Bonne Année, Buon Anno, Frohes Neues Jahr, Novus Annus, Happy New Year! “Do you speak English?” A common cry of many British holidaymakers abroad. We’re renowned for our reluctance to speak another language. Is it arrogance, laziness, fear of looking foolish or are we simply incapable? Clearly not incapable, as 38% of us speak at least one other language. Put differently, that still leaves a staggering 62% of Brits unable to speak anything but English.
Just as “Dogs are not only for Christmas”, languages are not simply for holidays abroad. Numerous studies confirm that speaking a second language boosts your brain by improving memory, attention span and reducing risk of age-related memory loss. It also opens our minds to another culture, helping us to think ‘outside the box’. What’s more, discovering that we really can do it increases self-confidence. However, the most compelling reason for learning a language is the pure enjoyment and satisfaction it brings.
Introduce some of this “je ne sais quoi” into your life by joining a newly formed U3A ‘Beginners French’ group, meeting each Thursday morning at Morrisons’ Bramley store. You’ll be surprised how short a time it takes before you’re able to have a short conversation in French. By summer you should be well up and running.
The U3A also offers French, Italian and German for those already able to speak the language and Latin from beginners to advanced. Whatever language or level, try one free for up to two weeks before deciding whether or not to continue. Rotherham U3A membership from January to June/July is only £20.00. Contact www.u3asites.org/rotherham or Sylvia Duncan on 01709 374841 for information on all U3A activities.