Language Learning Beyond High School French — Part 1

by KBS Senior Investment Associate, Sharon Kun

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It’s not just about memorizing words anymore

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” — Charlemagne

If you are looking for a new challenge, why not try a new language? Modern technology has made language learning easier than ever. But beyond the learning aspect, learning a language has many unexpected rewards. Read on.

It is a great way to expand your world without having to travel.

I am a huge proponent of language exchange. For no cost except having to speak with another person in English half of the time, you can get free help or practice in any language you choose. There are several websites designed to match you with someone trying to learn English. And if there are no people in your immediate area to meet with one-on-one, Skype and other computer-based communication services are available to enable you speak with any person in the world who has an Internet connection.

It is a social activity.  

I always like to start out in a class so I can learn correct pronunciation. The class doesn’t have to be at a university; it could be at a language school that doesn’t offer credits. The idea is that you are going to be sitting around a table with a group of people who have at least one interest in common with you.  As inevitably happens, you will make new friends.  My closest friends are the ones I see in class or meet for conversation exchanges on a weekly basis.

It’s fun if you don’t try too hard.

Many people shy away from languages because they want to learn it perfectly before they begin speaking. But if you think of yourself when speaking with a non-English speaker, it is likely that your brain is adjusting for their mistakes. Similarly, when you are speaking a foreign language with a native speaker, chances are that the other person will know exactly what you are trying to say even though you have some grammatical errors. So don’t be afraid to speak as early as possible. The goal is to communicate.

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Sharon is a Senior Investment Associate in the KBS New York office. She speaks seven languages and hopes to learn many more.