By Alex Lambden
They say that by learning a different language, you are provided with a different vision of life. As a Modern Languages student, I believe this quote demonstrates how learning a new tongue is so much more than a mode of communication, but one that opens you up to different customs, behaviours and ways of life. An element of Cardiff University that I love is its commitment to upholding this international philosophy. Not only is it dedicated to preserving the Welsh language, but also the Languages for All classes that are allowing students to learn a multitude of languages from across the globe.
This topic is highly prevalent at the moment due to its focus in ‘Transforming Cardiff,’ a council paper outlining the upcoming changes to Cardiff University. The Languages for All scheme is to be ‘reviewed’ by the university, in hopes of finding the university an ‘additional cost saving method’ by either charging for the extracurricular courses, or scrapping them all together. The ‘Welsh for Adults’ course is under scrutiny too, with the university left unsure about its viability. Whilst this all comes down to economics, I believe that shutting down the languages scheme, or charging an admission fee, would be a huge loss to student life here in Cardiff. This scheme has acted as a huge enrichment for all of its participants, providing a competitive edge in graduate employment, creating opportunities to move abroad and broadening cultural awareness. In an increasingly globalised society, and at a time of Brexit tension, we should be focusing on the ways to deconstruct our world’s borders rather than isolating ourselves even greater. Languages for All helps to achieve this.
Thanks to the Languages for All scheme, I was able to start learning Japanese during an intensive course in June 2017. Any language is a novelty to learn and this was no exception, the course was united by a common love for learning a foreign tongue and culture making this standout experience throughout my time at Cardiff University. These courses are easily accessible for everyone, no matter their language level or age, and it’s a great way to make new friends that share a cultural interest in a country. Since that first week, I have continued to attend the Japanese Languages for All classes and increase my language proficiency ¡いいね!
The positive psychological effects created from language learning are also something to note, with many of these benefits having a spill over effect onto a student’s main course of study, and quality of life. Not only does learning a language help with brain growth, attention span and ability to multitask, but it also helps learners to become less susceptible to Dementia. Languages for All and Welsh for Adults have become an instrumental part of student life here in Cardiff and would be a great loss should the university choose to either charge or scrap the courses. These courses have a continuously hard-working team that has provided such enrichment to the students that have participated in them, and I will always look back fondly when I think about my Japanese learning experience.