I am always impressed by students who have a passion for foreign languages and those international students who take on the challenge of studying in English which may be their second, third, fourth or even fifth language.

If, like me, English is the only language you speak fluently, you may be feeling increasingly inadequate in the university environment in which so many people speak at least two. English is still the international language of business but if you feel like attempting to acquire a second language there are many opportunities to do so at little or no cost.

An obvious place to start, if you are a currently enrolled student is at the Language Learning Centre on the Kelburn Campus. All students have free access to language learning. There are numerous languages on offer including Māori, Samoan, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, NZ Sign Language, Ancient Greek or Latin.

There has also been a proliferation of free, online language learning resources as governments and their agencies, seek to promote better communications and mutual understanding by encouraging others to learn the language or languages of their country.  Just Google and you’ll be overwhelmed by what’s out there.

One particularly useful website is http://www.busuu.com/

Busuu.com was an official project for the UNESCO International Year of Languages in 2008. The main aim of the International Year of Languages was to take action to promote multi-lingualism. Busuu.com also works to promote endangered languages, an objective which relates to two further UNESCO Programmes, ‘Safeguarding Endangered Languages’ and ‘Multilingualism in Cyberspace’. The courses they offer at present – Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese – are low cost and the innovative use of videos, short tests, quizzes plus matching learners up with online communities of native speakers has won them awards and international recognition.

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Interest, Personal development