• Why youths need French as a new language for the 21st century

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BY PRISCILLA LAMWAKA

KAMPALA – 21st Century skills have become a popular topic of conversation in Schools, Universities and elsewhere.  To meet the demands of our changing society, the youths must go beyond the traditional subjects and skills. They should go beyond the subjects of social studies, maths and science. They should go beyond the skills of typing, bricklaying, balancing books, letter ironing, telephone etiquette among other skills.

The future lies in developing lifelong skills and adopting modern technological skills along with soft skills. These include communication skills, Creativity, Collaboration, emotional intelligence, flexibility and adaptability, Information literacy, digital literacy, among others that will set you up for success in the 21st century. Learning Languages is another soft skill that is relevant to a successful career in the 21st Century.  These include but not limited to; French, Chinese, German and Spanish and so on. These are not only trending but also attract large numbers of speakers.

French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. It is a language of romance, a language of love, a musical language and its pronunciation is unique and contributes to its melody that descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages.

My passion for the French language is immensely unmeasurable and it started way back in my ordinary level when I got attracted to how we would sing the alphabets and numbers not knowing that the dream would come true. This journey was further nurtured at #MUBS when I opted for the language at My Bachelor’s level and took on leadership as the first Vice President of the rebranded MUBS French Club. As it is said, Opportunities come to those ready to cease them, I did cease them. I am among the 40 lucky people going to benefit from the scholarship of the French Language for Government Public Relations Officers, and what does this mean?  It is the time for me to spread my wings, I am joining more than 300 million people who speak French on the five continents.

The question in context is why do you need French as a new language? French is a language for the international job market, and the ability to speak French and English is an advantage on the international job market. knowledge of French opens your doors to French companies in France and other French-speaking parts of the world.

Learning a new language also pushes your brain to get familiar with new grammar and vocabulary rules. It allows you to train your memory to remember new words, make connections between them, and use them in contextual situations

France is one of the world’s largest economies and a leading destination for foreign investment, thus a key economic partner and an opportunity for youth to grow in this market space.

A foreign language fosters an understanding of the interrelation of languages and human nature because it expands one’s view of the world, liberalize one’s experiences, and makes one more flexible and tolerant in any environment.

An added skill as a language exposes you to new ideas and new networks which pay off in due course. One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect and network with others. Learning languages full of different sounds, and different word order is also fun.

Bilingualism is healthy, the ability to speak more than one language will position you as a youth for employment opportunities, and makes you a better multitasker.

As a youth, there is a need to advance in your career, different opportunities require a given skill set and a language might be one of it, therefore it is important to prepare yourself for any advancement in this century.

A new language can help build and boost one’s self-confidence in a way that you trust and believe in your ability to speak or interact with people in that language.

As a youth, it is great when you take on a new language because it is said that catch them young which means you are able to adapt or learn at a young age compared to when old. New skill at a young age becomes part of you and help you become a polyglot. A Polyglot is a person who knows and is able to use several languages.

See the World, traveling as a speaker of the local language can revolutionize a trip abroad. While monolingual travellers are capable of visiting the same places, travellers who know more than one language are more easily able to navigate outside the tourist bubble and to connect and interact with the place and its people in a way that is often inaccessible to those without the language. Learning a second language also opens additional doors to opportunities for studying or working abroad.

Deepen Your Connection to Other Cultures, Language is the most direct connection to other cultures. Being able to communicate in another language exposes us to and fosters an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the people associated with that language. Greater understanding, in turn, promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others with studies showing that children who have studied another language are more open toward and express more positive attitudes toward the culture associated with that language.

Ms. Lamwaka is a member of the MUBS Publications Unit and former Vice President of the MUBS French CLub

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