Learning a language can be one of the most enriching experiences a human can have. Apart from the benefits it can have on the brain, it benefits the heart, soul and mind.
Last year, I decided to take an Italian course as part of a language requisite for my bachelors degree. After taking a couple of classes, I quickly started to fall in love with the language and the process of learning it.
I realized that I would not learn the language by simply attending the class and doing the homework. To fully understand and be familiar with a language, I had to integrate the language into various aspects of my every day life. For me, this meant changing the language on my phone, listening to music, watching movies and TV shows and reading. While I did these activities I searched up new words in the dictionary and added them to my list of new words.
However, the activity that helped me the most was constantly listening to native Italian speakers. With the constant listening, the ears start to get accustomed to the sounds, the pauses and pronunciation, and eventually the brain starts to make sense of it.
When I started understanding the language without having to look up words, it was a magical experience. My brain was understanding another language. I could listen to things without translating. I could listen to music, watch TV shows and movies in their original language.
Of course this did not happen in two or three months. It took me about half a year to a year before I could start understanding native speakers and recognizing the words I was hearing. Obviously, everyone’s learning process is different. Being a native Spanish speaker, there were some advantages because both languages have many similarities. This, however, did not mean it was easy. Although I have made much progress I still have a long way to go.
In essence, what I mean to say by all of this is that learning a language expands one’s vision of the world. One discovers a new culture, new ways of saying things, new places, new art, new experiences and new people.
As a music and film enthusiast, my favorite part of learning a new language was discovering a whole new world of music and film, that I probably would have never discovered before learning the language. This taught me how much talent the world has to offer. It also taught me that we should not let a difference in languages discourage us from enjoying this art.
Altogether, learning a language is a growth experience. I still haven’t finished my growth in the Italian language. It’s a process that I probably will never finish, because a language has so many aspects and curiosities within that will last me a lifetime.
So, as Federico Fellini once said: “A different language is a different vision of life”. I encourage anyone to learn a new language, whichever that may be. The mind and vision of the world can expand tremendously. It can build a bridge between people and art; therefore, becoming an experience that enriches the heart, soul and mind.