Sometimes, I think the world is becoming a sad place when people start doing things purely for the sake of practical / economic benefits. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong in considering such stuff and being practical is working smart too.But it’s just.. very sad when the first question people ask me when they find out that I’m very passionate about learning Korean is:
Oh. Learn Korean very useful meh? You want to work in Korea ah?
haha it’s written in a very Singaporean way of speaking (for those who are a little confused). Most of the time I’ll get a weird stare and people will start commenting that I’m probably kpop obsessed. And for those who later get to know the amount of time and effort I spent on Korean, they will comment that I’m just wasting my time.
I’ve seen many youths whose first question in a university fair is ‘What kind of employment opportunities I’ll get if I major in xxx?’. That’s an important question, but does it really have to be the first question you ask? Oh, if you assume that they have already done their basic research about details of the coursework, you are wrong. These are questions that start popping out once they get a satisfactory answer on the employability of the graduates.
Well, of course that’s not the only reactions I get. I know people who are genuinely interested in what I’m doing or at least feel that it’s a cool and viable interest / hobby. These people tend to be of the more broad-minded kind, with overseas exposure and generally have a more ‘globalised worldview’. Urm, okay I sound like I’m criticizing and stereotyping general Singaporeans but this is the sad truth around me. And I’m not talking about the education level of the people. So many of my undergraduate friends think that focusing/seriously learning a foreign language is a waste of time when we already know English, the global lingua franca. To them, foreign language classes are just classes to earn credits from and perhaps alright if you take weekly lessons, but not something that you will dedicate your time to.
After all these years, I can’t help but mentally group people I know into 2 main groups:
1. people who understand / keep an open mind about my interests and life
2. people who starts giving weird stare / narrow-minded comments / criticisms
I’ve met my fair share of people type #2.
SO… The important question:
What are the benefits of putting serious effort in learning a foreign language?
1. It opens up an entirely new worldview
It’s one of the greatest joy of learning a new language. It comes packaged with a new way of looking at life, people and a new culture. And I find that very very fascinating.I have access to a brand new slew of entertainment/reading materials etc and basically a new world of knowledge.
I shall not elaborate, but I’m suddenly inspired to write something about how ‘Korean’ I’ve turned throughout these 3.5 years without spending extended time in Korea. Should be interesting (:
2. New Friends and people with the same interests
New friends – Korean friends, language learners, kpop friends etc. And the best part? We share similar interests ^^I feel closer to alot of these friends that some of the real-life acquaintances I know.
Come of think of it, I never expect to reap any benefits when I first started learning Korean. It is something of pure interest, although I admit that right at the very very beginning, I signed up for classes because I had alot of free time and I want to learn a foreign language. But never once have I thought about the economic benefits or wadever that I can possibly gain through learning Korean. And that certainly wasn’t / isn’t and will not be my goal in learning Korean.
For all the practical people out there, knowing a foreign language helps ALOT too. I’m sure your business partner will feel closer to you if you speak their native language and understand their way of working and their mindsets. And perhaps you will be sent on business trips or even secondment if you are already fluent in that language.
But if you are one of those very very very practical people who scoff at learning languages, you probably won’t be reading this anyway.
p.s. I think I’ve touched on this issue several times but I can’t help writing about it again. For those who clicked on the post expecting to see a slew of benefits of learning foreign languages, I’m sorry I digressed alittle. xD There are many joys / benefits of taking up a language, and it’s something that is indescribable and something that you should discover for yourself.
For those who have encountered similar ‘un-understanding’ people, don’t be discourage and pursue your interest! Be it in foreign languages or something else. There are loads of others out there who will share your passion or at least be interested to know more about your world (yours truly included!). For those who are learning Korean, there’s a bunch of us here!! ^^ And we will love to make new friends