Choosing what foreign language to learn is one of the critical decisions you’ll make in your life. So how do you decide what’s right for you?
Should you follow your interest & learn the language you love and passionate about, regardless of where it might lead you? Should you follow your heart or head? Why?
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What’s Your Reason?
Who wouldn’t want to learn a foreign language?
In today’s world, the importance of foreign languages has never been more crucial.
The majority of us learn a language for different reasons.
In an age of the competitive and evolving world, It can benefit your foreign trips, business deals, overseas study, immigration to a new country, cognitive abilities, school and university education, a career in foreign languages, cultural awareness, or maybe to find some peace through a long-forgotten hobby.
Everyone has different goals
You’ve heard all the reasons why some people want to learn any foreign language.
What works for me may not work for someone else.
Everyone has different priorities in life.
If you’re already convinced and confident about which language you should learn, that’s the one to pursue.
For example, Spanish Music, especially Enrique Iglesia’s melodious song, happens to be my reason to learn Spanish.
I have also studied some German because, at one point in yesteryear, I was interested in higher education in Deutschland.
Well, that was the vivid memories of things that never happened.
The reason for taking a Japanese course in Delhi was mainly due to my fascination with unique Japanese culture and tradition.
Another example is my friend, who was about to relocate permanently to Québec, Canada.
Meanwhile, another old friend who gained employment in the HR department of an oil company in Qatar started taking Arabic classes in Delhi.
From the above examples, you can see that all three of us choose to learn a language for different reasons — or to put it better, circumstances.
Most language learners are driven by one or more circumstances to learn the language they are learning now.
However, conditions are not the only driving force that propels people’s decisions to learn a particular tongue.
Personal reason is another force that drives people to opt for a specific one.
Some people choose to select a particular language because of the way it appeals to them.
They love the sound and vocabulary, or culture and customs, or just music and movies it offers, so they decide to learn it.
Whatever might be the reason, there is one key that underlines the success it requires to learn and master a new language.
It is to fall line, hook, and sinker in LOVE with it!
Learning the language that you love
If you are passionate about learning a particular foreign language, study that. Unquestionably and absolutely. To minimize regret, you’ll need to follow your heart.
The language that you love is the one whose culture overwhelms you as such that you’re willing to sacrifice most of your time to sit down and study that language.
It brings us to the issue of passion for learning a language.
Lack of motivation is probably the no. 1 reason for failure in language learning.
And so you’re out to learn Mandarin (官话).
Well, there is nothing wrong with learning Chinese in India to enhance your career options. But it is not as inspiring as having a passion for the language you want to learn.
Sitting around, with a job in mind, to learn Hànzì characters will never be that fulfilling as when you emotionally entrenched yourself in that foreign tongue itself.
The key is to link up meaningful relationships with the language.
One of the reasons why so many people struggle today to learn a language or whose learning progress is too slow is because they have a low-key passion.
While most of them are keen to learn the language of their dreams, their experience level keeps turning them off.
The majority of these people don’t realize that as a language learner, you are most likely to achieve your goals more comfortably and quicker if you develop a passion for learning the language you love.
Why you need the purpose?
Let’s face it, When giving reasons behind choosing which foreign language to learn, most people say/ask “foreign language jobs,” “High-paying job as a translator in India,” Jobs in foreign embassies, etc.
I’ve received aplenty of such questions. Most of these reasons are based on rumor, popularity, ranking, most searched, widely spoken, or anecdotal evidence.
These vague answers are never the right way to start embarking on the language learning journey.
What about those who don’t have a compelling reason or yet to discover one?
You need to find a legitimate purpose of learning a new language. Studying without goals is like catching air.
The failure will be inevitable, well, at least in most cases. One of the most crucial reasons for failure in language learning is because people lack the genuine motivation.
Some people also develop interest during their learning phase. But that may or may not happen. Thus, it is always better to find the purpose before starting!
Learning a new language is always a new challenge.
It is not language learning myths.
Language learning is hard, and mastering any language takes time, and sadly, there is no shortcut, at least not in my knowledge.
Most people underestimate the time needed to learn a language properly.
When I usually say 3 to 5 years, I believe it by all means.
I have always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest.
According to my personal experience and interaction with several linguists and institutions, most people give up trying to learn any language within three to twelve months.
A significant majority don’t go further than a beginner’s level.
When I am talking about ‘finding the reason.’ I’m referring to an overarching goal that drives you.
It can be anything, such as emigrating to a particular nation or watching movies in that language or traveling.
Or maybe you’re interested in the custom, tradition, art, literature, poetry, media components like Music or TV-Shows, or some other aspect of the culture of people who speak a specific tongue.
Whatever your goal may be, the point is that having something to aim for will help you move ahead with your best effort.
The purpose is the best way you can become motivated enough to learn a language.
Being emotional about the language you’re studying will help you persevere and scale through whatever hurdles it contains.
If you don’t have a purpose, it can be challenging to find enough time from your busy schedule and get through the pending language lessons.
Studies have shown that how you learn a foreign language impacts whether or you will follow through it.
If you get bored before you’ve put in the required time and effort, you’re not going to learn much of the language.
Let’s address the facts that help determine whether you’re going to stick with your language learning techniques and the goal of learning a foreign language.
For example, finding your purpose can help you. If it made sense, it makes sense!
How passion drives successful language study
As stated earlier, people like myself have learned various languages for many reasons. I learned French because I love the phonetics and the ‘intriguing culture’ it projects.
I became personally attached to it because of the sound, and everything about it stimulates my interest.
One more thing that spurs me on to study French was cultural awareness. A career in French was never my priority.
I can tell you that my own decisions to learn various languages have little to do with career opportunities.
It was merely an accidental instead planned that I’d made my career in foreign languages.
All of these contributed to my commitment I put in and the eventual success in studying French. That is what passion demands.
Passion means, what is it that attracts your interest in the language?
How are you connected to that interest? What is the spark that anchors your connection so well?
These are questions you need to answer if you want to be successful in your language learning.
All human beings are capable of love, but two elements of love keep you moving and motivated when you connect deeply with a particular object of focus.
These two elements are passion and interest, without which love cannot exist.
Passion refers to the bulk of positive energy that emanates from your emotions and feelings towards achieving a particular goal you connected with.
Interest is like a reminder that allows you to see and remember why you are pursuing what is before you now.
The same thing applies when learning a new language or a second language. It is passion and interest that will give you the energy.
The focus you need to get far and do the things that you wouldn’t have done usually.
Desire is the essential key and common feature you can identify with all outrageously successful people.
No language study is easy, but passion and interest allow you to persevere through the beginning stage until you come to the point where you start loving it. It will accelerate your learning!
But, since you cannot buy passion, the only way to create that passion is to identify the things that connect you to that language.
You can know the benefits it offers you, and choose a language that you enjoy hearing and one you will also enjoy learning.
Since there is no shortcut to language learning, plus the fact that you will spend so many times in learning the language you want.
Thus, you have to learn the tongue you really love.
There is no way you would become successful in language learning without loving the language first, which means having a passion and interest in it.
The language of your dreams is the one that appeals to you in so many ways.
While your connection to that language may differ from mine, both of us still need two standard features to succeed in our language learning quest — passion and interest.
Maybe the language you want to learn is one of those things you’ve always wanted to do, or perhaps you fall in love after you start studying.
What matters is you learn the language you love and the purpose associated with it.
I do hope I haven’t used too much jargon in this article.
Even if I did, I hope the real message is conveyed. If you have any questions, let me know!