Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How To Become Bilingual

By CARLOS MARTIN GAEBLER

Being able to speak English as a second language opens up a world of opportunities for you in many walks of life. Speaking a foreign language not only makes you a richer person both socially and culturally, but also allows you to feel like a citizen of the world. A reasonable competence in understanding and speaking the English language will certainly make you feel confident wherever you go, even in Europe! Within the European Union alone there are several countries (apart from the United Kingdom and Ireland) where English is broadly spoken by the majority of the population, which makes it easy to get by. Such is the case with Sweden, Denmark, Holland or Malta.

Travelling offers you the best way to practise your English. In this respect, the Erasmus Mobility Programme provides Spanish university students with the best chance to acquaint themselves with their European fellow students. Bear in mind that quite a number of European universities offer some of their courses in English. So you might want to consider the possibility of applying for an Erasmus grant and spending a few months at another European university. Studying for a year abroad should be an integral part of every young Spanish university student’s education. It always turns out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I warmly encourage you to seize the opportunity. You’ll never regret it later! Also remember that travelling in Europe has become much easier after the euro, the European single currency, was adopted by seventeen EU countries.

It is common knowledge that tourism has become Seville’s number-one industry. Thousands of people work or intend to work in this field, but sadly enough very few of them could claim that they have an acceptable level of English. It is a fact that the level of English of local shop assistants, taxi drivers, waiters or bank clerks, for instance, leaves a lot to be desired. Being competent in English should go with certain jobs, even if some do not seem to see the logic of it. In this case, speaking a foreign language is just another way of being hospitable.

Finally, one of the best and most enjoyable ways of achieving some kind of bilingual ability is watching films in their original English version. In Seville you can now do so at the Avenida, Metromar or Nervión Plaza cinemas (in Málaga at the Albéniz and Plaza Mayor cinemas), which regularly show English-speaking films with Spanish subtitles. TDT television also allows you to watch films, series or documentaries in English with Spanish subtitles. Not only will you learn new expressions or recognise the ones you have already learnt, but you will also enjoy the different accents of great actors and actresses, because, as any film lover would tell you, a good film is a magical combination of moving images and human voices, and the latter should never be dubbed.

In short, being bilingual will broaden your perception of the world around you and will give you the tools to become part of the multilingual global society we live in. If you overcome your initial communicative shyness and reach the point when you feel confident to speak today’s lingua franca at any time anywhere, you will have the world in the palm of your hand. If other Europeans can do it, so can you! Remember the saying, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” Have a go and enjoy the difference!

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