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The Gachon Herald
3 Reasons to Be Worth ItMotivating your language practice
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Updated : 2023.09.10  13:44:51
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 Hello, Gachon students, curious minds, and language learners! In this edition of the Gachon Herald’s “English Expert” article I would like to focus on something slightly different. Usually, in this space you’ll find useful tips and sage advice on HOW to best use your time studying a language. For example, how to use your favorite Netflix show or song to increase your listening skills or how to use ChatGPT as a substitute for a face-to-face conversation partner. But, today, I think it’s important to take a few moments to focus on WHY we should continue to work so hard to study and practice language skills. This is especially important now that we live in a world of very effective machine translators and text-generative AI. After all, won’t our computers and smartphones handle all this difficult and messy language business for us anyway? Why bother? Today, I’d like to provide three reasons why I believe it is worth it, and how those reasons can help to motivate your language practice.
 First, language is so much more than just knowing words. Language is also an art form and art opens our eyes and ears to beauty. Imagine your favorite poem, short story, or novel. Why do you love it? I’d venture it’s not only for the ideas it contains, but also in how it’s crafted. Those particular words, in that particular order have created something pleasing. When we have a deep understanding of a language, we also have access to its aesthetic spaces. If you want more beauty in your world, learn another language!
 Second, intimate knowledge of a language gives a deep and meaningful connection to culture. Why do people do what they do? Why do they act and react in some situations differently than others? Quite often it is because their cultural background has shaped the way they respond to the world. If you want to truly get to know another culture from the inside out, personally using and understanding their language is the best place to start. Language skills will give you a grasp of idioms, humor, and customs that are often subtle and nuanced. This knowledge will make it possible to experience warm empathetic connections that machine translation, even at their best, would surely blunt or obscure.
 Third, learn a language to experience the joy of fluency. Do you remember the first moment you rode a bike without any help? Suddenly, all those bruises and scraped knees you got while practicing felt pretty insignificant to the sudden rush of being on two wheels, right? Achieving fluency in a foreign language can be equally thrilling! Expressing yourself, cracking jokes, and forming meaningful connections in another language is a massive and wonderful accomplishment, something truly to gain confidence from and feel proud about.
 So, there you have it, my language enthusiasts! While translation technology and AI-generated text are impressive feats of innovation, the beauty of learning a foreign language lies in its soul, its cultural depth, and the personal triumphs it brings. It's about delving into the heart of communication and forging connections. So next time you ponder why you should invest time in mastering a foreign language, remember that it's a journey that expands your horizons, enriches your understanding, and opens doors to a world of endless possibilities.

▲ Dept of. International Language Center

Prof. Patrick Artz

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