How to choose which language to learn

If you want to study another language but you don´t know what to do, take note of these recommendations offered by Annet Da Mata, academic coordinator of the Center for the Development of Foreign Languages (Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras -CDLE-)

How to choose which language to learn

Near 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. Among all those options, how can we choose a language to learn? Here we have some tips to help you decide:

Foreign Family

If you have non-Venezuelan bloodline, you should consider acquiring the language related to that foreign heritage. That would actually be one of the easiest ways to determine which language to learn. Consider that, even if your parents or grand-parents learnt Spanish when they arrived in Venezuela, you have an influence you cannot deny: Maybe you call your grand-mother nonna, you know that you need couves to prepare milho frito, you call the eggplant cream baba ganoush, and so on.

Let’s suppose you only know some words but don’t quite understand the language; however, you are used to the accent and to hear some specific pronunciation sounds. That background will help you during the learning process, and it will make it smoother. In addition, having foreign relatives will help you to have easy access to authentic material and people to practice with.    

Interest in any Particular Culture

Have you been reading or investigating lately about any culture? Are you involved in any activity related to any foreign custom? Do you practice martial arts or are you part of a traditional dance group? As language and culture are deeply related, this interest in any particular tradition could be a great motivation for you to decide which language to learn. Moreover, approaching the language in this way will facilitate the acquisition process: Maybe you won’t have to worry about grammar; you just need to get in touch with comprehensible inputs in the target language and get some immersion.

Languages of the future

If any of the previous reasons do not fit your profile, then consider the languages of the future. According to this article, for 2050 Chinese, Spanish and English will stand as the three main languages for communication and business, followed by Hindi-Urdu and Arabic.

Fortunately, we speak Spanish, and we are currently working on English. Are you now ready for Chinese, Hindi or Arabic?

(Register at the workshop “How to write a CV or cover letter”)

Learning factors

Do you already know which language to learn? Then, consider the following aspects that can influence the learning process:

Are you motivated?

The role of motivation shouldn’t be underestimated. Maybe you read a flyer about scholarship opportunities abroad and that gave you the push you needed to get in contact with a foreign language, or maybe you have always been interested in another culture and you decided to learn its language as a way to get involved with it. It doesn’t matter if you are doing it to improve your profile or to fulfill a personal interest, what’s important is to identify your reasons in order to keep motivation on track.   

  • Self-motivation.

Motivation doesn’t necessarily come from external sources; we can be responsible of creating the stimulus we need to keep on going. Here you have some tips to keep you self-motivated:

  1. Surround yourself with information in the target language. You are not always going to have a professor giving you texts or videos to practice; so, use your social networks in a positive way and fill your timeline with content created in the language you are learning.

  2. Establish weekly achievable goals (e.g.: learn 5 new words, learn how to use appropriately a new verb tense, write an opinion paragraph about an article…); in this way, the learning process will depend on your own plan and responsiveness. In addition, you won’t get frustrated.

  3. Get in touch with the culture: What’s going on in that country? Which are the cultural traits that like you the most? Use internet to connect with native speakers who can help you to practice and improve.

 

Is learning a new language a need for you?

When acquiring a new language is a need for communication in any given situation and/or survival, the learning process is usually successful. This is the case of people involved in exchange programs, for example.  

Taking this information into account, try to put yourself in situations in which learning a new language becomes a need. For instance: Take a subject in English at college, find a job where speaking another language is mandatory, get involved in global NGOs, among others.

I would like to ask you now: Are you ready for the challenge?     

(See also: Five reasons to learn a foreign language)

At UCAB, students, professors and employees can strengthen their knowledge of english and other foreign languages in the Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras (CDLE) –Center for the Development of Foreign Languages-.

If you want more information, feel free to approach its office, located on Classroom Building (Module 1, 5st. floor), UCAB, Montalbán.  Yo can also call the phone number 0212-407.4111.

♦Annet Da Mata. Academic Coordinator. CDLE. /adamata@ucab.edu.ve

*To read the spanish version of this article, click on this link: ¿Cómo escoger qué idioma aprender?