//A Love For Languages//

​Languages are beautiful; the way the same group of letters can be arranged in a different order, said in a different way, and mean something completely different depending on where you are in the world, is honestly fascinating. The fact that to each letter of every alphabet, a certain sound is assigned and when you connects series if “sounds” together, a longer sound – or word – is formed and it means something to someone somewhere, never ceases to amaze me.

Languages are not just form of communication, but a key to the culture and values and history of a country. By learning a language, you’re learning a way of life and gaining an understanding of how the hundreds of billions of other people on the earth live and breath. 
Sometimes, when learning or reading about another country, I find myself daydreaming about how there are people living their lives completely differently to me, on another part of the world, speaking another language and am in awe of how diverse a planet we live on.


How different languages came to be also intrigues me, like how there is so much variation – or similarity – between two different languages, or how languages are all interconnected, taking leaves from each others branches and tweaking them a bit. Languages remind me of patchwork quilts, formed of different words and phrases from different countries stitched together to create something that a whole population of people can use to make themselves understood, and yet is still different to the voice of a neighbouring nation or community. 
Since I started learning French in school about 5 years ago, I’ve been gradually falling in love with languages. Languages are part of who I am, or who I aspire to be. I’ve always had a curiosity for the world and it’s people, and how things came to be the way they are today, and languages is just another part of that, another adventure. 
The more I’ve become invested in studying languages – and the more my language skills have developed – the more I have discovered about the world we live in and about different cultures. Languages really do open doors, the are the key to civilisations past and present and possess a wealth of knowledge and history and roots that help tie down communities to the ever changing world.

It’s no surprise that because of this, languages are difficult to learn. Hundreds of years of generations of people have shaped and remade each language into what we know them as today, and in order to learn them – to truly understand them – we have to respect the fact that languages are constantly growing and changing. From the moment a means of communication is established, however primative, the seed of a language is sown. And as more and more people use words, phrases passed in through generations, the seed grows, branching out from it’s stem and developing into a language, a tongue. 

The rewarding thing about languages though is the constant journey of discovery they lead you on. With every word and rule you learn, you uncover more and more about a country and it’s culture, and, most importantly, the power of words. And the feeling you get when you are able to speak in another tongue is worth all the hours and years of hard work. 
And that’s why I love languages. They are as much a part of me as my emotions and thoughts; they are my voice and the voice of millions and billions of others. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and admire the beauty of our languages. 

It can seem impossible at times to master a language and encompass the culture and nature of a country within it’s words, spoken or heard or written; shared. To unlock the door into another world, another life, that languages offer can seem but a distant dream. The real key to language learning for me is not being able to speak or write fluently, or understand every single word belonging to that language, but to be able to feel the language. To feel the weight of centuries of generations of speakers roll off my tongue with each word I say or to feel the buzz of another culture make the hairs in my skin prickle at the sight of foreign words, that’s really understanding a language. And that’s the best feeling ever.

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//The EU Referendum: A Teen’s Perspective//

As a teenager – and therefore a member of the future adult generation – I believe it is important to be aware of the world around us and take an interest in the political decisions that the current generation of adults is making on behalf of our futures. One such decision being the UK’s upcoming EU referendum.

Background information:

  • The UK is holding an ‘in/out’ referendum on our EU membership on 23rd June 2016.
  • The UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, is in support of remaining in the EU and has negotiated deals for this outcome.
  • The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has declared his support for a ‘Brexit’ – Britain leaving the EU.
  • The government itself is divided, with the majority of Conservative (the majority party in the UK) MP’s supporting their leaders decision to remain.

Since taking up AS Level Government and Politics this year, I have gained an insight into the workings of politics, and consequently that of the EU itself. Specifically, I have studied about what powers/influence the EU has over the UK and what the EU itself does and have been able to develop my own opinion about whether the UK should remain a member of the EU or not.

Personally, I am a supporter of the ‘stronger in’ campaign, one of the main reasons being that I am not opposed to the EU having power over UK laws and being able to enforce laws on us. This is because EU law overrides national law of all of its member states meaning that in some cases UK law is insignificant due to an EU law that overpowers it. Although some would disagree with this as they do not believe that the EU – which doesn’t represent the people of the UK as well as Westminster Parliament itself does as the UK only makes up a small percentage of the European Parliament – should have more power over our laws than our national government.

Although I can’t deny the EU does have power to enforce laws in certain areas, the UK still currently has full control over: foreign, security, defense, trade, justice and economic policy. Those policy areas which the EU does have control over – for example environmental and agricultural policy – are, in my opinion, areas that affect and are relevant to Europe as a whole and are therefore more general policy areas so I think it is right that the EU is united on its policies for such areas.

Also the UK does have the right to veto (not accept) EU in certain policy areas meaning that for some things it is still in our national governments control whether we accept and implement these laws.

Therefore I don’t see EU laws overriding UK law as being that much of a problem of remaining in the EU.

Another reason why I believe we should remain a member of the EU is that being part of the EU means we don’t have to pay trading tariffs for imports and exports within the EU and it has been estimated that over 50% of our trading is done with Europe, so surely this must be a reason to stay within the EU?

Some argue that if we leave the EU we could become like Norway and still be a part of the free trade zone without actually being a member of the EU however I do not see the point in this as no deal has been made to secure this outcome if the UK does leave the EU.

A huge source of controversy surrounding the EU though is immigration as EU citizens are allowed to move freely between its member states. Some people are strongly against this as they believe that mass immigration is causing strain on housing and education among other things and that the only way to have full control of our national borders is to leave the EU. However, I have no problem with the free movement of citizens across the EU and personally think immigration is more of a benefit to the UK than a disadvantage as it helps to make or society more diverse and multicultural.

