While English is the language of choice in the United Nations, international conferences and other global events, it isn’t the most spoken one. Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, with an estimated 1.2 billion speakers, followed by Spanish with 414 million, and English at third place with 335 million.
English is the best language ever…right?
One thing about the English language is that many people use it as their 2nd or even 3rd language, and if you combine these to the 335 million native English speakers around the world, the number of speakers goes up to over 2 billion. But being a native English speaker isn’t nearly enough and you need one or two more languages to really get the most out of life.
Not being able to understand another language is like being trapped in your own native tongue and is very frustrating. Imagine the need to understand a group of travelers and wanting to interact with them, only to find out that the language barrier is holding you back. Or trying to read a menu, road sign or even a brochure. Translation apps work to some degree, but aren’t enough.
You still think English can cut it in today’s uber connected world?
Make your Travels more interesting.
You can take photos and go popular tourist attractions, but to really have an interesting time on your travels, it pays to be friends with the locals. This is an excellent opportunity to broaden your horizons and make lasting friendships. Most locals would gladly show you around town, invite you over for dinner or take you to spots not on the guidebook.
The only way to effectively do this and form a bond with a native speaker is by speaking his/her native language. It shows them that you’re really interested in their country, culture and way of life that you took the time to learn. It’s an experience of a lifetime to live amongst local residents and be treated like family. Never feel alone anywhere you go!
You can do this by either Couchsurfing, teaching English abroad or joining WWOOF or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Couchsurfing is basically travelling wht world while sleeping on a host’s couch or floor, totally for free, and WWOOF is a volunteer network you can sign up for where you get to work in an organic farm for paid food and lodging.
Better employment opportunities.
When you speak more than one language, your employment opportunities at home and abroad are better than those who only speak one language, even English. This is because a lot of companies have clients overseas and they’d like to have someone in-house that can communicate with their foreign language clients.
There are also tons of work opportunities abroad. If a company has an office overseas and they need someone on the ground to liaise with the native speakers of the country, you can offer your services. This is a unique opportunity to live and work in another country for free. Written translation is harder, and companies usually just go for fast, reliable and cost-effective professional translation from the big boys.
A Better Brain.
Speaking another language also has excellent health benefits, especially for your brain. Studies have shown that bilinguals and polyglots are better at fighting early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease because their brain is always active and switching between two or more languages.
A study from the University of Chicago found that people who speak in another language have a tendency to eliminate “loss aversion” or getting too caught up in the “here and now” and make better choices. Polyglots are also more confident in themselves and their ability to make clear decisions.
When you know how to speak another language, you can really dig deep and embrace what life in another country is all about. Learning Spanish? You can either take a Flamenco dancing lesson on the side, learn how to make Paella or even be an expert on festivals and fiestas. This will give you more chances to get to know the locals better and practice your new language.