Learning something new is a perennial favourite on New Year’s resolution lists, and many people decide to learn a new language. And why not? It’s a useful skill, can lead to travel (another popular resolution), and is engaging in a way that few learning experiences are. However, languages don’t just have to be restricted to Spanish or French. You can get a lot of use and fun out of languages such as American Sign Language or programming languages. With the internet democratizing learning, there are countless ways to teach yourself a language. Below, we list four different types of languages, some obvious and some that may not have occurred to you, and fun and engaging ways to learn them.
1. Foreign Languages
When you think of language this is what usually comes to mind: a popular choice for anyone looking to visit overseas or learn about a new culture. Luckily, there are dozens of fun and free opportunities to learn a foreign language available online. Duolingo is a completely free, award winning website and app that teaches students multiple popular languages. It’s even structured so that as you progress, you help to translate web pages and documents that have never been translated before! Looking for a quick primer on some essential phrases before heading abroad? The BBC has a great resources of dozens of languages, and what you’ll need to know to feel comfortable wherever those languages are spoken. Finally, The Foreign Services Institute has a vast collection of courses developed by the U.S. Government that are free and in the public domain. As well, OpenSesame has many courses that offer an immersive language program, such as those by ProntoSpanish, which features important aspects of spanish in professional settings.
2. American Sign Language
ASL is one of the four most used languages in the U.S. It’s a unique skill that can introduce you to hundreds of people and is marketable in any profession where you will be interacting with customers. ASL Pro is a free resource available online with a resource of thousands of videos and gesture instructions, as well as quizzes and activities to further your fluency. OpenSesame now offers several ASL courses, giving you the resources you need to gain proficiency. Learn more right here.
3. Programming Languages
Despite being a strictly written language and not a spoken one, learning how to code is an goal for millions of people, and there are dozens of resources available to anyone who would like to learn. Udacity, the massive open online course company, began with a course in computer science, and now offers several free programming classes, from the basics (“How to Build a Blog” and “Mobile Web Development”) to more complicated and esoteric courses (“Intro to Salesforce App Development”). Codecademy is an award winning website that presents introductory programming courses in short, goal based lessons. Its rewarding and motivational system (based on feedback, achievements, and “scores” for completing lessons) makes it a great resource for beginner programmers, and can help you stay on track with your coding goals. Don’t miss OpenSesame’s many programming courses!
4. Body Language
Body language, or nonverbal communication, is the most important communication that we never think about. It affects every conversation we have and sends subconscious signals to others without words. Learning to control your nonverbal communication can improve your relationships, reputation, and impressions in both work and your personal life. Unfortunately, there are fewer resources available for mastering body language. There are dozens of articles available online, but if you’d like a more comprehensive tutorial, OpenSesame offers several courses in body language, such as The Secrets of Body Language or How to be a Human Lie Detector. However you learn it, mastering body language and nonverbal communication can give you an advantage in every area of your life.
Any languages we missed? Let us know in the comments—we’d love to hear how you’re using language in unusual ways!