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  • 1. Material of EFL Learning 1 (15-3-2012)Why do people learn Foreign Language? THE ARTICLELearning a second language opens doors for you, both here and overseas.Imagine being in a foreign city. You see people walking the sidewalks; you hear the "vroom" ofthe cars, motorcycles, and mopeds on the streets. Further down the sidewalk, you come acrosssomething that smells real good, your stomach churns. You step into one of the restaurants.You sit down and the server hands you the menu. When its time to order, you find yourselfdoing something like this, "whats this entry like?" Immediately, the server goes 100 mph in thenative language. Youre getting hungry, but youre not ready to order something that might takeyour appetite away.If you speak the local language, youd be able to read the store signs and what they sell. Onceyou step into a restaurant, you could read and understand the menu; then place your order. Whenthe natives see you speaking in their tongue, they remove you from the stereotype they have ofpeople from your home country. They end up liking you more and go out of their way to helpyou out.Getting into conversations with people that dont speak your language is a learning experience.The person youre talking to will tell you things that you wont get out of a guidebook. You mightfind a place where you could knock your gift shopping, for the family, out in one afternoon; andhave money to spare. You might find a hole in the wall place where no tourist ventures; onethats safe and where decent locals like to hang out at.A good language to learn is one thats spoken in multiple countries. Spanish, Portuguese, andArabic are examples. You remove most language barriers for multiple countries just by learningone language. There are regional differences and accents, but youd be able to overcome these ina few hours.Language barriers have the potential of ruining peoples stay or vacation overseas. If you get lost,and nobody could understand you, you open the door to someone taking advantage of you.Finally, the number of people speaking a foreign language in the U.S. is increasing. You mayend up in a restaurant, deli, or establishment where the employees dont speak English. Knowingthe employees language could make the difference between having a decent meal; or youcomplaining about a bad experience to friendsEmmy.doc 1
  • 2. Why should I learn a language (foreign language)?Learning a foreign language takes time and dedication. The reasons below may help to convinceyou to take the plunge, if such persuasion is needed. Some reasons are practical, someaspirational, some intellectual and others sentimental, but whatever your reasons, having a clearidea of why youre learning a language can help to motivate you in your studies.Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.You live a new life for every new language you speak.If you know only one language, you liveonly once. (Czech proverb) 1. EmigrationWhen you move to a different country or region, learning the local language will help you tocommunicate and integrate with the local community. Even if many of the locals speak yourlanguage, for example if your L1 is English and you move to the Netherlands, its still worth yourwhile learning the local language. Doing so will demonstrate your interest in and commitment tothe new country. 2. Family and friendsIf your partner, in-laws, relatives or friends speak a different language, learning that languagewill help you to communicate with them. It will also give you a better understanding of theirculture and way of thinking. 3. WorkIf your work involves regular contact with speakers of foreign languages, being able to talk tothem in their own languages will help you to communicate with them. It may also help you tomake sales and to negotiate and secure contracts. Knowledge of foreign languages may alsoincrease your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or ofgoing on foreign business trips.Many English-speaking business people dont bother to learn other languages because theybelieve that most of the people they do business with in foreign countries can speak English, andif they dont speak English, interpreters can be used. The lack of foreign language knowledgeputs the English speakers at a disadvantage. In meetings, for example, the people on the otherside can discuss things amongst themselves in their own language without the English speakersunderstanding, and using interpreters slows everything down. In any socialising after themeetings, the locals will probably feel more comfortable using their own language rather thanEnglish.Emmy.doc 2
  • 3. 4. Study or researchYou may find that information about subjects youre interested in is published mainly in aforeign language. Learning that language will give you access to the material and enable you tocommunicate with fellow students and researchers in the field.Language is the archives of history.(Ralph Waldo Emerson) 5. TravelMany English speakers seem to believe that wherever you go on holiday you can get by speakingEnglish, so theres no point in learning any other languages. If people dont understand you allyou have to do is speak slowly and turn up the volume. You can more or less get away with this,as long as you stick to popular tourist resorts and hotels where you can usually find someonewho speaks English. However, if you want to venture beyond such places, to get to know thelocals, to read signs, menus, etc, knowing the local language is necessary.Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all theprogress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreignlanguages.(Dave Barry)A basic ability in a foreign language will help you to get by, i.e. to order food and drink, findyour way around, buy tickets, etc. If you have a more advanced knowledge of the language, youcan have real conversations with the people you meet, which can be very interesting and will adda new dimension to your holiday. Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.The limits of my language arethe limits of my universe.(Ludwig Wittgenstein) 6. Studying abroadIf you plan to study at a foreign university, college or school, youll need a good knowledge ofthe local language, unless the course you want to study is taught through the medium of your L1.Your institution will probably provide preparatory courses to improve your language skills andcontinuing support throughout your main course. 7. Secret communicationIf you and some of your relatives, friends or colleagues speak a language that few peopleunderstand, you can talk freely in public without fear of anyone eavesdropping, and/or you cankeep any written material secret. Speakers of such Native American languages as Navajo,Choctaw and Cheyenne served as radio operators, know as Code Talkers, to keepcommunications secret during both World Wars. Welsh speakers played a similar role during theBosnian War. 8. Required courseYou may be required to study a particular language at school, college or university.Emmy.doc 3
  • 4. 9. Getting in touch with your rootsIf your family spoke a particular language in the past you might want to learn it and possiblyteach it to your children. It could also be useful if you are research your family tree and some ofthe documents you find are written in a language foreign to you. 10. Revitalizing or reviving your languageIf you speak an endangered language, or your parents or grandparents do/did, learning thatlanguage and passing it on to your children could help to revitalize or revive it. 11. CultureMaybe youre interested in the literature, poetry, films, TV programs, music or some other aspectof the culture of people who speak a particular language and want to learn their language in orderto gain a better understanding of their culture.Most people in the world are multilingual, and everybody could be; no one is rigorouslyexcluded from anothers language community except through lack of time and effort. Differentlanguages protect and nourish the growth of different cultures, where different pathways ofhuman knowledge can be discovered. They certainly make life richer for those who know morethan one of them. (Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word) 12. ReligionMissionaries and other religious types learn languages in order to spread their message. In fact,missionaries have played a major role in documenting languages and devising writing systemsfor many of them. Others learn the language(s) in which the scriptures/holy books of theirreligion were originally written to gain a better understanding of them. For example, Christiansmight learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Biblical Greek; Muslims might learn Classical Arabic, andBuddhists might learn Sanskrit. 13. FoodPerhaps you enjoy the food and/or drink of a particular country or region and make regular tripsthere, or the recipe books you want to use are only available in a foreign language 14. Linguistic interestMaybe youre interested in linguistic aspects of a particular language and decide to learn it inorder to understand them better. 15. Challenging yourselfMaybe you enjoy the challenge of learning foreign languages or of learning a particularlydifficult language.Emmy.doc 4
  • 5. 16. Sounds/looks good to mePerhaps you just like the sound of a particular language when its spoken or sung. Or you find thewritten form of a language attractive. If you like singing, learning songs in other languages canbe interesting, challenging and enjoyable. 17. One language is never enough!If like me youre a bit of a linguaphile / glossophile / linguaholic or whatever you call someonewho is fascinated by languages and enjoys learning them, then one language is never enough.If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in hislanguage, that goes to his heart. (Nelson Mandela)Whatever the reason, learning a language opens up doors to many opportunities and benefits.References:Why You Need a Foreign Language by Edward Trimnell: 2005Emmy.doc 5