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If you’re an English speaker interested in learning foreign languages, then you’ve probably already considered languages like Spanish and French. Maybe you’ve already succeeded in learning these languages and are now looking for a new challenge. Afrikaans is commonly overlooked when it comes to language learning, but it’s actually a fun and interesting language to learn. Here are 10 great reasons why you should learn Afrikaans.
Learn a Language: Reasons to Study Afrikaans
Afrikaans is the official language of South Africa and Namibia. About 10 million people are native speakers of the language, which is sometimes referred to as Cape Dutch. When Dutch colonists arrived in South Africa in the 17th century, they brought their language with them, which then evolved into the Afrikaans we hear spoken in the region today. Afrikaans is a simplified version of Dutch with influences from Bantu and Khoisan as well as Malay and Portuguese.
When asked why he was learning Afrikaans, Nelson Mandela was once quoted as saying, “If you speak to a man in a language he understands it goes to his head. If you speak to him in his language it goes to his heart.” Here’s why you should learn Afrikaans.
1. You’ll Do Great as a Tourist
If you’re a world traveler and you’re interested in visiting South Africa one day, then you will benefit from learning Afrikaans. Although a number of languages are spoken in the area, including Zulu and Xhosa, you’re most likely to find people speaking English or Afrikaans in tourist areas. You can get by with English alone, but being able to speak Afrikaans will allow you to engage with people you might have missed out on otherwise.
The same logic applies if you’re considering studying in the area. English and Afrikaans are spoken at most major universities, but some primarily use Afrikaans. Depending on where you’ll be studying, being fluent as a second language could benefit you.
2. You’ll be Learning Something Unique
Afrikaans is rather interesting due to it being a South African language with Dutch roots. Native speakers of Afrikaans take pride in the language and view it as a symbol of their unique culture. The language even has its own monument in Western Cape Province, South Africa.
3. You’ll Encounter other Afrikaans Speakers Abroad
Although the majority of native speakers reside in South Africa, you’ll run into others in many major cities around the world. London has a large population of people who speak Afrikaans, so business people who regularly make trips to both Europe and South Africa will benefit from learning the language.
4. You’ll be in Good Company
Some interesting people come from South Africa, including Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor and founder of SpaceX. Actress Charlize Theron is another South African with a success story. Although she typically chooses to speak English and uses an American accent, she grew up speaking Afrikaans and still uses it with close friends and family to this day.
5. You’ll Have an Easy Time Learning
There is no language that can be learned overnight, but Afrikaans is remarkably simple compared to many. If you’re worried that your ability to learn foreign languages might not be up to par, this is a great language to begin with. While it might sound exotic, you shouldn’t be fooled by the name. Afrikaans is actually quite simple to learn, and many language learners consider it one of the easiest languages to master.
- Most Germanic languages have two or even three genders, but Afrikaans, like English, uses a singular gender.
- The verb conjugations were removed, simplifying the language even further.
- English speakers often find that the spelling of words in Afrikaans is intuitive, and words can usually be sounded out to discover the proper pronunciation.
All these simplifications eliminate some of the more complex aspects of language learning that can trip up students.
6. You’ll Have Fun Learning
Afrikaans is interesting in that most of the translations are very direct. For example, the word “aardvark” literally translates to “earth pig” in English. Many English speakers enjoy discovering how words in Afrikaans translate, making the learning process more enjoyable.
7. You’ll Have an Impressive Resume
Even if you aren’t headed to South Africa for a new job, being fluent in Afrikaans will impress potential employers. Not everyone takes the time to learn foreign languages, and having done so will show your interviewer that you know how to dedicate yourself to something and see it through. It will also show that you have the potential to learn other important skills, including languages that might help you thrive in the workplace, such as Spanish.
8. You’ll Meet New, Interesting People
One of the most profound benefits of learning an African language is the new people you will be able to converse with. People are a lot more open when someone speaks to them in their native tongue. If you are learning within a group setting you immediately have new friends to share the language with. Even greeting strangers on the street in their own language will bring unsurpassed joy to all involved and will contribute greatly to bridging the cultural differences within the country. Can you imagine anything more delightful than being able to converse with your waiter at your favorite restaurant in their own language or share your favorite holiday memories with your colleagues in their home language as opposed to your own?
9. Employers Will Be Very Impressed
The South African consumer market is brilliantly diverse, necessitating employers to hire a diverse workforce. In a country that is said to have some of the best customer services in the world, nothing impresses the locals more than being attended to in their own language. From an employer’s perspective, multilingual people are seen as an asset to a company as they are able to communicate and interact with multiple communities. Your ability to speak an African language indicates that you are driven to learn new skills, that you are passionate about your country and that you are unbiased with regard to the cultural differences found within the country. If given the opportunity, most employers will hire staff that can communicate in more than one language.
10. You’ll Open Doors to New Languages
When you start learning Afrikaans, you will find yourself equipped with the acquisition techniques needed for you to learn numerous other languages. The positive cognitive effects of learning Afrikaans, together with the way in which it will bridge cultural differences, is more than enough reason to get Mondly and learn Afrikaans as soon as you finish reading this. South Africa is a glorious country filled with beautiful, colorful people just waiting to share their countless interesting stories with you in their native tongues.
Get Started with Afrikaans Today
You might think that learning Afrikaans will take signing up for a language class at a university or learning center, but it’s easier to learn Afrikaans online than you might think.
With so many free learning apps available today, there’s nothing stopping you from practicing Afrikaans at home, during the drive to work or any other time that works for you. Language learning is cumulative, and the sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll be impressing your friends with how well you speak Afrikaans.