The Benefits Of Learning A Foreign Language
If you are traveling to a new country and don’t speak the local language, chances are you won’t understand a few dozen words and even fewer sentences. The lack of knowledge of vocabulary will also be in your way. I know this feeling well. I am currently staying in Germany for a year and when I first arrived here, my German skills weren’t the best. I couldn’t even recite a whole sentence without a grammar mistake.
I had no idea that the troublesome communication would have changed my way of thinking that much. Later, I realized that I’d learned a lot more than just a language during this time: I’d learned how to solve problems in all aspects of life, too. But that wasn’t everything. This period of misunderstanding in my life had a great influence on a couple of other life skills as well:
During the first few weeks in Germany, I struggled a lot. I didn’t understand half of the words people said to me and I didn’t have the vocabulary to express myself in everyday situations. I didn’t understand and I wasn’t understood. In the first few days, I was completely helpless. But fortunately, the human brain is a powerful machine. Situations like that helped me find creative solutions. I started to use my whole body to explain things and tried to describe words in ways I’ve never done before.
At this point, I’ve learned: you don’t need all the information to move forward in life or to get what you want. What you really need is creativity to make the most out of the knowledge you already have.
After three months in Germany, I realized something else had changed in my life; making decisions became easier for me. Not knowing a new language forces you to understand things with lack of information. After a while you can express the quality of information you have but also find what other information you really need to push you forward. I have learned to filter the details I needed and the details I didn’t. Doing so made me see through problems better and I could make decisions a lot easier and faster as a result.
It might be unbelievable, but the struggle of not understanding a language can also give a lot of self-esteem. Imagine there is a problem, to which you don’t know the solution. Instead of being nervous and having a panic attack, after some time, you’ve learned to automatically stay calm.
During my first months, I became comfortable with the situation of not knowing how to start and what to do next. Maybe I didn’t know the answer or the outcome just yet, but I was sure that if there was one, I would ultimately find it. I was sure because I already knew I could do it.
This new knowledge from my experiences gave me the power to stay calm in critical situations and has helped me work effectively, no matter what I was doing. The more you go through this process, eventually, the more confident you will be.
Which aspects of your life did learning a new language affect while in another country? What kind of benefits did you notice after the first three months? Let us know in the comments below.