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07.07.2011
Foreign languages




I just came back from Madrid, finding myself racing to the coffee machine for a cup of café crème, which I missed so much during my 5-day trip. What was the problem? Lost in translation. They make excellent coffee in Madrid, but the issue with the milk darkened my days. I drink my coffee with a tiny drop of milk or cream, preferably hot, but cold is fine as well, so I always asked for café con leche, un poco de leche. That is when I either received these confused looks or simply the wrong coffee with milk. Then the questions about warm or cold milk simply drove me crazy until the very last day of my trip, when I learned that I could have simply asked for café cortado.
 
In other words, trying to learn at least a little bit of the language of the country you are travelling to can not only spare you from frustration and let you enjoy your days better, but it can crack the door to your hosts’ hearts open.
 
Before I give you more reasons why learning a foreign languages matters so much in this shrinking world I have to say I am not a native English speaker, but mastering another language made me a richer person at heart, if not always in resource. It made me enjoy most of the benefits of a membership in a global community that largely recognizes English as the international language for business, entertainment, and hospitality. It made it easier for me to connect with people like you for example, because if you are reading this then the two of us have at least one commonality: the ability to communicate using the English language. It doesn’t make a difference if we have learned it as a native tongue, or can claim to be so commendable as to have independently mastered it.
 
Why learning a foreign language matters
 
Despite the current dominance of English language, the technological revolution has transformed the world such that nation states rely on one another for integral goods and services, giving new meaning to the World Wide Web. Not only are we connected in real time via the Internet, but also are bound by increasingly complex financial and consumer markets. Clear communication is critical to maintaining functional systems; this is not achieved simply by using the correct words, but in understanding on a cultural level the other parties to the dialogue.
 
Learning a foreign language teaches you that there are often several ways to express a concept or an idea. In the business world, it gives you an incredible edge in being able to communicate directly with your customer. It creates a relationship you could never achieve through an interpreter.
 
Language operates as much more than a mechanical tool of expression; it provides insight into the character, quirks, and heart of a country. A new language opens for the speaker a more profound understanding not only of another culture, but also provides a lens through which to understand the biases and assumptions of one’s own thinking.
 
Learning a new language is intellectually beneficial. It engages the brain in unique and valuable ways, encouraging intelligence by forcing neurons to create new pathways. Socially, undertaking the challenge of another language is an expression of respect to other cultures. It is an acknowledgement of a global community in which no nation is justified to presume cultural or linguistic superiority.

Read more about the methods of language learning and one of the well-known schools in Zurich Allegra! Sprachenzentrum here.  


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