Sometimes it's easy when you're a native English speaker to travel and live in another country and never speak the local language. This is particularly true when your course is conducted in English so all your fellow students speak English and want to use you to perfect their pronunciation. And let’s face it, studying a postgraduate course can be difficult enough so why should you try to learn another language too? Well in truth there are many great reasons why this could be your perfect opportunity to learn a new language – and here are some of them.
It will change the way you think
There is some evidence to suggest that bilingualism can change the way your brain works by making more connections and speeding up your thinking. This can have a benefit in later life by reducing the impact of ageing on the brain. If this alone doesn't convince you to have a go at learning another language, then maybe nothing will.
Broaden your career opportunities
Not only can speaking a language fluently give you extra opportunities when you return home, but it will also stand you in good stead abroad. Translators are needed in every international business and you could find yourself in serious demand if you can speak two languages completely fluently. What happens if you want to spend more time where you've studied or you want to settle there after you've completed your course? You don't want to have to spend extra time learning the language if you change your plans or do something silly like fall in love! Learning the language while you study your course and settle into life in a new country will keep your options open and widen them too.
The chance to speak fluently like a native
There is only one way to speak another language fluently and that is to surround yourself with people who are speaking it every day. If all the television you watch and every newspaper you read is in the local language, then you will begin to develop a more natural way of speaking that can't be learned any other way.
Experience more of the country you are living in
By being able to speak the local language you will integrate more fully into local life and settle in more easily. If you can chat to the people in the local shops about the weather, the local news or current events, then you will learn more about the culture and people you are living with. By only speaking English you're only going to find out what the opinions of those who can speak to you are rather than finding out what other people think and gaining a deeper understanding of the country you live in.
It's good manners
Not being able to have a simple conversation with your neighbour after a while becomes a little rude. You'll get a much warmer reception if you try to speak in the local language than if you never even bother and you'll learn all about what is polite in local custom much more quickly. It's just about having the confidence to say hello or perhaps more accurately bonjour, hola, ciao, or guten tag to everyone you meet.