We have all seen them. Some of us have been them. You know, the people who try to get their point across to the waiter in foreign territory, not by using foreign words, but by talking very s-l-o-w-l-y and LOUDLY – in their native language of course. Obviously the moment isn't pleasant for either the waiter or the customer, but it certainly is cringeworthy for any bystander. Perhaps learning a few words could save you time and ensure you get what you are trying to order.
Also while learning a language, one simultaneously betters his knowledge of the culture. You learn all these little nyances not only in the vocabulary, but also in how the language is used: how to be polite and respectful when needed, or generally speaking how to behave correctly in certain situations.
Being able to speak more languages also opens up a lot of career opportunities. Even the most basic knowledge in a language can prove to be surprisingly useful when applying for a job. It might just give you an extra push needed to shine over other applicants. While doing business with foreigners, speaking just a few words of their language usually leaves a positive impression of you – not to mention speaking it fluently. In today's world one can't assume to get by just by speaking Finnish and rally-driver English.
I remember reading that learning new languages also reduces your chance of developing dementia later in life – and I should remember, having studied English, Swedish and Russian as foreign languages. And also some Spanish, though mostly profanity. Learning languages even makes it easier to learn another languages, especially from the same language family. When you get the concept of how puzzles work, it makes it easier to put the new pieces together.
Text: Esko Naski, student of Independent Study in English course