As we delve further and further into the technological age and the world seems to grow smaller by the second, travel becomes continually more accessible, especially for us students. With innumerable websites claiming cheaper airfares and hostels popping up across the globe, it is quite easy to become so enthralled with the idea of visiting a new place. But, are we forgetting what the essence of travel is? It’s all about culture, culture culture! And, at the core of culture itself lies something incredibly special and unique, but it’s often left totally unconsidered by the eager traveller.
You may be thinking that yes, language is important, and no, I am not naïve enough to travel to Japan expecting the population’s majority to speak English. Often, we classify language as somewhat unattainable to us, especially as we travel in quick, frequent spurts as young adults. And yes, learning a language is difficult, and not always essential, but it is such a valuable and necessary tool for full immersion in a country’s culture, on an individual and universal level. So, why don’t we learn as many languages as we can?
Obviously there are numerous restraints on learning a language, and we are all affected by at least one:
- Time:More often than not, the primary constraint is time. Especially as students, time is tricky to juggle, with assessments and the occasional bar meet up (wink, wink.)
- Age:Yes, if we are to consider that most of us here are young adults, we are not at all ‘old,’ though we are heading that way in terms of language. The primal time to learn a language is as a child, which we’ve all done (congrats!). But during childhood is also the best time to acquire a second language proficiently.
- Money:Unfortunately, culture comes at a price these days, and language is no stranger to a few dollars, or a few hundred at that. With books upon books and face-to-face classes, learning a language can be expensive. A complete French guide online can cost you upwards of 50 dollars. That’s basically a night or two at a hostel!
- Motivation:Unfortunately, even if you were to abolish the factors above, with no motivation, learning a language is virtually impossible.
Now, after reading the above list, you may be thinking that language seems even further from the realm of possibility for you. But I assure you, that’s not true!
With all the glory of the technological age has come amazing resources, and learning a language online is now a credible, plausible endeavour to pursue. One of the main tools in learning a language online is YouTube. Just by searching ‘learn French,’ or ‘learn Spanish,’ pages upon pages of videos come up, and they’re all free to watch! That’s hours upon hours of visual and audio resources available to you: it just comes down to you to search down that list based on learning style and individual personality. Once you have begun learning a language, you can easily watch videos from people around the world, broadening your knowledge!
I was inspired to learn a language after watching a few videos from Youtubers Damon and Jo, who sounded much cooler in French.
Another tool, one which I learnt from the YouTubers above, is an app named Duolingo, available in the App and Google Play stores for free! This app is really effective, and fun too! Designed like a game, the app is so easy and quick, you can use it in transit! (time constraints, be gone!)
These are just two tools amongst a massive amount of others available thanks to the internet, and I encourage you to dive in! learn the language before you visit the country: it will heighten your experience and open your mind. If that doesn’t eliminate the motivation issue, I’m not sure much else will.