As a native English speaker, it can be hard to learn a second language. After all, the highest paid jobs can be obtained by the fluency on this language alone. Not to mention, it is possible to travel the world solemnly on english. So, why learn a new language?
Well, my motivation for writing this article came from my interview with xx Airlines last week for a flight attendant position. The competition was pretty intimidating – there were hundreds of people, and only a few open positions. One thing they stressed however, was that preference was given to individuals who speak more than one language. Having put down 3 languages on my application, I qualified for a second interview – beating out many people in the process.
Especially for those of you looking for a career in travel, being fluent in a second (or even third!) language can be really useful. With more competition and fewer jobs in the market today, a second language on your resume can give you an edge over other potential candidates.
Financial reasons aside, learning a new language is a great way to be immersed in a new culture, as well as meeting new people, and enhancing your traveling experience.
As the start of 2011, I challenge everyone to learn a new language! Here are some tips from my own personal experience:
Choose a language you’re interested in learning – not one that’s “useful.” Unless you’re motivated in learning a new language, it’s hard to go very far with it. While some people are able to be fluent in a new language under a year of learning it, it takes a lot of hard work and devotion. For example, living in Canada, I’ve taken French for six years. However due to my lack of interest (or actually, fear of the language, from all my crazy past French teachers and my inability to properly roll my r’s) my French doesn’t really go past “comment ca va?” these days. On the other hand, after eight months of learning German, I am totally capable of writing emails, watching movies and speaking conversational German with ease.
TAKE A CLASS
While it may be expensive, a good class is well worth it. Most universities offer classes within their continuing studies department, or if you’re still in university, take it as an elective! While taking a bird course allows you more time for rounds of beer pong, a language elective can open doors to more exchange program opportunities. Wouldn’t you want to be partying in Amsterdam anyway?
FIND A TANDEM PARTNER
A cheaper alternative is finding a tandem partner (if you’re learning Spanish, this would be someone who’s native language is Spanish, and looking to learn English). You can find them amongst your friends, in the community or online. A great site I know is called Babbel. While their language selection is limited mainly to European languages, it is a great way of practicing your new language on a daily basis.
Try buying an easy book in the language you’re learning and read a few pages from it everyday. Look up words you don’t understand, and try reading aloud to familiarize yourself with its proper accents. While you may not recognize most of the words at the beginning, it can help give you a feel of the sentence structure.
While this is the most expensive option, it is also the one with the best results. If you’re learning German, why not spend a few months in Germany? Many institutions, such as the Goethe Institute, offer an intensive learning course over the span of a few weeks. It can be a great excuse to travel, and culturally emerging yourself in this language! For those people who qualify, a holiday working visa is also a great way of subsidizing your travel costs!
In the end, the more effort you put in, the faster you will learn. Try to think of it as a hobby!