Today’s shrinking world and emerging global village indicate that really clear international communication has become one of our most pressing needs. Foreign languages seem to be the barriers for communication that really ought to be broken.  The only way to break them is to learn them, and then they are no longer barriers, but bridges.

Today those who settle for the knowledge of only one language tend to be left behind in a kind of darkness.  It is rather like closing windows or losing the senses of sight or hearing as far as your knowledge of others outside your own circle is concerned.

Are you part of the world, or out of it? If you want to trade or share skills and knowledge with the rest of the world, you are going to have to learn to know the rest of the world.  It is all about understanding them and passing on your own understanding.

Being part of the world refers to being able to communicate with the world.  The clearer the communication, the more complete the understanding.  Most conflicts begin with perceived threats arising out of misunderstanding.

With travel becoming easier and faster, many people are finding out what a huge advantage there is in learning the language of a region within the region itself.  Right inside the country or region where the language is learned, the habits, mindsets and culture of the local people are absorbed too.  It is habits, mindsets and culture that shape each language, and its nuances will begin to make sense to you when you live and work daily with the people of the culture and language you are learning.  Your understanding of the language will be much deeper.  Instead of just memorising the translated words, you will begin understanding ideas. This is what ‘thematic study abroad’ means.

It seems to me that you typically progress through three steps when you learn a new language. During the first stage you learn the basics of every day dialogues.  You become accustomed to the sounds of the different words and learn their meanings.  The second step is when you reach a higher level and learn the more complicated grammar and idiomatic expressions, and the best ways of expressing different concepts.  During this stage it helps a lot if, at the language school you attend, your own native language is also well understood and spoken.  It helps if you need something explained when you reach that higher level during the second stage, when terminologies become more complicated.  Once past this stage, you start becoming so familiar with the new language that you should be able to expand your learning further through the medium of the second language and no longer depend on your native tongue to figure out or try and translate what is being said. You start reaching the point when you are able to actually think in the new language.   You are now in the third stage, and well on the way to becoming fluent.

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