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What Language Should You Learn?

What Language Should You Learn?

Every once in a while, we have students asking us what additional language they should learn. I’ve struggled with this myself when I started to become more interested in expanding my language base. The top languages I wanted to learn were Spanish, French, and Mandarin.

It wasn’t until I booked a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina, that I forced myself to learn how to speak Spanish. Throughout this quest of figuring out what language I should learn, I’ve had some time to research what the language experts have to say about this, and I want to share my two cents with you today.

While I can’t tell you which language you should learn, I’m going to share with you some criteria to consider in order to help making the decision easier for you.

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Most Number Of Speakers Shouldn’t Be Your Only Criteria

Sure, you’ll probably want to pick a popular language such as Spanish, French, or Mandarin that a good portion of the world speaks, but beyond that, it should be more than just the number of speakers you can reach.

There are twice as many Mandarin speakers than Spanish speakers, but does that make Mandarin a more important language to learn? Not at all.

Looking At ‘Most Speakers’ In Terms Of Making A Decision Sometimes Comes Down To Nothing More Than Ego. You Get More ‘Points’ For The Bigger Number.

Even If You Go Live In The Country, You’ll Be Unlikely To Visit More Than A Handful Of Towns And Come Across The Same Number Of Speakers As You Would In Any Other Country.
Benny Lewis, Fluentin3months.com

Already Speak A Similar Language?

This can be a strategic criteria to consider if your sole goal is to learn another language as fast as possible. For example, learning how to speak Spanish is a lot easier if you already know how to speak English. However, learning Mandarin can be slightly tricky because of the difference in the sentence structure, syntax, grammar, and many other components of the language.

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    Consider A New Language Like A New Sport.

    There Are Certain Physical Prerequisites (Height Is An Advantage In Basketball), Rules (A Runner Must Touch The Bases In Baseball), And So On That Determine If You Can Become Proficient At All, And—If So—How Long It Will Take.

    Languages Are No Different. What Are Your Tools, And How Do They Fit With The Rules Of Your Target?
    Tim Ferriss, Bestselling Author Of The Four-Hour Workweek

    Best For Your Resume?

    Knowing how to speak a foreign language is certainly an asset in the eyes of any employer. It’s become more of a prerequisite today since so many people speak a foreign language. In our opinion the context is more important.

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    Knowing how to speak Spanish can be a great asset if you’re living in Europe, but it may be completely useless if you’re looking to work in Asia. You may be in a job that doesn’t require knowing a second language right now (although it’s always good to be prepared).

    How Will You Actually Use The Language?

    So… the answer to your question: “What language should I learn?” It depends. Instead of asking “What language should I learn?”, we encourage you to ask yourself: “How will I actually use the language?” Are you planning to travel to Europe this summer? Are you looking for a new job opportunity that may require you to work with foreign people? Do you just love languages or want to explore another culture? Asking yourself this question will save you a boat load of time, energy, and money, as the last thing you want to do is change your mind later after you’ve made such investments.

    Learning a new language is one of the most exciting journeys you can go on but it’s no easy task. Having a deeply-rooted purpose in learning a new language and knowing how you plan to use it will help you go miles further than learning for the sake of learning. I hope this helped clarify your thinking process when it comes to answering your own question of “what language should I learn?” You’re about to embark on an eventful journey no matter what language you decide to learn. I look forward to hearing how it goes!

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    More by this author

    Sean Kim

    Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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    Last Updated on April 6, 2020

    10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

    10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

    Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

    Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

    Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

    So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

    1. Be Authentic

    To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

    Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

    Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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    2. Listen

    Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

    To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

    Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

    Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    3. Become an Expert

    Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

    You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

    4. Lead with Story

    From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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    If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

    5. Lead by Example

    It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

    ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

    We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

    6. Catch People Doing Good

    A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

    Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

    7. Be Effusive with Praise

    It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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    Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

    8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

    I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

    The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

    If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

    9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

    The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

    The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

    If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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    10. Understand Your Lane

    If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

    Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

    You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

    Final Thoughts

    Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

    It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

    More Tips About Making Influence

    Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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