There has never been a better time to learn a language. Ever. Native English speakers still have an advantage, but this can give us a super relaxed approach to languages. Anyone who has struggled with French lessons knows that at least their English allows them to travel – but that doesn’t mean they can’t imagine the possibility of speaking French. The fantasy of bantering like a native exists, but often feels impossible.
But this is 2018. The new tools and communities are giving thousands of people language-learning opportunities and confidence. If you have ever wanted to revive that classroom language or take on something new, the time is now.
The best thing about the online resource explosion of the last 10 years? It can be done (pretty much) for free. There is no risk to getting started. Now anyone can put in five minutes a day and start the ball rolling without having to first buy the books and CDs (“compact-discs”, n., archaic). Those who want to invest a little more can do their research and find the best teachers and programs for their needs.
English-language shows have been exported for decades, now we are finally doing some importing. Foreign media used to be limited to seeing a subtitled movie once in a while; now, international TV can be binged by the season with multiple dubbing options, and anyone can hear these voices at any time.
Beyond the esteemed dramas, anyone can hunt down Spanish-language gameshows, German satire, or Swedish news. These routine broadcasts offer as much insight into another language and culture as the scripted shows.
Learners can find each other and native speakers, through language exchange apps as well as events in major cities. This has developed into annual conventions, international travel, new connections and shared experiences for millions of people.
Language learning opens doors, links communities and, if needed, helps some start new lives.