Why not everyone is learning English

Why not everyone is learning English

June 2019

When it comes to language teaching, one can distinguish two irrefutable truths. Firstly, English rules supreme, especially with a view to marketable skills. Secondly however, there is a myriad of reasons to start learning a new language.

One may wish to learn Irish after falling in love with the rolling green hills in the Gaeltacht, another may venture learning Japanese in order to be able to read new manga as soon as they’re published. In this month’s blog post, we will be looking into three specific motivators to take up a new language.

Expanding horizons

When you learn a language, you inevitably come into contact with the history and culture of a country. Or in some cases of a (small) portion of a country. Take India for example, a nation that is home to no less than 448 languages. So, when you study Hindi, you will only be discovering part of India. By the way, if Hindi is a language you are interested in, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the script is very regular, making it possible to get the hang of it within about a month. And its grammar knows very few exceptions, so no real headaches there. The bad news, though, is that the vocabulary will give you hell, since virtually every word has a bunch of synonyms that are all used in different contexts.

On the other hand, English is far from the only international language on the planet, although admittedly, it is the language with official status in the largest number of countries. However, picking up French will also provide you with a means of communication in 29 countries worldwide. If you speak Arabic, then you can get by in at least 26 countries. But apart from these usual suspects, you may be surprised to learn that languages such as Hausa, Serbo-Croatian, Malay and Swahili also have native speakers in at least 4 countries.

Hearts and minds

Obviously, one typical driver for wanting to study a new language is emotional. Falling in love with a specific culture and heritage, or with a person belonging to it, must have prompted millions of people throughout history to expand their linguistic skills.

Yet, not all language students are led by their passions when choosing to learn a new language. Some have very practical motives. This is often the case with Scandinavian languages. The strong economies and high quality of life in Scandinavia give these countries immense appeal. Many dream of building a life in the region where – according to numerous statistics – people are happiest, nature is pristine, education is superb and the employment rate is excellent.

For quirkiness’ sake

In some cases, language students are simply out to find a challenge. It can be immensely fascinating to delve into the mysteries of an exotic language or to unravel the kinks and coils of a quirky linguistic cousin. For example, when you’ve already mastered one or more Romance languages, you may find Romanian quite titillating. It is probably the most complex member of the Latin family, featuring numerous exceptions and phonetic alterations. Its plural forms are nothing like those in French, Spanish or Italian and it even has declension as a part of its arsenal. Nevertheless, this is exactly what makes it interesting for some language learners. It’s familiar, but very different at the same time.