Why learn a foreign language when English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, some people wondered. Others questioned the need for a second language when translation technology is advancing so quickly. But many speakers of foreign languages extolled the benefits. Four native English speakers tell the BBC how making the effort to learn a second language is important - and how it changed their life.
When Alex Chaffer moved to Germany four years ago, he could only say "hello" and "thank you" in German. He had not learnt the language at school, but was starting off a career in sports journalism and had the opportunity to go to Germany. I then had a German girlfriend that helped massively, having someone force me to do it and hearing it around all the time. She would speak in English and I would speak in German.
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The year-old is now fluent and works on the website of Germany's top football league, Bundesliga. He said that in his job, he was "embarrassed to not know the language" and learning German has given him "so much confidence". It's totally changed my way of living. James Westgarth's first introduction to a foreign language was at school, a comprehensive in west London where he learnt French.
I spent 13 years at Airbus in Toulouse and the US and am now a sourcing director at a subsidiary of Lufthansa in Frankfurt. The year-old puts his successful career down to his language skills and the cultural awareness they bring. The gift of a second language is the best thing I can give to them. From his experience of working in Europe over the past 20 years, he said he believes the UK has become "more and more insular" and that "a language barrier plays a part". He added: "If you see the language as living, if you experience it in daily life, it makes it more real.
They really do help people later in life. Being introduced to languages at a young age is something that teacher Ellie Baker believes strongly in.
She founded BilinguaSing - which runs musical French and Spanish classes for children. We should be equipping them [for] whatever Brexit is going to bring. Among the benefits of learning a second language is the potential to "boost brain power", Ms Baker's company has said.
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Studies have suggested that learning a second language can slow brain ageing, and can lead to higher mental function in the brain. The possibilities are endless. Here are 10 European startups that can help you get started. However, it was not going so well. So he built software which assesses your level of knowledge of the language and determines how you should continue.
Mondly — Mondly is one of the most recognized language apps on the market.
10 European language learning startups | EU-Startups
Using state-of-the-art AI programming, Mondly listens to your words and phrases and only gives you positive feedback if you have done it right. Four features are available: mondlyWORKS, a language learning software for businesses, mondlyVR, allowing people to experience lifelike conversations with virtual characters, mondlyAR, AR app with chatbot and speech recognition and mondlyKIDS, a free educational game. Tandem — Believing that speaking is the fastest way to fluency, Tandem offers a language exchange through their app. The Berlin-based startup was founded in to provide more than just language learning, but more of a cultural exchange platform.
Lingokids — The Madrid-based startup is refreshing early childhood education through an online language learning service for kids. They also recently added a tutoring service where children can interact with a native English speaker in a small group setting in minute sessions. Fluentify — Fluentify is a fast-growing language learning startup based in London, which offers minute one-to-one video sessions with qualified mother-tongue English tutors, via their secure, integrated video conferencing platform.
The platform envisions the creation of a personalized learning plan based on your level and goals, as well as tools for monitoring your progress. Beelinguapp — Berlin-based Beelinguapp has a rather innovative approach to language learning. It functions by showing texts in two different languages side by side, with the option to read it, highlight the sentences and repeat it or use it as an audiobook with a karaoke audio reading style along with a pronunciation practice tool.
Currently, there are texts available in 13 languages, including fairy tales, news, science papers and, novels across three difficulty levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Chatterbox — This language-learning platform connects the linguistic talent and cultural insights of refugees with language learners in lessons conducted both online and in-person. It was founded by Mursal Hedayat, an Afghani refugee whose mother struggled to find work, despite speaking four languages.