There are many reasons why you should learn a foreign language. One benefit is that it improves your analyzing skills. Like studying history, mathematics, and philosophy, acquiring a new language helps you develop skills needed to be an effective participant in the local, national, and international discussions.
Studying a new language also increases higher order thinking skills such as dealing with abstract concepts, problem solving, and making inferences. This contributes an important additional breadth to the concept of communication. Another benefit is that gaining knowledge about other culture and language enables you to have a more profound understanding of your own culture.
Learning a foreign language in the context of popular culture, history, and politics can help you understand international events with deeper insight. This opens up perspectives, making you a responsible and informed citizen. Acquiring new language also helps you develop a more positive attitude toward people who have different cultural background as it introduces you to a whole new realm of customs, ideas, values, and habits.
Foreign language skills plus business skills make you a more valuable employee in the marketplace. Speaking other languages and cultures provide you with very important job-related skills and knowledge that can give you a competitive advantage. Decision makers and leaders need to access information, understand it, and interpret it critically. Cultural and linguistic knowledge is needed to meeting these challenges.
Studying foreign language improves your communication skills. Many students find their foreign language classes very valuable because of the innovative ways of teaching that involve using technology and making connections with people in other countries. It also boosts your creative juice. You will find special pleasure with greater access to foreign music, films, and the arts. Speaking a foreign language also makes your international travel more pleasant and easier. Going abroad increases your opportunity to experience culture and language firsthand.
Before you decide where to study and choose a language school, you must first know your language level. Unless you are a beginner, you need to take a level test to decide your language level and find you a group. Often, your level is decided by the result of a test plus your ability to converse you’re your teacher on the first day of the course.
Knowing your level is very important when choosing a language course. If you’re a beginner or an elementary learner, you’ll have difficulty understanding lessons in the courses intended for intermediate or advanced learners. On the other hand, it would be a bummer if you’re an intermediate or advanced learner and you enrolled in a course intended for beginners and elementary language learners.
In general, however, language schools do not need to know your exact language level before arriving. They will normally put you in a group at an appropriate level after careful assessment of your skills. If you find a program too difficult or too easy, you’ll have no problem changing up or down a level.
The basic guidelines below will help you decide which language level to choose when you are checking availability or already making a booking:
- Beginner learners – Learners in this level have no prior knowledge of their target language.
- Elementary learners – Here, learners can ‘do the basics like counting, reciting the alphabet, introducing themselves, asking, and answering simple questions.
- Intermediate learners – Learners in this level can ‘get by in the foreign language on a daily basis; however, they have limited vocabulary and are not that familiar with advanced grammar.
- Advanced learners – Here, learners have good knowledge of the foreign language with a broad vocabulary (a university graduate, for example); they also write and speak the language at a higher level making less mistakes.
We use language to communicate. Just imagine life without it. Here are some interesting facts about language:
- There are more than 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. But around 2,000 of those existing languages have less than 1,000 speakers.
- Mandarin Chinese remains the world’s most widely spoken language. There are more than 885 thousand people in China that presently speak the language.
- Because Basque is not related to any other family of language, many people consider it to be the most difficult language to acquire and be fluent at. This language is widely spoken in the Pyrenees Mountains, a region between Spain and France.
- Afrikaans is only 90 years old, making it one of the youngest languages in the world. A mixture of German, Dutch, and other languages, Afrikaans is one of the two official languages of South Africa. It is largely spoken by descendants of Dutch settlers.
- The word for “father” in many languages begins with the sound da, while the word for “mother” begins with the sound ma. In the Georgian language, however, mama means “father” and deda means “mother.”
- People speaking the languages in the Khoisan family pronounce some consonants with clicking sounds. The languages, which include Bushman, Hatsa, and Hottentot are spoken by people living in the southern part Africa, including South Africa, Tanzania, and Namibia.
- Depending on whether Navajo words are pronounced in a low, falling, or high tone they can mean different things. For example, the word “tsin” can mean “stick,” “log,” “bone,” or “tree,” depending on the pronunciation.
- The word “honcho” is derived from a Japanese word that means “squad leader” and it was first used in the English language during the World War II when the Americans occupied Japan.
- What are the most commonly used languages on the Internet? They are, in order of frequency, English, Japanese, Spanish, German, and French.
Linguistics refers to the study of language in humans and its relationships to history, society, and cognition. It is concerned with matters such as probing the nature of language structures as a communicative system, providing organized descriptions of languages, documenting how linguistic systems developed historically, and exploring the likelihood that there are universal language structures.
Cognitive linguistics views that the essence of language is inherently based in evolutionarily-developed faculties. The guiding principle is that the creation, learning, and use of language should be explained by general reference to human cognition.
This branch of linguistics studies the effect of aspects of society, which include expectations, context, and cultural norms, on the usage of language. It is also concerned with the differences in dialects between groups that are separated by some social variables, such as religion, ethnicity, level of education, gender, status, etc.
Sociolinguistics is also concerned with how creation and adherence to social rules is used to group individuals in socio-economic classes or social class. Since people use language differently from place to place, its usage differs among social classes. It is these sociolects that this branch of linguistics studies.
This school of thought uses the concept of generative grammar, which is a finite set of rules that you can apply to produce sentences, which are grammatical in a specific language, and no others.
In the 1960s, the branch of psycholinguistics developed rapidly as an initiative towards cognitive psychology and adopted theories in generative linguistics. However, as both psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology have matured, generative linguistics has become of less use.
Also known as diachronic linguistics, historical linguistics studies language change. Its major concerns are to account and describe observed changes in certain languages and describe speech community history. It also aims at reconstructing the pre-history of languages, determining their relatedness, and grouping them into families of languages. Historical linguistics is also concerned with developing general theories about the hows and whys of language changes.
