Mental Fitness During the Covid-19 Crisis – Language Learning

What day is it today? The day after yesterday? The day before tomorrow? Does it matter? The global Covid-19 pandemic has left far too many people alone at home for far too long. The end result is people developing cabin fever in some cases, and some experiencing full-on psychological psychoses stemming from being cooped up and penned in with too much time on their hands. One viable solution is to take advantage of all of the available “free time” to learn a new language. 

There are many advantages to be had from learning a new language online or off. The best languages to learn are those languages that you can use in life and in work. Determining the best languages for you to use locally and maybe even in your job, will allow you to use that which you have learned, making it even easier to master your language skills. Another way to determine the best languages is to consider the number of native speakers around the globe. This means of determining the best languages are perhaps best suited to marketing and other means of doing business online, as these are generally the best languages for developing a large following or improving influence online.

In the United States alone, 77% of American women and 60% of men were reporting personal stress, 60% of Americans were worried about themselves or their family members becoming infected, and more than one-third of Americans think the coronavirus crisis is seriously affecting their psychological health. All this information comes from an April fourth report in the Washington Post newspaper, gathered from polls they have undertaken as part of their ongoing coronavirus research and reports.

People all over the world continue to become more mentally stressed due to self-isolation, social distancing and even living under full quarantine in some locations around the world. Language learning skills whether to become a professional translator or interpreter or just to keep your mind busy during the ongoing global medical crisis is both a viable and important part of maintaining your mental health during the current madness. 

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and even law enforcement have all noted an increase in mental health concerns, including many more domestic issues as people are increasingly (and more adversely impacted) by mental health crises stemming from isolation and cabin fever. 

So prevalent is this concern, that the University of California at Berkeley has put together a list of helpful hints for staying sane when trapped with friends or family members. Among their many recommendations? Taking online classes together. While some of their recommendations are more physical in nature, mental exercises can be just as important for mental health as physical exercises are for the health of the body. 

  • Mental Benefits of Language Learning

An Academic research paper published in the online version of the SagePub Journal noted an increase in cognitive function and a decrease in emotional reaction for someone speaking or even thinking in a second language.  Granted, emotional response and EQ or the emotional quotient is important in matters of social concern, the cognitive function and cognitive capacity are both also very relevant in terms of mental health. 

“Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases. Four experiments show that the framing effect disappears when choices are presented in a foreign tongue. Whereas people were risk-averse for gains and risk-seeking for losses when choices were presented in their native tongue, they were not influenced by this framing manipulation in a foreign language. Two additional experiments show that using a foreign language reduces loss aversion, increasing the acceptance of both hypothetical and real bets with the positive expected value. We propose that these effects arise because a foreign language provides greater cognitive and emotional distance than a native tongue does.”

Many other studies have been conducted and reported in numerous academic and scientific journals noting increases in cognitive functioning, the ability to reason, logical progression, and other measurable benefits of speaking two or more languages. Cambridge University has made a great many of these available online, though there are a host of additional resources online that all point to a great many benefits for learning a second language. 

For those that may be trapped at home during the global Covid-19 pandemic, there are numerous websites that offer language games in order to help develop and perfect language learning in a more entertaining fashion. Again, even if you cannot expect to move directly into a high-paying position as a professional translator or certified interpreter, you can pass the time with your family, having fun and building up your brain all at the same time. The first thing to do is to figure out which language is the best language for you to learn. 

  • Selecting Which Language to Learn

Among the easiest ways to determine which language to learn is to figure out which languages are most prevalent in the surrounding areas. An English speaking person in Scotland or Ireland may wish to learn the local variant of Gaelic. Someone living in Quebec may wish to study French or to learn English online. Someone emigrating to Switzerland may discover that they will have to learn French, German, or even Italian or Romansh, all of which are official languages. 

Learning a language is great, but it is important to have the opportunity to use your linguistic skills once you have mastered them as well. Maybe you have dreams about being a well-paid interpreter, earning money just for speaking the words of others. Maybe you want to focus on translation skills? Perhaps you just want to stand out a little above the rest with your language skills making you more valuable to employers. 

Learning languages online or in the real world is fine, but it is better to be a master of languages than it is a mere student and to accomplish that, you will need to focus on learning a language that you will be able to use, ideally on a regular basis. The immersive language learning experience will almost always be more ideal than just sitting around listening and repeating that which has been placed before you, though even here, there are some exceptions. Once you have determined which language you wish to learn, then you will have to determine the best techniques for you to learn the language of your choosing. 

  • Language Learning Techniques

Language learning in a more structured, classroom environment often starts with learning the basics of the alphabet and from there, moving into simple reading and writing tasks. Some people will actually learn better this way, and ultimately, you will have to determine what works best for you. For most people, however, there is a much easier way to learn language skills and to master them to the point that you can make a living as an interpreter or find a job doing a translation. 

