Speaking more than one language can be very advantageous

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Learning a second language has become an important issue in this day and age. There are many benefits to being multilingual, such as: the opportunity to meet more people around the world, by visiting or living in a foreign country and experiencing a different culture, to open up more job opportunities, improve your memory, protect against Alzheimer’s Disease, and the improvement of your mother tongue, due to an increased awareness of both grammar and vocabulary. Bilingualism is also very advantageous for students and people who want to apply for an exchange program and/or scholarships around the world as well.

The Colombian government, aware of the importance of bilingualism and its advantages, has developed a project called Colombia Bilingue, which is seeking out students across the country who can communicate at a pre-Intermediate B1 level in English, giving them access to better job opportunities in the country and abroad. To do this, the government has intensified English classes in public schools and asked for foreign support in helping with Language Skills Development for students.

Margaret Thorley, a 46-year-old student of Spanish as a Foreign Language, believes that learning Spanish can give her the opportunity to apply for a job in Colombia. She also considers it her responsibility to speak her host country’s language because it shows respect for the community and enables her to interact with locals and prevent cultural misunderstandings, not to mention that immersion is the most effective way to learn and improve your language skills.

When you decide to study a foreign language, it is important to know your personal reasons for studying it. Being clear about why you are learning a foreign language will help you stay focused and motivated. Choose a language that fits your interests and your needs. Sometimes we get carried away by advertising, and although English is one of the most commonly chosen languages, there are some countries where it is going to be useless. When learning a second language, you might want to study the language whose demand is the highest compared to others in different language institutes.

Choose a method that suits your needs, meaning that although all communication skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) are important, it is also important to prioritize the one which requires the most attention. By working on that particular skill, you will gain confidence and build and strengthen the others as well.

Motivation and patience are the invaluable keys to success when you begin this journey. Always remember how long it took you to speak clearly in your mother tongue, and it will help you to remain focused and aware that learning any language is a process that requires time, dedication, and lots of practice.

Don’t be shy or afraid to make mistakes. Errors are simply part of the learning process, and at the beginning, you are going to make a lot of them! People might make fun of the way you speak, your accent, your grammar mistakes and so on, but being aware of this is only going to help you to improve.

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Carlos Guerra is a person who loves writing. His experience teaching Spanish to foreigners and his job as a Language and Culture Facilitator for the Peace Corps was his motivation to start writing about Barranquilla’s culture. He considers himself an ambassador of the Caribbean culture and Colombia. He loves teaching English and Spanish and enjoys learning from different cultures.