Traditionally dominated by the fields of second language acquisition and language education, this branch of linguistics is concerned with using theories in linguistics to address real-world problems. In the 1990s, researchers employed research methods used cognitive psychology. Today, applied linguistics is a cross-disciplinary mix of linguistics, education, anthropology, and psychology.
Slang deviates from standard language. While it tends to be particularly popular among young people, it is used in every sector of the society. It does not essentially involve neologisms, but it usually involves the creative adaptation of old linguistic forms or the creation of new ones. Slang can even involve creating a secret language that is understood only by members of a particular group.
Slang words are often used as a way of encryption, so “outsiders’ cannot understand what is being talked about. It is a means to recognize members of a group and to distinguish this group from the society at large. Moreover, slang is often used and created for humorous and other expressive effects.
People use slang to dodge social taboos. In general, mainstream language avoids to explicitly evoke certain realities. Similar to other informal languages, slang allows you to talk about these realities. So it is not surprising that slang vocabularies are rich in domains like violence, sexuality, drugs, and violence.
There are many varieties of slang as different social groups from different milieus have created their own slang vocabulary. The importance of identity and encryption varies significantly between these instances. For his informal language to maintain its function as a way of encryption, it should renew its process of expression continuously, so that the “others” will not understand it. Of course, slang dictionaries cancel the effectiveness of some words. Many slang terms are passed into informal mainstream speech.
The thieves’ cant is a historical example of slang. They were generally used by the underworld and the beggars in the past centuries. Several cant dictionaries have been published, many are based on Thomas Harman’s dictionary.
Cockney rhyming slang is another famous example that is still in use. Here’s how it goes: A certain word or phrase replaces the word or phrase that rhymes with the original. The rhyming replacement is often abbreviated, obscuring the expressions even more. For example, apples and pears for stairs and bottle and glass for arse.
Polari is a fascinating example of slang that is derived from various sources, such as Italian and Cockney. It was widely used by the British gay subculture and in fish markets in London in the 1950s and 1960s. Polari became more well-known when Julian and Sandy, two camp radio characters, began using the slang.
Words are also reversed in backslang, or backwards slang. French backslang seems to reverse words syllables by syllables, whereas English backward slang seems to reverse words letter by letter. Louchebem is a French slang used by butchers.
Language is important of every culture, society, and civilization. Without it, we may not have the world we have now. There are thousands of living languages today, and it is hard to imagine what would happen without it. Each language belongs to a certain family of languages. Read on to know some of the major families in terms of the number of languages under them.
This family constitutes about 375 languages and over 300 million speakers throughout East Africa, North Africa, the Sahel, and Southwest Asia. This includes around 200 million Arabic speakers. The Afro-Asiatic family is also known as Afrasian, Hamito-Semitic, Lisramic, and Erythraean.
According to the Summer Institute of Linguistics, this family comprises around 440 languages and dialects. It includes most of the major languages spoken in Europe and some in Central Asia, South Asia, and Southwest Asia. Modern languages under this family include Bengali, Hindi, English, German, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and a number of smaller minority or national languages.
This family constitutes about 1270 languages that are widely dispersed throughout the islands of the Pacific and Southeast Asia, as well as in some parts of continental Asia. Malagasy (spoken on Madagascar), Hawaiian, and Rapanui are the geographic outliers of this family. Austronesian has a number of primary branches, most are found exclusively on Formosa (the Formosan languages are unrelated to Chinese). Languages under this family that are spoken outside Formosa are under the Malayo-Polynesian branch, also known as Extra-Formosan.
This major language family is composed of 1514 languages. It is Africa’s largest language when it comes to number of speakers, number of distinct languages, and geographical area. Almost all of the major indigenous languages spoken in Subsaharan Africa belong to the Niger-Congo languages. A characteristic of many languages that belong to this family is the usage of the noun class system.
The Sino-Tibetan family comprises 403 languages including the Tibeto-Burman and the Chinese languages. Some 250 languages in East Asia belong to this family. The Sino-Tibetan languages are next only to the Indo-European family if you consider the number of people that speak them.
Language acquisition is a process where you acquire the skills to perceive, use, and produce words to communicate. This involves picking up diverse capacities that include syntax, phonetics, as well as an extensive vocabulary. Language acquisition refers to acquiring first language (acquisition of native language by infants) and second language acquisition (acquisition of additional languages by children and adults).
The capacity to learn and use language is an important aspect that makes humans distinct from other living organisms. Although there exist numerous forms of animal communication, they have limited nonsyntactically structured vocabulary token varieties, which lack cross-cultural variation between groups. Many theories have been employed to explain language acquisition.
The theory of social interactionism has several hypotheses that deal with spoken, visual, or written tools consisting of complex systems of rules and symbols on acquisition and development. Basically, the compromise between nurture and nature is the social interactionist approach. For years, scholars and psychologists have been asking: What are the language behaviors realized by environmental exposure and what are those that nature provides innately?
Relational frame theory
This theory provides an exclusively selectionist or learning account about the development of language complexity and competence. The relational frame theory holds that we acquire language through interacting with our environment. The functional contextualism concept in language learning stresses the significance of influencing and predicting events like feelings, behaviors, and thoughts by centering on manipulable variables.
This language acquisition theory identifies and defines a certain type of operant conditioning called derived relational responding. This learning process seems to occur only in people having a capacity for language.
Emergentist theories hold that acquiring language is a cognitive process emerging from the interaction of environment and biological pressures. According to this theory, nature or nurture alone is not sufficient to drive language learning. It suggests that nature and nature influences should work together to allow us to acquire or learn a language.