Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Tower of Babel

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Now that we’re plastic free, omega 3 boosted and fit, lets move on to something else.  If the first three topics for you came out of right field, then this next one is going to come from the bleachers. 

Go learn a foreign language.

Newsflash – English isn’t the most widely used language in the world.  Different languages are used everywhere, literally.  On you next trip – you’ll run into something that knowledge of another language will help you with.  Learning another language will help you in your workplace, with your friends, with friends that you haven’t met yet, and will help you understand different cultures in the world.  Language is really an incredible thing and it will open doors for you that you didn’t even know existed. 

Learning another language is tough.  What you’ll notice as you dive into this new world though is that a lot of languages are linked together.  For instance two of the biggest language groups are Germanic Languages (Danish, Dutch, English, German, Norwegian, and Swedish) and the Romance Languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian).   Each of these languages have similar words, context, sentence structure, etc.  On the flip side if you take The English language and compare it to Japanese, you’ll get a lot things confused.  A quick example would be the Yoda principle (yes, from star wars) – in English you say “you are right” but in Japanese you actually say “right you are”.  You think this would be so confusing, but in reality the sentence and word order of Asian languages are much easier than English.  The more you learn about different languages the more appreciation you’ll have for other countries, and the easier it will be to learn more and more languages.  This won’t be easy and it’ll take some time.  Sticking with it though will yield practical results that can make life a lot, well, cooler.  

Choosing a language is fun and tough.  You want to choose one that will keep you entertained, but you also want to pick one that is practical in your life.  I grew up 4 hours away from Mexico, so Spanish was one of those languages that I tried to learn as much as possible.  Surf trips, shopping, eating, and asking for directions were all made easier because I applied myself to the language.   What’s even crazier is that 10 years down the road half of my “co-workers” speak Spanish too.  Who would’ve thought, right?  Maybe you choose a language for a trip you know you’re going on soon.  Maybe you choose a language that your best friend speaks.  Maybe you choose a language whose culture intrigues you the most.  It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as you choose one.       

You’ll create more value to yourself when searching for new jobs, and you’ll make more jobs available to search for.  It’ll make traveling to a foreign country extremely easier.  You’ll be able to strike up a conversation with someone you think is cute because language will no longer be a barrier.  New cultures, backgrounds, and traditions will now be understood, and in return, it’ll make foreign countries not so foreign. 

You don’t have to go out and spend tons of money on classes or language learning software.  I’m not even saying that you need to become fluent in languages you choose.  First, you need to make sure this is something you want to do.  There are tons of free introductory lessons available.  Podcasts, websites, and even going to your local bookstore are ways to try for free.  Watching movies with subtitles, or a foreign news station, or even listening to foreign music can be a fun way of learning.  Get a good grasp of the language and make yourself comfortable with certain, practical conversations.  You don’t need to spend 3 years learning a language so you can discuss politics with someone.  You just need to know simple things that everyday life consists of. 

It really is a lot of fun and will open your eyes to a world of new experiences.