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About a year ago, I related to a friend that I had started learning a foreign language and I was met with a response that left me momentarily speechless. I was asked what the point of it was if I wasn’t ever going to be in the country of the language that I was learning.
It didn’t take long before my initial shock subsided and I saw what my friend said to be true. The purpose of language is to use it and unless you spend time in the country of your target language, opportunities to put what you learn in the classroom to good use are far and wide. As any linguist might know, it’s a use it or lose it situation when it comes to languages.
Luckily for me, I have found that taking up the initiative to learn a language comes with opportunities to visit the country of the language that I’m learning in the form of university programmes and personally planned trips.
Of course, this might not be the case for everyone. But that’s not to say that your language learning efforts are in vain, especially if you derive joy from such an undertaking. Besides, if along the way you manage to pick up a decent level of fluency, then there’s progress right there.
Also, there is a theory that proves promising for those of us who worry about not getting enough practice outside of class hours. Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition relates that the basis of language acquisition is information input and that you don’t necessarily have to be speaking the language every day to get to fluency.
So I say that it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get to put the language you’re learning to use if you find the process enjoyable and the results, howsoever insignificant, satisfactory. You never know what the future holds. One day you might be able to put your newfound skills to the test.