One of the easiest means for many people to learn a new language online or off is to learn conversational language skills. This helps to establish the basics of grammar in the second language and as new words are learned, they can be integrated into the language skills already being used. What are the most common and basic phrases that will be used in a language? 

Who, what, where, when, why, and how to cover virtually all of the subject matter for a comprehensive and meaningful article. These same concepts hold the majority of what anyone will need during verbal communications as well. Who is/was that? What are we/they doing? Where do I/we go? When is the meeting? When is dinner? Why do we need to do this or that? How do we do this or that? Learning how to effectively use all of these language precepts in a new language will allow even the most rudimentary language skills to be put to use in practical application. 

Where is this conversation going? What does it mean? It means before you know it, you will actually be having full conversations with people in the new language. Why is that important? Will it really help you to learn how to master any new language? It may take a while before you are good enough to begin doing professional document translations or working as a remote video interpreter, but you are getting there. 

This is a very common teaching technique for people learning a second language, as it will allow them to actively engage in fuller, more meaningful conversations with native speakers, even as they are only starting to master the new language. In this method of learning new languages online during the coronavirus crisis, it may help to find some new friends who are native speakers. 

  • Immersive Language Learning Online

There are two distinctive methods for learning a new language in an immersive online environment. One involves a great deal of reading and writing and the other involves verbal communications. Okay, here it starts to become important about deciding what you want to do with your new language skills. A translator may want to focus on written communications while an interpreter may want to focus on verbal communications. 

Are you going to learn new language skills for reading and writing? Are you going to learn a new language online so you can verbally communicate with people? Perhaps you will be doing both to some degree, but there will likely be a larger focus on one or the other means of communication. Once that has been determined, you are ready to begin actively speaking with people in your new language. 

For written communications, chat rooms, forums and article sites are one of the best ways to begin actively communicating with native speakers online. There are generally plenty of forums, including some which focus on topics that you may already have an interest in, and where you can share common ground with your new foreign friends. In this way, the focus can be on common interests and active use of the language skills learned online during the coronavirus crisis. 

For those that may be more interested in verbal communications, you may be in for some rough times. Among the most popular formats for verbal chats are on streaming sites and other similar venues more popular with gamers online. Conversely, if you happen to be a gamer yourself, this could, in fact, be a more ideal solution for practicing language skills learned online. 

According to a recent report posted in the Hollywood Reporter this month, online gaming platforms have seen a 70% increase in traffic since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the gamer sites such as Steam and Twitch provide voice chat capabilities as part of their standard services. 

Even if you are not a gamer, live streaming is a great way not only to find new friends who are native speakers but perhaps even to establish yourself as a video influencer. Top influencers on YouTube and other similar platforms can earn some serious money in the best scenarios. 

Even in not-so-great circumstances, you may still develop a devoted fan base who can help to augment your income while at the same time assisting you in your linguistic pursuit of perfection. The trick now is to continue honing and even perfecting your new language skills. 

  • Video Translation and Transcription For Language

So you think you are pretty good with your new language skills, but not sure that you have what it takes to become a certified translator or a video interpreter? Where and how do you get your language practice?

Look for popular video influencers or podcasters in the new language you have learned online. I would not recommend starting at the very top of the list but look for someone that has a decent following, and preferably one who does not have podcast transcriptions or closed captioning from video translators for their online content. What? Why? 

Listen through their content the first time. Just listen and figure out how much you can understand, maybe look for areas or words and grammar that prove challenging to you. Work to decipher those areas of the language that challenge you, then once you think you have it down, try to transcribe the entire conversation. 

In the case of podcasts, your audio transcription work, and in the case of YouTube, your video translations can all easily be checked by your new friends who are native speakers. Once you have mastered the arts of video translation services and audio transcription, try offering your services to some of the bigger influencers in your targeted areas. 

Point out the fact that the audio transcription services for the podcasts can also be used for translation, gaining them a voice and recognition to new markets, increasing their organic traffic, their influence, and their potential profitability as podcasting influencers online. Then begin the same process for YouTube influencers in the language you have learned online. 

Providing inexpensive or even free video translation services for some of the larger YouTube influencers can help them at the same time it helps build your brand name and recognition to a larger audience. 

Put all of these practices and tips together, and you can easily learn a new language well enough to become a professional translator or a certified interpreter. Add in the ability to provide audio transcription services or video translation services to a few hundred thousand people following your favorite influencers, and before you know it, you will be truly successful in more ways than one. 

Not only will you be a master of your new language, but making a good living with transcription, interpretation, and translation services online. Don’t tell me you do not have enough time, especially right now while so many of us are stuck at home waiting for the end of the coronavirus crisis. You have nothing but time and there is no time like the present to learn a new language, perfect your skills, and begin making a good living as a professional translator or certified interpreter online.