For me, learning languages, dialects and accents is not only exhilarating, but it’s also an activity that has always come naturally. During middle school, I was one of the few students who threw themselves into their passion for French. My weekends were spent watching French televisions shows and reading ahead in our French textbook.
Although I’m not fluent in French (yet!), there are other languages that I’ve started learning and reached fluency in a shorter time span.
For example, in 2018, I began learning Spanish after watching an amazing soap opera from Spain called Gran Hotel. After watching and re-watching the aforementioned show three times, I was heartbroken to discover that the only place to watch the show with English subtitles, was Netflix. That same day, I decided to learn Spanish just so that I would always be able to watch it, even once it was taken down by Netflix.
Three years later, Gran Hotel is no longer on Netflix and I’m fluent in Spanish. I can follow and have conversations with Spanish speakers, watch television series (with or without Spanish subtitles) and read full fictional and non-fiction novels in the language.
In that time, I also travelled and lived in Spain for eight months, saturating myself within the Spanish culture and language. Although my trip was cut short by coronavirus, I still garnered many unforgettable experiences and ultimately improved my level of Spanish.
My life has opened up immensely since I began learning another language and moved to Spain. Now, I have access and privy to different musical artists and whole new genres of music that are popular among Spanish speakers. I have friends who speak Spanish and I’m planning to move back to Spain and teach English to children and beginner-level English speakers. Learning Spanish has given me credentials and qualifications to one day work in a Spanish-speaking country. Every day my progress inspires me to keep improving my communication skills and practice more regularly.
Likewise, I’m not the only one who has noticed the benefits of language learning. According to the language-learning platform FluentU, fluency in a second language boosts creativity, opens up opportunities to meet new people and travel, and it may stave off dementia by years. Also, bilingual people and polyglots often have an easier time finding jobs since they can communicate in multiple languages. This opens themselves up to various jobs that may require bilingualism or other language-related skills.
For language learning opportunities at U of T, check out the following resources:
- CIE Language Exchange: https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/program/international-language-exchange/
- School of Continuing Studies: https://learn.utoronto.ca/programs-courses/languages-and-translation/language-learning