Advice Featured

Why you should learn a second language

I am White and not Latina or Spanish. My native language is English, but I am also fluent in Spanish.

I learned Spanish in school starting when I was about 7 years old, and decided to stick with it, mainly per my parent’s request. But, Spanish classes are not the central contributor to what really made me fluent; my own teaching, interest and love of the language is what really made me a true Spanish speaker.

In order to effectively learn and master a language, you have to love it. If you want to learn a second language just to seem “smarter” or more interesting on your resume, that’s not going to work. You have to really enjoy it.

For example, outside of Spanish classes, I consistently listened to Spanish music and watched Spanish film and TV. None of these activities were assigned as homework; I genuinely loved hearing Spanish and listening to the language. I wanted to learn.

Today, at 23 years old, native Spanish speakers tell me my accent is perfect and that I sound like a native speaker. They ask me where I’m from and say my accent sounds Colombian or sometimes Spanish. This makes sense, of course, because the telenovelas I watch are primarily Colombian and much of the music I listen to is Spanish.

Why do I recommend that everybody learn a second language? Because it expands your social world. If you speak English, wonderful – that’s the most popular language in the world. But, what about some of the lovely people who are in Italy, France, China, India or Greece that you could possibly meet one day? Even if you can’t travel, there are plenty of people in the U.S. who speak languages from all over the world.

If you only speak one language, that limits your opportunities to get to know thousands of people and cultures from around the world.

Another reason I am glad I know Spanish is because of the entertainment aspect. I can watch all of the Spanish film I want to, without subtitles. Most of my favorite musical artists are from Latin America or Spain; I hardly listen to English music anymore.

If you speak more than one language, more film and music are at your disposal. Imagine all of the new genres of music you can learn about. All of the wonderful musical artists. You would have an endless abyss of film and music ready for your consumption.

Although the above reasons are my primary incentives for why someone should learn a second language, here are more reasons to further convince you:

  • easier when traveling to countries that speak the language
  • advancing your career
  • freedom of communicating with more people
  • surprising people when they realize you speak the language
  • increased attention span
  • expanding your vocabulary of your first language
  • deeper connection to other cultures
  • able to read and write in another language
  • talk sh*t about people without them knowing

Gracias y buena suerte!

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