The world will be my classroom: Languages

As we saw in part one (Humanities) travelling presents the best opportunity for educating oneself. We like to learn as much as we can when we travel – to take every opportunity to explore the place, the people, the culture, food and language of our destination.

Lesson 4: Languages

There’s those that stem from Latin, containing Roman lettering and often dabbled with whilst at school. Then there are those that are made up of symbols, from distant lands that you’ll never think you’ll master! As a British citizen I thought I was fortunate that the world would speak my language. I now realise how narrow minded this is and the limitation this sets. I would like to say I’ve rectified this but sadly not yet. I may yearn to converse in another language but have had neither the ability nor the patience to succeed. Hoping the immersion technique works for me, I shall embark on attempting some Mandarin whilst living in China. I then plan to master basic Spanish before travelling through parts of Central and South America as well as walking the Camino de Santiago.

Lesson 5: English

Having just highlighted the limitations of being a native English speaker, I am now going to show why there is no better native language to have. The international language is English but why? It’s the language of the internet, the language in which most business is carried out as well as being needed for tourism. With the ability to speak English there is a world of opportunity and work open to me as I teach others how to converse in what comes so naturally to me. However, don’t assume it will be easy. Learning the finer points of English grammar is a challenge and I never knew about the phonemic alphabet – that’s like a language in itself! However, if you’re willing to put the work in then you can not only travel extensively but also make a huge difference to the lives of others by giving them real life skills and opening up a world of opportunity.

Lesson 6: Mathematics

Numbers, timetables, currency conversion and time zones. All involve maths and without this fundamental skill you would struggle. The other brilliant thing about maths is that the number is universal. Maths transcends language boundaries (though some might argue it is a language in its own right) but that doesn’t mean it’s straightforward. Try working out if you’re being ripped off when someone charges you 1 million Dong for a meal for two (you’re not) or how much time you’ll have for a connection when you’re juggling timetables and time zones. The use of technology, apps in particular, has made it much easier to track your money and your time but you still need to interpret the information. Travelling allows you to apply your knowledge to real world problems.

Next up in this series of blog posts on travel and education I cover the traditional Sciences of Biology, Chemistry and Physics – the subjects until recently I taught as a teacher in the UK.

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