As we jet off around the world this summer, in the day and age of google translate and the internet, it's all too easy (and wrong) to just assume that everyone will be able to understand English but we've all experienced that awkward moment abroad of trying to get your point across using broken english and a lot of pointing! It was this language barrier that inspired our lovely brand ambassador Charli to write this for us on why more of us should make an effort to learn a language!
"This past Easter I went on holiday to Croatia and it was the first time in my life that I’ve been to a country in which I didn’t speak even a syllable of the language. Even the simplest tasks such as ordering in restaurants was confusing for both myself and the waiter with neither of us speaking notable amounts of the other’s language, and all I could think was how easily that could have been remedied if I’d just made note of a couple of phrases before I arrived. Growing up, I’ve learnt no less than six languages, some at a very basic conversational level (my German reaches the lofty heights of “hello, how are you? Yesterday I ate pizza and drank lemonade”) and some at university level (I study Spanish as my degree). This isn’t an opportunity to boast, but rather one to persuade; I truly believe that speaking multiple languages even at the simplest conversational level can open up an entirely new world unique to those who possess them.
Nowadays it is so easy to take up a language; you don’t need a tutor or a natural talent in order to learn some of the most widely-spoken ones given that there are literally thousands of apps enabling you to do it at your own pace from your phone. I taught myself basic Italian in this way a couple of years ago and it helped hugely when trying to find my way around Rome on holiday where, contrary to popular belief, very few people speak English and even fewer signs are written in English. Having the most basic concept of Italian pointed me and my friends in directions we otherwise probably would not have taken and I think we ended up getting a much more authentic and interesting experience of the city than if we had been limited only to English-friendly places.
On a more serious note, with the increasing number of people going to university or getting further qualifications after school it’s becoming more important than ever to have a certain skill or quality which will make you stand out. On entering the world of work you’d be hard-pressed to find an industry which doesn’t operate in multiple regions, and therefore multiple languages, during such a global age. Speaking another language could very well give you that much-desired advantage over other candidates, thanks to your ability to communicate with and understand so many more people.
I don’t mean to sound preachy or parrot the careers advisors in school offices around the country. I just think that the value and enjoyment in learning a language is lost all too easily when it is forced into school timetables and GCSE options forms; it seems like a chore which creates more hassle than it’s worth. I am very aware that last thing you want to be doing during your breaks from school, university or work is studying, but with a few months of summer about to begin it’s the perfect opportunity to take up a new language; little and often is the best way to go and I guarantee that before you know it you’ll no longer associate the process with stuffy classrooms and dense grammar textbooks. If there’s one thing that defines an ISWAI girl it’s her sense of adventure and wanderlust, and if exploring the world appeals to you then I promise that learning a language will let you delve deeper than ever before."