There are a multitude of motivations for learning a language — and every individual above all talked about a different way that language changed their lives. Ben the ballet dancer learned German because he ended up in a German medical clinic where no one spoke English. Meanwhile, Shammi lent his language skills to a befuddled tourist in India (now they’re married).
Learning a language is a challenge, but it’s an amazing experience. If mere self-improvement isn’t enough to convince you, though, perhaps you can identify with one of the motivations below. And then you can download this remarkable app to get you speaking your new language from day one.
1. Learn a language for work, just like Ben
The Babbel app is perfectly tailored to the lives of busy people. Each lesson is 10-15 minutes long — ideal for killing time usefully on your commute — and they’re all organized into easily navigable categories. Ben’s big break came in the form of a phone call in German. Rather than bluster apologetically about not being able to understand, he was able to accept the offer in fluent German — and change his life forever.
Babbel offers an entire section based on Business German, for example, where you can learn everything from how to present yourself to new colleagues to how to tactfully excuse yourself from office gossip. It even teaches you how to quit, should it ever come to that, and ace your next job interview (… and all in a foreign language, of course).
2. Learn a language for love, just like Shammi
Delivering a perfect powerpoint in a second or third language doesn’t constitute everyone’s height of ambition in life. Finding love, friendship and fulfilling our innate need for social contact — that’s how we really get our kicks. And Babbel can help you with that, too.
There are whole lessons dedicated to love, life and the pursuit of happiness. That might sound sentimental, but the courses themselves are practical. Babbel’s into gritty, real-life vocab, so you’ll soon have all the words you need to describe your latest fling, fledgling romance or your blissful marriage. The 100+ linguists behind the Babbel app are intent on developing courses which play out in realistic scenarios and equip you with the tools necessary to start speaking straight away.
3. Learn a language for travel, just like Sadie
After your very first Babbel course you’ll be able to talk about where you’re from and introduce yourself, as well as say how you’re doing, how you got to wherever you are, and — most importantly — what you’d like to drink. That pretty much covers all the basics you’ll need for your first evening on holiday, and that’s just a single, short course. If you persevere for as little as three weeks, you can make significant progress: A recent study by researchers from the City University of New York demonstrated that novice users with no knowledge of Spanish only need about 15 hours of study with Babbel to learn the equivalent of one college semester of Spanish. Not bad, eh?
4. Learn a language for prestige, just like Stephanie
English speakers aren’t known for their language abilities. Talk to native English speakers and many will admit they’ve used terrible techniques to be understood abroad: Speak louder. Express exasperation. Repeat yet more loudly. Move on.
Babbel is trying to change this, and it’s going well. Well over 1,000,000 people are actively subscribed and learning languages with the app worldwide. From a rabble of language enthusiasts beavering away in a loft in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, the company has grown to almost 500 people — all united by the common goal of creating the best language learning app possible. This imperative has attracted a strikingly unique topography of skills to the company, and their combined efforts made Babbel the most innovative company in education last year, according to Fast Company.
5. Learn a language to save your bacon, just like Johnny
If Johnny hadn’t been able to speak German, he may have never made it to his music festival in Bulgaria. When we requested stories for these videos, we received a (very) surprising number of survival stories in which communication in a foreign language had proven critical to averting catastrophe. We still assume that these stories are the exception, though — a new language probably won’t save your life, but it will make it infinitely richer. And it’s completely doable. Just try it out for yourself.