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How To Learn Sign Language

Dilemma! Learn a “Useful” Language, or the Language that GRABS You?


Hi, guys today I’m going to talk about
whether you should learn a language that is a marketable skill
or a language that is “useless”. Good evening, guys,
how are you doing today? So you are interested in learning languages,
you have looked into it. You think it’s a interesting thing to do.
You want to be bilingual But you are wondering which language to learn. Maybe you should study Spanish
because there are lots of Spanish-speakers. Maybe you should study Chinese, because Chinese will
be the language of the 21st century, some people say. Maybe you should study Arabic, because there are
lots of Arabic speakers in lots of countries . Maybe you should choose one of those.
But maybe you’re interested in Burmese. Maybe, for some reason yours,
you want to learn Burmese. Or maybe you’re interested in Hebrew,
which is only spoken in Israel. Or maybe you’re interested in Esperanto
which is spoken nowhere. Maybe you have some kind of desire or some interest
to learn some language that’s not really spoken
that widely spoken in a lot of places. So a lot of people ask me which kind
of language they should study. The first foreign language
that I ever studied was Hebrew. And that’s a language that’s only spoken
in one place. Only in Israel. Pretty much. So it’s not a language that was really
all that useful for me in a lot of places. Unless I met some Israeli people here and there
and spoke Hebrew with them, basically it was just I learned it out
of irrational cultural interest. I became interested in that country and
in that language and I really wanted to study it. And people at the time said: “why don’t you study French?
Why don’t you study Spanish?
Why don’t you study Chinese?” Uh… I kind of tried to do that. But I was always drawn back to Hebrew,
because that’s where my interest was. So I couldn’t really focus on the other languages. So I think that’s really the answer to this dilemma
of which language, which kind of language to study? It’s study the one that you are passionate about, the one that you can focus on,
the one that engages you. Because learning a language is, well,
if we’re talking about learning a language, full-on, like all-in, to learn it well, then
that’s a process that takes quite a while. You have to work at it over a couple years, a few years
if we’re talking about getting really good at it, right? Including being literate, you can be conversant
in a few months but if you want to … if you want to be really good at it, all language skills,
that it takes longer than that. So if you’re all-in, if you’re long term in a language,
then you have to be really interested in it. You have to be motivated and that motivation comes
from just your deep interest, that irrational… irrational magnetism of that language that you feel, right? If you decide to learn a language
because it’s a marketable skill. That’s what some people think they should do,
they want to learn a language because, someday,
in the future, it might be… marketable, it might be useful on my resume,
it might help me get a job. Um… Well. It probably won’t because, first of all, you won’t
have the motivation to stick with it. Most likely. When you learn a language, there are a lot of
speech bumps along the way, right? It’s never just a smooth road.
There are always times when your skill drops. There are times, when there’s a plateau for a long time. plateau you get frustrated sometimes
because your level isn’t improving. Now, if you really love the language, then you just fight
through it and stick it out, because that’s a welcome challenge But… if you’re not really interested in the language
in the first place, if you’re just learning it, because, someday, it might be useful on my resume,
then you’re going to say “Screw it!” and give up probably. So the best thing is is to stick
with the language that you’re interested in. If you happen to be passionate about a major global
language like Spanish or Chinese or maybe Arabic or… one of these, then consider yourself lucky
because you will have the motivation
that comes from your interest in the language. But, at the end of the road, you will have that skill that
can be applied to potentially to a lot of different jobs or… travel in a lot of different places. So…
you lucked out. Your interest landed in the right place. Unfortunately you can’t control where
your interest lands. But you were lucky. So… go with that if that’s the case. If you happen to be interested in less commonly spoken
niche language, Hebrew or Burmese or whatever like I said, something that’s only spoken in one country, Go with that anyway.
There are a lot of benefits you can get. One of the benefits is that you learn how to learn
languages. You learn the process of learning a language. Maybe now I’m learning Hebrew. That was
the case for me, my first foreign language. I was learning Hebrew,
but I learned how to study, right? I learned what you need to put in.
