Over these two weeks I am working as an Ambassador for Nottingham University as part of its ‘Widening Participation Programme’. The job is straight forward: present to a class of Year 9s and encourage them to continue studying languages for GCSE (and hopefully from then on).
It’s my first time talking to younger students about learning a language and as many know, it’s really difficult to explain why languages are so good to learn. It is something that people are only realising once they’ve started university or even once they’ve gone out into the big wide world…
So I thought I’d share with you why you should learn languages and emphasise that it is never too late to start. If you know or have any children being given the option to start, encourage it! The other week I went to an Advanced Mandarin Class that is held outside of University hours by the Chinese Departments Confucius Institute, and the variety in age between the attendees genuinely surprised me. I would say the age ranged from 19 up to 50 easily (if not higher) and everyone had started learning for different reasons but we were all there wanting the same outcome: to jazz up our chinese skills so we can dazzle the native Chinese.
Anyway. So here’s me trying to convince you…
“JUST DO IT”
(that’s some Shia La Beouf inspiration right there… if you don’t know what I’m referring to: i hope you feel a tad inspired)
Now back to being serious:
- It’s never too hard to start. (The thought “easier said than done” probably justran through your mind”) It’s not. Nowadays we have youtube and many blogs online made by natives who want to share their language with the world. There are textbooks for all levels and types of learning on amazon or in a book store like Waterstones. If you search around your local community, and have a bit of spending money, I’m pretty sure there’ll be someone who’d be willing to tutor you! The secret is time. Even though I’m doing a degree I find that time always plays the most important role even if you have the best quality textbook and teacher. If I don’t take the minutes out of my day to practice, I wouldn’t be able to utter a sentence let alone survive a conversation.
2. The adventures and opportunities you open yourself up to are endless. And I mean it. I know we can go only holiday anywhere these days but the sheer ability to go away and be able to communicate and understand more than just “hello” and “beer” is so fulfilling.
There are moments – drunk or not – in which I miss the people that enriched my life, who are now at least six hours in time difference away.. A life of an exchange student is easier, free-er and more adventurous than that of a current university student. During my year abroad in China, I learnt more about myself in five months than I have done in the last 21 years of my university life.
I have just found the above written quote in my notes on my phone, they were written on Halloween at 2:52am. One, I always find a small surprise after any night with drinking involved. Two, I can’t believe how true this is but, especially the last sentence, it hits the nail on the head. I know I’m young and have the whole of adulthood to claw my way through but the adventures that I (and all other language learners) have been able to have are incredible and, honestly, special.
3. On our presentation we counter answer: “Well why study Drama? Law? Maths?” We understand that Maths is compulsory but languages as a subject is no different. Instead of learning Pythagorus and equations with numbers and a few letters, you are learning the “equation” of a sentence full of words. The more structures and words you learn, the easier it’ll be. Just as the longer you practice doing long division the more we can do it without thinking. As I have already mentioned: our use of time and effort is the key.4. The above quote caught my eye and I knew I just had to share it with you. I feel I don’t need to expand on it as it expressed my point perfectly. The amount of people united by the learning of languages is huge, so why not be part of it? It’s the same way music unites us, it can be something we share as well.
So for now, there we go. I just felt I had to scribble this down to share all my buzzing thoughts with you all. I know it’s a ramble!
And, appropriately, I’ll cheekily end with the full quote that I live by (and is the tagline for this blog)…
The limit of your language is the limit of your world
Hope you’re feeling inspired…!