Language learners are a rare breed. They walk among us as the adventurers, the students, and the teachers that we need to enrich lives with language and culture the world over. What exactly makes language learners the best? We’ve gathered up just five (we could go on!) undisputable reasons that language learners are way tougher, smarter, and cooler than they sometimes get credit for.
For starters: they have to put themselves out there and risk sounding like a child in another language. They adventure to unknown places. They willingly subject themselves to learning another grammar system, when we all know that learning just one is hard enough.
We hate to get sentimental, but language learners: you’re our inspiration. This one’s for you - take this as motivation for your learning goals in 2017, consider it a quality share with your friends who are new to language learning, or just accept a much-deserved pat on the back for all of your hard work. Here’s to the adventurers, the multilinguals, and all those braving the wild frontier that is a new language and a different culture - you’re the real MVPs. Here are just five reasons that language learners are the best.
1. They are curious.
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.”
‒ Sarah Caldwell
Think back to the first time you felt that spark of curiosity towards a new language. Was it your first rickshaw ride China’s historic hutongs? Or was it when you first mastered rolling your R’s in Spanish? Whatever first ignited your interest in learning a new language and exploring a new culture, it’s magic - and it’s worth chasing.
Yes, it can be a hard, long road - and yes, there can be cringe-worthy and challenging moments along the way. But consider the pay-off: you’ll unlock a whole new world of people and places, and a brand-new way of thinking that can only be discovered through a language outside of your own. Maybe you’ve just started your language-learning journey, or maybe you’re already a seasoned polygot. Either way, you’re one of us, because all language learners share an innate curiosity than bonds us together. If you’ve ever stayed up late translating a Spanish novel, if you’ve ever felt your spirit soar while dancing along to music in another language, if you’ve ever hopped on a plane to a place entirely unknown to you - then in our book, you’re making the world a better place.
2. They are adventurous.
“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”
‒ Ludwig Wittgenstein
This one is why we say that language learners are a little - for lack of a better term - crazy. These are people who put their hard-earned money towards traveling to unknown places, where they likely do not know the public transit systems, the cultural norms, or what wild new cuisine could show up on their plate at dinner.
But still, they boldly venture into the unknown. They chase the mystery of the world, and they seek answers in others. Whether you’re in the company of your peers while studying abroad, moving with your family for a global reassignment, or you’re flying solo - you’re earning your Adventurer badge, whether you realize it or not. And as they say, life is either a great adventure, or nothing at all.
3. They are vulnerable.
“Facing a language you don't know is like returning to your infancy when your mother tongue used to be a foreign language to you.”
Generally speaking, people don’t volunteer to be the new kid in class. But when you’re a newcomer to a culture and a foreign language, that’s basically what you’re doing. You’re choosing to put yourself out there and learn, even at the risk of sounding a little silly, a little green, or even potentially offending someone. But when you’re truly vulnerable and open to those who are showing you the ropes, good-hearted curiosity almost always turns out to be the bridge to learning - and mastering - the new language and culture you set out to explore.
4. They are intelligent.
“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
‒ Frank Smith
Intelligence is more than your IQ score. We like to think about intelligence as a result of the world you choose to create for yourself. When you invest in your cultural IQ and learning new languages, you’re building critical thinking skills, expanding your worldview, and keeping your cognitive knowledge sharp. In fact, research shows that the brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers.
Basically, your multilingual brain processes meaning on a deeper level, increasing your problem-solving skills and building your muscle memory across disciplines. And the benefits don’t stop there: speaking more than one language has also been shown to increase perception, improve your ability to multitask, and make you more observant. Bottom line: language learners are often the best and the brightest, and they’ve worked hard for that.
5. They are brave.
“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”
‒ Rita Mae Brown
Learning a new language is a brave new world. You’re choosing to embrace the unfamiliar over the familiar. It is brave to choose knowledge and growth over comfort zones and a single-perspective existence. Don’t get us wrong - it’s not all glory and adventure. Learning a new language and culture is not always easy, and often, it’s the road less traveled - but think of all the roads you will travel because of it. Sometimes, that twinge of fear you feel along the way is just proof that you’re on the cusp of discovering something wonderful.
So, here’s to you: the language learners, the culture addicts, the globally-minded citizens. You make the world go round. We can’t wait to follow along on your journey - keeping your language knowledge fresh and your culture informed every step of the way. As a testament of our love, we have more than 70 robust, culture-packed language courses ready and waiting for you. Which language is next on your list?