April 21, 2024
Arlinda Wiebe

Arlinda Wiebe Explores the Joys and Challenges of Learning Foreign Languages

Arlinda Wiebe is a native of Albania, whose family left Tirana in search for a better life and more opportunities. Eventually, they moved to Roma, Italy. With the change in location, came a change to speaking and understanding a foreign language, and in the following article, Arlinda Wiebe discusses the benefits of learning a foreign language, whichever it may be.

There’s nothing like exploring a different country, looking markedly different from the locals, and then seeing the surprise on their faces upon talking in their language. Aside from the sense of achievement it brings, it’s a free way to spread joy and wonder when people least expect it. Talking with locals (or strangers) using their mother tongue creates an instant bond that allows for greater inclusivity which brings unexpected perks during travels or business.

Aside from the practicality of learning a foreign language, Arlinda Wiebe discusses more of the intrinsic benefits for taking up another tongue.

Arlinda Wiebe Explains the Benefits of Being Bi-lingual

Cultural Connection

Culture and language are intertwined, learning about one inadvertently teaches lessons about the other. Consider Japanese, the island nation is culturally non-confrontational, with a popular saying to “read the air” 空気を読む (romaji: kuukiwoyomu). The language of Japanese culture alludes to the point in getting a message across.

Arlinda Wiebe explains that in English, if someone broke a vase, it’s normal to say, “You broke the vase,” but in Japanese, something along the lines of “The vase broke” would be typical. There is a strong emphasis on harmony within the culture, which then translates into indirectness in their language.

These subtleties that are sprinkled throughout a foreign language gives amazing insight when experiencing their culture firsthand, as well as fostering a deeper level of communication.

Enhanced Communication

Arlinda Wiebe explains that language is a tool, and having the ability to speak a different language opens up the world in an interesting way. Even during the learning process, access to new words can make describing life much more entertaining.

The Japanese have a word, よろしく (romaji: yoroshiku) that encapsulates the feeling of appreciation for something that hasn’t happened yet. More accurately, it is the expectation that something will happen, and showing appreciation for it in the present.

Arlinda Wiebe also says that while in English there is “thank you in advance,” よろしく , in other cultures, is more than that. It’s commonly said when first meeting someone, as a means of preempting a good relationship with them. It’s also often heard at the start of meetings, which could convey encouragement for what’s about to happen, or to apologize for any issues that might arise.

Hearing phrases like this repeatedly in a different language can creep into a person’s mother tongue, introducing a different perspective that can be refreshing for people they communicate with.

Cognitive Benefits

The brain is a figurative muscle, using it, testing it, and challenging it will make it stronger. Research has found that a foreign language maintains cognitive function well into old age, keeping cognitive disorders like dementia at bay.

Arlinda Wiebe
Challenges of Learning a Language

Time and Dedication

It can be fast or slow, depending on the complexities of the new-found language. As Germanic languages, English and German are closely related, so German could be learned quite quickly by a native English speaker. But something like Japanese is an entirely different language family, and an English speaker could take 3 or more times longer learning it compared to German.

Arlinda Wiebe says that whatever the case, learning a language will take some time, and it could be frustrating to feel little or no progress for long periods of time.

Pronunciation and Accent

English is probably the worst offender here, followed closely by French. Consider these words:

  • Though
  • Thought
  • Through
  • Thorough

Arlinda Wiebe notes that they look similar to non-English speakers, but each has a different sound quite distinct to itself, making it tricky to know how to pronounce them properly. Accents also change between words, like:

  • Photograph
  • Photographer

All of this makes it confusing to learn if this feature isn’t present in the mother tongue.

Vocabulary Acquisition

Arlinda Wiebe says that one of the most daunting aspects of learning a language is vocabulary acquisition. Getting words mixed up can be quite disastrous, or amusing, or both. Imagine asking for the bill お勘定 (romaji: okanjo) at a restaurant and getting it mixed up with the word for girlfriend 彼女 (romaji: kanojo), inadvertently asking the proprietor for a girlfriend.

Despite the many challenges, taking up a new language is very fulfilling. Not only does it open the door for new experiences, it also opens the mind to seeing the world from the lens of a different culture.