Learning a new language and what it means to learn a new skill

Many times in a new year, people want to learn a new skill. However, often times what they are doing is looking for something that is expanding on a skillset they may already have.

One example is learning a new language. If you know English, and perhaps you learned some Spanish or French in high school, choosing to learn Italian may not be all that hard. You are building on the same latin roots the other two languages you already know are built on. That makes it easier, but it will still deepen your skill in the latin languages.

If you choose to learn Arabic, Chinese, Korean or Japanese, you may find it much harder. You aren’t building from the same base you already know. They have completely different characters that your brain has to become wired for. However, once you learn one of these new languages, your mental model of what a language is will be broadened.

Recognizing this fact, not just for language, but all skills is an opportunity to understand everyday we have an opportunity for improvement, but not just any improvement, a choice between broadening and deepening. Choosing which comes down to whether you want to be an expert called on for your specific skill, or whether you want to be a connector for people who aren’t capable of understanding each other because you have a broad mental model to do so.

Choose accordingly.