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Annabel Bilkey
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Last Word

Annabel Bilkey —

Annabel Bilkey

Kia ora,

Language. There are hundreds of different ways to say this word. In fact currently there are 6500 languages being spoken in the world. This number is declining rapidly, with 26 languages going extinct each year. So why is language so important to maintain and why is language such an important thing to learn?

We use words from different languages on a daily basis, the abbreviation RSVP, comes from the French saying respondez sil vous plaît. The word Karaoke means ‘empty orchestra’ in Japanese. Lemon, cookie, ketchup, entrepreneur, utensil, justice, penguin. They are all words that have been deprived from another language.

Language is a way people express themselves, and some cultures have different ways of doing this that other cultures do not have.

Language is the most direct connection between other cultures. It can help limit barriers between people and creates a sense of community by bridging the gap between two groups. It also provides a catalyst to engage with other cultures and exposes us to different traditions, religions, arts and history of the people associated with that language. Having a better understanding of these different cultures promotes greater tolerance and acceptance of others.

Not only will you learn a lot about another language, but by learning a new language it improves your knowledge of your own, as you get familiarised with grammar and vocabulary rules. You will also find that your memory will improve, as when you learn new skills, your brain functions better.

Another great benefit is that research proves learning a language actually helps to buffer you against the negative effects of ageing. If that's not incentive, I don’t know what is!

It’s especially hard for people in New Zealand to find the motivation to learn a new language, since we are such an isolated country - it’s easy to think, what's the point? However by doing so we grow empathy for people who live in our own country where English is their second language. But despite our country being isolated, we still have languages available, one being our native language, Maori.

So, go learn a new language, you have 6500 to choose from!