“I Love You”…in Any Language

Je t’aime (French)

Ich liebe dich – Ich leebeh deech (German)

Σ ‘αγαπώ — S ‘agapó̱ (Greek)

 אני אוהב אותך – Anee ohev ohtach (Hebrew)

Ti amo (Italian)

Kocham cię – Kohcham chyeh (Polish)

Te iubesc – Teh eeyoobesk (Romanian)

Я люблю тебя – Yah loobloo teebya (Russian)

Te quiero – Teh keeyero (Spanish)

At the age of ten I learned to speak Hebrew and was fluent within six months (thanks to a type of immersion program). Then, at twelve, I started studying French and continued with classes through high school. I picked up Russian as a freshman in college, but now am making a real effort to become fluent in the language. Spanish will be next on my list.

In a day and age where most people around the world seem to speak English and a vast majority of public space signage is written in English, why even bother learning a foreign language?

I believe it’s important – especially for Americans – to learn the languages of people who live in other countries. And here are my top twelve reasons:

  1. Communicating with someone in his or her language can promote open dialogue and facilitate mutual understanding; it also develops friendships.
  1. A particular spoken language can offer insights to and an appreciation of the country’s history and culture; it paves the way to new discoveries.
  1. Sharing a language with someone enables you to be an “insider”; a member of “the club” and confidante.
  1. People appreciate the effort you make to communicate with them in their language; they embrace you warmly.
  1. Learning the language of one’s overseas ancestors can connect you in deep and meaningful ways with your roots.
  1. The process of studying a language improves your analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills (left-brain stuff).
  1. Knowing a foreign language can position you more competitively in today’s global job market.
  1. Having multiple languages under your belt can boost your confidence and enhance how others perceive you.
  1. Knowing a bit about the language of another country might encourage you to travel more; it can make for particularly memorable experiences.
  1. Speaking a foreign language can help one become more open-minded.
  1. Americans who speak foreign languages are seen to be less snooty, egotistical, or self-centered.
  1. Challenging oneself – at any age – is never a bad thing.

Despite the good reasons for doing so, I do understand that many people are not up to tackling a foreign language with the objective of speaking fluently. It’s hard. It demands commitment. It requires lots of practice. I promise you, however, that learning a few key words or phrases can take you far. At the very least, you should learn to say the following:

  • Hello
  • Good morning
  • Good afternoon
  • Goodnight
  • How are you?
  • Please
  • Thank you
  • Goodbye
  • I’m sorry
  • Excuse me
  • My name is
  • Do you speak English?
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • I love you

Just learning to say a few simple things in a foreign language can open you up to others and a world of amazing possibilities. I’m not a linguist or an expert; just a person who loves connecting with others on their turf. Challenge yourself and try it. You’ll be happy you did.

Note: One example of an easy-to-learn language program is Rosetta Stone. It can be downloaded to your iPad or Tablet, laptop, or even to your smart-phone.

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