Why learn a foreign language ?
I have been reading a number of articles this week about why people choose to learn a second language. As I read, I asked myself if the reasons differed depending on the language.
If I asked Laurence, she would say that most definitely people have different reasons for learning a language. Let’s explore this. Take the English Language as an example. Practically all the students I have taught need, rather than want to learn English and this need is driven by their career choices. Most people learning the English Language today need it to communicate with their customers, prospective clients or their colleagues in an ever increasing multinational business world. Gone are the days when people learned English for the love of the language of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Byron or Dickens. So, inevitably my courses often have a more business slant to them.
Whereas the reasons for learning the French Language are far more pleasure-seeking. Whilst French is still widely spoken in many countries around the world requiring some knowledge of Business French, most people learn French for the pure pleasure of speaking the language and enjoying the French way of life to the full. After all, French wine and cheese taste far better in French!
This is even more so for the Italian Language. Whenever I mention to people that I speak Italian, they look at me with envy, not because they envy my increased chances of doing business in Italy, but for the fact that I can speak the language of opera, il bel canto, la cucina italiana and all the romantic connotations people associate with the Italian Language.
These very different motivating factors mean that the Language Learning experience varies and the challenge for us as Language Trainers is to identify and nurture to the full what motivates our students. That’s what makes our work so interesting and fulfilling.
A bientot, Ciao !
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Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat graduated in Politics and International Studies from the University of Southampton, UK in 1989. After 20 years in the world of Finance in such varied fields as life assurance, stockbroking, fund management, and wealth management, she decided to re-train as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Trainer. She studied for the CELTA at International House, London in 2009 and has since been a freelance English Language Trainer both offline and online.