Learning new languages has proven to improve analytical, listening, understanding, creative, and problem-solving abilities, among other things. From a societal aspect, understanding a different culture profoundly brushes up our knowledge about our own customs and traditions, including cuisine, music, fashion and so on.
Whereas, if we reflect on it from a professional perspective, it acts as a strong competitive edge, making the learner a valuable asset for the team. Foreign languages are widely pursued by people who aspire to study or settle abroad or work in the force, governmental organization, international business, and marketing among many others.
Several opportunities to learn different languages, both offline and online, have surfaced over the past few decades in Bangladesh. Urmila Tamanna Ashrafee, Professor of Foreign Language Education, trained from CAVILAM, Alliance Française de Vichy, France, who has been teaching French at Alliance Française de Dhaka for over 10 years, had some insights. "One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way - This is one of my favorite quotes by Frank Smith," she said. She further briefed on how more and more people are learning foreign languages, with cultural centres partnering with different schools and organisations to broaden the opportunities for everyone, especially the youth. The most popular languages learnt in Bangladesh are French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic.
Authorised institutions in Bangladesh have experienced professors, who provide learners with course materials designed to be completed in two to four years, with diplomas available for all levels. To learn French, people enroll in Alliance Française de Dhaka where they receive DELF certificates; for German, they consider Goethe-Institute Bangladesh where they receive Zertifikat Deutsch – these programmes are available in different educational institutions as well. Similarly, a well-known programme called PAASCH has aided few Bangladeshi school students to learn German, within the circuit of their institutes. Cátedra Inditex de Lengua y Cultura Españolas is an independent organisation, teaching Spanish and offering DELE certifications. University of Dhaka's Institute of Modern Languages hosts one-year, non-degree courses on Arabic, Chinese, Korean, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish language courses. Confucius Institute at North South University teaches Chinese.
Parallel to these offline opportunities, there are tons of online platforms – both free and paid – where people are taking language courses every day. The courses are based on short daily tasks that teach them different aspects of the language, such as listening, speaking, and writing. Some popular paid options include Rosetta Stone and Memrise, whereas, some platforms allow free basic language courses at the beginning and then with increased intensity of the course, the learner has to pay. Platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, edX, Duolingo, Babbel, Busuu, Open Culture, Livemocha are among the more well-accepted options.
With many of us looking for more and more skills to add to our lists, a new language can truly allow us to look at the world from a more empathetic perspective and pick up the similarities amongst different cultures.