5 ways language exchange and learning can broaden your horizons
YOU FEEL LIKE LESS OF A TOURIST
If you’re a native English speaker and you’ve lived in another country for an extended period of time, we are certain that you will have experienced this feeling. You arrive in your new home with little to no knowledge of the language, but you’re ready to give it your best shot.
The problem is that the moment you open your mouth and let out two words in their native language, the locals start bombarding you with millions of words and expressions that you’ve never heard before. This is especially true in latin rooted language countries such as Spain, where you’ll often find yourself standing in a circle of five Spanish natives feeling like a bulls eye being peppered by their linguistic bullets which are getting sprayed in your direction at a rate of about 1000 per minute. It feels awkward and odd, but it’s not your fault and it’s not the local’s faults either. You just need time to work on it.
One of the best feelings you can truly have is when you’re able to converse directly with locals and not feel like you’re a tourist (or "guiri" in Spain). That’s when you know that you’ve really made it. If you put the effort in with language exchange, it’s likely that you’ll never feel awkward again when travelling or working abroad because you’ll have a great basis of whatever language you’ll need to use.
LEARNING A LANGUAGE CAN IMPROVE HEALTH
There is sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that learning languages and expanding your knowledge can be really beneficial to your health. Firstly, keeping your brain active on a daily basis can stave off dementia, memory loss and even Alzheimer's. Although there are still a great deal of things we don’t know or understand about the complex human brain, the general consensus is that allowing too much rest can be detrimental. It’s likely that brain deterioration is linked to our extended life span within modern day society, but we have also been given a great variety of tools in order to combat memory loss and worsening of cognitive skills.
Whatever you might think about the internet, there are several amazing parts of it and wonderful things that we can do. Learning languages is extremely popular with the retired population, particularly those who are expats and have gone to live in various places throughout the world, the most popular of which is the Costa del Sol on the southern coast of Spain.
THERE’S A LITTLE PIECE OF YOU WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED
If you consider yourself to be somewhat intellectual, it’s likely that you feel a little part of yourself being discovered when you learn something new. It feels like a part of the universe connects with you and you instantly become more complete because of that newly acquired knowledge. While not exclusive to creative people, it certainly seems to have a much stronger impact on them. Creative people are much more likely to experience feelings of existential dread and depression than their scientific counterparts.
Language is a great way of dealing with this as it gives us the capability to express our thoughts through linguistic features. There are people who speak better, others who write better and some who construe their emotions and intentions most effectively through body language. This part of spiritual development is essential in humans and learning a language or taking part in language exchanges can give you the social and spiritual connection that you need to develop.
LANGUAGE IMPROVES LANGUAGE
Learning a second language is likely to improve your first language too. The reason as to why is simple. When learning a second language, you must study grammar, vocabulary, cause and reason, something which although you learnt a little bit in school, has likely disappeared from your long term memory since your day to day life has started to deem this type of information as irrelevant and not important. There are some of us who continue to study linguistic features of books for fun after graduating university. We find the study of deeper meaning in books applicable to situations happening in and around our lives. We attribute character and create worlds around the protagonists in the books that we read, but this isn’t something that we’ve always done, this is a type of creativity that’s developed over time and through many years of play as a child. We guarantee that if you start to learn another language, your native language will improve too. There’s a direct connection between the parts of your brain that are there to memorise native words and foreign words. As a side note, it’s also likely that you’ll start to appreciate beauty in your own language and really appreciate linguistic features such as alliteration, puns, juxtapositions, oxymoron and pathetic fallacy. Once you have a deeper understanding of these aspects of language, your appreciation is likely to go up too.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU’LL MEET
We have spoken many times about how the internet has made the world a much smaller place, but it has actually done far more than just reduce the isolation we faced in the past. The world wide web has realistically changed the dynamic of traditional human existence. If we are honest with ourselves, it’s unlikely that many of us would actually survive without the internet since we rely on it so heavily. In the past, if we wanted to learn a language, we had two options; either go to the country of the language we are trying to learn and let the locals flood us with information or buy/rent as many books as we possibly could and really go full throttle in a desperate bid to let some of the information seep into our long term memories. Now we have many options available and with the click of a button or two, we are able find a language exchange partner on the other side of the world.
The internet has fundamentally changed the way that we find a partner or spouse too. Long gone are the days of searching for a viable candidate in a sweaty nightclub, depressing bar or through tedious and boring set ups by family or friends. Language exchange in reality is supposed to be solely about the language, however, many people do go on to find their partners through such websites since the connection that the couple develops by getting to know each other’s respective cultures and languages can turn out to be extremely deep. It’s important to be respectful and accept rejection in some circumstances, it’s also fine if you’re open about your intentions of finding a partner by using language exchange, but understand that not everyone is looking for the same thing as you and you can’t lose your cool if you’re given answers that you don’t like.
There are thousands of reasons why learning a language can really help you develop as an individual and broaden one’s horizons greatly, we’ve just picked out five, but we’d love to hear your thoughts and why you want to learn another language! Have fun learning about the world and making contact with thousands of people in hundreds of different countries!
Written by: Jordan Benyon, Staff Writer
- Language Exchange
- 12 Feb, 2020
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