Why you should learn (Swiss) German, even if you don't have to
Maybe you're one of those "lucky" expats living in Switzerland, that don't have to learn (Swiss) German, neither for professional nor for personal reasons. Are you relieved that you don't have to bother with that and grateful that you can fully work or socialize in English/another language? Or maybe you do need to learn the language but you're frustrated with the process. Either way, here are some of the reasons that should encourage you to learn (Swiss) German nonetheless, and do it with a positive outlook.
1. Because you can.
I was kind of surprised by this strong statement when I first heard it in a tutorial. But then it made perfect sense. You don’t have to become Van Gogh or Rembrandt in order to enjoy the benefits of painting, invest time and energy in your passion and give yourself the opportunity to improve. You should just go ahead and start painting, no matter how the results will look like. The same applies for speaking a new language. Even more so, since learning a language does not require extraordinary talent, whereas being able to paint is usually considered a gift. Instead, speaking is an innate ability. We’ve already learned at least one language, and we take the ability to speak our mother tongue for granted, just as breathing. So why do we sometimes fear that we will not be able to learn a new language? Either because “I’m too old”, “I’m not good with languages” or “this language is too difficult and I will never achieve fluency”, we come up with so many reasons to justify our future failure. However, these are all myths, according to cognitive science, and therefore have to be dispelled before you embark on your learning journey. Don’t become your harshest critic and sabotage this process before you even invest enough time and energy to be able to see any results.
Our objective here at UNUmondo is to nourish your confidence and help you focus on success, on what you will achieve by using the language, instead of focusing on failure and mistakes. And even if you’re learning on your own or using a different method, we highly encourage you to change that mindset and trust that no matter how busy your schedule is, your age, or what experience you previously had with learning a language, YOU CAN learn (Swiss) German and successfully integrate it into your life.
2. Because of the benefits.
Obviously, your self confidence will boost as soon as you’ll start using (Swiss) German, even if it's only to say a couple of words at the bakery, ask for those much needed Züri-Säcke at the grocery store (in the right size even!), or understand what that YouTube commercial is about. At least that’s how it was for me. All it takes are these kinds of achievements to trust that you’re progressing and to push yourself to continue further. And the good news is that you won’t even have to wait long: these small but significant victories should appear quite early on in your learning journey and help fuel your efforts.
In addition, your brain will greatly benefit too. And who doesn’t want to keep their brain in the best shape ever? Increased concentration and attention, better memory, improved higher functions such as thinking, reasoning, problem-solving and multitasking, as well as delaying degenerative diseases: these are all amazing “side-effects” of learning a new language. Remember to take this into account next time you want to invest into your physical and mental well-being.
3. Because it enriches your life.
Now that you can approach someone in their own language, are more self-confident and even your intellectual skills are enhanced, what’s next? Enjoy life with all the new benefits and opportunities enabled by having learned (Swiss) German. Even if your work doesn’t require you to use this language and your friends speak English, don’t settle with that. No matter where life will take you, mastering German will continue to open so many doors for you, both on a professional and personal level. You can still impress your colleagues and neighbors, build a stronger connection with locals, understand the Swiss culture better and, overall, enjoy the feeling of belonging here, in your new home. You’ll be surprised to notice how much you can discover about yourself, your passions and interests as well, when you learn a new language.
While this process involves significant commitment and work, it adds value to your life and, not to forget, it’s such a fun, rewarding and exciting journey!