I learned what about the consistency. I learned about how to study vocabulary,
I learned about … the importance of training my ears
and connecting my brain and my mouth, for oral communication. I learned
all these things that I applied to later languages. So now, even though I don’t really use Hebrew that often, except to listen to Hebrew media on the internet, It’s still helped me because
it helps me learn other languages now. So that was my base. It was where I gained
my understanding of how to learn languages,
how to follow that process. That’s the beginning for me and it helped. Also uh… It’s just a wonderful hobby to have, right? When you learn a niche language like that,
one that’s only spoken in one country,
by not that many people, they appreciate it so much. When I learned Hebrew and I spoke to
Hebrew speakers, they couldn’t believe it. They wondered why I would speak their language
out of all the languages of the world.
“why our language?” they had asked me. They say: “are you Jewish?”
and I’d say “No, I’m not Jewish.” And they’d be even more shocked,
which I was found kind of funny but… That opened up a lot of… a lot of friendships
and a lot of great interactions with people. And I got to know a lot of people really well
because they were just so impressed that
I loved their culture and love their language. So it’s just a great experience to be all in
a language that not that many people are studying. Because you really stand out to the people who speak it. Uh… another thing is… A niche language can you ironically be
more marketable than a major language, right? If, in your company, 50 people speak Spanish,
like in Southern California, I don’t know how much of a marketable skill it is
to study Spanish as a second language. Because so many other people speak it
and I’m from Vancouver. In Vancouver, if I studied Chinese,
like Mandarin or Cantonese, probably that’s not really a marketable skill for me
because so many other native speakers live there. And they’re bilingual in english too. So… They’ll always have a leg up on me.
It’s not really marketable but… If I knew Burmese or I knew Thai…
Thai is not a minor language but,
it’s only spoken really in Thailand. If I know Thai, let’s say, then that might be
more marketable in my company because
probably not that many other people speak Thai. So, if we’re doing business with Thailand, I could be
the person, the only person who can fill that position, right? So don’t assume that
a niche language can’t be marketable. You might have to look around
and see how you can market it but… it’s not necessarily unmarketable. Some people learn a language for
a slightly different kind of motivation. They’re really motivated by a goal or their dream. Not necessarily the language itself
but the language helps them achieve their dream. Now here’s what I mean. I have some acquaintances
or some of my students here. I teach at a university. Some of my students are studying
to be flight attendants. And they have to speak English to be a flight attendant. They don’t really care about
learning English itself necessarily. But they want to be flight attendants.
That’s their dream job, they’ve sought after
since they were kids, always wanted that job. So, to help achieve their dream, they need English.
So the dream motivates them to learn the language. So, if you have a dream like that,
if you have some goal for the future, then… Maybe you should look at what language might fit in
with that goal, and then, that’s the one you go with. Because your dream or goal will provide the
motivation and passion that will drive you, and push you through
all those speech bumps along the way. and give you that long term vision
for studying the language. So, if you are, I don’t know, …
if you’re a filmmaker and you love French films, and you really want to go to the Cannes Film Festival,
you want to schmooze or work with French filmmakers, then maybe French is the language for you, right? I have a friend who’s a musician
and she often travels to Austria. Because she says that the best instructors
or the best piano mentors are in Austria. At least the ones she knows and
I know Austria is well known for orchestras and for music in general. So she’s studying German. Because that helps her live out her dream
or achieve her dream more fully, by being in Austria, right?
So that’s the language for her. So whatever language helps you achieve your dream?
It might be the best one for you. So the basic point is: go with your passion. Unfortunately you don’t choose your interests.
Your interests choose you. So, if you were chosen by an interest in Chinese
or in Spanish, then good for you. If you were chosen by Esperanto,
then ‘sucks to be you but… you’re going to enjoy it because
that’s your passion. So go with it. And maybe in the future,
you will choose a different language and re-use a lot of what you learned and re-apply
all of that new knowledge and experience. Alright, so that’s what I would say:
go with your passion. And don’t ignore that advice
because you won’t stick it out… Alright, thanks!