Overall, I’d like to say that as a teen it is important for us to think about these things as they will predominantly shape our futures. Whether you are an ‘inner’ or an ‘outer’, whether you agree with my view or not, I think it is vital that us teens get our voices heard and share our opinions regarding the EU referendum. Even if it’s just discussing it with your family or watching campaigns on the news, just because this is something that has been put in the hands of adults, doesn’t mean we can’t have opinions too.

When thinking about the benefits and costs of remaining or leaving the EU, it’s hard not to get tangled up in statistics that all seem to say different things, especially as a teen as the world of politics may seem very confusing and complex. However I hoped I have managed to explain my point of view adequately and will leave below a brief summary of my version of the different arguments below so you can make up your own mind.

Remaining in the EU:

  • Access to no trade tariffs.
  • Economic security/stability.
  • Access to the estimated 3 million jobs that the EU provides for UK citizens.
  • More influence on the world stage/in European affairs.
  • Less control over borders and immigration.
  • UK law can be overridden by EU law.
  • Government money continuing to be paid into the EU.
  • Less global influence.

Leaving the EU:

  • Control over immigration and borders.
  • Full control over UK laws.
  • Freedom to make trade deals with other countries.
  • Would save the government lots of money for not having to pay into the EU – ultimately giving individuals more money.
  • No one knows how much money will be gained/lost if we leave the EU – the UK may end up being financially worse off.
  • No deals have been negotiated with the EU for if the UK does leave so things like the suggested ‘Norway approach’ where we keep our trade link with the Eu may not actually be possible.
  • Making trade deals with other countries will even further reduce the amount of products sold in the UK that are manufactured in the UK – many people are strongly in favour of increasing the prominence of our national industries and leaving may decrease this.
  • Leaving the EU would cost the UK lots of jobs – estimated as 3 million – increasing job scarcity in the UK and possibly putting further pressure on the education system and increasing job competition within the UK.

Whether you are from the UK or not, I would love to know your opinion on this!

Thanks for reading this and considering mine. 🙂

P.S. featured image doesn’t belong to me.

//Language is freedom//

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Languages are amazing if you think about it – they allow us to get our thoughts and views and thoughts and feelings heard and understood. Without them, know one would know what each other was saying – imagine a world where no one can communicate with eachother. Imagine how lonely and isolating that would feel…

I think it’s so important to be able to speak multiple languages, even if it’s just a tiny bit of another language. I think a lot of British people are under the impression that they will never need to leanr another language because the majority of the rest of the world also learns and speaks English. Especially young people, I find. Like, I’d say about 80% of my French class at some point has moaned about how boring and hard and pointless it is to learn another language. Learning a language, however, is the complete opposite of that. How can gaining an insight into another countries culture and identity be boring? How can it be pointless to equip yourself with a valuable skill that can open so many new doors for? Learning a language, however, is hard. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on it! I find learning languages really rewarding as as you gradually go along, you find yourself understanding more and more of that language without even having to think about it! The more you practice a language, the more effort you put in to learning, the easier it gets.

Personally, I have studied French at school for seven years now but only in the last year or so have I actually appreciated the value and importance of learning a foreign language. I really enjoy learning French but, as I said earlier, it seems that most of my classmates do not. They all complain about having to learn vocab each week and having to do writing and speaking assessments and what not. They are not able to see the value of learning another language, of gaining and developing a new skill. This makes me sad.

Especially in today’s society, a language is a valuable skill to have and could be the difference between you getting a job or not. Even if after studying French I slowly start to forget parts of the language because I will be out of practice, the fact that I will have GCSE (and hopefully A-Level) French on my CV will prove that I am capable of learning new skill.

I really, really hope French sticks with me for a long time though. I mean, at the moment I am definitely not fluent in speaking French. I can write better then I can speak it but still not as well as I can read/hear French and understand it. The thing is, pretty much all of my friends who take French dislike it so I never have anyone to peactice speaking it with. I know speaking it moee often would help me understand more and possibly help with my listening exams as I wpuld be able to understand the sometimes difficult pronounciation more, but talking French to yourself is not much fun and feels kind of weird to be honest!

According to Duolingo (the language-learning website I use to revise for French – I highly recommend it to learn any language to be honest) I am currently 46% fluent in French. As the website only tests my reading, listening and writing skills though, I know I am definitely not that fluent in speaking it! I think you can get it to test you on speaking too if you want but you have to download the app on to your phone/tablet and my phone doesn’t have enough space.

Anyway, back to my point (whatever it was – it’s really annoying when I ramble amd get off track sometimes), even though I can’t speak fluent French, I’d like to think that I could understand quite a bit of French if I actually went to French (hopefully or else the past 7 years have been a waste!). I also started learning German on Duolingo last summer and got to about 35% fluent but when I started revising for my GCSE French exams in February, I had to give up German as I didn’t have time to do both but someday I will pick up German again because I have always wanted to learn it (probably due to my obsession/love of Germany and everything German).

But what I’m really trying to say here is that learning languages is good and important and interesting. I think people should really start to value languages more and, especially in my school, show respect towards their foreign language teachers and actually put effort into learning a new language.

Even with my small amount of German, when I went to Berlin last year, I did manage to speak a little bit of German like ‘hello’ and ‘thanks’ and ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and ‘goodbye’ and whatnot. I even managed to order food in German which I was surprised at. So you see, languages make going to foreign countries a whole lot more interesting and fun because it’s so rewarding to make yourself understood in another language.

So, if you have the opportunity to learn a new language, I’d say embrace it! Languages are such a magnificant thing and laguages really are freedom, after all. 🙂

Hope your all having a good Easter weekend, whatever religion you belong to!

P.S. I couldn’t find a related feature image sooo…yeah I kinda just chose one from Berlin! 🙂