August 10, 2015

Reasons to learn a language


After a very long break from writing I decided to update this blog with some fresh posts about language learning. This time I won't be blabbering about my challenges but I will try to write my thoughts about different areas of learning a language. Today, inspired by my own experience (And I  still keep talking about myself), I decided to write a post about all the reasons for which we tend to learn languages and how my own priorities changed recently.

Some people tend to learn languages because they would benefit them in one or another area of their lives, meanwhile others do it because they have to and some do it just for fun. There are plenty reasons to learn a language - some more shallow and some more thoughful - but I still believe that no matter what reason, learning another language is a great thing to do.

I hear people say that learning a language for future career benefits, to be able to pick up girls (or boys) or to be able to impress others are not good reasons and that we should find some other ones. Personally, I don't believe it. I think that reasons can be good or bad depending on a person, and if it will actually make you fluent in the language then it really doesn't matter. I personally studied languages for all the "bad" and "good" reasons and I don't think that I ever cared why I am studying them as long as I had a book or a resource handy, and was figuring out grammatical features of it all night long.

I kept hearing people say that if you do not have a valid reason for learning a particular language, you won't succed. Very often they state exactly what reasons are good or bad and this is what makes me a little mad. I believe that reasons for learning a language are bad when they do not work particularly for you. People stating "Reason X or reason Y is the best" are wrong and you should follow your heart. For example, besides English and Swedish (languages that I had to learn) I speak Spanish and German on a good enough levels to be able to carry a conversation and guess what? - I had no particular reason for learning them. I just picked up the nearest resource and started studying.

I have been learning languages with no reason for a very long time, I basically picked up languages randomly. I didn't succed in all of them because I guess that there is some truth in the fact that there are reasons that will make you more likely to succed, but I don't think that you should give up learning a language just because you have no "special reason" for it, besides liking how it sounds. I believe that there are reasons that are "bad" - these are the ones that do not work particularly for you.

For example one thing though that made me change my approach to choosing my languages was one: The ability to retain and use them.

I have noticed that even though I speak German on a good enough level to have a conversation I don't use it at all. There are no speakers around me and the language feels almost useless to me at this moment. The biggest problem here is that I want to become really fluent but I can't because of not being able to practice on daily basis. When I am in the city or working on a flea market with my mom, the languages I use most of the time are not the languages that I am currently studying nor the ones I already know. I basically had to write down sentences in all the other languages to be able to use them with people and I realized that my knowledge of Spanish or German is basically useless!

That is when I decided to change my way of selecting languages and from now on, I decided to start learning only those languages that are commonly spoken in Sweden. One reason for that is that I will have the possibility to practice those languages on a daily basis and incorporate them into my life. The other is that all of those languages are completely different from what I have studied before and it is a good opportunity to learn something completely new.

So yeah, I am studying Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic (I have another very special reason for learning that one though) and other languages that I will be able to use. I feel that my previous reasons for learning languages was bad, only because it didn't work particularly for me, especially at the more advanced stages.

Now, I can everyday go to a shop and practice my Turkish with a guy who works there, m,any of my friends are Arabic speakers and finding a Kurd here is easier than finding a Swede (In my neighbourhood I mean :). Now, I can use my languages and I can make them a permanent part of my life, now I feel like I have a reason that works for me, and no matter what somebody other says about it, I will keep going untill *I* feel that it does not work.

To sum it up because I feel like my post is a little messy (Long time, no writing) I want to say that the reason that works for YOU is the best. Nobody should tell you that your reason is bad. It is good, as long as it keeps you going forward. So, find your reason, pick your resources and start studying!

Peace out!

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