85 Replies to “Dilemma! Learn a “Useful” Language, or the Language that GRABS You?”

  • I’m currently learning Spanish in school right now, and it definitely “grabbed” me. I have began to just love the language, and I constantly surround myself with the language to help my growth.

  • שלום פול. אני מאוד נהנית מקטעי הווידאו שאתה מעלה ומאוד שמחה לשמוע על אהבתך לעברית. תודה על כל המידע שאתה חולק.

  • I'm starting to learn Hebrew. All my relatives except for my grandma say that Hebrew is useless. That I should focus on swedish instead. Well, screw them, I'll stick with hebrew

  • After spending 3 years in high school trying to learn Mandarin just because it's the language of economic potential spoken by over a billion people, I can only agree. I've now completely given up, going back to learning German with the hope of making it my third language.

  • I'm supposed to be learning German in school right now, but I really want to learn Scottish Gaelic and have for a fair while. Luckily, I finally found somewhere that actually teaches it through an online school, so I'm taking that next year. 🙂

  • I just wan't to learn any interesting language and I wan't to learn african and latin american languages that's why i try to learn swahili and italian but I havn't found any place to learn any latin american ones

  • Thing is I'm kind of ONLY interested in those one-country-only-languages. Icelandic, Irish (just so so beautiful), suomi, … And German (native), English and Swedish (both from school) weren't really chosen by me, but it was and still is fun. Now, the problem is I promised some friends to learn Spanish, which they can all speak, but I just … I can't. I don't like the language. I think thanks to this video (and the comments) I can finally accept that maybe Spanish was just not meant for me or maybe not now 🙂

  • You gotta LEARN useful languages, but study languages that grab you. It is interesting to have look at Swedish, but don't waste time to perfect it, unless you have a specific need for it or passion for the culture. The biggest problem with niche language is that niche language speakers tend to learn useful language, like English, well. If you start speaking half-assed Swedish in Sweden, people automatically switch to English.

  • In Dominican Rep I met bunch of Haitian immigrants. None of them was particularly educated or had academic leanings. All of those guys spoke very good English in addition to their native French and locally spoken Spanish. Their English was far superior to your average native Dominican. All of them had one thing in common, they loved American Hip-Hop. I. guess there are several morals to the story: Find something that interests you about the culture where the language is spoken and will be a driving force to your learning. And, pretty much any dumbass can learn another language if they really want to.

  • So true! We don't choose the language, the language chooses us! I was chosen by Hebrew and perhaps Korean (one for religious reasons, and the other brought me to better appreciation for my own tongue Chinese), but I kind of wish I was like my other friends chosen by Japanese and Greek for the religion part.
    Oh well, like you said, sucks to be me but that's the reality. Korean not so bad though as it's relatively easy for me to travel there but as for Hebrew, I might never go there due to the cost. There might be hidden benefits yet to be revealed though. Oh well. Interest is a mysterious thing.

  • IIRC learning any language increases white matter density in the brain and helps stave off cognitive decline. Love this channel.

  • I'm studying Tibetan because the culture is beautiful, and to help me study and practice Tibetan Buddhism.

  • I'm a mestizo (mixed native and spanish) American who's whole family speaks Spanish and I've been studying Swedish for 3 years. Never learn the language of the oppressor! ✊🏽 And I don't care if 90% of Swedes speak perfect English.

  • My current dilemma is that I'm very interested in Danish, which is not only the most difficult Scandinavian language — not to learn, but to actually speak (curse those soft d's!) — but also it's likely I'll never be able to travel to Denmark, and even if I did, most Danes speak English…and the impression I get is that unless you speak Danish reasonably well, they would rather just speak English with you anyway for efficiency. I started German instead because of my interest in German soccer, and I'm fascinated with that language as well and how similar it can be to English, but I still feel drawn to Danish at the same time and often find myself going back to it after a German lesson. As the wand chooses the wizard, so too does the language choose the student…no matter how arbitrary.

  • I agree with the passion thing. I’m self taught in Classical Arabic and conversation Modern Standard Arabic simply because of my fascination with the Islamic religion, desire to learn the Quran and affinity with Arabic culture. I only have moderate interest in other language and besides learning a few sentences and words, I can’t say in conversational in any except 1.

