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Why on earth would you learn THAT language? Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Language Learning

Learning a less common language? Chances are someone (or practically everyone) has asked you, completely bewildered, “Why on earth would you learn that language?” Here are a few replies you can choose from. Or, heck, send them all of these fine reasons to learn whatever language your heart desires:

1. I’m making gains with my brain.

Time spent learning a language, any language, is time well spent. Nobody would judge you for exercising your body, so why should they judge you for exercising your brain? There are countless cognitive benefits associated with bilingualism. One day all of those judgers will be jealous of your mental muscles.

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2. I can speak to more people.

Who cares if the language is spoken by 40 million people or 4,000 people—learning another language opens up new lines of communication. That’s still 4,000 more people—and 4,000 more amazing lives, experiences, and stories—that you have access to, that your monolingual friends will miss out on.

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3. I can add a “Language Skills” section on my resume.

Even if you won’t need that particular language for your position, employers look favorably upon bilinguals. And for jobs that do require that language that nobody on earth speaks? Well, you’re a shoe-in!

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 4. I can enjoy more music, books, and TV shows.

Sure, books have translations, TV shows have subtitles, and so on. But when you learn a new language, you open up a new world of literature, music, movies, and beyond. Chances are, if your language is really uncommon, you won’t find many translated versions, anyway. More for you to enjoy!

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 5. I know a super-secret code now.

Remember when you were a kid, and you devised a secret language with your best friend so you could get into all kinds of trouble without your parents knowing? Learning an uncommon language is kinda like that. Learn with your spouse or a friend and have private conversations in public! And if you do come across someone who speaks that language, you’ll have an instant connection with them.

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 6. My confidence is through the roof.

Yard work can be tough, and you don’t really have to do it, but don’t you just feel so good after you’ve finished? You get to look at your perfectly manicured lawn and pristine flowerbeds and feel great about yourself. The same feeling applies to learning a language, especially a less common language! It’s something you’re doing for you, and it’s one heck of an accomplishment.

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 7. I’m better prepared to learn a more “useful” language than you are.

The more languages you know, the easier it is to learn another. Learning a “useless” language now will leave you better prepared to learn other languages in the future, if you feel like it. Unlike your monolingual friends, who would be starting from scratch.

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8. Because I freakin’ want to.

Because, really, what other reason do you need to learn a language?

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About the Author:meaghan

Meaghan is the Social Media Coordinator for Transparent Language, aka the messenger of language news to twitterverse. She once had a love/hate relationship with French, but the two are now very happy together, although one time she was a little unfaithful with a semester of Hausa lessons. @meagmcgon


Comments:

  1. Noor-e-Hira:

    I absolutely love this post!

  2. Mickey:

    Absolutely all of these reasons are valid. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a useless language. Sure, some languages might be more popular or trendy than others, but trends come and go and so does popularity.

    I would add: it makes me understand my own language better.

    Another thing that some people ask when you start to learn a less popular language is: Well, how about the way they … [insert some sort of criticism about that country]. Listen, the fact that I’m learning this language doesn’t mean I agree with their government’s treatment of whales and koi fish. I just like the language/the people/the culture/the learning process.

    • meaghan:

      @Mickey That’s an excellent addition! Learning a new language gets you thinking about your native language in new ways. Reminds me of one of my favorite language quotes: “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”

      • Rafael:

        @meaghan I like your article, very good points indeed. You have a Twitter or something?

        • Transparent Language:

          @Rafael Hi Rafael! We tweet about language learning and teaching on @TLILanguages. We also have language-specific Twitter accounts for a few dozen languages. What are you learning?

          • Rafael:

            @Transparent Language Interesting! I’m learning Japanese. Currently I already speak English, French and Spanish but i’m also interested in those.

      • timasp:

        @meaghan What about esperanto?

    • shukuran sahid:

      @Mickey Every true,no language is inferior.
      Every language is special and unique in
      Its own different way..

  3. Elizabeth:

    I love #9. “Because I freakin’ want to”. My response also. I am learning a language that is not widely spoken, but I love the language. People always look at me like I am crazy. But I have some great answers and knowledge about other things, because I am learning my second language. And learning another language really does open up so many other things for you.

    • Amren:

      @Elizabeth What language are you learning, then?

      I study Chinese, but on the side I’m learning Irish which is a language that just sounds awesome and intrigues me somehow, but many people regard it as ‘useless’, sigh.

  4. John Carringer:

    If you don’t know norsk, how are you going to read “Dagbladet or Dagsavisen?” How could I keep up with all the Norwegians that I follow on Facebook and Twitter? After all, this language (including all versions of it) is widely spoken in Norway.
    I have been teaching myself for about three years, and I am doing an on-line course from NTNU, a good place to start.

  5. Dram:

    Wooa, I’m a genius, I know something like 10 languages, but most of them are for computer stuff :p

    • shukuran sahid:

      @Dram Lol….that’s a great one, computer languages helped
      Me to start mastering how different human
      languages work. 🙂

  6. margaret nahmias:

    That’s how I feel about Portuguese. I am really learning for myself. It is not as common as Spanish and where I live that are not than many speakers However, I did feel a big part of South America was missing .

  7. Joel:

    Learning any of the Slavic languages opens you to the similar language. -Speaking Russian for example, makes learning Polish, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Macedonian etc., easier because these Slavic languages are so closely related.

  8. ejopaja:

    Haha. I know that O so well. I’m studying Dutch and Norwegian at the university, and I ALWAYS have to explain why I’m not studying other languages (that are “more useful”, people they..) such as Spanish, German or English..

  9. shukuran sahid:

    Thanks for the post, I also wonder why people ask questions why am studying different languages …..like. Japanese,
    Korean, mandarin well
    This answers all those questions
    as a lover of languages,its fun to know every language is special and
    unique in its on way…like java and javascript ….

  10. Angel:

    Sometimes I do ask someone that’s learning a language why they’re learning. Not to be rude but I’m genuinely curious to see what gets people into certain languages. That’s probably because I want to raise my kids with an interest in languages.

    I have been asked it in a rude way when people find out I’m into languages like Japanese & Russian. People feel the need to tell me those are useless and to learn a more useful language.

  11. greet coudenys:

    I learn “Svenska” because I love the music of that language. It is strange but hearing Swedisch gives a happy feeling. And trying to speak it is a great challenge.

  12. Brick Danger:

    OMG I LOLED SO HARD AT THIS POST AND ITS SOOO TRUE!!!! 🙂 Thank goodness for this post, I learned so much and I feel much more prepared for the scary life thats ahead of me :/ but i feel like its a lot less scarier now. Absolutely loved this post <3

  13. Dan:

    You may as well ask ‘Why protect endangered species or fragile environments?’ Every language is equally valid and provides a unique interpretation of the world. People assume language is simply about the mechanics of communication, i.e. transferring information that’s in my head into yours, but it’s about a lot more than that. I grew up speaking English and learned Welsh in my twenties. As well as a new language, I gained a new culture and way of thinking about and interacting with the world. I’m currently learning Spanish, partly out of personal interest, partly because it is a widely spoken language and partly as a gateway to other Romance languages. I’m also learning Cornish (only spoken by about 500 people) purely out of curiosity as it is very similar to Welsh and out of a sense of solidarity with other minority language speakers.


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