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A GOOD READ: Learning a new language is living a new life
The emperor Charlemagne said, “To have a second language is to have a second soul” and new cognitive research suggests language profoundly influences how we see the world.
By learning another language, you can gain a unique insight into a culture that goes far beyond what you get from reading about countries in the news or in books. We all realize that being able to speak even a few words or simple phrases in the local language when you are travelling may prove vital in an emergency but it will also often open the door to cultural exchange opportunities far beyond the regular tourist experience.
A further reason to undertake learning a new language is the mental exercise it provides. It has been recognized that the memorization and repetition involved with learning a language helps to keep one’s brain sharp and this sort of workout becomes even more important as we get older. A final reason for such an undertaking is the edge in work opportunities that knowing another language can give you in our global economy.
And learning a new language has never been so simple. There is no need to take classes or engage a tutor as local libraries have resources to learn and practise a wide array of languages, from major European ones like French, Spanish, German or Italian, but also Czech, Swedish, Thai, Farsi and even Latin.
A great starting point might be one of the Berlitz Speaking Your Language series books and CDs. Some of the beginning titles available are Berlitz Basic French Course or Berlitz Mandarin Chinese in 30 Days. The CDs in these language kits are recorded by native speakers and help you learn the correct pronunciation as you practise your listening.
If you are looking for something more challenging or need to brush up on some previous instruction, you can check out our intermediate or advanced material. Some good choices are the Living Language All-Audio German (basic/intermediate) or Berlitz Advanced Spanish Course (part of the same Speaking Your Language series as the previously mentioned Basic French).
Librarians can also help if you are simply looking for a quick way to learn a few basic phrases before travelling to a new country. Those travelling to Korea may find Jeyseon Lee’s Korean Dictionary and Phrasebook useful and the Essential Cantonese Phrase Book by Philip Yungkin Lee may prove handy for a trip to Hong Kong.
Some amazing resources for travellers are language learning eBooks and digital audiobooks that can be downloaded directly to your laptop, tablet or smart phone and brought along on your journey. You may want to check out German Phrases for Dummies by Paulina Christensen or The Rough Guide Thai Phrasebook.
And what about learning Latin, you ask? The number of books still being written on that topic is surprising. You can choose from titles such as Latin Made Simple by Doug Julius or Latin for Dummies by Clifford A. Hull.
Although it is easiest to learn another language when you are young, it is never too late to start. I hope I’ll see you in the library soon but, until then, Aloha, Au revoir, Bis Bald, Ciao, Farvel, Khoda-hafez and Sayonara.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published on Wednesdays. Saied Forouzi works at Port Moody Public Library