Spanish Tagalog, German, Hindi, Arabic...

Joanne Seymour can speak over 10 different languages and her fluency in Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Hindi and Tagalog among other languages catches many people by surprise.



by

Muaz Shabandri

Published: Tue 21 Dec 2010, 10:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:57 PM

“For me, learning a foreign language is a hobby and I really enjoy it because it allows you to appreciate the culture of other people. Speaking in the native language of the other people instantly creates a good first impression,” says Joanne who is currently learning to speak Farsi.

Working in a multi-cultural job setting, knowing different languages can improve the prospects of career growth for professionals. While fluency in English is mandatory for most jobs, knowledge of Arabic is an added advantage.

“Individuals are never too old or too young to learn a new language. In a multi-cultural country like the UAE, people realise the value of learning a new language as it affects their personal growth and positively influences career growth,” says Inge Swart, Marketing Coordinator at Eton Institute.

The institute is popular among language learners in Dubai as hundreds of students attend classes to improve their linguistic skills.

“Apart from English and Arabic, which are the most popular languages, Spanish has consistently been the most requested language at the institute, with French, German and Italian also being in great demand,” adds Inge.

With over 100 different languages being taught at the institute, the cosmopolitan milieu of Dubai’s work setting can never be underestimated.

“More than 80 per cent of verbal communication is based on just 20 per cent of the words in a language. By concentrating on these words, learners can speak a language in the shortest given time. We also emphasise practical vocabulary and grammar in the context of “real life” situations, which is effective in learning a language,” says Inge.

Several universities across the UAE have also emphasised the importance of foreign languages with the opening of dedicated centres to create an interest of languages among students.

The Centre for Language and Culture at the University Of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) is one such centre which provides language programmes for students. A similar initiative was launched by Zayed University with the start of the King Sejong Institute at its Abu Dhabi Campus. The institute offers the university’s students with an opportunity to learn Korean language, and introduces them to the different aspects of Korean culture, and traditions. The Confucius Institute at University of Dubai (UD) also offers similar classes for students interested in learning Chinese.

The emphasis on being bilingual has also gained prominence in schools as learning a second-language is mandatory for school students.

“Learning a new language opens the gate to a whole new world where you meet new people and understand new cultures. Kids might not enjoy learning a new language at first but through the use of an interesting and innovative teaching approach, they soon start enjoying it. It has to be fun and meaningful to them and activities should be relevant,” says Dr Samia Al Farra, Chief Education Officer at Taleem.

She adds, “Building a culture of understanding leads to empathy and helps in creating a peaceful society by building bridges among different people where children can find richness in diversity.”

While learning a new language may not be easy for many students, the extra effort can make a lot of difference to a student’s CV and make all the difference. So brush up your skills and invest some time in learning a new language.

—muaz@khaleejtimes.com


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