The truth behind the classroom myths.

At school, no one seems to take language classes very seriously. I didn’t particularly enjoy them either; I could never imagine being able speak French fluently and it all just seemed like a waste of time.

Somehow 10 years later I’m living and working in France. Recently I’ve been trying to work out why speaking another language never seemed like an achievable goal. It seems like it all comes down to the myths about learning foreign languages which are born in the classroom and which convince us that learning a language just isn’t worth the effort. It turns out that it is worth it after all, so here are the facts behind those classroom myths…

Myth #1 « Learning a language at school is no use in real life »
When you’re practicing French in the classroom with your mates it can seem a bit pointless, but there are countless reasons to learn a new language. When you speak a second language you can meet and talk to a whole world of people, travelling becomes easier and more enriching, and you can become immersed new culture. What’s not to love? Bilinguals also gain access to the global job market, earn a higher salary and have better job prospects in general; put simply : employers like language learners. Most importantly there’s nothing better than the buzz you get from having a conversation in another language, or using some new vocabulary for the first time.

Myth #2 « Learning a language is too hard. »
Learning a language can be hard but it doesn’t have to be… it all depends on how you learn. Did you know that there are different styles of learning? These are known as visual, auditory (listening), reading/writing, and kinesthetic (practical learning), and by finding the right balance between these styles we can make learning easier, more effective and more enjoyable. Sometimes Myth #1 makes language learning even harder, because if you don’t see the purpose of learning a language, it’s hard to find the motivation! I found that immersion in a French family gave me the motivation that I needed to apply myself to learning a language, and also served as an interactive way of learning as I had no choice but to listen to and speak French all the time, making the whole process more enjoyable.

Myth #3 « It’s embarrassing to make mistakes when speaking another language »
I have a degree in French and work in France, but only a week ago I accidentally offered a stranger a punch in the face (un coup de poing) instead of a helping hand (un coup de main). Making mistakes comes with the territory of speaking another language but it shouldn’t prevent you from trying – in fact it’s often the best way to learn. Instead of worrying about getting things wrong when you’re speaking another language, try to remember how amazing it is to be able to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your native tongue. Most people are very understanding when you make mistakes too, which in my case was very reassuring!

Myth #4 « Most people speak English anyway »
I’m afraid not! Although English is becoming an international language, you’d be surprised by how many people don’t speak a word of it. In fact according to the British Council, only 25% of the world’s population has some understanding of English.There are many countries in the world where speaking the native tongue is an absolute necessity for travelers. It’s a little unrealistic to want to learn all of the world’s languages (although don’t be deterred from trying) but I’ve always found that when travelling, meeting people, and looking for jobs, the more languages you speak, the better!

Written by Hati Whiteley for Kinder Exchange.

How to become bilingual ?

Knowledge of a second language has become increasingly important for both personal and professional growth. Whether you are working for a multinational company or simply enjoy traveling and long to immerse yourself in different cultures, being bilingual offers a breadth of advantages. Celebrities like Bradley Cooper and Johny Depp, both speak French, and Leonardo di Caprio is fluent in German. Similarly, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow perfected their Spanish skills as students living with local families of South America and Spain. If your dream is to be bilingual like these stars, read on – you are in the right place!

Different ways to learn a new language :
Bilingual schools are becoming an inaccessible dream to many parents as they become increasingly selective and costly. As a result, many parents have been forced to improvise, seeking out creative alternatives for ensuring their children learn a second language. Fortunately, many user-friendly apps and online language courses such as Rosetta Stone or « Ingles sin Bareras » offer effective means for learning a new language. Additionally, some parents have found success in recruiting a bilingual nanny or au pair while others have turned to summer camps or afterschool lessons.

bilingualLiving with A foreign partner
Multinational households can ensure their children are raised bilingual by implementing the « One Parent One Language » (OPOL) method. This practice calls for each parent to speak solely their native tongue when conversing with their child, providing a solid base for the child’s continuous learning and understanding of both languages. It’s important to note that OPOL must be implemented in the household early in the child’s development to avoid confusion. To learn more about this method, visit the Multilingual Children Association.

Learn with a reciprocal language exchange program
One of the most successful methods for learning a second language is full language immersions through a reciprocal language exchange program. These programs offer the chance for your child to live abroad and communicate daily with local, native speakers. Living abroad with a local host family allows participants to discover different cultures, traditions and people. The reciprocal nature of these program also offers parents an enriching experience as they open their doors to a child from a different background, country and culture. The experience has proven to broaden horizons for both families and instills in children valuable skills needed for adapting to new and unfamiliar experiences with ease. Participation in language exchange programs can begin at any age and children over the age of 11 can travel on most airlines unaccompanied.
Kinder Exchange facilitates language exchange programs with unparalleled ease and convenience. If you and your family are interested in learning new languages and connecting with individuals from across the globe, simply follow the instructions to take the first step in what is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Written by Marko Manojlovic for Kinder Exchange