As we approach the end of the academic year, many people are focusing their attention on their travel plans in the coming weeks. Whilst some are looking forward to relaxing in the UAE, others are planning on visiting their home countries to see friends and family. From speaking to children on the playground, our truly international students seem to be visiting all corners of the world in the coming months and it is a delight listening to them discussing their home countries or different cultures that they will be immersed in.
The number of languages our students speak in addition to English never fails to impress me and this week we have been celebrating students who have taken part in the Language Perfect World Championships. This competition has involved over 350,000 competitors from around the world with our top students answering literally thousands of questions in order to get their well-deserved certificate. I was very impressed and felt slightly humbled by every student who has shown me their certificate. One of our students was placed in the top 0.2% of competitors across the world and correctly answered over 8000 questions. It would appear that speaking four or five languages is common place for many in our school community.
Given the amount of travelling that may be coming in the following months, there may be opportunities for us all to refine or even begin to learn some new languages given that there is a lot of research that supports the acquisition of foreign languages, some of which are highlighted below.
Learning a foreign language is an incredibly rewarding experience and a serious confidence booster. You’ll get to overcome some of your fears and doubts, learn more about yourself, meet new people, and perhaps travel to places you would’ve never dared to visit before. Plus, the constant positive feedback from native speakers and their encouragement is always a motivation and ego booster.
Moreover, bilinguals are more confident with their choices** **after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up. This means that if you learn a second language, this might well improve your ability to make wiser financial choices.
Travel is not just about taking pretty pictures and posting them on Facebook or Instagram, or spending a week in a 5-star all-inclusive resort. Learning a foreign language, even as little as a handful of phrases, will make your travel experiences so much better. Not only will the knowledge of the language the locals speak result in warm smiles and invitations, it might bring you opportunities that you’d never thought could befall you. Best of all, it will enrich your life by offering you a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the people you’ll encounter.
In addition, we live in an increasingly globalised world and companies are constantly expanding overseas and dealing with clients from all over the world. Between two candidates with the exact same skill set and experience, the person who is bilingual is arguably much more likely to get the job.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, meeting new and interesting people and developing life-long friendships are certainly objectives well worth aspiring for, and learning another language is a sure way to expedite that process.
As Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
So wherever you may be this holiday, I wish you a safe and happy holiday that is full of enjoyable experiences.