  • That's what my family said: why italian? why japanese?
    And I told them very interesting facts about those languages. 1/3 of people on internet speak japanese, and I like their culture. And Italian is a very useful language if you study music, there's a lot of Italian words. Also, in my family there's a lot of things that are Italian and they don't know those things are Italian. Carbonara, caffè lungo, cappuccino are Italian. Also, I love Italian and Japanese food.

  • I have the same reasons as you have why I study Hebrew now, Paul, in addition to Biblical reasons.

    I also want to study Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian/Montenegrin, but it's hard to find a good material for those languages, formerly collectively known as "Serbo-Croatian".

  • I like Japanese but I don’t think I’m gonna learn it because I don’t know where to start

  • Great points, about how you learn. I think you'll do better with a language that interests you. Somehow I developed a fascination with Hungarian and it has never left me. Friends tease me about it. I know French and Italian much better, even German. They interest me, but Magyar presents a difficult challenge I can't resist.

  • I'm Mexican, I learned english because it is a very useful language and Italian only because it is very easy if you are a spanish speaker

  • That's one of the reasons I adore my favorite Macedonian language, native speakers are so positively surprised that someone who doesn't have any origin from Macedonia is loving and is fluent in language and culture. It has brought me great friends, a second homeland of sorts and lots of love!

  • Hey Paul! Will it be okay to learn 2 languages at once? Because I really want to learn many languages as much as possible and I do love learning.

  • Can't choose whether to learn a language you need or like? Easy fix, just learn both at the same time! 😂

    But really,
    I want to learn Esperanto due to the ideaologies that brought it up.
    And I am studying Spanish because it's a common world language that I'm frequently exposed to.

  • I enjoy all your videos but apparently have not yet seen all of them. I keep finding new ones. Great! Keep 'em comin'! I began learning German while stationed in Germany. Now fluent enough to occasionally be mistaken for German. The US Army sent me to school to learn Vietnamese and near the end of my year in Viet Nam I was getting pretty good. I have lived in the US southwest for the last 37 years so am learning Spanish. I spent 10 weeks in Siberia a couple of years ago to learn Russian. That is a tough nut to crack. Whenever I lose motivation to study my Russian I watch some of your videos and get motivated again. Большое спасибо. Großes Dankeschön. Cảm ơn nhiều. Muchísimas gracias. Thank you so much.

  • I’m from Louisiana so I guess I’m lucky that I want to learn French. Even though it isn’t Cajun French (it’s almost impossible to find material for that) it would still feel good to be able to say that I know it. Afterwards I may consider Polish, for no reason other than I think I would enjoy the language.

  • I remember getting into an argument with my father back when I took italian in university. Guess what I ditched 🙂

  • I've found there are many factors that may effect your choice of language. Whether or not the language is spoken by 100 million + people or is one of the most useful career-wise, other factors include difficulty, accessibility and resource. For example, Farsi, as much as it might appeal to you, does not even have voice support or transcription on Google translate! Another huge factor is finding people with whom to practice. You may live in a town with many speakers of the language you want to learn. The English proficiency of speakers of that language is also important, as this means native speakers are more willing to practice with you. You may also learn the language of the country you often visit. When the obstacles are greater, your "passion" has to be great in proportion. But many occasions, I find"passion" to be a vague concept. I have a lot of respect for those who say they want to learn a language for its intrinsic value, maybe its sounds or construction, even if its spoken by say half a million people. I personally struggle to justify learning something on that basis alone.
    One has to be clear with their aims in learning a language. I do not consider knowing a few phrases to be "learning" and if you'reunable to transcend the obstacles that a language presents, there really isn't much point continuing!

  • I wanted to learn,
    A romance language: Spanish
    A Germanic language: German
    A language with different writing system : Tried Japanese first, then Chinese and currently Russian.

