Language Learning Skills transferred to Real Life

Categories: Languages, Learning, Uncategorized

This was a tricky title to make short. Of course, language learning happens in real life, I think, for most of us. So what do I mean by this title? Well, I believe that language learning has taught me more than just how to ask for a coffee when I’m on holiday, or how to write my name in a different script, or how to tell the bus driver where I need to get off. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Those transferable skills that come from studying languages.

Time management

Successful language learning calls for successful time management. You’ll never master those verb tenses if you don’t put in the minutes…or hours. This means that getting the best out of a day and not wasting time become crucial if you want to crack the next level in your language. Or anything else for that matter. Simple changes, such as doing Memrise on your phone when you’d normally scroll Facebook are all it takes to get started on the right track with your time management. I wrote a more detailed post about this here.

And in real life…?

Simple. The time management skills you learn from language learning will make your life better. You’ll get more done, more efficiently, and in a shorter space of time and you’ll feel better for it. This also means you’ll have more free time to enjoy doing the things you want to do. Win win!

Cultural Understanding

Learning a language is so much more than…well…uh…learning a language. In order to understand how and why words are the way they are, you’re probably going to pick up some cultural understanding along the way. This is the fun bit, you know, the essential French cooking and Samba dance classes. It goes even further than that though – understanding the basics of geography, politics, and history of where you language is spoken is a great help to understanding certain aspects of the language.

And in real life…?

It has to be said that fear of the unknown is one of the biggest reasons for ignorance. When people are disrespectful to someone else, it’s often because they don’t understand something about them; they fear the unknown, they react uncooly. Yes, uncooly is most definitely a 100% bone-fide real word. However, if you understand aspects of just one culture, you’re already half way to understanding everyone else purely because you recognise and respect cultural differences. That’s pretty awesome. We need more people like that in the world, don’t you agree?

Communication confidence

Reading about a language and writing word after word will only get you so far in a language. To really experience it, you’re going to have to speak at some stage. Sooner rather than later is normally the key but this isn’t always everyone’s preferred method. You feel like a fool asking for directions to the post office in your ‘caveman’ grammar-free language. How embarrassing! Why would anyone want to do that?! We have to reach a level of competence before butchering someone’s language! Not true. The only way to improve is to try. And you will make mistakes and you will want the earth to swallow you up but learning how to cope with those moments will boost your language skills.

And in real life…?

If your confidence increases in your foreign language communication then that will transfer to your everyday interactions in your native language too. You’ll feel more confident and that can’t be a bad thing. When I picked my A levels, I had no idea what to choose other than Spanish. As it turned out, I did Spanish, French, and Drama. You’d be surprised how well they complement each other.

Learning techniques

How do you learn a language? Reading a grammar book? Talking on Skype? Maybe even with FlashSticks? The methods used for language learning are varied and interesting – and the best bit? They’re increasing constantly. New apps and technology is continually advancing the way we can learn languages. Window shopping is the fun bit. Picking what works for you is the tricky bit. Once you’ve found what works for you though, you’re on to a winner.

And in real life…?

Many of the learning methods you pick up while studying a language are transferable to learning other stuff too. Take a look at Memrise, something I’m sure we’re all familiar with, and in fact something I use almost everyday. Did you know there’s more than just languages on there? Proof that many of the methods that work for languages also work for other subjects. It’s not just other subjects though. Let’s say you want to bake a cake. Understanding how you best learn things will help you to pick the right recipe: YouTube video, from a book, from a calorific Pinterest pin… See what we’re doing here? Now we’re managing our time again and we’ve come full circle to the first point. Go team!

How do languages transfer to real life for you? What do you notice about your language learning skills /habits? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Lindsay Dow blogs about all things language over at Lindsay Does Languages and makes little language videos on YouTube.

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