Is Learning A Foreign Language A Waste Of Time?

I heard someone wondering recently if learning a foreign language was perhaps a waste of time. Is it a waste of time? I’ll cover this answer in this article.

As far as some of the benefits of learning a new language, I don’t think it is a waste of time. This includes the personal benefits from having a new world of entertainment opened up to you including movies, television, magazines, books, etc. It also includes the possible job benefits of being a more valuable worker, getting better pay or receiving a better position. It also includes the medical benefits of keeping your mental skills sharp and preventing the onset of brain diseases like alzheimer’s and dementia.

So, all these reasons make it clear that learning a foreign language is not simply a waste of time. However, I do believe that on the individual level, learning a new language can be a waste of time. For example, if you absolutely hate learning languages, then you’re going to have a very hard time going down the long road to fluency in a second language. Also, if the way you study a language is to do so for an hour every week, for example, then you could say that you might be wasting your time since the amount of learning you will do and actually retain will be very minimal.

Also, I should note that learning a foreign language to a certain level and then stopping and never reviewing will also make it a waste of time since you will quickly lose what you worked so hard to learn before!

In this way, learning a language is not inherently useless but it can be to you if you are not learning the right way, don’t have a good reason to want to learn it or don’t enjoy learning the language. I think that most of these problems can be fixed. That is, if you don’t enjoy learning the language, it’s probably because you are using the wrong method.

Dont give up! Thanks for reading,

- Robbie

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One comment

  1. Dr John Michael Nahay

    The article at http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/14170
    expresses my views best. I knocked my brains out learning Russian 1975-1985, visited the Soviet Union in 1985, was fluent in Russian then, but remember only many individual words now, but cannot form sentences. I earned A’s in 4 semesters of French 2006-2007 and 1 semester of Chinese. I am glad I took these languages, but it IS an absolute waste of time deluding oneself that one is going to DIRECTLY SPEAK OR WRITE these non-English languages. My experience has taught me that ALL effort in learning & studying other human languages should go into improving COMPUTER-AIDED TRANSLATION. This will involve the study of neurology and possibly research into telepathic thought transfer and its effect on matter. Total immersion in THIS line of research is what will pay off. Total immersion in a language does not work if one has not first studied the grammar and syntax from a book. I have “totally immersed” myself in Spanish TV for 2 decades, but I cannot form sentences. I know only a few token words of Spanish. I have Hungarian relatives who lived in America for 30+ years yet never learned to speak or understand a word of English. Learning of languages (and this goes for computer languages as well) can be done only by starting from a formal organized textbook.

    I’d be glad to get a job putting all my science & engineering & mathematical modelling expertise & experience to work in improving computer translation programs.

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