but as this skill is being sought for by more people, we find that it is being made easier by educators and others so that more people can avail of it. Here are the most common and most basic means of learning a new language:
1. Classroom Education: Though this is the most traditional form of learning a second language, it would be considered as the most effective. In a classroom setting, students or those who would want to learn a second language can choose from a variety of lessons, from the most basic to the very advanced forms. With the rising need for young people to learn a second language, most schools, especially Universities and private educational centers, have thrived in this business.
2. Electronic Networking: With the advent of the Internet and Social Networking sites, learning a second language is no longer confined in the four corners of the classroom. Most people nowadays would turn to the use of the computer to learn a second language. A host of services are offered via the internet; a student can now talk with a native speaker and therefore have first hand knowledge on the proper usage of words and pronunciation, just by the click of a button. Others would use the internet to learn more about a certain culture or a language, knowledge which would not be learned from a typical classroom setting. Although learning a second language via the electronic network lacks the Human touch associated with the traditional learning process, it is deemed more convenient for people who are on the go and would fit their lifestyles and schedules.
3. Personal Involvement: The most informal method of learning a second language. Personal involvement would be to integrate oneself to the culture one is interested in. A good example of this would be to stay or live in the place where one is interested in learning a second language; if a person wants to learn English, he would then move to an English speaking country to learn about its language and culture, or if he wants to learn Spanish, he would move to a Spanish speaking country. This, however, would not be true to all those who would want to learn a second language, so others would then attend organizations or clubs where they could interact with foreigners who speak the language they would want to learn. This type of learning would be very difficult at the very beginning, but with persistence, hard work and continuous practice, a person may improve his speaking skills.
Whatever method a person may choose, it is important to understand that learning a new language involves commitment and persistence, and for those who try to learn should look at the available resources they have in order for them to achieve their goals in learning a second language and make the process easier and fun.