Learning the local language affords one the following benefits:
- Conducting your day to day responsibilities is so much easier. Even if one's job is in her primary language, she is still confronted by the realities of day to day living. Even in Germany, where many people know English, it's not always possible to conduct business in English. For example, when I call my internet provider, staff will not speak English.
- It deepens communication with people who already speak fluent English. For example, I have friends who are very fluent in English but once in a while aren't familiar with some of the concepts or vocabulary that I use. At this point, I can often supply the German word for it and we both have the "ah-ha" moment. It's awesome!
- It gives one an opportunity to meet people that one might not have had the chance before. For example, I'm able to have a conversation with a Tunisian woman because we both can speak German together; she doesn't speak English.
- It allows one to join community events. For example, I joined a meeting of a local organization and could basically understand what was going on.
- It takes some of the stress out of traveling. I can (usually) decipher the announcements on the train when service is disrupted. If I can't catch the message the first time, I can ask another passenger.
- It allows one a less touristy experience. For example, I don't have to eat at restaurants where there are pictures of the food or menus in English. I can go to the more local restaurants and translate the menu and order for myself, in hopes of avoiding the tourist traps.
- It gives a person a new way of seeing things. The German language, for example, has words that express concepts really well. The English language doesn't have such words as Schadenfreude or Kummerspeck but we could certainly use them to talk about taking pleasure from someone else's misfortunes or gaining weight from sorrowful eating.