I think (as well as many others) that learning a new language is a must-do. Growing up in Canada, I’ve had the privilege to become a native English speaker. In some ways, I think it is good and in other ways, it hasn’t been. Over the past decades, English has become a universal language. It is the most common studied language in the world and when it comes to travel and business in foreign countries, being able to communicate in English will take you very far. For example, I am living in a country where I cannot (yet) speak the language, yet I get along just fine with English.
But living in Europe, where nearly everyone has their own mother-tongue language plus English, as well as a few other languages under their belt, I realize that I have been missing something in my life. I don’t think it is a fault of anyone, but growing up in an English-speaking country has limited me. I have studied French throughout my school years and can get by okay in French-speaking places, but fluent I am not. Spanish, I actively studied in university and that is a language where I am a bit more comfortable and can maintain a conversation, but still I lack fluency. And now I am living in Berlin where my daily life is set in German. This is my chance to learn a new language and hopefully be fluent within the next couple years.
Besides learning a new language to help me integrate into society, there are other positives to learning a new language. It will help me in my career if I can talk to different people and be able to understand or help others understand via German or English ;it will keep my mind sharp and therefore is a preventative measure for that memory loss problem that plagues an aging population; it allows for more openness and awareness of other cultures; and lastly, it will aid in travel.
So since arriving here, I enrolled in German lessons, have a German language partner, try to read German magazines, watch German TV, and I try to speak German everywhere I am. For this year, it is my absolute must-do: learn a new language.
Have you learned a new language? Any tips or suggestions for someone trying to integrate into a new culture/language?