Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.
– P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
We English are not known for our mastery of foreign languages.
But over at Turbine’s sister company, Articulate, we love them. Between us we have a dusting of Dutch, an inkling of Italian, a jigger of Japanese, a lick of Latin and more besides.
We’re nowhere near fluency, not even close, but just trying to learn a language is valuable and rewarding in itself.
And it’s easy to start, with free apps like Duolingo and Memrise.
French with benefits
Learning a language has the obvious benefits that it can open up new markets and make you more employable – particularly German, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic – but that’s only the case when you’re fluent, which is a big investment if your pay packet’s going to grow by just two percent.
But you don’t need to be fluent to reap other rewards. Learning a language (even a dead one) can:
- Make you a better decision maker.
- Increase your ability to remember sequences and lists.
- Make you more perceptive to your surroundings and better at focussing on important information.
- Make you more aware of your own language and its structure, sharpening your writing, speaking and editing skills in your native tongue.
- Help you score better in standardised tests.
- And help delay the cognitive decline associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Learning a language is also a great HR tool. Offering to fund an employee’s language lessons is not only a big draw for potential talent, but also shows that you’re committed to their personal and professional development.
So what are you waiting for? Get learning.
PS If you want to learn Japanese (my language of choice), I’d recommend Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese. It’s excellent and, best of all, free. The complete guide is a work in progress, but the grammar guide is available in paperpack, PDF, and iOS and Android apps.