Guest post written by Gloria Kopp on January 18, 2018
One of the most common questions that come up regarding a new language is; ‘is it worth it?’
This comes up time and time again, typically followed by one of the most common arguments which basically reads that lots of people all over the world speak English, even when you visit another country, so is there any real need to learn another language and could we be doing something more productive with our time?
However, this isn’t the only language-learning myth out there, and the more people believe myths like this, the more cultures will become divided and the less universal we become as individuals. To help free your mind, here are seven of the most common myths that come with learning a language.
Everybody Speaks English
Of course, we’ll start with the most common language myth around. According to a quick Google search, around 20% of the world’s population speaks English; that’s about 360 million people, although it’s worth noting that not all of them have English as their first language.
However, this is only 20% of the world’s population. What about the other 80% of people? How are you going to communicate without trying to learn how?
European Languages are Enough
Another common myth that many bring up, especially if they’re on the fence about learning new languages is ‘okay, how about if we learn French, Germany and Spanish?’ In UK schools, these three languages are typically taught to higher-end English students. In the US, Spanish is one of the most commonly spoke languages, and these three languages are taught in around 77% of all schools, so this makes sense.
However, these three languages only make up around 13% of the entire global community. In comparison, Bengali and Javanese languages have more native speakers than French and German combined.
I’ll Just Use Translation Software
While this is true, there are dozens of apps and streams of technology out there that can help us to translate a language, most notably Google Translate which can use the live feed on your smartphone to directly translate text, but there are problems that come with this.
“Imagine you lived in a very sarcastic culture. This isn’t something that a translation app can currently pick up, and not learning the language yourself have deprived you of many cultural contexts such as this” – explains Kathryn Turner, a Language Educator and columnist at Paper Fellows and Huffington post.
I’m Too Old to Start Learning a New Language
A popular excuse when it comes to trying something new. Of course, science has already proven time and time again that the older we get, the more difficult it is for our brains to absorb and hold information. Children’s brains are often referred to as sponges, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
To counter this, it’s worth remembering that most retail and online language learning packages are designed for teenagers and adults in mind.
It’s Too Difficult Trying to Live with Two or More Languages
One of the most common misapprehensions is that learning multiple languages can mess with your brain and cause ‘thinking delays’. This is where an individual has to stop and think about what they are going to say and in what language, especially in children growing up.
Bryce Stiller, a Linguistics Writer at Ukwritings says: “This has been proven time and time again to be false. Researchers have studied children who are bilingual and found that any delays caused were more likely to be due to speech problems, rather than knowing two or more languages”.
You Either Speak Multiple Languages, or You Don’t
A common myth is that if you say you learn two languages, you can do everything in both languages, such as read, write and speak, without any problems and there are no exceptions, but this is simply not true.
For some people, they can speak a language fluently, whereas they may not be able to read and write in. Others may be able to read exclusively, without being able to write or speak with ease.
I Can’t Afford Language Classes
If you’re still in education, such as high school or university, you might have the opportunity to join language classes as part of an extra-curriculum activity or club. You may even study the language has part of your main degree.
However, a common misconception when you leave education is that language classes are too expensive, but this simply isn’t true. In addition to the dozens of free learning platforms and apps that are available online, a quick Google search can reward with even more affordable options, depending on what courses you’re interested in.
“Many people are even using social media groups to meet people from a country, for example, someone who speaks Spanish and wants to learn English, and then talking to them through Skype” – comments Dorian Putnam, a Language Tutor at Assignment Help.
These common myths are everywhere in society, and as the world we live in becomes ever more connected and global, the worldly conversation needs to open up for us to succeed as a race. If we’re restricting ourselves to a predetermined language, we’re consciously allowing ourselves to miss out on a plethora of opportunity.
“Gloria Kopp is an elearning consultant and an educator at Paper Fellows. She is a writer and an editor at Studydemic blog for writers and students. Gloria is a contributor at Semrush, Collective Evolution and Ukwritings.”
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