We’ve been invited to write a blog post for the ‘Inspire Language Learning: Blogger Challenge‘ about what we think is the most important benefit of learning another language, is it traveling experiences, career, love life or brain power? You can easily argue that learning another language benefits all of these aspects of your life. For us, there’s one in particular that jumps out as THE reason to learn another language, so let me explain…
When Gaz and I first visited Central America we had no basic Spanish skills at all, our first stop was an island off the coast of Honduras which was part English-speaking and part Spanish. This meant we were able to get by, but found ourselves constantly asking passers-by to translate for us when we were buying food, fixing the car, asking for directions, etc. We realised that once we ventured off the island and into the heart of Central America we were going to struggle. We’re not the kind of travelers to use the trodden path, so, as we’d figured, once we hit the Nicaraguan outback there was no one to translate for us. It was Spanish or charades.
Luckily by this time we has swatted up and gained ourselves some basic Spanish skills, and with the help of a phrase book, we started chatting to people on local chicken buses, playing games with the children, hitching lifts and getting all our basic necessities without a fuss. This was great, but as we developed our Spanish-speaking we realised the very best thing about being able to speak another language when traveling is the feeling you get when you make people smile, when you’re able to communicate well enough to laugh and joke with one another. Looking back, my favourite moments are those big smiles of gold teeth, the death-defying rides we found ourselves on whilst hitch-hiking, and that special feeling you get when you make a new friend. Would any of those have been possible without language? Possibly, but it definitely wouldn’t have been quite as special.
If you’re looking to learn a new language check out Kaplan International who teach a range of languages throughout the world.