  • I’m kinda at a weird crossroads. I’m starting college next year and am deciding on classes. I’ve been learning Spanish since I was very young, but am in different towards it. It’s not a passion but I don’t dislike it. Whereas, I’ve been teaching Song Moo Kwan Taekwondo for a year and will start teaching Haidong Gumdo in two weeks. Both of them being life long passions of mine, I started learning Korean last year because they’re both Korean martial arts. I’ve fallen in love with the language and study everyday. However, college is very time consuming as is teaching and learning two martial arts. I’ll for sure continue to study Korean, but the question is do I continue to learn Spanish in college. The mere fact that I’m writing this probably tells me I shouldn’t.

  • I studied French and everyone told me that it made no sense because Spanish was better. Like?? it was my choice. I can speak French now and i'm learning Swedish and Japanese cause it seems really fun

  • I'm currently working on Icelandic, but I know the basics of Swedish already. My ancestry is Scandinavian and Scottish. I have much use for Spanish because I live near the Mexican border in southwest America, but I'm going with the language I am passionate about. My problem is that I do not know whether I should invest in learning Swedish, Norwegian, or Icelandic. I love how old Norse sounds. 😍 Anyone have any advice?

  • This is such great advice! I was back and forth between different languages, and although I loved studying Latin in school, I knew I wanted a modern language. Luckily I eventually found Russian which has all the challenging cases Latin does, and some similar words too. It may never be practical in my life, but the culture and music and tv shows have a hold on me. I'm quite enjoying myself and couldn't imagine not studying it now.

  • Maybe I should learn Russian so I can watch garage 54 without needing that weird English voice over.

  • Paul, the majority of comments are trite and repetitive. There are so many of them, that one looses lots of time trying to find something interesting and educative. Too bad they are all printed – there should be some selection process trimming superfluous chatter. Sometimes they are crying out for your opinion, riposte, comment.

  • I learnt one useful language. English. For others I went into those that cought my eye: German, Norwegian, Spanish and Czech. Czech turned out to become useful as well when I started working in Czech Republic 😀

  • I’d love to learn Bosnian/Russian because I love the countries and I’d love to live there even when it’s hard for me as a native Spanish speaker. I’ve learned German and it went ok because it was a requirement for the university but later I tried French because my mom told recommended it, I did it and I can speak a bit but it lacked the passion you meant and now I have few interest on it.
    With German, I keep learning as I’ve learned also the utility it gives to my life. What questions would you make for me in my Bosnian language interest?
    You’re channel is awesome !

  • I am learning Albanian, and my grandpa always says why are you learning it, it's useless, why don't you learn spanish, and I do learn spanish but when I want to learn it, I will learn it no matter what

  • I am one of those people who learn two languages because one is useful and the other is also interesting.

  • i would have been so interested in learning spanish had high school not force me to learn it in such an ineffective way

  • I am sticking with Spanish and Catalan. Not a lot of Americans 🇺🇸 Study Catalan, but I wanted to give it a try. I actually really like it.

  • My interest landed on Russian and Polish. The useful for me would be French, and German which I studied in school for 2 years but can't remember anything because I never liked it.

  • I am currently learning irish, i know… the basics like:

    Dia duit, is mise Dáineal (I guess that's how my name, Daniel, is spelled in irish)
    Conás atá tú?

    Maidin Mhaith

    Sláinte!

    Slán!

    Cén chaoi a bfhuil tú

    And that's it, haha. Sad that the biggest problems i have with irish, is, when to use "urú" and how to write down all declesions.

  • Eine ausländische Sprache zu beherrschen dauert eine Lebenszeit. / It takes a lifetime to master a foreign language.

  • I invented my own language in the 1990's. It has it's own writing system and is unrelated to all others

  • I was learning Japanese for quite some time in high school out of interest. Once I got out of high school, I wanted something more useful to me so I decided to look at what is important to me. The Bible is most important to me, so I decided to learn Hebrew and Greek. I am also starting on Syriac and Latin now to help with Textual Criticism.

