I hated learning French in school. A lot.
Things changed after I stumbled into learning Italian. I realised that I didn’t hate all languages, I just didn’t get French.
If you’ve ever tried to learn an instrument, you’re probably familiar with that feeling. One instrument, or language in this case, can feel odd. You try out another and the planets align, it all makes sense. So this is why people are willing to embarrass themselves in front of other people.
I went through the process two more times–with Korean and Swedish. They made sense to me in a way others, like French, Indonesian and Spanish, didn’t.
Regardless of the language (or if you’re insane like me: languages) you choose, here are reasons why you should hit the books and chat up the locals:
1. CULTURAL LITERACY
I’m more interested in long term immersion and you can only get that from understanding a language.
I experienced a lot on my first trip to Italy. I went with school and no one else except the tour guide knew any Italian. My friends indulged me and relied on my basic (and I mean basic) speaking abilities. I don’t think we would have had as many funny and interesting experiences without me stumbling through conversation with locals.
2. LEARNING FOR OTHERS
When I first visited Korea, a similar feeling to what I experienced in Italy happened. I’d always loved the idea of learning Korean for my best friend. After I spent two weeks immersed in the culture, I knew I had to start taking the endeavour seriously.
One of the greatest joys in life is sharing experiences with other people. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by other people, cultures and languages from a young age. I can continue that through exploring Italian, Korean and Swedish culture.
If there’s one thing I love more than languages, it’s food. It’s no coincidence that I’m learning the languages of my favourite cuisines.
In Korea, I didn’t stop eating for the entire two weeks my best friend and I stayed there. Every meal left us stuffed and ready to sleep. I didn’t know any Korean at the time but when I go back, food will be one of the things I discuss the most.
I want to shout out Sweden and Italy as well. Italians ritualise eating habits and make meals social affairs. I found Swedes do this too, but in their own way.
I’ve started incorporating methods and ingredients from my three adoptive languages into my diet. Believe you me, it’s made daily life a lot more interesting.
4. MUSIC & TV
I resisted listening to K-pop at first because I’m definitely not learning Korean for boy bands. I prefer less bubbly K-dramas like the thrilling new Netflix original, Kingdom.
I listen to some K-pop and K-rock now but on the whole I like music from all different genres in the languages I’m learning. I want to emphasise the fact that the over-saturation of American dramas and music bores me a lot of the time.
I have the luxury of choosing from music and TV from four different languages. I could listen to things from outside of theses cultures as well, but I wouldn’t understand them in the same way.
I would love to be able to say that I’m learning three languages out of pure love. I can’t do that though. In job markets here, in Australia, and overseas, you have to *brand* yourself–aggh.
By the end of my degree, it will set me a part if I can waltz into a job interview, hand them my CV and boast that I speak four languages.
That wraps up my five main reasons for why I’m learning Italian, Korean and Swedish. I hoped you found this post interesting! I’m going to keep posting on here about my language journey. Expect to see language tips, travel and more!
What languages are you learning, and why? Leave me a comment below.