The fact that today the world is becoming a far smaller place because it’s easier to move around the world for work and for pleasure makes learning languages far more important.
A hundred years or more ago, people working overseas did so in countries where their language had spread and even in some countries the colonial language took on the status as the country’s official language. There was a need for speakers of the colonial language to lead development projects, work for businesses and government departments set up by the colonisers.
Even today in Kenya, the official languages are both English and Kiswahili. Today, migration isn’t quite the same, as more and more migrants are seeking out countries to live permanently in to escape oppression and lack of development in their own countries. Some are refugees while others maybe skilled or business migrants. Most won’t necessarily have a good command of their host country’s language and may to begin with find it difficult to engage in effective communication. This is why it’s so important to learn the new country’s language and culture. It opens doors and allows useful communication to take place.
Searching for a Job
Trying to find a job if you can’t speak the country’s language fluently, or even not at all, can mean limited job opportunities. This often leads to only finding low paid work where the spoken language isn’t necessarily required that often. Once this cycle begins, it delays the chance of becoming fluent. This road can be avoided by learning the language as quickly as possible.
Making new friends
Integrating into the community and making new friends is difficult for ethnic minorities who haven’t learned their host country’s language. Large immigrant communities tend to build up in one place because migrants don’t have the language skills to feel safe outside their own group because of lack of fluency in the language. It’s essential to learn the host country’s language in order to build up the confidence to find new friends
Going about everyday tasks
There are certain basic things that most people do every day, depending on who they are, such as going to the store to buy groceries, watching TV and riding on public transport. If you are struggling with the language and find it difficult to do daily tasks then it’s time to start learning the language. You will feel safer and better integrated if you can communicate more easily. Those tasks won’t seem daunting but just will be taken in your stride.
Looking forward to a brighter future
Learning the country’s language will lay the foundation for a brighter future. It will take you out of your ethnic community and into wider society and everything it offers. If you have a family they will feel better integrated and more confident to enjoy what the new country offers. Anyone with some effort can learn a new language and gain from this new skill.
What learning a new language entails
If you start to learn the new language in the country that speaks it you will be taught all the useful expressions and idioms in use in your area. These are embedded in the culture of the people so knowing these expressions means you have a higher chance of being accepted into the community.
Your children will quickly make new friends where they will pick up even more useful expressions that aid communication. Your language classes won’t be literal word for word translations but the new language will be taught to you in such a way that you are involved in learning the features of the language that are culturally relevant in the place where you live.
This means you will pick up the language far more quickly than studying textbooks in some distant land far away from where the language is spoken. In fact, you are privileged to learn a language in a country where it’s spoken because you are surrounded by it, which means you have less chance of failing.
Here are 7 simple advantages of learning your new country’s language
• Employers love and support it.
• It’s a necessity.
• Makes travel in the country easier.
• It’s much easier to learn another language once you have mastered one.
• You will feel smarter.
• It will boost your creativity.
• It builds self esteem.
• Your children will love you for it.
• It’s an asset that can never be taken away from you.
Ethnic minorities often struggle to survive in a new country. What bridges the gap between ethnic minorities and the people of their new country is integration rather than assimilation. One important way of doing this is learning the country’s language. The second is acknowledging the cultural expectations in the country. Things like a simple please and thank you go down well in many countries. Learning the host language well also stands you in good stead if you intend on having a career with a recognised translation agency in your host country.
References and Further Reading
Alina James is a legal translation project manager at Barnes, Thompson & Brown. Alina is also an avid social media user and blog writer.