‘The Tower of Babel’ is a story that finds mention in the ‘Book of Genesis’ of the ‘Holy Bible’. It talks of a time, when all people spoke one common language in the world. The people under their king’s guidance decided to build one massive tower that would reach up to the heavens. The Lord came down and seeing the antics of the people, decided to confuse people by making them not understand each other’s language and scattered the people around the earth. We shall never know if this was for real but the tale is an important way to understand how crucial it is to understand the ‘local language’.
English is considered the universal language of business and travel. Any country that aims to attract international tourism and business development in its lands has to ensure that English gets the respect it deserves. A tourist from Greece can manage in India by speaking in English. Similarly a tourist from India visiting Spain can manage to go around the local tourist spots by conversing in English.
Now after a fairly long introduction, let us come to the main topic – ‘Learning a New Language without Burning a Hole in your Pocket’. In India, thanks to an educational legacy handed down by the British Empire, English is part of the curriculum along with the regional language and an option to learn Hindi. Quite a number of schools also offer an option for students to learn French, German or Sanskrit. This article will examine the various ways to learn a new language.
Enrol at your University:
If you are one of those lucky people who is assured of a place at a university of your choice and a course of your preference, do check with your academic officer if you can join a language course in Mandarin, Japanese or French or German along with your main course. Most institutions especially in the USA, the UK and Australia have a dedicated Department of Foreign Languages, which offers courses in popular languages. Some may charge a fixed fee while others may offer the course free and offer learning credits complementing your core programme.
Volunteer to Work Abroad:
A lot of volunteering opportunities are available abroad ranging from teaching English to students in Manila to caring for young children suffering from AIDS in Kenya. The possibilities are endless. Most volunteering assignments range from three months to a year. These assignments offer very little or no pay and are more of an experience-builder that you can showcase on your CV. During these volunteering assignments you can choose to learn the local language from your co-volunteers/colleagues.
Internships and Teaching Opportunities:
Did you know you could actually teach English in South Korea, earn a fair salary and also get your flight tickets reimbursed? Sounds too good to be true? Well it is a fact! Though the programme is heavily biased towards native speakers of English, if you speak English without an accent, love teaching and have a relevant degree to back you up, you can still try your luck applying. A TEFL certification really helps and adds value to your application. Teaching opportunities are available in China and the Dominican Republic as well and are funded by the respective governments. These are usually one-year programmes with a decent salary and accommodation. You can learn the local language when working on these teaching assignments.
Travel….The World Beckons…:
This is something that most students in Europe and the USA do when they complete their high school or undergraduate degree. They take a one-year break or a six-month break and travel around the world. They back-pack, stay in student hostels, and do odd-jobs like playing music, or working in restaurants, or working as interpreters and fund their travel adventures. It is a wonderful learning experience that instils confidence in the individual. Though it is tougher to imagine Indian students doing this, the recent years have seen students from India, work, save money and take a break and travel, exploring the world. This gives them an opportunity to learn new languages as well. Remember – ‘To reach new lands, we need to say good bye to old shores.’
‘Couchsurfing’ is an online social networking community of international travel enthusiasts. This gives members a chance to make friends from people across the world. The main benefit of joining ‘Couchsurfing’ is that members offer accommodation support to fellow members when they visit a new country. It is a great learning experience, which gives travel enthusiasts a chance to cut-down on a lot of expenses and also helps them in learning new languages, customs and traditions.
The internet offers a wealth of information across diverse subject topics. There are a number of websites that allow students to learn various foreign languages online for free. The learning levels range from basic to certificate level. Popular websites include ‘Duo Lingo’ and ‘Open Culture’. Some of these websites have even developed free apps for mobile operating systems, which allow users to learn a new language on their mobile phones for free. Now how cool is that! So next time you are stuck in traffic or caught in a train delay, take out your phone and brush up your language skills!
Why it Adds Value to Learn a Foreign Language:
The writing is on the cards, just look at the sheer amount of investment being made by South Korean, Japanese and German, companies in India. Look at the booming expatriate community in India, aren’t these signs enough to understand that there is a gap that needs to be filled. Interpreters and translators, especially for Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic are paid really well. Alternatively, if you are looking to work in a top-notch firm in Japan, China, Dubai, Germany or Hong Kong, knowledge of the local language immediately offers you a greater chance of being hired. So do not waste your free time, sign-up to learn a new foreign language today!
Do you have any tips for learning a new foreign language? Share your thoughts in the ‘Comments Section’ below!
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