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Being Bilingual Opens Opportunities: Learn a new language

Being Bilingual Opens Opportunities: Learn a new language

Many countries have historical proverbs on the importance of learning new languages. A Chinese proverb states that “to learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world”. While an African proverb says “if you want people to understand you, speak their language”. Regardless of the saying, the theme across the world is clear – learning new languages is important and necessary.

Why Learn Another Language?

According to Lisa Chau, a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and contributor for several publications, learning another language is beneficial to personal and professional success as it allows a person to communicate more effectively with a wider variety of prospective clients. Not to mention the fact that learning an additional language increases the brain’s gray matter.

“Language learning is described as a kind of re-wiring of the brain which can form new neurons and connections among the intellectual network,” Chau said in the U.S News and World Report article, Why You Should Learn Another Language.

Among several reasons to learn a language one convincing reason is keeping the brain young and in shape. Studies in Neurology, a leading professional neurological journal, suggest that being bilingual may prevent the onset of dementia by an average of 4.5 years.

Choosing a Language to Learn

According to the Linguistic Society, it is estimated that there are almost 7,000 different languages and dialects. Certain of the dialects vary from one another only slightly, while others are entirely different. Learning a new language takes considerable time and dedication, so it is important to choose something that is of interest.

When deciding on a new language, also consider whether it would be helpful in communicating with friends or relatives, opening up or improving employment opportunities or even allowing for more enjoyable travel.

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How to Learn a Foreign Language

There are a variety of options for language learning, including taking a course at a local college or university, utilizing an online class or learning tool, audio learning and even immersing yourself in the language through travel.

Everyone learns differently. Some are audial learners and can pick things up quickly merely by listening. Others must see and touch to absorb the information effectively. It is important to discern your unique learning style before choosing a foreign language learning method.

After discovering the appropriate learning style, research available local and global classroom options, foreign language learning products and, dependent on resources, study abroad programs. Another option for learning a foreign language is a tutor. A tutor is an excellent option if you need intensive, one-on-one interaction to learn effectively. A book and even an online learning tool is a reference, while a tutor is there to help you translate the information from the book.

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Local classroom options can be found at universities, community colleges and even high schools. In addition to a traditional classroom setting, several colleges and universities offer distance learning options for learning a new language. Distance learning is an alternative to the classroom that offers learning through internet distance learning courses.

A variety of foreign language learning products are available, including books, tapes, videos and computer tutorials. Some, like Duolingo, are even free. One of the most popular language learning programs is Rosetta Stone, although PC Magazine lists several additional options.

Justin Peters, a contributor to Travel & Leisure, points out that while language learning products generally offer a similar degree of efficacy, each approaches the task of teaching differently. It may take trying several different options, or a combination of a few to find what works best for you.

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According to author Tom Scovel, learning a new language is complex and multifaceted. In Scovel’s book, Learning New Languages: A Guide to Second Language Acquisition, he states that no matter what learning tool is utilized, some of the keys to successfully learning a new language are:

  • Purchase a translation dictionary. Having a quick reference of words translated from your native language at your immediate disposal is necessary when learning a new language. There are also online options. However, do not become dependent on only a translation dictionary as it will only assist on a basic level
  • Read in the chosen language. Even before you have a grasp on the language, start looking at the written word to train your senses to accept the different ways words are written and letters are combined. As you start understanding the language more, reading will become more helpful and entertaining.
  • Write in the chosen language. While learning to read and speak the language is important, writing gives you the opportunity to learn how words are conjugated and sentences are constructed. Practicing writing words helps your brain retain and understand.
  • Speak and listen in the chosen language. It may have been difficult previously to connect with someone who speaks your chosen language, but online options are making this more convenient.

Scovel goes on to say that a successful new language student must be perseverant and resolute in their decision and plan to become multilingual. While there may be a certain amount of anxiety in learning anything new, it can become especially prevalent in learning a new language due to the complexities of the subject.

“It is important to understand that learning something new, especially a new language, is supposed to be enjoyable and improve oneself. Keep that in mind,” he said.

Keep Learning

As with any skill, if a person does not continue to utilize the skill it may be lost. During and after learning a new language, it is important to continue to use and perfect it.

Learning a new language can lead to continuing to accept the challenges of becoming multi-lingual, perhaps leading to becoming a polyglot. A polyglot is person who speaks, writes or reads several languages. The most prolific Polyglot is Ziad Youssef Fasah, who hold the Guinness Book for World Records for reading and speaking the most number of languages at 58.

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Rahis Saifi

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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