New languages, new worlds

In the era of new high technologies we still learn new languages. There has been a widely spread idea that soon or later computers will be able to translate almost everything. To some extent, it is true now – we have the Google translator, to mention one. But when it comes to speaking new languages the AI cannot be a replacement of the human brain capacity yet.

One of the priorities of the EU educational programmes is studying new languages. Through the recent decades the EU has invested a lot of money and efforts in that direction. People from different ages have been able to participate in various programmes for gaining knowledge in new languages and through which to meet new cultures and new worlds.

The reasons for learning languages could be numerous. One could be the well-known and scientifically proven fact that this kind of activity helps the brain stay in a good condition and boost the memory capacity as well. Some people have a passion for languages and they find it quite easy to become fluent in a new one. The aptitude for languages could be a powerful spur but in most of the cases people, especially adults, choose to study new languages for more practical reasons such as making their CVs look more attractive, fulfilling a particular requirement in order to get the dream job or simply, because they need the foreign language in their regular jobs. In spite of the particular motives behind this decision the truth is that when you study languages you immerse yourself in a completely new reality – new ways of expressions, new cultural manners, new perspectives on usual topics.

As everything else there is some kind of fashion in languages too. For some period of time there are one or two languages which are preferable worldwide, then – others and so on. Usually the tendencies are based on the current business needs which define the outlook for the labor market. Nowadays speaking English is a must when it comes to work, studying abroad or even – just for everyday communication. And English certainly is not a fashion trend anymore. It is a necessity by default.

What is really interesting now is the rise of so-called “exotic languages” and mostly, Mandarin Chinese. Chinese is among the fifth most difficult languages in the world. With its specific tones and the enormous number of characters this language is too far away from English or any other language spoken in Europe. The indicators of the development of the Chinese economy showing a huge progress for the last years, plus the high expectations for further economic growth have turned Chinese into the most recommended language by many leading experts in the business field. Despite all proclaimed benefits of speaking Chinese among the most important ones is the opportunity to explore China through your own eyes and to face the challenge to revise some of your own ideas about the world as a whole. With its high level of difficulty studying Chinese requires strong motivation and a great deal of discipline and patience.

At the same time there are some quite eager Chinese learners. In a recent BBC reportage (see below the article) a group of Australian kids demonstrated their ability to present themselves in Chinese. At the age of 5 they are able to say “Hello, my name is…” with a big smile and great Chinese pronunciation. The school where these kids learn Chinese is considered as an example for a good educational policy. By the age of 12 the children will be fluent in Chinese. In the form of games and fun they will be able to study a lot of Chinese characters as well as to gain self-confidence in speaking this language. What a better way to broaden your horizons and embrace new cultures than studying a foreign language at an early age, right?

Every new language is a new world. Being able to express yourself correctly in a foreign language means, first, feeling the rhythm of it and second, understanding the culture, the people, the communicational patterns and some norms in the particular country. Learning a language is never easy but it can bring a lot of emotions as well as the sense of achievement. What’s more it gives you the chance to find many new friends around the world!

You can find the full BBC article and video about studying Chinese at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24672295

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