Do we need to learn languages in the 21st century, when you have Google translate and all kind of apps for instant text- and voice translation? What do you think?
Let me tell you my story and my thoughts.
A couple of days ago, somebody told me that I have grammatical errors and typos on my blog (I’m talking about Tripsget Travel Blog – aka my main blog, which I had for over 3.5 years and which at the moment, is my main and only source of income). This person also said that she understands that bloggers don’t have editors, however, their clients are high profile and they wouldn’t accept any kind of errors in the commissions they are employing bloggers for.
This person is right, of course, it’s pretty embarrassing to have errors and typos even though I use Grammarly and try to proofread most of my content. However, even though she checked 3 of my blog posts, she didn’t see my “about us” page, where I tell that English is my third language or second foreign language.
Yes, that’s right. English is my second foreign language.
Now, I don’t think that it’s something special. I know people who speak 5 languages and even 8 languages. However, everybody, whoever learn a new language before, knows, how hard it is to be correct and to be perfectly understood 100% of the times. Some people are scared to make mistakes and with the comments like this, they would never want to be heard.
A friend of mine went to Finland to study for a Masters Degree. He decided to take a course of Swedish (note: Swedish is a second official language in Finland and it’s way easier than Finnish. If you know Swedish, you also sort of know Norwegian). When he went to Sweden and tried to speak Swedish to people, he got a couple of annoying comments stating that if he doesn’t speak Swedish perfectly, there is no point to use it and try to speak to people. People were instantly switching to English a didn’t even want to try to speak Swedish and encourage him learning their language. Guess what? He never learnt Swedish in the end.
I personally think that learning foreign languages is important
If I had a different idea and mindset 17 years ago, I would have never been where I am now and I would never have experienced what I have experienced. I’m grateful to my parents, who wanted me to learn a foreign language and sent me to a school with a major in German.
When I turned 18, I realised that I like English more than German and that English is probably more useful anywhere in the world (except for Germany). If I didn’t think that or I were too scared to make mistakes, I wouldn’t have met my husband, my friends that I met during the postgrad studies at the University of Edinburgh. There would be no blog, no Instagram, no Youtube channel of mine. No travels, no job in London and I wouldn’t’ have been the person I am today.
I wouldn’t be able to read my favourite books in original and watch movie premieres in London. I wouldn’t even be able to watch Netflix (not that it is my priority, but still).
Do we really need to learn foreign languages in the 21st century?
Learning English was my best decision ever and it made me a person I am today.
However, learning a new language or not, it’s up to you. If you think it would help you, benefit you or it would change your life, go for it. It will certainly help you while travelling. It will also help you understand other people and their cultures and no Google translate and another instant translation app can substitute it.