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Label volunteer, Rebecca Pearson, shares her experience of learning French during Lockdown and how leaning a new language can be beneficial.

At the start of this year – as a little challenge to keep myself occupied during lockdown – I committed to learning French. Both French and Spanish have always been languages that I had wanted to learn, and since it was only Spanish that I had the opportunity to study for A-Level, I thought that lockdown was the perfect time to delve into the French language.

I may have been slightly over-ambitious when I first started teaching myself French. Having just about got my head around the complexities of Spanish grammatical rules, verb conjugations and the dreaded subjunctive, I had forgotten that, when I first started to learn Spanish, it was rather tricky to get accustomed to the way a second language works compared to a first language. Really, what is happening in this process, is that the language centres in the brain are developing and strengthening new areas of the mind. This can help improve both memory and the brain’s natural ability to focus. However, as it is a long-term process, it can take time for it to develop to the point at which learning and retaining a new language becomes easier.

So, although language-learning is an ongoing process, some simple (and some of my favourite) phrases that I have learnt so far include:

Quoi de neuf? – What’s up?

J’ai hâte! – I can’t wait!

Laisse-moi deviner! – Let me guess!

Être dans la galère – To get yourself into a mess (which literally translates as ‘to be in the galley’)

La nuit porte conseil – Sleep on it (literally translating as ‘the night brings advice’)

One of the best aspects about learning a language is being able to connect with others with an innate level of understanding. And, given how many ways a single sentence can be translated from one language to the next, language learning certainly encourages a more profound grasp on cultures and languages that are different to our own.

As well as connecting with others, language-learning is seen as an advantageous skill by employers, it helps confidence when travelling to other countries, and it also makes for a fun challenge. Studies have also shown that learning a language increases the amount of grey matter in the brain meaning that, as a language-learner gets older, their brain can compensate more for any damage that occurs to the brain with age because of these alternative neural pathways. Bilinguals are therefore cognitively sharper for longer.

If nothing else, being able to speak a second language is an interesting skill for personal development, and it’s often said that after learning a language for the first time, it becomes increasingly easier to learn other languages too.

Header by Christos Alamaniotis, Head of Design

Edited by Uchenna Omo-Bamawo, Label Culture Editor

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Label Culture Editor 2020-21

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