Studying a foreign language as a Kiwi is more important now than ever. As one of the most culturally diverse countries of the world, we are naturally always surrounded by people of such varied cultural backgrounds and perspectives. Studying a foreign language really makes you appreciate just how much effort needs to be put into learning English, and thus allows you to better associate with the experiences of those around you. This further extends to a heightened ability to relate to the perspectives of people from different cultural backgrounds, an experience that we as English-only speakers tend to miss out on.
The process of learning a foreign language teaches you so much about the language(s) you grew up speaking. I have gained such an improved understanding of English through studying Spanish, as learning a new language forces you to put conscious thought into the structure and patterns behind language and communication, this is especially true for languages that share similar linguistic roots.
Learning a foreign language poses a unique challenge that simply can’t be found anywhere else. Quite possibly one of the biggest differences that studying Spanish has brought to my life (aside from being able to speak a second language) is the ways in which it has benefitted me mentally. The skills you acquire from learning a foreign language translate to so many areas of life: I’ve noticed a massive improvement in my confidence, social skills, memory retention, problem-solving skills and ability to think on my feet. Not only this, but the sheer amount of things I have learned about myself and tricks that I have picked up for more efficient learning and memorisation from my time studying Spanish greatly aid me in my other studies. And if job prospects is something that interests you, being polylingual gives you a massive advantage over other candidates for work and study positions, and allows so much more freedom in overseas work and travel.
Not only this, but the connections and friends I have made along the way have been some of the most natural and easily-formed that I have ever experienced; there really is something so incredibly unifying about the shared experience of having learnt a foreign language, especially when that journey is one that you’ve gone on together. And I’m sure that I am nowhere near seeing the last of this phenomenon.
There really is no better time to choose to pick up a language than right now in college. The fact that our school offers Spanish as a subject at such a high level is so fortunate. Learning a language independently is extremely difficult and requires a copious amount of motivation and self-discipline, and this is especially true if it’s your first time learning a foreign language. The fact that just by choosing Spanish as a subject at the end of year 10, and putting the work in over those next three years, allows you to walk out of year 13 with effective fluency in Spanish still continues to blow my mind even now. And once you’ve done that, going on to learn another language is so much easier. You already have all the vital skills in place for learning a language, and already know what to expect.
Choosing to take Spanish as a subject has opened so many pathways for me and illuminated so many new possibilities for my future, it is simply an experience that I could not possibly recommend enough and would never dream of living without. I have found such a strong passion for the Spanish language and its culture throughout my time studying it, and cannot wait to now go on to learn more languages. Even though I don’t even plan on going into a career that requires my Spanish, I don’t doubt for a second that having chosen to take the leap to learn it has benefitted me immeasurably.
Choosing to study Spanish should be a decision you make for yourself out of a genuine curiosity and/or passion for what it will offer you. Don’t just solely pick Spanish because it might net you a job, or impress your parents, choose to learn it because you can, and because it’ll be an adventure you’ll never forget.