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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

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

What is Effective Communication?

Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

Are You a Poor Communicator?

Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

  • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
  • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
  • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
  • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
  • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
  • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
  • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
  • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

Work

  • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
  • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
  • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
  • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
  • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
  • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Personal relationships

  • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
  • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
  • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
  • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
  • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
  • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

How to Master Effective Communication Skills

In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

1. Learn how to listen

Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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2. Make eye contact

Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

3. Ask questions

When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

4. Watch body language

Watch both yours and the other persons.

We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

5. Speak confidently

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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These tips will help you speak more confidently.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

7. Know your audience

You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

8. Be empathetic and understanding

There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

9. Pause before reacting

There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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10. Over communicate

You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

Conclusion

Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

More Resources About Work Communication

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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