[Feature] Learning a second language and why it's important

By Jessica Gregory - 2 December 2022

EducationOpinion and Features

Knowing a second language is becoming more necessary in the modern world, and also comes with many personal benefits.

Learning a language is incredibly difficult, particularly in the UK, where we expect that everyone speaks some level of English.

Even when going abroad, we often rely on it as a universal language to see us through our holiday.

However, I’m sure many people have felt the desire to learn a language at some point in their lives, whether that’s studying it through to university or starting a course on Duolingo.

Interestingly, a blog post on Rosetta Stone earlier this year explained that the best time to learn a language is before the age of 10. This is because it allows the individual to learn the proper grammar of the language, without needing to consider rules like the various cases, and verb conjugations. 

In fact, if you were to show a native German-speaker a table of their own overwhelming case system, most of them will never have seen it before. It just comes naturally.

However, it is never too late to learn a language. 

There are obvious benefits to learning a second language, such as the ability to communicate with more people. This will be useful not only when travelling, but will also open up more job opportunities.

With technology constantly improving, the world is getting smaller. It can therefore be useful when communicating globally in today’s market, to know a second language.

An article from the Financial Post in August 2021 said 'Bilingual employees can earn between 5 per cent and 20 per cent more money per hour than those who speak only one language.' 

There are also many health benefits to learning another language.

An article on the Age UK website (updated September 2022) explained: 'People who are bilingual develop dementia 4-5 years later than people who speak one language only. 

It also stated: '[People who are bilingual] are twice as likely to recover their cognitive abilities after a stroke.'

The article expressed that short periods of 'intensive language learning' can also lead to positive effects, particularly with those who study a language for five or more hours a week.

There are other additional personal benefits to learning a language. These include a deeper insight into the understanding of your own language or, alternatively, a sense of personal reward when you can have a conversation with a native speaker.

There are many different ways of learning a language, such as using apps like Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone and Drops - although some of these do have to be paid for after the first lesson, and they require much dedication. However, many of these are interactive, with bite-sized lessons and competitions to keep you motivated.

Additionally, on Duolingothere is a section that many people don’t explore, which allows you to learn and understand the grammar rules behind the language.

If you prefer to learn at your own pace, MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are an excellent way to study a language (although they do offer other subjects as well). 

Within Swindon, there are many schools and colleges that offer languages as an A Level, including New College Swindon (who offer French and Spanish) and Ridgeway School & Sixth Form College (who offer French, Spanish and German).

Taking a language A Level qualification could open up more opportunities for the future as well (as already mentioned), and it's possibly the best way to learn a second language from this list.

It’s a tragedy that many people drop languages in school after GCSE because they think that A Levels will be too difficult, or because they find it too boring.

There are so many benefits to learning another language, but one of the most important is the personal achievement that’s felt when reaching a milestone (such as reading a book to completion). 

Those interested can click HERE to view an article from FluentU (another language-learning platform) about the 10 easiest languages for English speakers to learn.

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