The Link Between Self-Discovery and Learning a New Language
Many of us are aware of the numerous benefits of learning a new language. Most of these benefits are initially practical and related to travel, academic and business opportunities, however the link between self-discovery and learning a new language should not be disregarded. Self-discovery involves learning new things about ourselves, resulting in a stronger identity and self-awareness, which can benefit all areas of our lives such as self-esteem, relationships, success and general happiness. Here are some of the ways that learning a new language can be linked to self-discovery.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Your native language should come very naturally and feel somewhat comfortable. After all, it is the language that you would have been exposed to and allowed to gradually adapt to since birth. This makes learning a new language fall completely outside of your comfort zone. It goes without saying that the growth experienced outside of your comfort zone is accelerated. Learning a new language not only equips you with new language skills, but it also stretches you outside of your comfort zone and leads to further growth and self-discovery in the process.
Anyone who has learnt a new language in an environment where no one else speaks their native language for extended periods of time will tell you that there are moments of feeling disconnected or lonely. Learning a new language is a process and sometimes there are situations or concepts which you simply can only explain in your native language. This leads to discovering elements about self-expression and how limiting lack of aptitude in a foreign language can be when wanting to express yourself substantially. It can be frustrating at times to express oneself sufficiently in a foreign language, however the flip side to this is the liberated feeling of self-expression when you are able to speak in your native language again. Your appreciation for self-expression increases once you have experienced what it is like to not be able to express yourself fully.
Learning a new language requires a level of confidence, especially when it comes to verbally communicating in the language. Many people may have the written skills and grammatical knowledge of a language, but without confidence, they may struggle to practice speaking it. In situations where you have no choice but to speak the language, you are forced to cultivate the confidence necessary to communicate. One of the most effective ways to learn a new language is to spend time in an environment where the other people cannot understand your native language; this ensures that the only means of communication would be for you to speak the new language. This process of cultivating confidence teaches you a lot about your sense of confidence in general, and will likely positively impact your overall self-confidence.
Expand Your Circle
From learning a new language, the circles of people who you can communicate with expand. This is especially the case in parts of the world where the people can only communicate in the local language. Communicating in the local language is the best way to experience a new place; you are able to engage with the locals, and often their response to you will be a lot more welcoming when they can see the effort you are making with learning their language. A big element of a culture is its language; learning a new language will not only give you a deeper understanding of a culture, but will also allow you to expand your circle which will result in acquiring friends in different languages. Forming relationships with people of different cultures, races, religions and languages is one of the most enriching ways to discover new things about the world and yourself.
Sense of Achievement
Learning a new language is a very challenging process and often, a lot of time, effort and dedication goes into getting a knack for it. As with learning anything new, as you notice yourself progressing, you start to feel a sense of achievement. This sense of achievement is often the feeling which motivates us to keep on improving. This feeling can easily transcend into other areas of our lives; consider some of the achievers and motivated people around you, usually an individual who achieves in one area of their lives, will be motivated to do so in others. This is because the feeling of a sense of achievement is contagious: motivated people eventually achieve, and achievers generally feel more motivated in their lives.
When we are learning a new language, we are often so preoccupied with the end result of being able to reach a certain level in a language that we forget the positive influence that the process can have on self-discovery. Learning a new language is so much more than learning how to communicate in a language other than our mother tongue, it is also about learning new things about ourselves, others and the world. Can you think of any new things you have learnt about yourself from learning a new language?