The Advantage of Learning a Foreign or Second Language

Second Language
Thai tourist guides are just one of the many who benefit from learning a foreign or second language.

Learning a language starts in childhood. It is usually acquired easily at this life stage since there are no existing interference brought about by having an established language or being accustomed to a native tongue.  While children learn a primary language mainly to be able to communicate more effectively with people around them, adults will have different reasons for wanting to learn a foreign or second language.  Whatever the reason, there is no denying that  there are advantages in having proficiency in more than one language.

Reasons Why Adults Pursue Learning a Foreign or Second Language

Since adults are already expected to have acquired or mastered at least their native language, questions as to the logic of learning another one often arise.  Why spend more time learning another language when one is able to communicate effectively already?  If the world was an enclosed capsule where one’s country can survive on its own and have no need to interact with other nationalities whatsoever, then there is probably no need for another language.  However, because of the reality that the world is currently on a global stance where every country interacts with another country one way or the other, mastery or even having a working knowledge of a foreign language makes such interaction easier.

Competition in the work environment is very much alive. Always, the road to faster career acceleration consists of having abilities that are either not possessed by others or are possessed by others in an lesser degree.  It has been proven that mastery of a foreign language  is a career asset. Higher level positions always require communication with equally highly positioned associates and these people will not always be locally based.  Most will be natives of foreign countries especially with companies that do business internationally on a daily basis. It is worth knowing that although the English language remains to be the so-called universal language, worldwide speakers of Spanish and Chinese far exceed English speakers in number.

Aside from career considerations, adults can make use of a learned foreign language to make their traveling more enjoyable.  Immersion in a foreign country’s culture is more enjoyable when one is able to communicate with the locals.  Many say that the true story of any culture is largely revealed by its language.  Knowledge makes it possible to enjoy international literature, music, and films.

The personal benefits of foreign language learning includes having sharpened cognitive skills and increased ability in one’s native language.  Higher Education opportunities such as scholarships and study-abroad options are also widely available for individuals who have the required units for language study.  There is also increased possibility of gaining more foreign lifelong friends since language will not present an effective barrier.

Learning a Foreign or Second Language

There are essentially two formalized ways of learning a foreign language.  One is to enroll in a language school and the other is to make use of a language software.  The best language schools are usually the ones that offer classes handled by native speakers of the desired language.  Many advocate the language schools located in the same country where the language is being used.  This is based on the premise that true language learning only happens in actual use and interaction with native speakers will ensure this.

There are at least three language software commonly used today.  These are the Rosetta StonePimsleur, and Declan.  The programs offered by these software seek to provide language learners with significant communication skills in the chosen language which will allow them to use the acquired learning for the intended purpose.  The best method for foreign language learning depends on the end goal of the aspiring learner since it will determine the amount of dedication that will be offered in the process.

There are of course less formal ways of learning another language.  It can be done through watching foreign movies and TV shows, listening to CDs and tapes, reading foreign newspapers and magazines preferable with a friend who knows the language,and use of phrase books and dictionaries.  One of the best options is to try to talk in the desired language for regular designated times.

My Say

In the end, only actual use and regular practice can ensure comprehensive learning of a foreign or second language.  True learning is not only limited to literal translations which is not always exact.  It is about learning the essence of the language complete with pronunciation, tongue inflection,and the underlying meanings of the words.

80 Comment

  1. It is somebody’s huge advantage indeed when he/she is well-versed with another language aside from her own. I am only fluent with my own dialect Visayan, our nation’s national language, and English. I want to learn French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Kaso lang, parang malabo na talaga. I shall just pass the desire and the means to learn it to my daughters! LOL.

  2. learning other language is a big accomplishment…I’m just lucky enough to be bilingual…I tried to learn another language which is Spanish but I didn’t pursue it…:(

  3. it’s really very beneficial to learn another language. wish i can learn other languages too, but it is my motivation that is lacking somewhat, no excuses 🙁

  4. I would love to learn French, Hindi, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.. =) One good thing is, we’re transferring overseas this year, and I have 3 years to learn their language when we get there.. Sana lang, hindi ako tamarin.. Hehehe =D

  5. I tried learning Hangul when we were in South Korea, but their language is so difficult I gave up lol. IT is very important to learn the language though especially if you are living there for long. In my case, I did not succeed.

  6. Sayang, if only I can speak Chinese then sana na-hire ako noon sa Equitable Banking. Yes, knowing a secong language is a must for young professionals nowadays. If i have my way, French is a good language to learn.

  7. It’s a great skill to put or add in your resume if your multi-lingual. Back in my college days, I studied Japanese (written, spoken and can read) but since I haven’t practiced the language for a long time, I need a refresher. But I can assure you that it’s probably a plus factor why I got hired in an international airline company. I am learning a little of French and it was helpful the last time we traveled to Paris. I managed to ask for directions, order for our meal and converse very little to locals.

    Kids these days who are outside the Philippines are quite fortunate to have extra subjects dedicated for foreign language. Right now, my daughter is taking Arabic and French. That makes her a multi-lingual kid. I know it will take her far in terms of her future career.

    I will encourage adults to learn another language. Not only that it helps them with their conversational skills esp when traveling, it can also be used as leverage for their careers and something that will crank up the juices of one’s brain.

  8. We live in Texas wherein 60% of the population comprises the Hispanic community and sometimes Hispanics would start speaking spanish to me that I wish I can undertand and speak their language. Been hearing good reviews about Rosetta and in fact, some schools use it as their teaching material.

