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Why Did You Learn a Second Language?


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What made you decide to learn a second (or third or fourth..) language? Was it moving to a different country, a new job, or simply curiosity? Are you happy you did it? Would you have chosen a different language if you could do it all over again?

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Both of the languages I speak (or attempt to speak) started off being taught to me in school. My Japanese skill level was at its peak when I actually got to visit the country. I practice extra hard when I know I'm going overseas. I think the main reason I like to study them is for fun, though. I don't use them  in day to day life and usually I travel quite rarely (due to money, not because I don't want to!) but I just like exercising my brain in that way.

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I had to learn English because in Poland where I live, it's obligatory from the very first class of primary school. Simply, I had no choice but I liked it.

Later German was another compulsory language for me to learn but didn't actually want to pick it up, I don't know why, maybe because of our national history ;). Now I truly regret it, recently I have stopped in Germany on my way to England and feel ashamed to remember only basic words like greetings and conjugation of the verb "to be".

While I was pretending to learn German, I took up Spanish and that was it. I fell in love with it! The reason was prosaic: I thought that I was doing quite decently with English and since I've always loved codes and tongues (that, besides, are also some kind of code for me), I needed to learn something else because languages are important in job. I saw some ad of a Peruvian teaching Spanish and immediately decided to call and try.

As you can see, you can have some fun with languages even if it's not your decision that you learn this one and not else.

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The second language that I've learned was French. And the reason I've learned it is simply because they thought us in school. But the interesting thing is that after 12 years of learning French, I still can't speak it properly. The third language was English, also thought in school, but I guess I liked it more and I also saw the benefits of knowing it when watching a movie or understanding stuff on the internet. i am now struggling with German, and the reason I want to learn it is because I like very much the sound of it, even though it's quite a difficult language to learn.

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My father has always expressed that he would love for my sister and I to learn his native language, Farsi. He used to always say that he wanted to take us both to Iran to visit his family and show us the country that he grew up in. Being children, we shot down the suggestion because we didn't like the idea of extra homework and studying.

My sister and I have both given it a lot of thought, and we've both decided that we really want to learn the language now. We're both enrolled in private lessons that we've been attending for nearly eight months. Once we're fluent, we'd like to join my father when he visits his family in Iran.

In addition to the personal reason, it's also a good idea in general to know more than one language. There are a lot of Iranians in my area, so it would look much better on my resume to be fluent in both English and Farsi.

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As I have mentioned in a previous reply to another topic, I have a bit of an interesting reason for learning a second language. Being a lifelong chronic asthmatic and living on a farm where every harvest season would result in a wave of life-threatening asthma attacks, my parents and health specialist were forced to consider an unusual course of action to deal with my condition. At the time (around 1982/83), in my home area of the UK, there was a charity run by a local newspaper which raised money to send kids like me with asthma and cystic fibrosis to Switzerland and France for high altitude treatment. Basically, they would be sent to a residential clinic for a period of time -- anywhere from a month to a year -- where they could breathe easier due to the better air quality and lack of allergens.

In this manner I was sent to a clinic called 'Le Nid Soleil' in a small ski resort town called Font Romeu. Nestled in the French Pyrenees close to the Spanish border and the tiny country of Andorra, Font Romeu at 1800m was of sufficient altitude to be considered effective for patients with breathing difficulties like mine.

I was sent there with one other English kid (with whom I did not get along) and no family members. All the other children at the clinic were Francophone with no knowledge of English; indeed even my school teacher there was barely able to string together a sentence in my mother tongue. In this immersive situation and needing to make friends, I soon began to acquire French as my second language.

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Language influences culture, so learning a second language helps me to understand how other people think. It also helps me to get a general understanding of our world and the many people and cultures that inhabit it.

Also, learning a second language has helped me to understand my own language and culture better through the relationship between the second language and my mother tongue. For instance, studying Spanish has taught me more English as well, because the two languages are quite similar.

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I learned a second language because I had to. English and Malay are two compulsory subjects that every student will have to study at school. Luckily for me, both the languages use alphabets so they are not too hard to learn and I did great on both. I picked up a third language out of interest though because it's my native tongue.

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I learnt both English and Arabic as I was growing up.  My mother wanted me to learn how to speak fluently in English even though Arabic is my first language  as she could speak the language herself. As for my third language, I was forced into it as it was part of my high school curriculum.

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I am currently still learning my second language, which is Italian. I am learning Italian as a part of my school curriculum. In my school, it is mandatory to take a language. We could choose either Spanish, Italian, or French. I chose Italian because the culture interested me, and still does. Also, many of the kids in my grade chose Spanish, and I wanted to try something different. I also hope to one day travel to Italy, and be able to connect and learn from the locals there. I also love the differences between the Italian culture and mine.

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