Have you ever thought about learning another language? Are you interested but not sure where to start? Overwhelmed by the options and not sure what would work best for you? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this series of posts is for you.
Learning a second (or third or fourth) language is a popular activity. Research has shown that it not only improves cognitive development in children but can also stave off dementia later in life. Who wouldn’t want those benefits? And with all the resources and technology we have these days it is easier than ever to learn just about any language out there.
This first post is dedicated to figuring out what language you should learn. If you already know what language is best for you then the next post will be May 23 and you can bide your time until then by having a look at our language learning webpage to get an idea of some of the library’s resources. So let’s begin…
It is a simple fact that some languages are more popular than others and therefore will have more options for learning them. Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Arabic and Japanese are among the most popular for Americans to learn so they tend to have the most options. If you have your heart set on learning a language only spoken by a few hundred people then you might have trouble finding resources, but for most other languages the library has got you covered.
To decide which language you would like to learn first you need to answer the question- Why do you want to learn another language? Is it for work or to get ahead in the job market? Do you plan to teach a child? Maybe you just want to travel and be able to talk to people. Pinpointing why you want to learn will help you decide what you want to learn. (This is true for more than just languages.)
For example, if you want to learn a language to improve your job prospect then you might already have an idea or two of what language would be helpful for your career path. If not, then this article from Kiplinger might help. In short, the Kiplinger article says the top five language to learn to advance your career are Mandarin Chinese, German, Portuguese, Japanese and Spanish. These are just generalizations and your specific industry may need people who speak French or Bulgarian so do a little research to make the best choice.
On the other hand, if your goal is to be able to speak to the largest number of people then, again, Mandarin Chinese is your best bet followed by Spanish. This Top Ten Languages in 2016 article breaks down how many people speak which languages. If you are more interested in traveling to a certain country, or area of the world, and want to know which languages they speak where, then this Infoplease website will break that down for you.
Maybe none of these options interest you. Perhaps your passion is to keep a dying language alive. The Endangered Language Project will teach you all about languages around the world that are in danger of dying off. But given their precarious standing in the world, finding resources to learn these languages may be difficult. Better yet, do some tracing of your family tree and pick a language that one or more of your ancestors would have spoken.
Once you have done your research and have decided which language you want to learn then I suggest you search for video or audio of someone speaking that language and see if you like how it sounds. I think German sounds beautiful but many people do not. If your potential language makes your ears hurt then perhaps reconsider your choice and look at your options again.
Be sure to check back on May 23 for tips on getting started with the language you’ve chosen to learn…
~posted by Selby G.