  9. It is indeed necessary to learn one or two foreign languages especially that I am working in a multi-national healthcare industry. It is hard to convey things to your patient.

  10. My second language is English now as I speak English in our household. I forgot how to speak tagalog but I can understand tagalog. it’s important to study tagalog though.

  11. Bi-lingual or mulit-lingual speakers have an edge in looking for a job here in the US. In the military here you are paid additional sum every month if you speak and write fluently another language other than English. They have specific written exam and interview to undergo though if one’s qualify.

  12. Oh I definitely want to learn how to speak Italian or other language. Like you said here on this post, it is very helpful when you learn other languages as well not just your own dialect and English, but we get to communicate to other people really well if we speak their own language. I would love that. Maybe someday. We will see.

  13. we, filipinos are very lucky that accustomed english language even though this is only our second, at least we knew and understand it. therefore, when we go to another country, they thought we’re smart people! things that we should be proud of.

    1. That is why Filipinos are very much in demand among foreign employers but it is a fact that the quality of education is deteriorating thus affecting the quality of English-speaking Filipinos produced so this must be addressed soon.

  14. I agree to all the advantages written here about learning a second language. I am glad I have English as the second language, which most Filipinos have. I wish so much to learn other languages like Spanish and French.

  15. Knowing different languages always gives us an edge to others be it in work or in your personal life. There are jobs that will offer you a higher compensation if you can converse in other dialect.

  16. I can speak 5 different language which is really cool (most people say when they learn that i speak more than one language) I used to live in a province where diversity of people lives. I can speak muslim (a little and i can understand them), i speak chavacano (which gave me advantage to understand spanish speaking people), Bisaya, English and tagalog. Its hard though to learn different language.

  17. it is an advantage to learn other languages. if I ever want to learn a different language, i always wanted to learn french. they sound just so soothing.

  18. i so agree, if we practice and use the second language daily, we get to master it and the risk of forgetting is so low… in my case, i have already forgotten some of the signs i learned in sign language… i haven’t use it for a long time now.

  19. Certainly, there is a great advantage when you are multilingual. Reason why I would my kids to learn my language and dialect now. It’s tough but gotta do it. They learn French, German and Welsh as school too. So my dialect is the only challenging one to teach them, I need patience and extra effort perhaps.

  20. I have different reasons too why I know and learned different languages. For German, it’s the local language and I heed Rizal when he said it is important to learn the language of the country you’re in. For Japanese, I’ve been exposed to watching films and anime that I learned it by ear and Spanish, I learned it in college but never took it to practice, so I enrolled again to make use of it specially since I have hispanic friends. Great thoughts on this topic. I will try rosetta stone should I pursue to learn another language…

  21. Yes it is really essential to learn more than 2 languages. I am speaking for myself. When I learned how to speak Niponggo and was hired as an interpreter I thought it’s important for an extra income but NO…Knowing it is also a must when you stay there for two years. And even here in the Philippines I can use it in dealing businesses. 😀

  22. I agree with you, learning 2nd language can be beneficial to all of us, not just for visiting places but also in work. I am planning to learn French, hopefully I can pursue that early next year.

  23. I studied Spanish from elementary to college for almost 10 years but never learned to speak it. I think this is because of the way it was taught much like how Filipino is being taught in schools. Is it any wonder that many Filipinos do not know how to speak Tagalog? There are schools who use the ‘second-language’ method but who can afford them? Today, elementary kids have a new subject called Mother Tongue on top of FIlipino. Then there is English. Ay ewan. I am not a native Tagalog speaker but I learned watching Pelikulang Tabing. I also learned to speak English well by watching cartoons, CNN and american movies. In other words, I did not learn to speak languages from school.

    1. There are those who learn more through practical means and use such as yourself. This is very advantageous since learning is achieved without incurring cost.

  24. Whew. this are one of my dreams.. to learn another foreign language.. maangas eh! I am planning to enroll at Korean classs, but for now, I have other priorities. Gonna work hard now, to achieve the glamour later. 🙂 and those glamour is learning the art of language. 😀

    1. Knowledge of a foreign language can also help you achieve your other priorities and goals although studying will definitely take some of your time.

    1. Some languages require more effort than others to be learned but I’m sure you’ll learn it in due time especially since you are there and can practice it a lot.

  25. I’ve long wanted to learn to speak in Spanish because of its historical connection to our native Filipino. But it’s hard to make time for this. 🙁

    1. It is really hard to make time for it especially if we are already working and have other responsibilities but I do hope you’ll eventually find time to study Spanish. Given the chance, I will too.

  26. Yeah! I agree! it is indeed an added advantage to learn another language besides English. Likewise, it is good as well that there are many available options for us to learn. Just choose the best and affordable options.

    1. Learning another language is probably one of the best forms of education we can provide ourselves and yes, it’s good that there are now many options to do it.

  27. It’s indeed an edge to have learned another language. For us Filipinos, many are capable of learning other language (apart from English) just by listening and talking to foreigners.

    It’s also necessary to use the acquired second language everyday or else, it may just be forgotten. Just like me, I’ve learned to speak Korean, ( three years ago) but when I left the company, I also forgot how to speak in Korean because I didn’t use it anymore.

    1. The adage “Practice makes perfect” is no truer than in learning a foreign or second language. You are right when you say that it is necessary to use an acquired language regularly or else we risk forgetting it.

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