Why not learn a mod­ern for­eign lan­guage?

Why not learn a mod­ern for­eign lan­guage?

Oi Vietnam - - Contents -

THERE ARE CUR­RENTLY 7,099 world lan­guages, of which 2,294 are spo­ken in Asia, ac­cord­ing to the pres­ti­gious Web-based pub­li­ca­tion Eth­no­logue: Lan­guages of the World,

2017. There­fore, why not learn some of those lan­guages? As far as I am con­cerned, study­ing for­eign lan­guages has many ad­van­tages, since not only does it im­prove your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and cre­ativ­ity, but also your mem­ory. Fur­ther­more, the study of for­eign lan­guages makes you more flex­i­ble and tol­er­ant be­cause it pro­vides you with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of other cul­tures. More­over, let us not for­get the im­por­tance of for­eign lan­guages to en­joy bet­ter ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties. For these rea­sons, I be­lieve it is pos­i­tive to learn for­eign lan­guages.

A lan­guage is di­vided into four skills, which are lis­ten­ing, speak­ing, read­ing and writ­ing. Those skills are clas­si­fied as re­cep­tive skills (lis­ten­ing and read­ing) and pro­duc­tive skills (writ­ing and speak­ing). Ac­cord­ing to SIL In­ter­na­tional, 1999, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion de­voted to study­ing, devel­op­ing and doc­u­ment­ing lan­guages, those skills are re­lated, as in mode of com­mu­ni­ca­tion

(oral or writ­ten) and di­rec­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion (re­ceiv­ing or pro­duc­ing the mes­sage). Con­se­quently, work­ing on your speak­ing and lis­ten­ing skills will def­i­nitely im­prove your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Re­search shows that for­eign lan­guage learn­ers re­tain 90 per­cent of what they learn by us­ing it im­me­di­ately or teach­ing it to some­one else. This is be­cause learn­ers make mis­takes and hence they are forced to cor­rect those mis­takes. As a teacher of a mod­ern for­eign lan­guage, I would point out the rel­e­vance of at­tend­ing meet-ups with na­tive speakers and sing­ing songs, as well as watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to all kind of videos of in­ter­est, as some of the most ef­fi­cient ways to boost your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Sim­i­larly, writ­ing short sto­ries, poems or scripts will help you to de­velop your writ­ing skills, as cre­ativ­ity plays a ma­jor role. Teach­ers of mod­ern for­eign lan­guages usu­ally dis­cour­age learn­ers from trans­lat­ing lit­er­ally from their mother tongue to the lan­guage they are learn­ing, the tar­get lan­guage, be­cause it might not be gram­mat­i­cally cor­rect or nat­u­ral. Last but not least, you can en­hance your read­ing skills and mem­ory by read­ing out loud. As I see it, read­ing daily for about 10 to 20 min­utes is good prac­tice.

Bar­bara Jor­dan, a lawyer, ed­u­ca­tor and Amer­i­can politi­cian, once said, “One thing is clear to me: we, as hu­man be­ings, must be will­ing to ac­cept peo­ple who are dif­fer­ent from our­selves.” I could not agree more with that state­ment. As a mat­ter of fact, study­ing a lan­guage is not only about learn­ing sounds, gram­mar and vo­cab­u­lary, it also con­cerns learn­ing about other cul­tures. Mod­ern for­eign lan­guage learn­ers are, then, ex­pected to de­velop their cul­tural com­pe­tence, which is the abil­ity to un­der­stand, com­mu­ni­cate with and ef­fec­tively in­ter­act with peo­ple across cul­tures. As a con­se­quence, learn­ers will ac­quire in­ter­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, broaden their minds, have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the world and de­velop tol­er­ance and re­spect to­wards other cul­tures. An ex­am­ple of em­pow­er­ing cul­tural com­pe­tence is that of Saigon Star In­ter­na­tional School, where all the staff try their best to in­stil in learn­ers val­ues such as in­ter­na­tional-mind­ed­ness, re­spect, co­op­er­a­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and adapt­abil­ity, amongst oth­ers, by telling learn­ers about In­ter­na­tional Pri­mary Cur­ricu­lum-con­cepts such as home coun­try, host coun­try and adop­tive coun­try.

The 21st cen­tury is char­ac­ter­ized by a global econ­omy in a glob­al­ized world, where the abil­ity to speak ad­di­tional mod­ern for­eign lan­guages cer­tainly makes a dif­fer­ence when it comes to get­ting a job. Knowl­edge of one or more ad­di­tional lan­guages will make your CV look more in­ter­est­ing to em­ploy­ers, who highly ap­pre­ci­ate em­ploy­ees who can speak sev­eral lan­guages. Some of the fields where poly­glots—peo­ple who know sev­eral lan­guages—have more chances in­clude trans­porta­tion and tourism, trans­la­tion and in­ter­pret­ing, teach­ing, sales and marketing, pub­lic re­la­tions and govern­ment. An­other ad­van­tage of mas­ter­ing a mod­ern for­eign lan­guage is that you can work abroad, which will con­trib­ute to both your pro­fes­sional and hu­man devel­op­ment. As for wages, ac­cord­ing to Euro Lon­don, a re­cruit­ment agency, em­ploy­ees who know ad­di­tional mod­ern for­eign lan­guages can in­crease their salaries by around 10–15 per­cent.

As a teacher of a mod­ern for­eign lan­guage, I strongly rec­om­mend learn­ing an­other lan­guage, be­cause you will ben­e­fit from it. It will make you more con­fi­dent when ex­press­ing your thoughts. It will also make you more cre­ative when writ­ing or speak­ing. Apart from that, you will keep your brain ac­tive. Also, you will de­velop a more pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards cul­tural dif­fer­ence. Plus, your un­der­stand­ing of the world will be dif­fer­ent. Last but not least, you will have the op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for more re­ward­ing jobs. There­fore, all your ef­forts will pay off!

Rubén Maíz Baños is a teacher of Mod­ern For­eign Lan­guages and English Literature at Saigon Star In­ter­na­tional School.

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