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Dr. Stuart Marrs on the importance of learning a foreign language

It is estimated that currently the first language for …

  • over 1.2 billion people in 31 countries is Chinese;
  • over 329 million people in 44 countries is Spanish;
  • over 328 million people in 112 countries is English;
  • over 221 million people in 57 countries is Arabic;
  • over 90.3 million people in 43 countries is German;
  • over 67.8 million people in 60 countries is French.

Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/.

While Latin and Ancient Greek are no longer spoken languages, gaining knowledge of how they function gives you a better understanding of English, French, German and Spanish grammar and vocabulary. Greek along with Latin is the basis for many specialized terms, as both languages have been the languages of science and philosophy for centuries. New words are being coined from Latin and Greek roots every year in an effort to standardize English, French, German and Spanish vocabulary in the increasingly multi-cultural, multi-lingual world of Science and Law.

Is one language more useful to learn than another?

All languages are useful in today’s global economy. U.S. businesses are expanding around the globe, and scientists increasingly work on multi-national projects. The choice of language(s) is yours, and is determined by your interests. Once you are competent in a language besides your native English, it is much easier to learn a third or fourth, so you can always add another language.

Is one language easier than another?

All languages have their “easy” and “difficult” parts. The key to success is to immerse yourself in the language of your choice as much as possible. Come to the weekly Language Tables to practice as often as possible.

What if I am the person who cannot learn languages?

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. But remember that you have learned English, so you know how language works. You can therefore learn another language.

Why would I need to know another language?

One in every 10 US citizens was born outside of the U.S. and speaks a language other than English as their first language. The U.S. is also one of the premiere tourist destinations for travellers from around the world. Finally, growing expansion of US businesses abroad and foreign investments within the U.S. spell job opportunities for those who can communicate in more than one language. Even if you never leave the U.S., with the exponential growth of E-commerce world-wide you will undoubtedly encounter languages other than English in your professional life. Of the over 310 million Internet users around the world, less than half are English speakers.

  • English only accounts for 36.5% of websites world wide.
  • 10.8% of all websites are available in Chinese.
  • 9.7% in Japanese.
  • 7.4% in Spanish.
  • 6.6% in German.
  • 3.5% in French.

Also, did you know that learning a second language

  • broadens your cultural and intellectual horizons?
  • provides a better understanding of your own language?
  • enables you to understand people who are different from you?
  • provides you with better job opportunities in many fields of work?
  • prepares you to connect virtually with others world-wide?

What teaching methods do we use?

We emphasize communicative and functional approaches. In other words, we base our teaching on what students need in their everyday lives. Nevertheless, the emphasis placed on communication skills entails learning the basics of the language: proper grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

Our interactive approach means that students will be called upon to participate as much as possible in class and to practice their language skills through various oral activities. Student participation is essential. To a large extent, your progress will depend on your participation and motivation.

You will also be encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity to speak the language outside the classroom, such as participating in the weekly language tables. You can also improve your language skills by reading and listening.

Learning a language also means discovering a new culture!

What results can you expect?

The way one learns varies with each individual, as does the speed at which one learns. As a general rule, progress depends on the time the student takes to learn, and the effort he or she makes. But this is not the case for everyone. Many variables are involved when one is learning a second language, and they can play a major role in the learning process. This is why it is very important to speak with your professor in order to understand your learning profile better.

 


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