(Originally published on CareersPortal.ie by Languages Connect)
It is a busy time for all students at the moment. Many are preparing for their Leaving Certificate oral examinations and some Junior Cycle students will have done or will be preparing for their oral communication for CBA 1. These are significant milestones for all students in their language learning journeys.
Oral communication is often assumed to be our ability to speak in our mother tongue; however, it is much more. For those that speak foreign languages, it is much more than this. Whilst you may be using specific skills that you have acquired through learning your mother tongue, when you learn and speak a foreign language you also develop listening skills, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, and cultural awareness skills.
Shane Sargent from the Department of Foreign Affairs highlights that the “connections that you can build with other people” is the best thing about learning languages. Patrick Cadwell, a lecturer who uses Japanese believes that speaking another language helps you to develop “a kind of flexible thinking”.
Students tend to forget that the process of oral communication in a foreign language is supporting their wider skills development which will be relevant both in their future workplaces or in their personal lives.
It is also important to note that when students eventually transition into the workforce, having this ability to communicate, even at a beginners’ level, will be seen as an asset that they can bring forward to any field in which they choose to work.
The Languages Connect website has a collection of videos from our ‘Working with languages’ series that help to reinforce this message in a variety of sectors.
Once this short exam period is over, it is important to celebrate getting through them as an achievement but also as stepping stone to building important skills for the future. As Lawrence Meredith, Director of DG NEAR in the European Commission says: “ …if you’ve had to work with at least one other language, you get used to communicating more clearly, really trying to connect with people whatever your line of work, whatever you want to do in life, learning how to connect with people is a great skill.”