  • As someone who is learning a common and “useful” language AND two languages that are only spoken in their home countries- I agree so much. You should learn the language you are passionate about not the ones that you hate. For example one of the languages I’m learning is Greek and I have so much trouble with it because I just don’t love it. But I’m still going to learn it because I have Greek heritage and my distant family all speak it. Meanwhile i am also learning french and Romanian which I find so much easier because I just have more passion for them

  • Since I was a child I had a dream to go to Japan someday, stablish myself there and live there for a long period of my life. So when I was 16 years old I started trying to learn japanese by myself, and I didn't get it, so I got stressed and frustrated… but I saw the english language as some kind of a tool to help me to learn Japanese in a near future. I only started to learn english for the purpose of using it as a shortcut to learn my beloved language Japanese, but what I didn't expect happened, I began to love english as well. Now 3 years later I'm here, I'm bilingual, and finally starting to learn Japanese once and for all! I love languages! And I will achieve my child dreams for sure !

  • Whatever language you learn, you'll never disappoint that 'why I learnt this language ?' You'll never feel unhappy, you always feel happy that you know this language. 😊😊😊

  • I had to face this dilemma a year ago. Basically I wanted to learn a new language:one of the reasons was to get involved in a community. I hesitated between Japanese and Mandarin. Overall Mandarin would have been much more useful,but I have a certain obsession with Japan, so I ended up opting for the less useful one.

  • Se que me puedes entender soy fan de tu contenido, por favor haz un vídeo hablando sobre "Interlingua" me interesa este idioma por la inteligibilidad que tiene, salutes et bon fortuna

  • 2:06 I agree with you. For exemple I've learned others languages but I have never worried about to learn a specific language for aiming a job.
    "You must know English or French or Spanish or German or Russian or Mandarin for getting a job" they say.
    But me learning a foreign language for a job?! No way!
    To study hard for learning a languague for a job?! No way!
    For getting a job you just need to be a worker.
    My concept of learning languagues is for having fun.
    For exemple if I follow everyone then I must learn German but NO!
    I love Italian. It sounds like a melody and it does not matter me if I visit or not Italy.

  • Super Format, mag ich sehr , but why did you never learn german?- is it really so uninteressting , compared to other languages?

  • I have a very complicated conflict. I have a lot of interest in learning a Scandinavian language (Danish, Swedish or Norwegian) I have some experience with other Germanic languages, but the matter is, that all them are very interesting for me and even though some speakers of these languages understand one another, I would like to have the possibility to speak all of them (what is unpractical and even a bit impossible)

  • I'm sticking to German and since I've visited Amsterdam this April I really started to learn Dutch. Also a question: is it ok to learn more than one language at once?

  • A very clear explanation, Paul. Personally, I learned English for market reasons and Italian for interest reasons but it turned out to be the opposite: I am now more interested in English than in Italian, while since there are not many Italian speakers here, Italian has become very marketable for me.

  • Вот почему я изучаю великий и могучий русский язык

  • It is really difficult trying to learn Cherokee if the only thing people care about is if it is a "useful" language.

  • I think as well study based on your language experience. If u are learning a your first second language as a European or American, a language like Chinese would be a huge steep. Go with something easier first and progress

  • I wanted to learn Italian in high school but my parents made me learn Spanish instead, which just made me hate learning languages because I wasn’t allowed to pick the one i actually wanted to learn

  • I'm a native Hebrew speaker, so, first of all, I'm also very impressed and surprised that you chose to study it. second, you probably won't see this but I just wanted to thank you for making this video. I'm very interested in languages in general and I'm currently studying Korean by myself. my friends laugh at me and say that it's not useful and that I should learn Chinese. but I'm passioned about Korean. so it's nice to hear someone who says that it's okay and nice to learn a smaller language. But after Korean, I want to study More common languages like Chinese/Arabic and also Portuguese. I Just love the proses of studying a language even if it's hard.
    I'm so happy I found your channel because languages are one of the things that interest me the most.

  • I learned Spanish in high school because I thought it was beautiful. I learned that through the high school for the deaf that I went to when I was younger. Currently, I'm learning how to speak in French , watching the YouTube videos, and practicing with them. Sometimes, I use the Langues Des Signes (Thé French Sign Language) YouTube videos Channels to help me with learning their language. 🙂

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